2009 Fall Review Roundup

Jim and Greg share opinions on new releases from Pearl Jam, Mariah Carey, and more.

2009 Review Roundup
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The list of possible inductees for next year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony has been announced. Among the first-time nominees are Kiss, LL Cool J, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Genesis. But there are some old faces, too. ABBA, The Stooges, and Donna Summer have all been up for induction before. Jim and Greg think they deserve recognition, but also have a healthy dose of skepticism whenever they talk about the Hall of Fame. It’s notoriously conservative and often overlooks more fringe genres. Plus, as Jim explains, winners always run the risk of being encased in glass and wax in Cleveland.

A heavy debate on piracy and the internet is brewing in Europe. First, the controversial Three Strikes law in France has passed in the French assembly. This means that if a French citizen is caught downloading illegally three times, he or she will lose internet access and be subject to fines up to $450,000. Their neighbors in the U.K. are also concerned about this issue. British pop stars like Radiohead, Annie Lennox, and Robbie Williams are members of the Featured Artists Coalition, which recently released a statement coming down firmly on the side of the consumer and defending internet file-sharing as a promotional tool for up-and-coming artists. But artists like Lily Allen and James Blunt have taken the other side. Jim and Greg find this to be a bit ironic considering Allen’s use of MySpace early in her career.

Before they launch into reviews of new fall albums, Jim and Greg take a look at how things are going on the charts. The Beatles are still the big winners, selling more than 2 million albums worldwide in just five days. But, as Jim points out, this is a fraction of what they might have sold back in the CD heyday of 1992, and a fraction of what they might have sold digitally. Another big chart winner is Jay-Z, who sold almost 300,000 albums of The Blueprint 3. Hip hop still dominates the charts, with big-selling albums by Drake, Lil Boosie, and Kid Cudi, whom Jim and Greg discuss later in the show.

Backspacer Pearl Jam

Backspacer

Jim and Greg kick off their record review roundup with Backspacer, the ninth album from Pearl Jam. The band is back with producer Brendan O’Brien, but the mood has certainly changed. They are sounding a lot more optimistic, and, as Greg explains, more energized. They kick up the fast-paced punk more on this album, but still have a couple of noteworthy ballads. Greg gives Backspacer a Buy It. Jim wishes he heard something new from the Seattle rockers. He agrees that the slower songs are great, but feels he’s heard the rest of the album before. He gives Pearl Jam a Try It.

Scars Basement Jaxx

Scars (Bonus Track Version)

Scars by British producers Basement Jaxx is the group’s fifth album. The duo is known for their inventive dance collages and unique guest vocalists. This time around they are joined by Kelis, Santigold, and Yoko Ono. But despite the appearance of outsiders, the sound is distinctly their own, according to Jim. He describes the album as relentlessly melodic and gives it a Buy It. Greg loved their earlier album Kish Kash, but hears them trying to be songwriters rather than producers on this album. And when they abandon the party grooves for more nuanced efforts, they lose him. He gives it a Try It.

Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel Mariah Carey

Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel

Mariah Carey’s new album is more than just a collection of songs. It’s a corporate multi-media experience. Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel comes with an ad-filled mini mag, but lucky for Jim and Greg, they only need to worry about the music. Carey has never been Greg’s favorite vocalist, but he applauds her choice to base the record around slow-jam R&B. It’s not cluttered with mega-guest producers, and Greg thinks it’s her best record yet. He gives it a Buy It. Jim is shocked. He describes the songs as empty and hollow and gives it a Trash It.

Monsters of Folk Monsters of Folk

Monsters of Folk

Jim and Greg talked about supergroups a few weeks ago on the show, and now there’s a new one on the scene named Monsters of Folk with their eponymous release, Monsters of Folk. Jim James of My Morning Jacket, M. Ward, and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes have joined together to form a band, and Greg is reminded of the Traveling Wilburys. It’s a fun, affable project where no one is taking himself too seriously. Jim thinks a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young comparison is more apt, but both critics agree about the album’s consistency. Some of the songs are good, some unremarkable, and others awful. That adds up to a Try It from both hosts.

Man on the Moon: End of the Day Kid Cudi

Man On the Moon: The End of Day (Deluxe Version)

Kid Cudi’s debut record Man on the Moon: End of the Day rounds out the reviews this week. The up-and-coming hip hop artist shows a lot of musical ambition. Both Jim and Greg are put off by a lot of the lyrics, but hear great innovation in the production and instrumentation. They both give Man on the Moon a Buy It.

Jim

Usually Jim and Greg take inspiration from something in the show or something in the news for their Desert Island Jukebox picks. But this week, Jim is inspired by nothing more than a desire for an injection of high energy rock. He chooses a song by Australian garage rockers the Lime Spiders. Jim thinks their second single Out of Control is one of the best garage revival songs he’s ever heard, and that’s why he can’t live without it.

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