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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #540 (Vol. 11, No. 31). This edition is for the week of July 26--August 1, 2010.

"The Kids Are All Right"  by Michael Smith
July Album of the Month: Dark Night of the Soul  by Terence Nuzum
The Hat Trick  by ED Tucker
Ultraman, Series One  by Jason Fetters
They Call Me Coach .... Congratulations .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

The Audio Philes by Terence Nuzum

July Album of the Month: Dark Night of the Soul

Album of the Month Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse present: Dark Night Of The Soul.  

So if this album sounds familiar that because it was supposed to be released last year but was shelved due to a legal dispute with EMI. Now a year later it finally sees the light of day and it's main songwriter the Todd Rundgren one man band Mark Linkous aka Sparklehorse is long gone from this world after a successful suicide attempt. That being said this album is a fun filled listen regardless of his unfortunate death. Danger Mouse produces and plays keys and Linkous plays all guitars. The album was always intended to feature guest vocalists as they were songs that Linkous felt were out of his range vocally. I usually hate these sort of things with tons of guest vocalists who come in for a day and sound totally unconnected and uninspired by the whole thing. Maybe that's not how it is but to me that's how it always sounds. My fears for this project though were put to rest about half way in. For one thing all the guest vocalists wrote their own lyrics for each track which makes them automatically more involved. "Revenge" features two members of The Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne and Steve Drozd and sounds like a track off of their own The Soft Bulletin if it was produced by Isaac Hayes. "Little Girl" is the coolest track with vocals by Julian Casablancas from The Strokes. It shows that The Strokes with a little more avant production can possible make a great album again. Let's hope Julian learned something from this collaboration. Naturally as a Pixies fan I can't hate Frank Black's contribution "Angels Harp" but even I have to admit he sounds like he might of phoned this one in and the washy shoegaze sound Linkous brings to the track just doesn't fit for Black. "Pain" on the other hand featuring Iggy Pop is a revelation. Pop sounds totally into the song which reminds one of his post-punk Bowie collaboration album from the 70's Idiot. The weirdest yet most fascinating track is one which features David Lynch (who also did the photos that accompanied the album) singing robotically like a Kraftwerk Frankenstein on "Star Eyes".
Sample of "Pain" by Iggy Pop
Lynch was involved from the beginning and shot a series of photographs for the project that ended up as the album art. The photos though aren't his best work and aren't anything you wouldn't see at a college art show. I suppose being such an amazing filmmaker I expected more from him. "Insane Lullaby" featuring James Mercer is obviously exactly what it sounds like, a dry run for his and Danger Mouse's future project Broken Bells. But it is in fact better than the album they ended up making. Jason Lytle, Suzanne Vega, Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys, and Vic Chesnutt also contribute vocals and while they don't do anything spectacular they do their usual good work. David Lynch returns to close out the album with one of the best songs "Dark Night of the Soul" a haunting Gershwin esque number that sounds like some creepy 1920's ballads you would hear if you lived in the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Linkous does contribute vocals to one track and to be fair its only mediocre and not up to his best work. The album as a final chapter to Linkous' life is a weak goodbye but compared to other guest vocalist compilation type albums it is a triumph as it sounds like everyone involved wanted to give it their all. And any album with David Lynch on auto tune has got to be some kind of brilliant!

Robert Pollard: Moses On A Snail.  Pollard puts out so many records a year that I loose track sometimes and in fact with this one I almost did. I got to hear it just before press time. ..Snail sounds like those early Pollard solo albums where he was just fucking around and not giving it his heart and soul. Once he disbanded his legendary Guided By Voices though he gave his full effort completely to his solo stuff which sounded as grand as anything he did with GBV. But since he has gone full bore with his new band Boston Spaceships it looks like he is saving all the good songs for that band. ...Snail sounds like its name a dreary slow and uninspired album. I love the man but this has got to be his worst album in years. There are some exceptions like "Ice Cold War", the electro pop (a genre first for Pollard?) "It's News" and the admittedly stunning closer "Moses on a Snail" but as a whole I'd save your money on this one.

Korn: III: Remember Who You Are.  

Korn having lost two original members and are now down to only three founders have decided to return to their roots. Namely that would be their best two albums their self titled debut and 1996's Life Is Peachy. Gone are the synthy Goth pop dabbling and the prog weirdness of the last album. Remember Who You Are is actually a damn good album. It's surprising because frankly I had written them off. But everything that made Korn so original back in the day is on full force here. The pummeling fury matched with pure emotional intensity of Jonathon Davis' vocals. Davis was always underrated in my opinion. He never sounded anything like the awful Nu-Metal bands that Korn unfortunately always got lumped in with. Davis like Billy Corgan or Bob Dylan is one of the least likely vocalists to get mainstream success but unlike them when he gets to that place of emotional intensity it doesn't sound like a jaded old man trying to recover past glories. It still sounds as if he really is still dredging up some dark shit from his soul that only he knows about and is still haunted by. Sounding like a odd mix of someone who worshipped both Robert Smith and Sepultura's Max Cavalera and backed by guitarist Munky Shaffer's bizarre avant-garde guitar licks (that were by design or lack of technique is anyone's guess) Davis and his band always sounded like some underground Gothy Metal band that somehow got lucky. Remember Who You Are reminds one of that initial reaction when they were just some new band that opened for Metallica that Lars was trumpeting. A band that paved the way for metal, rock and even rap groups to sing about taboo topics like rape, molestation, and abuse. When people rave on about how Eminem is so original rapping about his family problems etc. I always say "Didn't you ever listen to Korn". Future Korn albums are now welcome in my home as long as they sound this good.

Also if you missed it in June (like I did!) pick up Wolf Parade's new album Expo 86 , it's worth every penny.

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "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.