Another Taranna December score…
Inspired by reading Michel Houellebecq’s La Possibilité d’une ile, Iggy headed to the studio. As I discovered online, he hilariously (of course) summed it up:
“Unlike his previous works, the album is less rock-oriented and was said by Pop to be a “quieter album with some jazz overtones” with its sound influenced by New Orleans jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. Pop also admitted that the album is his response to being “sick of listening to idiot thugs with guitars banging out crappy music”.”
There’s an old French jazz standard (Les feuilles mortes), an Antonio Carlos Jobim standard (How Insensitive), and a ton of other cool stuff. Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) did the artwork. Rolling Stone called it “definitely the weirdest record of the punk godfather’s career.”
Weird? Absolutely. But that’s Iggy. I friggin’ loved it. This was one of the highlights of my Taranna scores!
Welcome to another entry in the IOU Series! This one’s for J. at the amazing Resurrection Songs blog. J. has mentioned this album to me several times, and it’s about damn time I heard it, eh?
I like Iggy. This singularly fascinating character hasn’t always hit the nail on the head, and when he misses he owns that too, but when he does nail it, holy hell it’s amazing.
And check out the band for this one: John Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures, etc), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, Dead Weather, Eagles Of Death Metal), and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys).
Produced by John Homme, this is not your typical Iggy record. I love it for this reason, and I will explain. But first, the tracks:
There’s something theatrical, even vaudevillian about Break Into Your Heart. It’s a grand gesture, on a dark stage with that edge to it that promises menace even though it simply sounds like slightly trippy rock. Gardenia could be from an 80s Bowie record, slightly wonky crooning and synths wobbling behind a simple beat and a rumbling bass line.
American Valhalla is a wee bit lethargic, somehow, even though the music is definitely busy enough. It plods a bit, but back comes that theatrical element… I can hear it coming from a stage while interprative dancers writhe about. Further listens will likely make this one grow on me like a fungus. In The Lobby would be perfect on a Tarantino soundtrack, or maybe a Doors record… it has that atmospheric echoey sound to it and, again, that hint of menace to it (“somebody is losing their life tonight”).
Sunday’s pounding drums and relentlessly riffing guitars turn this track into a rocking 80s swirl of Iggy. It remains a fascinating groove for its duration (that is, until the string section comes in at the end, of course), another grower track that stands tall. Vulture begins with Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar strumming, a western feel to its howled chorus bit. The electric guitar is wonky, and bells ring… by the time it crashes to a huge conclusion, with Iggy’s vocals mimicking a native American call, you’re firmly in its grip… damn.
German Days throbs, and lurks towards you like an old horror film monster. It receives lift from the electric guitar line in the verses. This is a weird track that does wander a bit, but it’s also fascinating. Chocolate Drops staggers up the street, emphasized by the slide guitar bits and, once again, ringing bells. “When you get to the bottom you’re near the top, the shit turns into chocolate drops…” Haha OK, Iggy!
Paraguay starts out a capella, and then, for no real discernible reason except that Iggy is going to “going where sore losers go, he starts singing about Paraguay. I’m sure the people of that fine country are thrilled. It’s a happy enough song musically, though, with backing music accents suggestive of music likely heard there. When it starts slamming hard, near the end, and Iggy starts talking and then ranting… THEN the track really gets interesting…
I said at the start that I’d explain why I love this record. It’s not just because it’s unlike a lot of what Iggy usually does. It’s that, of course, but it’s also because there’s a fearlessness in the whole thing. This just feels like pure artistic expression. And more, it feels like it unfolded as they went. Of course, I know there was a plan, but that feel of spontaneity is there. I like its darkness, and I like how it sort of feels like a Bowie tribute record… no, wait, not a tribute. It sounds like the album they could’ve made together if they’d made one last year. With those players along for the show. Damn.
I know that repeat listens will reveal more and more about this effort, too.
Two thumbs way up.
Yes, it’s been a pathetically long time since my last appearance here. But remember, it’s like John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” and man, I have been busy making plans to post here for WAY too long. So here’s some of the shit I’ve been listening to. More to come, ‘cos I’ve filled my iPod with all kinds of stuffs. Wahoo!
Terrible Hostess, Volume 2
Hooray for our friends at Mint Records! As you all know, Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle have just released a tasty new disc of excellent music called Let’s Just Stay Here. Talk about making our year! So, in honour of this release, our great friends at Mint sent us some really sweet swag… buttons and stickers (love the airline ‘Fragile’ stickers with Air Carolyn on them!), a Carolyn and NQ luggage tag, and a blood red dish towel to go with a beautiful copy of Carolyn’s Terrible Hostess: Recipes For Disaster, Volume 2 cookbook! Some of the recipes look downright tasty and I can’t wait to try them (with recommended music playing and recommended drink in hand).
Slayer – World Painted Blood
Business-as-usual chaos as only Slayer can muster it. Play this as loud as your player can go. SLAYER!
Slipknot – Slipknot 10th Anniversary Edition
The CD’s the real draw in this set, with all the brutal honesty and aggression intact… and bonus tracks! Sweet.
Hawksley Workman – We’ll Make Time (Even When There Ain’t No Time)
New Hawksley is coming! Get ready! James found this radio broadcast world premiere. It’s a one-idea slow build with enough lyrics to make anyone run out of breath, crashing full-on into rock-out bliss. Ah, Hawksley.
Guided By Sloan
Just noticed that in the liner notes for Sloan’s Navy Blues, Guided By Voices is listed as having shared the stage. Imagine THAT show! I think I’d pass out with bliss…
Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
Spent the whole time listening to this recognizing all of the influences that have given them their sound (U2, Oasis, Coldplay and tiresomely beyond). Shame they haven’t found their own sound out of the list.
Cage The Elephant – Cage The Elephant
This would sound great live. Kind of reminds me of the Trews although, if they meant what they said in the first track, they don’t give a shit what comparisons I can make. Just a great, fun rawk record.
Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto
Oddly compelling, with weird party music and falsetto vocals. Could almost be the soundtrack to a 60’s stage show musical. Are we sure this isn’t a Darkness side project?
Yim Yames – A Tribute To
My Morning Jacket dude’s tribute to George Harrison. Stripped-down renditions show the strength of the originals and let the covers shine too.
Miranda Lambert – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
New country meets the moxy of the classic country ladies of days gone by, with a few dud tracks thrown in. This lady can sing, that’s for sure. One foot in a bold new direction, the other stuck in the same old schtick.
Iggy Pop – Preliminaires
Man, Iggy rules. Only this particular wild man could foist such a collection of jazzy. bluesy, rock-ish and Parisian-sounding stuff on our ears and get away with it. And without ridicule, too. Strangely compulsive, and not just because it’s Iggy (and therefore we must love it). A welcome diversion, so long as it’s not an admission that he’s finally slowing down for good.
Harry Connick, Jr. – Blue Light, Red Light
This takes me back to high school .Yes, I was THAT guy back then. Still am now, I’ll have you know. Great swing, astounding arrangements in the best of this style’s traditions. Could be the soundtrack to a grainy-colour 60’s musical, and that’s a very, very good thing.
Flight Of The Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky
We all love these guys by now, with their quirky humour that’s laugh-out-loud funny. Even if you set aside the images from the TV show in your mind, this is still an hilariously danceable record. These guys are really onto something.