Lead Us Not Into Temptation
Thrill Jockey Records
When an artist who normally sings releases an instrumental album, that artist should let you know prior to purchase. David Byrne’s Lead Us Not Into Temptation arrives without such forewarning, but that’s my only gripe with this soundtrack to the Scottish film Young Adam. I was anticipating something similar to 2001’s obscenely overlooked Look Into the Eyeball, which is Byrne’s masterpiece, surpassing each and every Talking Heads release. And in a sense, Lead Us does take flight from that album, in that Byrne is acting not so much as singer and guitarist as composer/scorer. The variance between the two is that Look Into the Eyeball is full of Byrne’s witty lyricisms, while Lead Us is entirely void of such, save for two songs. This can be off-putting if you’re not expecting it; however, judged on its own terms, the album is a quiet storm of cinematic soundscapes. It evokes the bittersweet joy of impending winter, a dual celebration of change and dead mourning. According to Byrne, his all-Scottish ensemble (including Belle and Sebastian drummer Richard Colburn) “captured the right combinations of dark moods, sadness and sex.” Not having seen the film, it’s hard to say how this translates on screen, but even standing alone, this score is wholly engrossing. (Mike Keefe-Feldman)
The Scene Creamers
I Suck on That Emotion
Ian Svenonius is just one of those performers: You’ll either follow him anywhere, or you won’t even cross the street to get where he’s at. After so many years and albums and singles, though, even a doubter has to admit that the former Nation of Ulysses/Make Up frontman has been pushing his well-dressed youth revolution agenda for far too long to still be considered a mere Situationist-poseur dilettante.
I Suck on That Emotion is a great leap forward (or, rather, backward) after last year’s Weird War album. No less ambitious, but a more cohesive batch of generally better songs that just happen to sound more like the Make Up than Weird War did. “Better All the Time” starts off the album with the appropriate pelvic thrust, a tasty bit of dance-floor class-war sexual-politics funk that dips into heavy psych. Guitarist Alex Minoff makes judicious use of his Crybaby pedal, squeezing out the notes like Play-Doh through a Fuzzy Pumper. Michelle Mae’s bass is spot-on as always, and her breathy background vocals up the erotic ante considerably.
The whole DC soul thing has always seemed a little too contrived and derivative (not to mention way too fashion-conscious), but I can dig this. I might as well. Ian Svenonius simply won’t go away. And anyway, a guy can always use a little glamour. (Andy Smetanka)
Demented Ramblings of the Young “Choagie” Graham
When David Graham was 9-years-old, he developed an alter-ego known as “Choagie” and recorded his mainly incoherent ramblings on the family tape recorder. Fourteen years later, the results are available to the masses. After Christian spirituals sung with his aunt and little sister “Nini,” Choagie’s radio personality, Bob Montgovern, hosts skits in which Superman breaks windows and damages trains and then attempts to avoid compensating owners by telling them he has to go fight crime (later to battle the “Witch of God’s Death”); a young boy advocates for cats’ rights; presidential spokesmen can’t handle stress; and out-of-breath war veterans segue into Polish jokes. On “Drug Song by Warren Extrada,” young Choagie sings: “Oh, cocaine, dope and joints/Nothing’s wrong with them when I smoke them, eat them, drink them/Nothing happens to me when I do anything with them/It causes problems for other people but I feel better then.”
Most of the recordings portray a more innocent side to Choagie, and some of the moments in which he encourages little Nini to sing are downright heartwarming. Between skits, Choagie makes that static channel-changing sound, the tell-tale sign that Demented Ramblings is a slice-of-life portrait of a child of the TV generation with free time on his hands. Pant-wettingly funny stuff. [NOTE: If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this CD, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org] (Mike Keefe-Feldman)
Permission to Land
You know how sometimes you’re at an after-hours swillfest and someone throws on a record that just completely blows up the party? This is that record, particularly if you’re hanging out with people who did some serious time with the jean-jacket-and-huge-white-high-tops scene back in high school and have been waiting for a band to come along and hoist the fallen regimental colors of the metal militia. Seriously butt-rocking, and apparently not a joke in the band’s native England—the photos in the CD booklet show members parading around in tiger-striped Spandex and launching onstage before packed festival crowds. Opening track “Black Shuck” sounds incredibly like AC/DC; track two “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” completely plagiarizes Urge Overkill’s “Sister Havana.” The singer’s falsetto will singe the peach-fuzz moustache off your adolescent face, and power ballads like “Love Is Only a Feeling” will chuck your ass straight back to gymnasium slow-dance, sweaty fingers and everything. Like Queen, Boston, Warrant, Winger, Whitesnake, Great White and White Lion rolled into one, only with more swearing. Awesome. (Andy Smetanka)