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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #548 (Vol. 11, No. 39). This edition is for the week of September 20--26, 2010.

"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole"  by Mike Smith
The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part 12  by William Moriaty
Dark Night of the Scarecrow  by ED Tucker
September Album reviews: Weezer,Interpol, The Walkmen, and Boston Spaceships!  by Terence Nuzum
Pop Culture Potpourri: Anniversaries R Us ... R.I.P. Luna Vachon  by Lisa Scherer
Battle Royale  by Jason Fetters
You Say It's My Birthday .... Hate To Say I Told You So (no I Don't) .... The Big 5-o .... Where Was Matt? .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith
The Audio Philes by Terence Nuzum

September Album reviews: Weezer,Interpol, The Walkmen, and Boston Spaceships!

The Walkmen: Lisbon- Six years ago is when I last reviewed a Walkmen record. It was on the heels of their follow up to their eerie 1930s sounding debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Is Gone. The followup, the masterful Bows + Arrows was a revelation. They still scattered their eerie archaic piano torch songs among their recently acquired new wavey sound but those throwbacks paled in comparison to the new stuff in particular "The Rat" a speed jangle anthem that earned them the right to be heralded as the new U2. And they really were weren't they? With vocals that sounded like Bono when the fire was still in his belly and jangle guitar lines that out anthemed Edges anthems. After the Garage Rock Revival (2002-2005) crashed and burned in just three short years and many bands lost their careers (remember The Mooney Suzuki and The Vines?) The Walkmen still carried on and recorded a third record. The third record was brave but it dropped the ball. Instead of giving us the album that would propel them beyond hipster circles they made a record that sounded like Bob Dylan backed by an indie rock band and the title of the new U2 got swiped up by The Arcade Fire (a description for them still being used and going strong today). Then came 2008's You & Me their dreary Roy Orbison record. It was awesome but a bit too slow. Their latest Lisbon follows the same mold but is influenced by primitive rockabilly particulary Johnny Cash's backing band The Tennessee Two. As a rockabilly fan I couldn't be happier. But don't expect "Get Rythym" or "That's Allright Mama" throwbacks. The tunes themselves aren't rockabilly in the slightest but the production and instruments are. There is also a faint breeze of Trinadadian Calypso on some of the tracks and The Smiths influences aren't far behind. All in all this is their best record since 2004's Bows + Arrows and it is a really really really good album, the kind you actually sit and study when listening to it, but part of me wonders where the brief bit of unforgettable fire that reared it's head on "The Rat" and "Little House of Savages" went and if it's ever coming back.

Weezer: Hurley- After Raditude it can't get any worse right? In this case you can sigh a breath of release because the answer is NO. It even has a typical modern era Weezer cover, a picture of Hurley from the TV show Lost. It's a bizarre, corny and good omen. In fact this might be the best Weezer album since Maladriot. I would say no but then again I have a soft spot for at least the most of the Red Album. Raditude now makes sense in retrospect. It was their last album for Geffen and it was in all probability a joke album like I stated at the time and they probably made it to get off the label. They are now signed with Epitaph home to many punk and pop punk bands. In a way Weezer fits perfectly there. While this album has many highlights it unfortunately still goes the route of Raditude with Rivers Coumo collaborating on songs instead of writing them all himself. Fortunately this time around he picks better collaborators. Mostly of a higher caliber, one even wrote songs for Coumo's idols Kiss and another is one of my personal favs Ryan Adams (like Coumo another misunderstood wacky songwriter with no ability to edit himself). "Memories" the first track and first single is damn good. A return to the raw Weezer of yore (Coumo describes it as Andrew WK covering The Killers and I agree). Same with "Trainwrecks" that recalls the proto-emo mixed with Buddy Holly Green Album-era Weezer.One thing that is also a plus is that Coumo is screaming again. Well not like Kurt Cobain screaming, but his usual sing songy voice on the verge of cracking scream that so enthralled us on Pinkerton. Don't let all this fool you though the songs on here are nowhere near the caliber of the first four albums. Nowadays though we take even mediocre Weezer when we can get it and keep our mouths shut. If you are like me though you love even a bad Weezer album not because you are a zombified die hard fan but because Coumo since day one has set himself up as the loser who loves his music so much even when its bad that you cant help but love the underdog martryistic charm of it all. The saga continues...

Boston Spaceships: Our Cubehouse Still Rocks- Bob just doesn't stop does he? This is his third record this year. Of course he is at his best when he has a band. This isn't the best Boston Spaceships album but its by no means bad. It contains two of his catchiest numbers ever "Fly Away (Terry Sez)" and "Cmon Baby Grace", and has several numbers that harken back to 60's garage rock but overall it lacks the experimentation and progressive ideas of the first two albums. Bob will never return to the glory days of Guided By Voices. That was all his masterpiece material, (all 900 plus songs) but now while we don't get classic material anymore we do get great material. Don't fret it'll probably be another 10 years before he gets to his simply just good material and with any luck he will be 80 years old or dead before he will start sucking.

Interpol: Self-titled- Interpol always will hold a special place in my heart as it was the first concert I ever attended back in the raw and rocking days of the early 2000's Garage Rock Revival. I'm kinda sad cus in many ways this is the last Interpol album proper as it is the final album with bassist Carlos D. That's not just fan prejudice. A band like Interpol relied much on its members distinct musically personalities. They felt like a perfect chemistry equation right out of the gates. It must have seemed unfair to new bands back then that they could sound so good right off the bat. A second album proved they still had it. Things started to change though. The extremely boring Our Love To Admire felt like a forced maturity with its slow waltzy Goth replacing their doomy dance punk. On their newest one they try to reclaim some of the original fire and refine the maturity. It mostly works. "Lights" is a depressing classic that earns the right to sit along side Joy Divisions best. In fact it might be one of the most creepy songs (at least its mood) ever. It's drab feeling of impending doom is unequaled in my listening experience (save maybe some Swans songs). "Safe Without" is also a good song that rollicks along with a unforgettable guitar chord. The problem lies in the production. Not counting those few aforementioned songs the album feels like it has no personality. Almost as if the tracks were put together posthumously with some shotty pro-tools program. It leaves the rest of the songs all sounding limp and suffering from sameness of mood. "Barricade" is telling too. It is an attempt to reclaim that crack shot dance punk that they injected into songs like "PDA" but it sounds forced and lame. They also have seemed to drop any notion of trying to put out those stellar mopey ballads like "NYC" and "Evil" that they were so perfect at. As a fan I recommend it as a final chapter to the original line up but I honestly was hoping they had one more burst of greatness before the end.

Other Releases to check out:

Robert Plant: Band of Joy- Not quite the Led Zeppelin III companion piece were told it was going to be but close. Instead of Reinterpreting old English folk tunes, like III did, he tackles Americana. His cover of indie rock band Low's "Monkey" and the traditional ballad "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" are more than enough to make up for that annoying duet album he made with Allison Krauss.

Of Monreal: False Priest- more funky Prince bang ups and less what this band used to be about...progression.

Black Angels: Phosphene Dream- ditching the long drone epics the Black Angels this time around give us a short and concise garage rock record that sounds like the best Count Five record never released.

Next Week: more releases from Neil Young,Deerhunter, No Age, The Swans and Septembers album of the month!!

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.