The Weekly Jive

Posted October 15, 2008 in Music

SwitchfootThe Best Yet (Columbia/Legacy)
That a band like San Diego’s Switchfoot is releasing a greatest hits album only six years after they pranced onto the scene as so much milquetoast for montages is a real shoulder-shrugger. They call it the “Columbia Years,” like it was Miles Davis remembering his time with Gil Evans or some shit. Eschewing everything dangerous, the Christian band managed to get a handful of songs onto the film A Walk to Remember and, on the subsequent album The Beautiful Letdown, 2.6 million saps bought it. Alt-schlock sells. And now this greatest hits of brow-beaten goldens . . . because there are (probably) 2.6 million more disposable incomes out there that might want to think about Mandy Moore pouting. To be fair the track “This Is Your Life” is the perfect theme song for a television show about a catastrophic teenage girl whose parents are Bingophiles and totally embarrassing. And that’s one of the more tolerable tracks; most are completely predictable power-sequiturs with the worst case of the giddies—songs like “Twenty-Four,” which has a line (no bullshit) that goes: “See, I’m not copping out, not copping out, not copping out, when you’re raising the dead in me.” Will Ferrell couldn’t have improvised that with a straight face. Nobody in this band fears spinal taps or urine tests—the only thing Switchfoot is worried about is a severe fork in mainstream, because their whole fuzzy-boy saccharinity does have a shelf life after all. (Chuck Mindenhall)

Jim WhiteA Funny Little Cross to Bear (Luaka Bop)
We hear a lot about what constitutes authentic southern music, typically a laundry list of the usual suspects. But if you’re seeking the real thing, a Flannery O’Connor of modern twang, look no further than the gothic narratives of Pensacola-born Jim White. This six-song EP culls from live gigs at record stores, concert halls and radio studios (usually in trio form; two cuts are White alone). It features White’s mysterious, hazy-summer day twang and darker, religion-spiked fare that locates somewhere between redemption and apocalypse. Most of the songs come from last year’s Transnormal Skipperoo, stripped-down versions where missing textures are replaced by White’s hypnotic guitar and evocative vocals describing his personal struggles—“I wanna be a jailbird from the prison of my own mind,” he sings on “Jailbird.” There are two new songs: “Stranger Candy” is a haunting story featuring White’s marginalized characters and their search for meaning, while “Jim 3:16” showcases the singers’ dry wit and culminates with the chorus, “a bar is just a church where they serve beer.” At just six cuts it doesn’t amount to a long listen, but it serves as an adequate introduction to White’s wonderfully off-kilter world. (John Schacht)

Cradle of Filth
Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder (Roadrunner)
Like so many of their extreme metal brethren, it’s hard to tell when pasty-faced Brits Cradle of Filth are kidding: a few years back they wrote a tribute to blood-bathing Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory (1998’s “Bathory Aria”), and now they devote an entire disc to documenting the dodgy deeds of Joan of Arc’s serial slayer buddy Gilles de Rais. On their ninth studio album in 17 years, Cradle mix symphonic pretentions and spoken word interludes with—by black metal standards—pretty subdued riffage and rhythms, while vocalist Dani Filth alternates between a ghastly, grizzled growl and a deranged auntie yelp. This is certainly the commercial edge of the genre: the lyrics are somewhat audible; the kick drums seldom hit full-on blur speed; and lurking keys lube the whole ride. The danger for Cradle of Filth is that a record like this is neither sufficiently evil for true black metallers nor melodic enough for mainstream ears. Then again, maybe they are just kidding. (Paul Rogers)


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