Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 6/12/12



THE DB'S- FALLING OFF THE SKY

I suppose some, or possibly many of you will find it criminal that I am not a fan of The dB's. I know this as I have already heard from a few of you regarding the new reunion album "Falling Off The Sky." You are an excited bunch. I didn't get it then and I don't now.

The dB's, like so many power pop bands, rely on jangly guitars, driving rhythms and mellifluous harmonies. But I find this band falling short on all three of those traits.

My main issue with this band is that I just don't like the vocalists. Unlike Lennon/McCartney, Brian/Carl/Dennis/Al, Clarke/Nash/Hicks, CSN&Y, McGuinn/Clark/Hillman, Auer & Stringfellow and the quintessential harmonizers Phil & Don, the sound of Chris Stamey's and Peter Holsapple's voices together rarely seem as one. Sorry, I can't do any better than that. Just like those who won't listen to Dylan or Lou Reed, brilliant songwriting notwithstanding, I have an aversion to the sound of these voices.

There are some fun moments on "Falling Off The Sky," like the 1-2 opening punch of "That Time Is Gone" and "Before We Were Born," as well as the sweet ballad "Far Away & Long Ago." But songs like the very bouncy (and annoying) "The Wonder Of Love," the grating "Write Back" and the very cheesy "Send Me Something Real," which sounds like a poem that may have been written by a 12 year old, are third-rate. I don't get it.








RUSH- CLOCKWORK ANGELS

Now that I've put some of you powerpopsters off, let me continue to confound you. Between 1975-1982, Rush released 7 records that remain some of my favorites of all-time. Since then, there really hasn't been one record that I've truly embraced as a whole. Back in February, Derek Davidson offered a wonderful piece on latter day Rush, with a Top Ten of post-1982 songs.  I enjoyed the compilation, but the fact remains, when I finally got Rush, they changed.

Now, 30 years later, the band continues head-on with "Clockwork Angels," a record that is so dense and so busy and so loud, it's hard to concentrate on anything. I would imagine the playing is still stellar, as Geddy, Alex and Neil are some of the finest musicians alive. I just can't tell. The production is so hot and frenetic, everything blends into one thing. Think of a steaming slice of pizza with everything on it. Can you really taste all the ingredients? I even found myself saying something I'd never thought I'd say. "Man, Geddy's vocals are buried. That sucks."

Still there are some moments like the ominous, riff-heavy opener "Caravan" or "The Anarchist," a song that very simply, rocks. But you know, the way Rush rocks, with its various tempos and time changes, stops and starts. Also, two songs "BU2B" and "BU2B2" (standing for "brought up to believe") would again, probably work better if they had much less going on. "Clockwork Angels" is a record I want to like, but sadly it just makes me nervous.

10 comments:

Marcia said...

I have a friend who has been raving over the new Rush CD for the past 2 weeks. When I first started reading your review, I couldn't understand why you didn't like it. As I read further, I understood why he did like it. It's heavy - he's a huge metal head. I like Rush alright (mainly from the same years you do), but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like this one. And I never really "got" the dB's either. I wanted to...

Jeff Matthews said...

dBs are not my favorite vocalists - fair criticism - but I liked the songwriting on their first 2 records. So I guess I "got" them a little, just not a lot. On the other hand, I could never stand Geddy Lee's voice and still have a very hard time with Rush. My own negative response to Rush one the years has always confused me because I usually gravitate toward bands with unusual vocal styles and idiosyncratic singers...

cmealha said...

Talk about unpleasant voices. I had the misfortune of seeing Rush a number of times as an opening act for other bands and my ears are not recovered from Geddy Lee's vocals. Brillianf musicians but man, he's like nails on a chalkboard. I do think YYZ is great.

Sal Nunziato said...

In defense of Geddy in relation to The dB's, obviously Geddy's voice has always been a point of contention. But no one expects him to sing sweet pop harmonies either.

powerpopster said...

Regarding the dB's, I remember hearing "(I Thought) You Wanted to Know" and loving the sound and the song. So I picked up the first two dB's discs....and nothing came close. The songs are ok, but that's it. Just ok. I did get "Like This", and thought the same. I do know people who rave about the dB's catalog, but again, I guess it's personal taste.

I will say, however, that I absolutely loved the Holsapple/Stamey album from '91,"Mavericks", and thought it smoked anything the dB's had done. Go figure...

Rob said...

I'm not overly familiar with the dBs but I'd seen a few words written in their favour recently so I gave this new one a spin. It passed the time in a pleasant enough manner, and I didn't find the vocals to be too much of a burden. But the thing is, it was all a bit audio-teflon and now I can't really remember what I just listened to. Says it all really.

soundsource said...

i too have never really gotten the db's although I love me my power pop. They get respect but they don't get my toe tappin' or me trying in vain to harmonize and sing along (okay maybe it sounds like cats on blackboards but i'm trying)

Matt D. said...

The production of the new dBs is what's bugging me. And that's been a problem for me since the first two LPs. Too polished and it frequently really mars otherwise excellent songs and tunes. Still trying the new one on for a final verdict...

Have not heard the new Rush. Sounds like our timelines on Rush coincide, Sal. PERMANENT WAVES was the last one I really got into - I lived in Toronto in the late 70s so it was hard to avoid Rush, even if I had wanted too. I moved back to the States and MOVING PICTURES came out. All my US friends were nuts about it but I was not so there anymore.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Sal nailed the dB's problem. I never got into them but I tried. I listened to a whole album side once.
I regularly lob disparaging remarks in the general direction of Rush, so all I'll add is that they can genuinely play their instruments.

James A. Gardner said...

My first exposure to Rush was opening for The Faces, and my first impression has carried through to this day: they'd be ok with a different singer.
Geddy Lee's voice is an absolute deal-breaker for me, and regardless of thinking they have some very cool material, I just can't get past it. He renders them unlistenable for me.
Sorry, Ged.