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   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #233  (Vol. 5, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 6--12, 2004.
The Digital Divide by Terence Nuzum
LEDsCD REVIEWS    by Terence Nuzum
CDs are rated 1 to 5 LEDs

"I just want to be free. Is there a possibilty? Get me out of here right now..."

American Idiot

Four and a half LEDs

Though it may not be visibly apparent, 2004 is the year rock operas became cool again. From the Fiery Furnaces to Arcade Fire to, yes, our favorite snotty punks, Green Day. Like The Fiery Furnaces Blueberry Boat, American Idiot follows the lead from The Whos "A Quick One While I'm Away" with the album's two 9-minute centerpieces "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming" which, like "A Quick One..", have separate mini-songs within them. The style of music has progressed even further from the giant step they took on the Kinks-inspired Warning. They have seemingly gone back to hook-filled punk, but listen closer and you can almost hear classical chord changes (well for Green Day, anyway). Also on "Are We Waiting" they conquer '80s arena rock a la "We Are the World" type soaring choruses. The acoustic ballad "Give Me Novacaine" turns into a killer punk riff worthy of a heavy metal Cheap Trick. "Extrodanary Girl"'s chorus apes Radiohead's "Iron Lung", but hey, it's all good when it sounds this great. The band has never sounded tighter and more like, dare I say it, a serious alternative arena act and not a power punk outfit. The storyline of the album is as confusing to me as it is to all the other reviewers I read. But it's safe to say it is about that fed up paranoid desensitized American punk in all of us. It's also safe to say that this is the best album of Green Day's already impressive career. From mud fights to rock opera, who would have thunk it!

The Libertines
The Libertines:
The Libertines

Four and a half LEDs

Drugs. That's what the press and gossip and hype would have you believe is what fueled the Libertines' sophmore offering. That's not a completely wrong assumption, nor is it entirely true. During the making of this album, band member Pete Doherty was just released from jail for breaking and entering an apartment and stealing for drug money. Thing is, the person whom he stole from was friend and bandmate Carlos Barat. Now if that isn't interband turmoil, what is? After completeing the album, Doherty is in rehab once again. The opening song "Can't Stand Me Now" says it all. This album isn't about drug use, it's friendship and the shit you put up with for sticking by your pals. Same thing with "Last Post On The Bugle" in the lines "as they led him away, he sang we'll meet again someday, oh my boy theres a price to pay". The drug references pop up but only in context of what the rift is about, Doherty and Barats friendship being torn apart by his problem. This is encapsulated in "The Saga" the song the whole album is about, basically. It recites the legend of the album "a problem becomes a problem when you lie to your friends". The album's sound is like its predecessor Up The Bracket, basically a hodge-podge of indie rock, punk, Smiths odes, dub, and even skiffle. The saga of the Libertines, while brutally honest on the album, is also suprisingly fun, which shows despite their troubles, they pull together to make great music. Let's hope the last song on the album "What Became of the Likely Lads" isn't their eulogy. "What became of the likely lads what became of the dreams we had...oh what became of forever? we'll never know".

The Black Keys
The Black Keys:
Rubber Factory

Four LEDs

The White Stripes aren't blues. For all their posturing and, yes, greatness they are in reality punk-rock, Led Zepplin, classic-rock, test-tube babies. The Kills on the other hand are blues. The Black Keys are in another world entirely. They play 1940s electric blues, fuel-injected with Black Flag and backed by hip hop drum beats. The Blues is alive and well in The Kills and entirly reinvented with The Black Keys. Finally someone is doing it right. How can you deny Canned Heat gruff vocals and ear-peircing Howlin Wolf guitars. Refried Boogie, indeed.

The Concretes
The Concretes:
The Concretes

Four LEDs

The number of bands The Velvet Underground's debut has inspired could be put together to form a rope and could surround the equator easily, no problem. There are the two camps: the bands who are inspired by Lou Reed's mock Dylan-can't-play-for-shit attitude, and the others who base entire careers off of Nico's vocal turn on "Femme Fatal". The Concretes, like Stereolab, are one of the bands inspired by the latter. But like Broadcast or Midnite Movies they don't simply ape the sounds they take it and make something beautiful. Something for us to fall alseep to, something for us to dream to, that maybe somewhere Nico isn't dead and is recording and haunting us with her deathly angelic voice.

The Faint
The Faint:
Wet From Birth

Two and a half LEDs

On Blank Wave Arcade The Faint progressed from indie punk to '80s technoclash. On Danse Macabre they practically made dance punk and electroclash a household name. So naturally this leads one to the assumption that Wet From Birth should be a step forward once more. Not happening, people. Instead we get lame electropunk, with wannabe Robert Smith whining, and annoying guitar synth clusterfucks. Funny thing is the pre-release talk from the band was that it was more organic. Where did that go? I don't want to know 'cus then I'd have to listen to this for a third time. Yeah, the 2nd was denial. Empty fun for a bit and quickly forgotten. File under cheap sex.

"The Digital Divide" is ©2004 by Terence Nuzum..  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.