Friday, October 2, 2009

There is a stack of CDs sitting on my desk. I am falling behind. Thanks to work and academia, my rate of musical, literary, and cinematic consumption has dive-bombed into the basement. It is not a coincidence that my posts for this blog have dropped off as well, but beyond that, most of what I've listened to lately has failed to inspire. Here are two higher-profile albums I've listened to that didn't seem inclined towards a full-length review, and a book I know none of you will read, but I'm inclined to recommend anyway.

The new album by The Dead Weather, better known as Jack White's most recent project, goes by the ominous moniker of Horehound. Great name, but I'm not so sure about the album. It's more unusual than it is good or bad, which for some is a great thing. For me, that means it's alright. I don't typically appreciate weird for the sake of weird. It's a throwback to lo-fi sixties garage groups, combined with elements of straight-forward rock for which White is known, and while it succeeds spectacularly in that capacity, that's not a sound I necessarily needed back. So it could go either way for you, really. (Grade: B-)

The latest from Muse, The Resistance, is quite the disappointment. I enjoy not just the music of Muse, but their attitude in pulling it off. They take Over-the-Top to a whole new level, and firmly have their tongue-in-cheek while doing so. I love Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations, their last two, both of which served to provide the audience with a sense of the absurd mixed in with killer singles. Muse seem to have taken a step sideways with this one, and possibly a few steps back. Is it more grandiose than before? Unquestionably. The music is filled with the flourishing accompaniments of a real orchestra, and songs like "United States of Eurasia" are inherently ridiculous, as one expects from these space cases. But the lyrics are urbane where they used to be negligible, and the music is bland in places where it used to surprise. Not their best, then. (Grade: C-)

In books, I've finally finished volume 1 of Tocqueville's Democracy in America. It may have been written just short of 200 years ago, but this in-depth look at the American system of government as it came into adulthood is fascinating, and well worth the time. A balanced critic and admirer, Tocqueville never comes across as one-sided, always giving air time to all pertinent perspectives. None of you will read it, I know, but it's really rather brilliant. (Grade: A)

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