Thursday, May 18, 2006

Revolutions: New Music During Wartime

Gregg Chadwick
48" x 36" oil on linen 2006

Sometimes a refreshing new song is needed to cut through the diatribe coming out of D.C. and to counteract the product being churned out in Hollywood. Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo under the moniker - Gnarls Barkley (the round mound of reverb) - have a new album out entitled "St. Elsewhere". Danger Mouse is best known in some circles for his "Grey Album" - an underground mix of the Beatle's "White Album" which he overlayed, undercut and meshed with Jay- Z's vocals and lyrics. Cee-Lo provides vocals for the Goodie Mob when he is not rapping, rasping and Al Greening in Gnarls Barkley.

Rolling Stone describes Gnarls Barkley's first single,"Crazy", as an old-time spiritual crossed with festival-friendly funk. The album includes an inspired cover of the Milwaukee band Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone". "St. Elsewhere" is the music you will hear all summer long when stuck in traffic on some east coast turnpike on the way to the shore or caught up in a bottleneck on PCH on the way to Malibu.

Neil Young's "Living With War" is the right music at the right time. Simply put - this raw, rough and tumble album is a masterpiece. There is nothing more American than artists telling the truth as they see it.

Key line:
"Have you seen the flags of freedom?
What color are they now?
Do you think that you believe in yours
More than they do theirs somehow?"

The Los Angeles Weekly has a very well written piece by Joe Donnelly:

"Middle-Aged Bastards and Still Monsters of Rock -The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam once again roam the earth". Joe Donnelly describes the Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Stadium Arcadium" as "a beautiful, sprawling, ambitious mess, a no-holds-barred, fuck-’em-if-they-can’t-take-a-joke and fuck-’em-even-more- if-they-don’t-get-that- we’re-not-a-joke mess."

Donnelly goes on to describe how the new album "shows off the band’s growing strengths: Kiedis’ surprising sense of melody and improving vocal range; Flea’s seductive, snaking bass lines; Chad Smith’s nimble drumming; the band’s lush vocal harmonies; and, of course, Frusciante’s deal-with-the-devil, postmodern guitar genius."

And Pearl Jam's "Army Reserve" on "Pearl Jam" has the most harrowing military dependent viewpoint I have heard or seen - much more real, with that sense of parental absence and possible loss, than even the "Great Santini":

"Her son's slanted
Always giving her
The sideways eye
The empty chair where dad sits
How loud can silence get?
And mom, she reassures
To contain him
But it's becoming a lie

She tells herself
And everyone else
Father is risking
His life for our freedoms

I'm not blind
I can see it coming
Looks like lightning
In my child's eye

I'm not frantic
I can feel it coming
Darling you'll save me
If you save yourself"


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