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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #518 (Vol. 11, No. 9). This edition is for the week of February 22--28, 2010.

"Cop Out"  by Mike Smith
Series Retrospective: Matt Helm  by ED Tucker
February's Album of the Month : Yeasayer--Odd Blood  by Terence Nuzum
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #5  by Lisa Scherer
Mainland Dundee  by Jason Fetters
Anyone Else Find This Hilarious?  by John Miller
Trumpets Please! .... Passing On .... Movie News .... If I Picked The Oscars (and I Do) .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

The Audio Philes by Terence Nuzum

February's Album of the Month : Yeasayer--Odd Blood

Album of the Month Yeasayer: Odd Blood.  

I'm just going to say it right off the bat...Depeche Mode used to be able to make albums this good. What happened is beyond me but at least we have Yeasayer. Mixing up Dave Gahan-like vocals with a modern experimental dance sound works like gold. Odd Blood opens with " The Children" a mashup of distorted vocals and bubbly electro bleeps that sounds like alchemy pop. "Ambling Alp" is the single and the standout track, a truimphant anthem whose vocals ache to Gahan-like greatness but are backed by more experimental sounds than Depeche Mode ever used. Like most songs on Odd Blood, though, the band never lets their more avant-garde leanings exit the parameters of the pop structure. Which is too bad because while Odd Blood is a great album of the moment it could have reached more timeless heights. While not everything works (like the late zoot suit sounding "Mondegreen") it's hard to argue that "O.N.E." and the tribalesque "Madder Red" aren't some of the best synth pop to have come along in years.

Yeasayer:"Ambling Alp"

Hot Chip: One Life Stand.  
If Yeasayer's latest is unintentionally inspired by Depeche Mode it is certainly obvious that Hot Chip's One Life Stand is an unabashed love letter to those other great 80's dance rock pioneer's New Order. With titles like "Thieves In The Night" and Bernard Sumner-like vocals on "One Life Stand" there's no hiding it. One Life Stand's main problem is that after a brilliant run of five songs in a row, the second half of the album bogs down in slower ballads and fails to pick itself back up. Still a different beast than the last Hot Chip album and one to check out.

Massive Attack: Heligoland.  
Here it is the mighty return of Massive Attack. The bristol collective who spawned one of the greatest modern musical genres called Trip Hop. Their influence on not only rock and rap but on pop itself is immeasurable. Sorry folks, the ressurection ain't quite how we hoped. There will be no one to keep you safe from harm tonight. Their greatest days might be behind them. Too bad since they are one of my favorite bands and I really really wanted this one to be special. The album itself marks the return of Daddy G (Grant Marshall), but unfortunately, neither he nor the band's real genius 3D (Robert Del Naja) do much in the way of vocal work. Instead, the album is saddled with that horror of all horrors, the tag known as "guest vocalists". "Pray to Rain" has guest vocals by TV On The Radio's Adimpe and it sounds like just that, a TV On The Radio song. Therien lies the main problem, the album sounds like a compilation of tracks Massive Attack simply produced for other vocalists. It does have its moments but only when Massive Attack themselves are involved vocally like on the devastating "Splitting The Atom" and the epic house anthem "Atlas Air". Longtime fans will, of course, pick this up regardless, but if you are a newcomer and are wondering about this ultra moody dark version of hip hop from the 90's your older brother keeps talking about, then save your money for their classics, Blue Line, Protection, and Mezzanine.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre--Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?.
Since Anton Newcombe's return, his band BJTM has really just been a solo affair and, though, supposedly oldtime partner Matt Hollywood is back on board for this one (he left the band after one insult too many which was famously captured in the documentary DIG!), I'm hard pressed to hear where. With its title, you'd think it would harken back to the heady raga drone days of their classic albums, but instead continues on the acid rave techno of their last album. That being said, it's good for what it is but I just wish Anton would stop calling it BJTM so it could be simply judged on its own merits...a really good Anton Newcombe solo album.

Robert Pollard-- We All Got Out Of The Army.
I know it's cliched, but it still to this day is amazing how much output Pollard has in one year and most of it good. For those who don't know between his solo albums and various bands, he has put out a staggering ten records in two years. This latest solo album isn't as good as his last couple of albums with his new band Boston Spaceships, but it is better than his last couple of solo albums. On this new album Pollard finally sounds as well-produced as his late period Guided By Voices works and it helps. What made producer Todd Tobias finally ramp it up after several limp production jobs is unclear. My guess would be the experience of the Boston Spaceship albums and maybe their financial and critical success. Army is full of great Pollard tunes that hark back oddly to the days of grunge in guitar tone. While it's not likely to gain Pollard any new fans, it's a damn good record that those who like the man's work will, of course, already have bought.

"The Audio Philes" is ©2010 by Terence Nuzum.   All graphics (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.