Sights and Sounds: More British Invasions

Sights & Sounds
By Mike Evans

More British Invasions

PAUL McCARTNEY — Kisses on the Bottom
THE GOOD: Paul McCartney returns with his 23rd studio effort.
THE BAD: The overall concept and execution do not make for one of the man’s most exciting albums.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Kisses is a covers record comprised of mostly pre-rock ballads and standards, with two originals thrown in. My initial reaction was, “Didn’t Ringo already do this back in 1970?” He did.
It was Starr’s first solo effort, Sentimental Journey. Both albums even contain renditions of “Bye Bye Blackbird.”
Of course the new McCartney record is the better of the two; Ringo’s disc kind of kitschy, Paul’s set rather classy. The guy gives honest, heartfelt renditions on all the cuts, from the pure melancholy draped over “Home (When Shadows Fall)” to the jazzy overtones coloring “Get Yourself Another Fool.”
But this is probably one session you won’t be coming back to again and again. Kisses is just an aging rocker (Paul turns 70 in a couple of months) singing his parents’ songs. Nice, but another Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard (2005) would have been far more adventurous and satisfying.
BUY IT?: Your choice.

KAISER CHIEFS — Start the Revolution
without Me
THE GOOD: British indie poppers Kaiser Chiefs finally release their fourth in the States.
THE BAD: Revolution is a re-edited version of the band’s the Future is Medieval, which didn’t get a proper U.S. release last summer. Just consider yourself warned if you ran out and bought that expensive import last year.
THE NITTY GRITTY: These boys never make great albums, but they do make varied ones. All of their records seem to encompass a myriad of styles ranging from straight-up indie pop to post-punk to rhythmic new wave. Each cut is a new adventure; an unexpected turn of events. Too bad only a little more than half of them seem to be truly memorable. You definitely take the awesome with the lackluster.
This time the better cuts include eerie opener “Little Shocks,” driven popper “Cousin in the Bronx” (an odd situation for a British band), and vintage keyboard-infused “Can’t Mind My Own Business.”
Unfortunately, for every solid moment, there are a handful of tracks that deteriorate into “really cool background music.”
BUY IT?: Your choice. Revolution is good, but not the guys’ best.

SPIRITUALIZED — Sweet Heart Sweet Light
THE GOOD: Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman) and his ever-changing collective of musicians are back with a seventh epic.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: When Pierce does something, he does it big. Pretty much every Spiritualized album has been a grand undertaking. Even when the guy gets sick, it’s much more than a common cold.
All throughout the mixing of Sweet Heart, Pierce was in a haze due to experimental treatments for a debilitating liver disease (not the first time the man has cheated death).
So the new record ends up being a dichotomy, sounding uplifting and hopeful one moment and wishing for a quick death the next. Whatever extreme the guy is working though, Pierce gives it his all.
We swing from the blistering road rocker “Hey Jane” to the hushed melodies of “Too Late” in the blink of an eye. And all of the man’s usual tricks are here — fuzzed out guitars played against lush orchestral arrangements, full-on choirs charging, American gospel and blues influences fused into the Britpop. It all makes for an unforgettable hour of emotional turmoil and fantastic rock ‘n’ roll.
BUY IT?: You must.

DANDY WARHOLS – This Machine
EVE 6 – Speak In Code
ong> JACK WHITE – Blunderbuss

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