Monday, November 06, 2006

CD Reviews

While on course last week, there were a couple of evenings when I finished before Andrea did, and I had some time to kill before we car-pooled back home. So I took the opportunity on Wednesday to stop at a music store, and pick up some CDs I’d been wanting to get.

Weird Al: Straight Outta Lynwood

I’ve mentioned Weird Al before. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, and I have all of his albums. (Aside from any various singles he might have put out.) That being said, I always get mixed feelings, when I get a new album he’s put out; I obviously like his sense of humour, but at the same time, a lot of the humour is variations on themes he’s already done. So… the album was pretty par for the course. (A colleague of mine mentioned that it was his best album yet; I don’t know if I’d go along with that.) As is so often the case, the best songs on the album are the ones that would be on the radio right now; “White & Nerdy”, and “Don’t Download This Song” are my favourites, and “Canadian Idiot” is okay too.

As an aside, it was a bit disappointing that two of the songs that he parodied on this album—“Ridin’ Dirty” and “American Idiot”—were socially conscious songs. There is such a dearth of socially conscious songs in North American radio; when we get a couple of songs that become popular, they then get parodied? Oh well.

The CD also came with a bonus DVD, which contains some videos, for some of the songs, and a behind-the-scenes featurette, which showed some of the making of the album, in the studio. I loved the “making of” video; there’s something about a recording studio that I just love, so any time I get a peak into someone recording in a studio, I love it. I also love the video for “Don’t Download This Song”—which you can view online—so that was nice. But the rest of the videos were either mediocre, bizarre, or just bad. (The video for “Close But No Cigar” was bad, where I’m using “bad” in a moral sense. I don’t recommend anyone view this video.)

Christina Aguilera: Back to Basics

This is one I’d been thinking about picking up for a while. Regardless of people’s opinions of Christina, they all seem to agree that she has talent—they may not like her songs, or some of the choices her producers make, or enjoy hearing her music on the radio, but as for raw talent, they agree that she has it. So when I heard that her new album was going to be called “Back to Basics”, and that she was going old school, I had high hopes. Also, I’d already heard “Ain’t No Other Man”, which I love, so I knew there’d be at least one song on the album that I liked.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album was pretty disappointing. As Andrea pointed out to me, Christina—and her producers, whom I blame more than Christina herself—just don’t “get it”, sometimes. She’s got some songs on here which are supposed to sound old school, but just don’t ring true. The most obvious examples are the ones that are supposed to be burlesque-style. The whole point of burlesque is that it’s supposed to be all about the innuendo, whereas Christina’s songs don’t have any innuendo at all; she just flat out says it. (Not that I’m a huge fan of burlesque, mind you; it’s just an example. But a lot of other songs on the album don’t ring true either.)

In any event, though, the album includes “Ain’t No Other Man”, which almost makes it worth it. (In retrospect, it would have been better to get the single, instead, since that’s the only song that I unreservedly love.) Every time I hear this song, it stays in my head for hours, and it’s one of those rare cases where I don’t mind.

Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere

This was the CD that I wasn’t taking any chances on. During the birthday party we hosted a couple of weeks ago, they brought this CD, and I loved it, so I felt more than happy picking it up for myself.

Of course, even then, there was a bit of a problem: Andrea’s sister already had it, or something. (I’m not really clear if she has it, or borrowed it from the library, or what.) But I’m not too worried; it’s a great album, so I don’t mind supporting the artist. (I do mind supporting the record company, but what are you going to do, right?)