Wrap-Up Report August 2018

Gonna be a short one this time around:

* One of the year’s minor rock radio hits has been “I Feel Like I’m Drowning” by Two Feet, a smoky nightclub joint in the vein of every other bluesy baroque pop act from the past five years. But while the songwriting evokes a panoply of artists, the song is sonically indebted to just one band: the xx. It’s a brazen distillation of the UK trio’s minimalist melancholy, processed into an easily digestible slice of alternative pop. This may not sound like the most flattering description, but overall it’s an accessible song. Hipsters might be huffing and puffing that their precious xx aesthetic has been debased, but whatever. They had nearly a decade to put out something worth playing on the radio and self-sabotaged their chances with weaker and weaker hooks each album.

* The last thing I remember Blue October putting out was exactly seven years ago. “You Waited Too Long” was an entirely acceptable piece of alternative rock that the band has essentially copy + pasted in the form of “I Hope You’re Happy”, the lead single from their new album. The two songs even seem to be about the same failed relationship, which seems kind of unhealthy? In any case, this is the kind of uncomplicated song that acts as a salve for the needlessly experimental material so many others are tossing out nowadays. It’s just a straightforward 3 minutes and 52 seconds of minor earworms, no less and no more.

* One of the few 2018 albums that’s been regarded with anything even resembling hype is Travis Scott‘s ASTROWORLD, some sort of psychedelic rap odyssey that is pretty ambitious, but very scattershot and ultimately falls short of leaving a lasting impression.

* The good news: not every song on Interpol‘s Marauder is marred by crispy dry production. A handful are clean, robust tracks. The bad news: it doesn’t matter, because the album is bereft of songwriting. The band’s followed up their best album with their worst.

* There aren’t too many Tragically Hip covers in the world; most Canadian bands know better than to try and touch their inimitable works. Every so often however some bold folkster comes along and tries to put some new spin on what are essentially alternate national anthems, and they almost always fail. Reuben and the Dark, who can’t put together a cohesive song of their own, have decided to take on “Bobcaygeon” – – and totally stripped it of its rural charm. Instead you get a totally unearned “epic” part that is basically just some slightly louder keyboards and drums and a generic folk vocal that gets extremely grating at times. What a deal.

* I don’t know why Third Eye Blind decided to cover Bon Iver, but hey if you want to hear “Blood Bank” done by 90s frisbee golf bros instead of a ghostly woodland recluse, it’s out there.

* Twenty One Pilots are a band who were famous before they were big. Thanks to a cult following they were selling out midsize venues long before their breakthrough 2015 album, and once that record hit then they effectively gave themselves a lifetime pass to do whatever they want and sell out arenas until the end of days. I don’t know what this new album is supposed to be about, but everything so far has screamed video game soundtrack. Which is a smart move commercially, as games are turning into a megalithic force, but the imagery has been just way too on the nose.

 

* Last month 311 and The Offspring covered each other’s biggest hits. This month in 90s mash-ups we’ve got a joint album between House of Pain and Everlast.

 

…..who are the same person.

 

Yeah, Whitey Ford has essentially cannibalized his own rap group and merged that sound with his trailer-hero Americana rasp….to strange results.

Now you know what the world really needs is a Chris Gaines tribute album to Garth Brooks.