On the quick review:
What’s the deal with the retro-animation of Star War: Clone Wars
? I mean, did they go to some ageing, near-bankrupt animation agency in Japan to knock together some Transformers-era hand animations over painted backgrounds? With the CGI arsenal available at the Lucas ranch, why revert back to the late 80s? It boggles and scrabbles the mind. And of course the dead dialogue and minimum plot/maximum action scenario and squinting, trembling faces make it all seem incredibly trite and mundane. It doesn’t matter how many post-it notes they fluttered on the fight choreography, this shit couldn’t draw a bored teenager away from his Wheatos or Playstation. Unless, of course, it’s meant to offset the cartoonish simplicity of the real show and its attendant universe, which it does in spades. I kept thinking this was a commercial tie-in with some cereal box action figurines; completely tossed-off in quality and marketed to the shortest attention spans, a cheap give-away.
When you find your formula, stick to it. Make only minor variations and occasionally hire new musicians. The thing about Ben Folds’ Songs for Silverman
is that it repeats to a tee the band-sound he made with the BF Five: fuzzed bass, backing harmonies, banana-chords and a songwriting voice located somewhere between youth-power-piano-pop and suspiciously-SNAG maturity. The only real variation here is the flavour of the backing harmonies and the inclusion of steel guitar and or strings on some of the tracks. Ben is beginning to sound very 70s AOR/MOR in his 38th year, touching some Eagles/America-style backing here and there. Having said that, there’s about four songs on the album (Jesusland
being the highpoint, a track not unlike Ween's Chocolate Town
) that illustrate just how strong and dynamic the Folds Formula really is. And he is incredibly subtle and tight with his changes, throwing in an unexpected jazz chording or a horn-like backing chorus. Bitches Ain’t Shit
would’ve made a welcome but slightly dissonant extra track on the album – he gives that song a whole extra tint and feeling that makes you empathise with the gangsta line about just coming out of six months county jail and finding you cousin balls deep in yo ho. And not just because Ben likes to swear in his songs.
And on a slightly embarrassingly nostalgic note, I had a quick look at U2: Rattle and Hum
again, to see how it stands up now my fandays are long gone. The surprising thing was how well I remembered it. The thing that galls is the whole sincerity of it, especially the BonEgo thing rubbing up to big A(ss) American Music. I was watching primarily to tune into Adam’s live playing (great authentic Fenderbass sound), and there’s a few lucky breaks in the otherwise patchy editing/filming, but Joanou didn’t fail completely (but as documentary: totally zero). Have good cinematographers, will have film. If you’ve never heard of music, you might think these guys are pretty good live performers, and there’s a peculiar energy to the concerts which comes through very emotionally in Sunday Bloody Sunday
(which makes a lot more sense if you live in Ireland). And there’s almost a feeling, that despite the whole Irish love of all things American, that they sense the inherent, profound contradiction at the heart of it all. A feeling that cast a certain look in their eyes in the music videos, a bemused obligingness (as opposed to wide-eyed excitement) that knows it’s all money-suckering and commercialisation, yet knowingly riding the wave. If you’re still out there, Jason Brayshaw, we can take up this discussion where we left off.
Also, gee I’m annoyed with myself cos Sly and Robbie
are coming to town and I’m gonna be in Cyprus. The greatest rhythm section! My number two bass player! Me not there!