Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Add Water... (or More Music To Crow About)

Three more new cd's released over the past couple months have rekindled my fire for popular music again....Mumofuku by Elvis Costello and the Imposters, REM's Accelerate, and Counting Crows Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.

I know...totally old sue me.

"Somewhere downtown a pretty girl kneels
Offers her soft of lips and a handful of pills
Then she peels off her dress and then the rest of her skills
It buys what she wants and the rest she just steals

He speaks between deep swallows of rum
‘Til her head is beating like a drum
And she wishes he were mute and not just dumb
When the trick asked her quick, 'Did you come?'"
American Gangster Time

Elvis Costello still slays me, nearly 30 years after his blistering arrival onto the new wave music scene (My Aim Is True, This Years Model, Armed Forces...mmmm). Mumofuko is a straight forward rock record, punctuated yet again by Costello's acerbic lyrics and trademark snarly whine. Interestingly enough, the cd's title is a reference to Mumofuko Ando, the creator of instant noodles. Utilizing several guest performers and longtime band mates Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas, Costello apparently remarked at a recent concert that the cd came together so quickly and easily, all he had to do was add water. His aim's still true.

"Everybody here,
Comes from somewhere,
That they would just as soon forget,
And disguise.
At the summer camp where you volunteered,
No one saw your face, no one saw your fear."
Supernatural Superserious

REM arrived on the new wave scene shortly after Costello, and managed to mesmerize me with their combination of appealing pop/rock jangle with Michael Stipe's indecipherable (but they must cool!) lyrics. They've evolved and changed over the years, with politics taking over a lot of Stipe's focus (and losing drummer Mike Mills was a definite setback)...nevertheless, they were still worth listening to. But this new cd really demands to be played loud. Still politically charged, they've left behind the downbeat almost morose sound of recent releases for bright bristling electric guitar work. Accelerate sounds like the old REM....that's not the end of the world, and I feel fine.

"And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
I see God upon the ceiling
I see angels overhead
And he seems so close
As he reaches out his hand
We are never quite as close
As we are led to understand."
When I Dream Of Michelangelo

I know I will get slammed by some for liking the Counting Crows, but hey...they got me way back with Mr. Jones and I was hooked. Yes...frontman Adam Duritz can be a bit of a knob, but I still dig the Crows because they're one of the few bands whose music and lyrics I find...erm...cinematic. I can't really explain it any other way...other than some bands put images into my mind, and others don't. And over the years, songs like Round Here, Long December, Holiday In Spain, and Colorblind have turned on the part of my brain that sees life and stories in's been my 'directing music', so to speak.

Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings continues that tradition, for me at any rate. One half uptempo rock-radio fare (Saturday Night), the other half introspective melancholy balladry (Sunday Morning), Duritz and company have let me shoot another movie in my head...and that makes me about as happy as I can be.


Diane Kristine said...

Gotta go get me some CDs - good picks. I'm not exactly Ms. Cool, but I love Counting Crows. And even had a crush on Adam Duritz until I realized he was a bit of a knob.

Juniper said...

I don't even know that he's a knob..... guess I should look into it.