Friday, October 13, 2006

Someone left the cake out in the rain....

Playing right now: nothing, but I just finished listening to "Thursday Night at the Vanguard" by Art Pepper.

A friend told me that he forwarded this blog link to another friend, whose comment was, "He doesn't post very often." Not to give in to peer pressure of the thoughts of one reader, but I do need to post more often. I've bought so much music lately that I have something to write about on a daily basis. It took me awhile to catch up with all of it, plus I had to write 4 CD reviews last week.

[Upon taking a bathroom break, I switched on the b-room radio, which is almost always programmed to old folks' station WJAS, which was playing "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, an odd choice in general but especially for them. of course it was 1:20 a.m. when it came out. Anyhow, that explains the title of this post.]

So anyhow, I've been meaning for a couple months to talk about the new Nothing Painted Blue album Taste the Flavor (Shrimper). It's actually not new per se, because it apparently was recorded in 2001 and had been sitting around until earlier this summer when it finally hit the street. The recording time was three years after the last official NPB album, The Monte Carlo Method, came out. At the time that album came across as something of a disappointment. It was marked by some great pop hooks delivered with heavy abandon, and of course some great couplets courtesy of Franklin Bruno ("They confiscated my library card when they caught me in the shelves with a knife/ cutting out pictures of Curtis LeMay froma 1940s volume of Life"; another song rhymed "messiah" with "We Didn't Start the Fire"). But some songs didn't really achieve the usual brainy ends that I at least was used to expecting from the band.

In the meantime, Bruno (guitarist and vocalist, in case you missed previous posts) released one absolutely stunning solo album (2000's Kiss Without Makeup) and one really good one (2002's A Cat may Look At a Queen).

Just when it seemed like Bruno who disappear off into the sunset, doctorate in hand, NPB reemerged.

And Taste the Flavor has all the things that made the band great in the first place. They manage to rock out (thrash, even, on "Self-Contained") and keep a delicate poppy feeling going at all times. On first listen, "Back In Town" almost sounds like it could be any Middle American rock band, especially when the harmonica solo kicks in. But Bruno's narrative and the band's determination to not play it totally simple make it stand above the rest.

The lyrics are pretty remarkable too: ("I had an atom smasher/I used to use it to mow my lawn/ I was a party crasher / I used to stay until all of the guest had gone" ("One Who Fell"); "She looks like she's going to play tennis with a corpse and lose" ("[Jessica's Got A] Ropeburn").

All the words can be found at, where I might just print them all out. "Swansong" seems to be about the end of the world, or the possible breakup of the band, or both. Listen to this album before either happens.

PS I pulled out The Monte Carlo Method a few weeks ago since it's the one NPB album I don't play very often. Much to my pleasant surprise, it sounded better than I remembered. It's not as consistant as Placeholders, but it's a good listen.

wow, that title really looks like red herring now......I wonder what All Music thinks of Richard Harris..........

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