The Weekly Jive

Posted November 5, 2007 in Music

SERJ TANKIAN—Elect The Dead (Serjical Strike/Reprise)

A baroque barrage of schizophrenically shifting ingredients—exotic harmonies, red-faced rants, muscle-bound beats, burly guitars, glacial piano and orchestral gilding—Elect the Dead shows that a short attention span and honest, beautiful art needn’t be mutually exclusive. System Of A Down frontman Tankian retains his currently-on-hiatus former band’s restless arrangements and question-posing lyrics, but drops SOAD’s repetitive metallic vitriol in favor of warmer, more organic rage. Political and opinionated (pondering civilization’s imminent end or somesuch), Elect is also poignantly personal, occasionally funny, and sometimes just creative for creativity’s sake. Wafts of self-conscious shock-seeking (titling a song “Beethoven’s Cunt” for starters) barely tarnish the album’s shudderingly gorgeous highpoints (the more mournful moments of “Saving Us”, “Money” and first single “Empty Walls”) and Tankian’s borderline disturbing enviro-visions, all communicated through his crinkled, Child Catcher tenor and velvet-lined, cradling incantations. Far from being the bong-fueled bongo-fest some expected, Elect The Dead is the rock album of the year. (Paul Rogers)



IAN BALL—Who Goes There (Dispensary Records)

The most surprising thing about Ian Ball’s solo album, Who Goes There, is that there’s nothing entirely remarkable about it at all. Gomez’s singer/guitarist Ball doesn’t use it as an opportunity to reinvent pop but does use it as a podium to broadcast his wry wit, airy melodies and high-pitched, folksy vocals, making him seem somewhere between Stephin Merritt and David Sedaris. Each song on the album is unabashedly personal and charming—Ball is neither short on charisma or bleary-eyed sentimentality—but most songs on Who Goes There begin brilliantly, only to end up stuck somewhere in the doldrums of uninspiring and predictable. The album does have some shining moments of mechanical groove and dreamy, lo-fi goodness, most notably the song Failure in which Ball spins his own Ms. Robinson tale that ends a bit, er, prematurely, and the tone of the album is so intimate as to almost be a personal confessional. This grants Ball’s personal magnetism the ability to push through the album’s more tedious points, but his musical ambition falls a little short of expectations. (Phil Fuller)



COHEED AND CAMBRIA—No World For Tomorrow (Columbia)

Debatably the decade’s most unlikely rock success story, Coheed and Cambria—four Dungeons and Dragons-y New Yorkers whose concept albums suggest an all-ages Rush—can transform sizeable venues into girlfriend-free sausage fests at will. Fourth album No World For Tomorrow consolidates C&C’s trademarks: melodramatic, proggy structures; romantic/warlike Tolkien lyrics; and Claudio Sanchez’ deal making/breaking imploring helium vocals. The title track’s deliberate aping of its equivalent on C&C’s 2003 breakthrough sophomore effort, In Keeping Secrets Of The Silent Earth: 3, telegraphs a return to form after ’05’s self-conscious Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV. The widdly bumblebee guitars, drum clinic beats, and sci-fi lyrical ramblings (which only make sense if you actually read the comic books which accompany each release—seriously), have survived the relentless touring and (related?) recent line-up convulsions. Coheed And Cambria have made a career out of—stylistically speaking—not giving a fuck (right down to Tomorrow’s Manowar-ish artwork) and Tomorrow finds them at their giving-a-fuckless finest. (Paul Rogers)


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