Heard Here

Modest Mouse
Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks

Sometimes, and this is pretty rare, there comes a band that does not degenerate with time. A band whose sound continues to expand without ever going through a complete transformation to something with very little semblance to what we know and love. A band whose albums you can pick up at random and still feel that warm glow of familiarity. A band that feels like home. Modest Mouse is such a band. As if the release of The Moon and Antarctica was not enough to leave us twitching in a pathetic heap of ecstasy on the floor in front of our stereos. As if the limited (and now out of print) release of the Night On the Sun EP featuring unheard tracks from the Moon and Antarctica sessions was not enough to send us into fits of uncontrollable glee. The fun doesn’t stop there. Oh no. These boys won’t stop until they have completely obliterated their entire fan base by means of spontaneous combustion.
Last Tuesday’s release of the Everywhere and his Nasty Parlour Tricks EP features the four tracks from Night On the Sun, including “Willful Suspension of Disbelief,” an uncharacteristically mellow, floaty, almost ethereal (by Modest Mouse standards) tune. Additonally, the album features a remake of “I Came as a Rat (Long Walk Off a Short Dock),” as well as four new tracks, including the noteworthy “The Air,” a trippy, almost electronic amalgam of countless other Modest Mouse songs.
One of the brilliant elements of The Moon and Antarctica is that it’s really Modest Mouse’s first album that flows, in an almost Abbey Road-esque manner, from one song to the next. There is a sense of unity that wasn’t necessarily lacking in the past albums, it just wasn’t a priority. Although the new EP could easily stand alone as an amazing supplementary entity, it fits with the Moon and Antarctica’s flow so well that it makes you wonder why the tracks weren’t originally included on the full length.
Everywhere and his Nasty Parlour Tricks is like an introductory Modest Mouse mix you’d make for that friend you just know would love the band as much as you did if they would only give them a listen. The EP is an accessible, diverse, mellow and absolutely beautiful collection of eight amazing songs that serves as an add-on to the Moon and Antarctica, or a to-the-point bait for the Modest Mouse rookie or maybe it’s just a conveniently packaged reminder of why we love them so much.
-Natasha Uspansky

Bob Dylan
Love and Theft

Bob Dylan, now 60 years young, has done it again: he has changed his voice. On Love and Theft, his 43rd album and the first since 1997’s Time Out of Mind, the-artist-formerly-known-as-Robert-Zimmerman cheerfully growls his way through 12 new tracks that do no less than take the listener on a full-scale tour through the history of the American song in all its burlesque majesty. Dylan navigates through country, ragtime, rockabilly, vaudeville, cocktail lounge cheese and his own ’60s-tinged version of the blues as he explores the vibrant and colorful musical landscape that has shaped his unique musical identity.
His voice is sounding as crazy and seductive as ever, but here he sings with a confidence and imagination rarely seen earlier in his career. Dylan switches deftly between carefree, romantic crooning for slow tunes and a rusty, ragged authority for harder blues numbers, selling lyrics so effectively that Sinatra would be jealous.
What’s most refreshing about Love and Theft is its tone. Often in the past, Dylan has followed up a critically acclaimed album with some phoned-in tripe (if you don’t believe me, check out Under the Red Sky which followed 1980’s Oh Mercy or Knocked Out Loaded, which followed 1985’s Empire Burlesque). Here, he does not try to willfully destroy his reputation, but rather seems freshly energized by the challenge of following up Time Out of Mind. On that album, he was worrying about treachery, age and mortality in sweeping, desolate tunes. He is still preoccupied with those matters, but no longer is he lamenting the state of things; he’s turned it into a cosmic joke. Everything now has a sneaky, lighthearted feel. It takes some getting used to, but Love and Theft is even kind of funny. It’s got corny puns that would make a first grader groan, such as the line in “Po’ Boy” where he sings, “Poor Boy in a hotel called the Palace of Gloom/Called down to room service, says ‘send up a room.’”
In “Bye and Bye,” one of several surprisingly sweet numbers on the album, Dylan blithely says, “The future for me is already a thing of the past.” Throughout Love and Theft he sings like a man who is so drunk on the past that he is neither scared nor impressed by what the future might hold. At 60, Bob Dylan is content to enjoy the ride. If you’ve got half his vitality at that age, consider yourself lucky.

– Jacob Adams

Project English

Well, Juvenile has certainly done it again. While I would expect nothing less from this dynamic bunch of head-busting, platinum-rocking thug prophets, the irrepressible Cash Money crew has effectively updated their distinct brand of stripped-down outsider art with yet another sublime joint. Full of stuttering drum beats, hypnotic bass grooves and subtle synthetic textures, Project English is an innovative musical composition that slams with the aural intensity of a million shotgun blasts.
Lyrically, Juvenile and his motley horde of rhyme donors stick to their traditional themes of drug abuse, violence, anal sex, bling and the people who front on them. While some critical folks have suggested that the Cash Money crew attempt to substitute senseless polemics, unwarranted bravado and a superficial obsession with monetary gain for true poetry, these jealous “haters” are simply missing the essential message. In studying Juvenile’s flows, a listener’s attention should not be on the rapper’s expressed opinions, but on his unique authorial process. In breaking down a listener’s assumptions about form and language, Juvenile manipulates typical notions of narrative structure to the point where concepts of truth, emotive feeling and realism are replaced by textual texture and linguistic nuance. As Jacques Derrida explains in his 1967 work Of Grammatology, writing raps is not the creation of meaning, but, in fact, the mental process of producing language that can be actively deconstructed by a thoughtful listener — preferably while tipping back a freshly cracked forty-ounce.
In short, Juvenile is raw as hell, and so is Project English. It’s comforting to know he’ll be around for at least another 15 minutes, slinging text like bud and dicing language with the flick of a well-oiled switchblade. Move over Foucault, and make way for this new heat-packing purveyor of post-modernism, New Orleans style. When Juvenile hollers “I got new dubs on my ride cause I’m flashy / Ice in my grill / Classy?” on the bumping track “Get Your Hustle On,” you know that he is on the (un)real. Are there any so-called “socially-relevant” hip-hop heads who can possibly compete with Juvenile’s post-structural meditations on the Dirty South aesthetic? Mos Def? Nope. Jurassic 5? Please. The Roots? Give me a break. Shit. Slice open a Philly, stuff it with stinky green and cut the motherfucker loose in true hipster fashion with this dazzling new platter from Juvenile.

– Andrew Simmons

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