Thursday, May 8, 2008

SCQ Track Previews

To appease the requests of my faithful readers (well, one reader), SCQ will now undertake the task of previewing the latest singles or tracks of interest on an occasional basis. Despite the current flood of great new music pouring in, SCQ is constantly craving more and although the following tracks aren't yet available (in album form), we can feast on these early scraps. For release dates and further album information, check out Thank God It's Tuesday.

Violet Hill – Coldplay
SCQ Rating: **///

The full-blooded ambience that ushers in this track excites me, not only because album #4 is produced by Brian Eno, but because Coldplay could use a dose of long-winded ambition. Not the case. As we’ve come to expect every three years, Coldplay are working hard to prove themselves a credible rock band and their polished setting is roughed up by some intentionally raw guitar work. That it’s uncomfortably rubbing shoulders with some serene strings and piano is only slightly baffling; what’s more problematic is that it can’t, in a padded three minutes, be both the shout-from-the-rooftop love song and the soft ballad it’s attempting to be.

Aside from the obviously conflicted sides present, this song fails to smooth out its bipolarity by foregoing a real chorus. Now I’m all for Coldplay switching things up – in fact, I was the one counting down the days after Martin claimed they had “reinvented the wheel” with X&Y and I applauded Martin’s promised of no piano on this new record – but as you can see, Coldplay aren’t nearly as versatile at performing as they are at promising. By ridding their lead single of a catchy (or noticeable) chorus, the four Brits have disabled what has been their lead weapon since ‘Yellow’.

Some good news? It doesn’t sound like ‘Clocks’. Moreover, Martin’s lyrics don’t sound entirely recycled from Hallmark cards; the apocalyptic march of bibles and rifles would ring true anytime over the past millennium or so, but hearing Martin mix that fear with his constant love-cravings is, if nothing else, more interesting than his last few albums of love-craving. Here’s hoping the album sequencing compliments the song more than radio play can.

Pork and Beans – Weezer
SCQ Rating: *////

“I don’t give a hoot about what you think,” Rivers sings in their debut single from another self-titled record and we get it, Rivers, really; you released Make Believe. We know you don’t care. Writing a song about it seems to be just the latest dare Rivers has challenged himself with, and like the album’s cover, title, and lead single, he’s getting away with it. The band deserves better and with Rivers delivering another passionless set of ridiculous (or are they ironic again, Rivers?) lyrics that keep his listening demographic bordering on pre-teen, the "Red Album" seems like another missed opportunity.

To Cure A Weakling Child/Girl Boy Song - Adem
SCQ Rating: ****/

When I hear of a favourite artist indulging in a covers project, I instinctively cringe. Why on earth would a distinctive songwriter sacrifice his/her own creativity to mimic someone elses? Well after hearing ‘To Cure A Weakling Child/Girl Boy Song’, my whole beef with covers might take a vacation. Multi-instrumentalist Adem puts his intimate voice (and guitar, mandolin, woodwinds, etc.) to Aphex Twin’s classic Richard D. James album, milking the pastoral beauty out of the original’s beat-heavy blender mix. With the grace he shows here, I’m dying to know how Adem plans to perform Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Starla’. I’ll be first in line for this one.

I Will Possess Your Heart – Death Cab For Cutie
SCQ Rating: ***//

There has been much discussion over Death Cab for Cutie’s non-negotiable new album; word is fans will love it or hate it in equal measure. While this lead single hardly demands severe opinion-taking, it’s an interesting first-look at what could be Death Cab’s definitive statement after years of being linked to emo and what jackasses refer to as “chick rock”.

For all the endless collaborations his voice has been found in, it’s a credit to Ben Gibbard’s pipes that he hasn’t worn out his welcome yet. As soon as Death Cab lock their brooding bass line with a grand piano melody, it nearly disappears when Gibbard’s aching lyrics begin. Treading between lovelorn and stalker-ish, Gibbard takes a modern page out of ‘Every Breath You Take’ that is decidedly non-emo and sounds like DCFC may have taken some mature steps since 2005’s adequate Plans.

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