Post-it Notes (Jeff Rosenstock, POST- review)

Making music isn’t something for everyone, but everyone needs music in their life. When economic anxiety has become the new buzz term to describe the state of western nations, then I think it only makes sense for an artist to come on the scene and shake things up.

 

Jeff Rosenstock – POST-

released March 23, 2018
********* 9/10

Jeff Rosenstock is an American musician and songwriter hailing from Long Island, New York. He’s been involved in a ska band (The Arrogant Sons of Bitches), an indie rock group (Kudrow), and a musical collective (Bomb the Music Industry!). It was only six years ago that Bomb the Music Industry! split up and Rosenstock had to decide what to do with himself. After a bit of deliberation he launched his solo career in 2012.

In those six years he has released three studio albums, We Cool?, Worry, and POST-. POST- was released digitally on January 1, 2018 to the surprise of so many people. It has since been issued through Polyvinyl and to generally favourable reviews – Most of the songs were created shortly after the 2016 presidential election and reflect Rosenstock’s disenfranchisement with national pride, non-confidence in people, and disbelief in himself.

it’s equal places angry and fun, something we could all do with in 2018. While that sounds incredibly daunting–and like a really tiring listen–the album’s most impressive trait is that it makes all that vital work feel joyous and communal

USA tells a story about the never-ending civil war of America, having never ended but instead become even more charged over time. It’s a strong opener and features lines like “we’re tired and bored” and “et tu USA” which smartly sounds like F U USA. Then we have Yr Throat and Powerlessness, which have a subtle taste of hope about bridging communication, but ultimately raise doubt whether America is worth the trouble.

Continuing this trend are All This Useless Energy and Beating My Head Against A Wall. Both tracks are strong indicators of what happens in the face of futile odds. Most surprising to me though is Let Them Win. A song about the importance of working together to combat evil behaviour and focus on we instead of you and I.

TV Stars reminds you of a Billy Joel song, and even has a reference to piano-playing, but most importantly there is a theme about loneliness and the fear of it, throughout the track. This also shows up on the next song, Melba, which it is probably the most happy song of the lot, and hilarious if you pay attention to the lyrics. Oddly enough it also reminds me of another song – I’ll have to get back to you on what that is exactly.

Pros: The energy of each song is amazing, and how Rosenstock manages to inject fun into such sweeping epics of ideas is something I haven’t seen in a while. Tackling difficult topics comes naturally to him.

Cons: Rosenstock is a victim of his own success. It mimics Me Too! but unfortunately isn’t quite as interesting as that initial outing.

Runtime: 40 minutes

Points of InterestIt was written and recorded mere weeks before it’s January 1 release date. Most of it  was recorded live onto tape, giving it a very lo-fi and earnest sound.

Now all that shared, POST- might not be Jeff Rosenstock’s best work to date, but it is far and above more entertaining/meaningful then so much other music that’s been released this year. This is a spiritual successor to other punk concept albums like American Idiot and The Monitor. It’s heartfelt, DIY, modern punk music, and I think it’s pretty damn accessible too.

theories Summarized

It’s cathartic and painful, bright and worrisome –  an anthem of economic anxiety as it were. POST- was given away for free on New Years Day, but I’d happily pay for it a second time if I were given the choice. It’s that good.

And speaking of albums I would happily buy a second time if it ever came up, Brendon and I have a great video review on the 2005 debut album Silent Alarm. This is essential Bloc Party listening and it features so many danceable tracks on it. Definitely worth a sit down. Or twenty.

I can’t believe that album is over a decade old already, but it was easily in my top five records for that year, and has been on heavy rotation ever since!

And remember, if you liked what you saw, and/or enjoyed what you read, please click on the like button, and even better, subscribe to the channel and my mailing list! I’ll be back tomorrow with a film review on The Shape of Water. A divisive film, yes, but I have an interesting theory on why it actually deserved to win so many Academy Awards.

Tim!

Just Hymning Along (Bloc Party, Hymns review)

There is this really lame scene from 2007’s Spider-man 3 where Peter Parker gets upset with Eddie Brock, pushes him against a wall, and decides to expose him as a fake photographer. Which is then topped off by the one-liner – You want forgiveness, get religion.

Fans of the Spider-man comic books can appreciate both the cheesiness of this line, and the attempt at foreshadowing the pending birth of Venom in the film.

This might be relevant to today’s Melodic Monday entry in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Bloc Party – Hymns
released January 29, 2016
****** 6/10

Bloc-Party-HYMNS

Bloc Party are an English indie rock band, which also use elements of electronica and house in their music. Though they have seen some lineup changes over the past few years, the current band is composed of Kele Okereke (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sampler), Russell Lissack (lead guitar, keyboards), Justin Harris (bass guitar, keyboards, saxophones, backing vocals) and Louise Bartle (drums).

This is their fifth studio album, which comes after a 4 year hiatus. After 2012’s Four was released, Matt Tong left the band in 2013 and Gordon Moakes left the band in 2015. This is where Justin Harri and Louise Bartle came in.

Hymns is an interesting effort. \s I already mentioned, it is the first album Bloc Party has made in four years, but it is also the first album the new lineup has recorded together. And somehow it manages to both work as a wall of sound album, with religious undertones, and simultaneously alienate fans of their older work. In other words, it’s not really like the smash first album Silent Alarm and their dancier third album, Intimacy.

But what’s the problem?

Why it doesn’t work is because it never quite reaches the levels of spiritual praise that it claims to be striving for. It’s an album half baked. But when it does work it’s because they stop pretending to be making dance music with religious redemption and just talk about the issues they care about. This is where Okereke’s vocals have always been strongest and where the heart of Bloc Party lies.

Instead with Hymns we get to see Okereke in control of the show, existing in a space between soul and gospel, but he does still love his electronica. Stand out tracks include Into The Earth, So Real, and Living Lux, but overall the rest of the songs are just okay. It’s so strange because this was one of the 21st centuries golden children, they were pioneering in 2005 what has now become the norm in modern rock. But their exploration of music and lryics as a slow and forced movement into a more mature sound just doesn’t quite work yet. This truly is Bloc Party 2.0, but I’m not entirely convinced that the upgrade has been worth it.

It may be because half of the original band has left, and the party has left with them, but Different Drugs best demonstrates the future of the band, and incidentally may be a code for the reason why the band started to break up in the first place. If reinvention is supposed to be cool, I think it just got cold in this house.

 

 

 

Now I don’t necessarily think that Bloc Party “got religion” in the wake of the band experiencing inner turmoil, but it is interesting that self-reflection usually breeds this kind of behavior. And I’m willing to bet we haven’t seen the last of Bloc Party, that an awesome team-up style fight is in the not-too-distant future, but I’ve been burnt before.

So should you buy this album? Well I don’t think it’s amazing, but still, it’s a decent listen. Fortunately enough, I just might have a redemption movie in store for tomorrow. What do you think? Is Hymns marred with too much self-worship? Are my theories on the mark?

Tim!