Well, my brother has his “D” music review finished, and it’s up on his site. You can read it by clicking on this link. It’s pretty good, despite the Celine Dion (ha ha!).
And, not that you’re necessarily interested, but here is the second part of my latest music review, for the letter “K.” The rest of it can be read at www.ryansitzman.com, or in a few days, when I post the final part.
KEANE – “HOPES & FEARS”
Of the four albums reviewed here, this is the second best. I’m pretty sure Keane is popular somewhere, but I’m also pretty sure that “somewhere” is not Costa Rica. So when I saw the CD in the store, I recognized the group’s name, but I didn’t know what type of music they sang. Interestingly enough, as I was putting this album onto my i-tunes, I realized that I already had an entire Keane album, “Under The Iron Sea.” I actually don’t know where that came from, but for some reason I think my brother Paul may have had the CD in Colorado, and I indiscriminately added it to my hard drive when I was there. As a result, the musical style sounded vaguely familiar the first time I listened to this CD.
In fact, “vaguely familiar” is a very good description of Keane. Ronny, the guy who owns the (only) music store in Palmares, described the group as “Britpop,” and said it was like Coldplay. Fortunately, it’s not too similar to Coldplay, because I don’t like Coldplay. There, I said it. I believe Paul and I talked about this before, but it seems like we agreed that both Coldplay and “hardcore” Coldplay fans are only slightly better than mediocre. That’s too bad, because basically everyone likes Coldplay (except me and my brother, it would seem). For me, Coldplay is like jazz: for some reason, you have to like both to be considered acceptable by the majority of poseurs in the western world, but in the end, both types of music will leave your ears as well as your musical soul feeling sonically underwhelmed. So, I suppose that if Coldplay ever releases a jazz album, I’ll be royally fucked.
But hey! This isn’t a Coldplay review. It’s a Keane review. Like I said, “Hopes & Fears” delivers the goods, and it does so in a relatively unpretentious way. And—I’m sorry, but I can’t resist drawing a comparison between Keane and yet another British band—it’s easy to sit back and relax while listening to this album, and to think, “Hey, Travis has still got it!” Because basically, Travis and Keane are just two different flavours of the same Limeypop. Not that that’s bad. When my votes are counted, “Under the Iron Sea” is better than “Hopes & Fears,” but both are better than most Travis albums. I guess that every Keane needs its Travis, just like every Nolte needs his Busey, and just like every Denzel needs a sad, sad Snipes. (A similar effect has been described in both the Malkovich/Lithgow Theorem and the Bateman/O’Connell Postulate).
Oh, and the last song on the album, “Bedshaped,” sounds like a song by a Pink Floyd that was trying to get in touch with its sensitive side.
So, I guess all British music is basically the same, yeah?
This CD is best listened to if you ever find yourself smack-dab in the middle of an emotional breakup scene in the second season of Smallville (or any TV show from the WB, for that matter).
KISS – “THE VERY BEST OF KISS”
Oh, freaking KISS. I have to admit that while I went into this review with a previous bias against KISS, I nevertheless tried to keep an open and positive mindset when listening to this album. After all, I did like a few KISS songs–like“Rock and Roll All Nite”—when I was in high school. But remember, I went to high school in the late 1990s, and that was a time when people liked all sorts of shit from the 1970s, for whatever reason.
In college, however, I gradually moved into the anti-KISS camp, and my status there was solidified by conversations with my friend Andy Parsons about how much KISS sucked. I don’t really remember why he hated KISS so much, but it seemed to make sense at the time.
Generally-speaking, then, I remained contra-KISS until last Christmas, when I read Fargo Rock City and a few other great books by Chuck Klosterman, who is an adamant KISS lover. That sort of awakened my curiosity, since I admire Klosterman’s writing style and his musical opinions (He has a great snippet in one book about how a Radiohead album foretold the events of September 11th). Around that same time, I also noticed that there were strong societal undercurrents based on admiring and obsessing about KISS. This love is evidenced by the strange phenomenon of the “KISS Army.” You know, I’m just doing some impromptu thinking here, but Costa Rica hasn’t had an army since 1948, and many Americans–especially KISS fans—really like their guns…Let’s just hope that the KISS Army never goes in search of a defenseless country on which to perform a military coup and establish their new homeland.
Um…where was I? Oh yeah, so I thought, “Maybe KISS isn’t that bad.” Unfortunately, that thought was wrong. KISS kind of sucks, when it comes down to it. I know that the standard argument against them is that they’re basically a bunch of dumb, brutish S&M clowns that can’t play their instruments or write intelligent lyrics to save their lives. I also know that the standard counter-argument to this idea is that a viewpoint like that is elitist and snobbish, and that music isn’t about intelligence, it’s about evoking a feeling. My personal take on KISS is that they’re dumb, brutish S&M clowns that actually can play their instruments and write lyrics, but the songs and lyrics that they write, although supposedly rocking or shocking, are actually just dull. The two times that I tried slogging through this album while driving in my car gave me two of the most boring, mundane, and restless commutes that I’ve experienced in a long time.
Oh, by the way, here’s a brief commercial pause, paid for by one of our sponsors:
“KISS ALBUM FOR SALE! ONLY SLIGHTLY USED, GREAT CONDITION. PRICE NEGOTIABLE. CONTACT RYAN AT RYANSITZMAN.COM FOR DETAILS.”
So, we’re back. This album is best when listened to the volume turned really low, with some good music playing loudly to drown it out.