The Weekly Jive

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Posted November 19, 2008 in Music

Mudvayne—The New Game (Epic)

Fearsome Illinois foursome Mudvayne have always been hard to peg. Initially lumped-in with lumbering nü-metal when they broke through with their debut album, L.D. 50, in 2000, they’ve consistently hinted at something more progressive and ambitious than yer average sub-Korn troglodytes. Now on full-length number four and with their wacko make-up and adolescent stage names long-gone, Mudvayne have certainly become more melodic and to-the-point, but The New Game is basically the old game: angst-addled, Tool-marked metal with earnest guitars, tortured vocals and clicky drums still front-and-center. These Grammy-nominated veterans (who should also scoop a “Crappest Name Ever” award) sound sincere as they apply their robust chops to a disc full of fetal-position self-examination and Staind-ish slowees, but there’s nothing on The New Game that dozens of bands haven’t explored before. Don’t get me wrong—Mudvayne excel at what they do, and if mid-bill, early-Millennium Ozzfest is your idea of sexy this record will have you creaming in your Hot Topic shorts. (Paul Rogers)

 

Belle and Sebastian—The BBC Sessions (Matador Records)

Okay, kids, let’s fire up the time machine to the late ’90s when the antidote to Oasis’ fist-pumping stadium rock was a folky brand of slyly literate introspective rock that owed more to Nick Drake, Lou Reed and Morrissey than the Beatles and Stones. Top of that heap was the Scots’ septet Belle & Sebastian, and these various BBC sessions—stretching from the (once) impossible-to-find ’96 debut Tigermilk-era through 2001 when Isobel Campbell left the band—capture Stuart Murdoch and company belying their shambolic live reputation with tight (if sparser) versions of predictable album and singles highlights, like “The Stars of Track and Field” and “Slow Graffiti.” The limited edition deluxe version includes a live Belfast gig from December 2001, but the prize here is a quartet of John Peel-session songs from the same year never before put to vinyl or disc: “The Magic of a Kind Word” features sunny Teenage Fanclub-pop choruses juxtaposed with Campbell’s impossibly ethereal vocals, and the soulful “(My Girl’s Got) Miraculous Technique” is a gorgeous samples-and-synths filled twist on the B&S formula. Since these cuts have been widely bootlegged, there are no real surprises here, making the collection more enjoyable curio than essential listen. (John Schacht)

 

Scott Weiland—Happy in Galoshes (New West

First impressions aren’t everything—especially when it comes to music. Initially, I thought Stone Temple Pilots was a second rate Pearl Jam. Much later, after catching STP live, frontman Scott Weiland proved to be a riveting presence onstage and I re-evaluated the grunge tunes. When he jumped aboard Velvet Revolver, their cock-rock was a similar turnoff until an exhilarating gig prompted a second look. Last spring, Weiland exited Velvet Revolver, then reformed Stone Temple Pilots (you almost need a scorecard to keep up with this guy). Now Happy in Galoshes, the singer’s first solo effort in a decade, has arrived. An ambitious double album, it’s all over the stylistic map (funk rock, new wave, alt-country), but still a worthy ride. Co-produced by Weiland, Doug Grean (Velvet Revolver) and Steve Albini (Nirvana), a good chunk of the 19 tracks make an immediate impact. Some lyrics were inspired by the collapse of Weiland’s marriage and the 2007 drug-related death of his brother Michael—but they are far from downers. The psychedelic carnival strut of “Beautiful Day” includes a Beach Boys-styled harmony interlude, a buoyant “Blister on My Soul” is early Wilco meets the Replacements with a reggae breakdown (listen closely for a nod to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler), “Pictures & Computers” verges on Dixieland jazz, the manic “Hyper Fuzz Funny Car” recalls early BH Surfers and “Arch Angel” is a wistful Christmas song. The low-key cover of The Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain,” like others here, finds Weiland’s underrated vocal abilities in full display. (George A. Paul) 

 


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