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Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Avenue

Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: The Weight – "Are Men"

Cows coming home, days in the sun, cold Budweiser - it's the finer things in life that concern country collective The Weight. While "Are Men" ruminates lyrically on simple pleasures and equally simple pains, the music relies heavily on intricacy. The cowboys' equation: Silver Jews, minus smart-ass irony and plus an extra shot of twang. "Hillbilly Highway" is pretty much exactly what you'd expect - a beer-soaked love song for hicks, fleshed out with organ fills and yeehaw fiddle. It's a somber affair for the most part, but "Had It Made" shakes off the Jack and Coke haze with a Tweedy-esque melody and stomping guitar interplay. The tune cuts to the barbecued heart of The Weight - these "Men" are really just a bunch of good ol' boys.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Q&A with Brett Dennen

Brett Dennen said his desert island food of choice is sushi. After all, raw fish is already on the menu. This clever California folkie, who releases his third album "Hope for the Hopeless" on Oct. 21, is a man of sound judgment. Supports Barack Obama? Check. Keeps his childhood friends? Check. Huge Ween fan? Obviously.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Q&A with David Banner

As he hung out on his tour bus with rapper Talib Kweli, David Banner talked to the Avenue about his Friday show at The Venue, hip-hop, politics and life in general. Since the success of his song "Play," Banner said he has been "working hard on the music, enjoying life - trying to get through."


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: The Streets – "Everything Is Borrowed"

Intellectualism isn't completely dead in America, but it's plugged to a ventilator. If The Streets are any indication, the academic inquisition hasn't yet crossed the pond. "Everything Is Borrowed," everything except the ideas, sounds like a particularly intelligent Black Eyed Peas spin-off, genre-hopping from English R&B to pop-laden beat poetry. Be this as it may, "Heaven for the Weather" jumps and jives on a piano-tambourine combo dolled up for mass consumption. No elitist claims here: this is freaking catchy, mate. "The Way of the Dodo," though, is problematic Al Gore hip-hop - smart, smug, warning human extinction. And it's kind of hard to dance to music about the end of the world.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  FASHION

Fake fashion faux pas

Last week I wrote about the fashion rules that you can (and probably should) break, especially in Florida. This week, I'm writing about the rules that you can bend. I emphasize the word bend because if you break them, you could end up looking like a hot fashion mess, but if you bend them the right way, you could break new fashion ground.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: Rise Against – "Appeal To Reason"

The boys in Rise Against could probably take out David Blaine in a breath-holding contest. How do I know? Because "Appeal To Reason" is a 47-minute, make-your-cheeks-turn red scream-a-thon, somehow peppered with enough actual words to resemble something of a concept album bemoaning the collapse of Western civilization. Exhale. "Kotov Syndrome" pegs the formula - hey! hey! backing vocals, mosh-inducing chord progressions and anger. Lots of anger. Not a great deal of range here, unless the scale runs from "'roid rage" to "where's the baseball bat?" "Collapse (Post-Amerika)" tactfully depicts a doomsday scenario. Spoiler alert - we spell America with a K. It all tries to sound grave and important, but through it all, your mind will wonder: Can these guys belch the alphabet?


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: Mercury Rev – "Snowflake Midnight"

There's a place in the market for white noise, and nobody knows this better than Mercury Rev. With "Snowflake Midnight," the veteran space-rockers piece together an orthopedic pillow of an album that's not only as serenely unexciting as its name suggests but could likely accompany "trickling stream" and "rainforest animals" as the third setting on a Sleep Mate sound machine. Each of the few engaging moments scattered throughout - the soft-loud dynamic in "People Are So Unpredictable (There's No Bliss Like Home)," the Little-Drummer-Boy-learns-techno choral passage of "Dream of a Young Girl as a Flower" - is promptly smothered to death by an extended ambient interlude. This is the sonic equivalent of turkey: it's pretty bland by itself, and after consumption, all you want to do is take a nap.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: Oasis – "Dig Out Your Soul"

If the Cubs ever won a World Series, the universe would collapse on itself. Likewise if Oasis ever made another classic album -some things just aren't meant to happen. But Noel Gallagher has a go at greatness anyway, and on "Dig Out Your Soul," he comes very close before little brother Liam and friends set him back another hundred years. The first four songs, penned by the older, more talented sibling, make up a bristling suite channeling the sounds of London, circa 1969. "Bag It Up" and "The Shock of the Lightning" strut to quintessential Oasis - swaggering guitar rock, pissed off and brash. And too good to be true. Liam and the rotating cast of sidemen promptly pull a Steve Bartman: distracting the professional from accomplishing something special.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: Jack's Mannequin - "The Glass Passenger"

There are a lot of ridiculous band names out there, but every once in a while, these guys will hit the nail right on the head. Jack's Mannequin: genius. It's got a ring that conveys all of this band's qualities - androgynously nice-looking, probably could be found in an Abercrombie & Fitch store, personality of a stiff piece of plastic. "The Glass Passenger" is the vehicle by which frontman Andrew McMahon pans off his stepford-wife rock 'n' roll on, well, whoever's into this kind of stuff. "The Resolution" and "American Love" will be hits on a spunk-rock station that plays your favorite mix of "80s, 90s and today!" But the kicker is a line from "Annie Use Your Telescope" that yearns, "Is there anybody out there?" It recalls the Pink Floyd song: "Comfortably Numb."


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  MUSIC

Album review: Pussycat Dolls - "Doll Domination"

Catwoman, Hello Kitty, Yusuf Islam - whether through black spandex, lunch boxes or folk music, each of these feline enthusiasts have made meaningful contributions to the rich landscape of American pop culture. But not the Pussycat Dolls, who, with "Doll Domination," continue to claw their way through the ranks of tightly clothed MTV inventions with high-cut skirts and lowbrow R&B. "Bottle Pop" features some typically smooth lines from Snoop Dogg, and there's also a song called "I Hate This Part" - the girls showcase their command of irony. A little piece of my soul withered away when I heard this album. Still, this kind of music can't kill the Pussycats - they have nine lives.


Florida Alligator
THE AVENUE  |  LIFESTYLE

Sarah Silverman Q&A

In a national phone conference, comedian Sarah Silverman schleped over to a phone to discuss the season two premiere of "The Sarah Silverman Program" on Comedy Central and her voting campaign called "The Great Schlep," which favors Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. For more information, check out sarahsilverman.comedycentral.com and thegreatschlep.com.



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