Sounds Around the Syrian Houran
First post of September. I started a new job last week, and while I wouldn’t say it’s hectic, it’s definitely long days that aren’t going to get any shorter—in fact, seem like they’ll do just the opposite—so this should be evidence of a severe slow-down in posts. Not a terrible loss. I have a few albums in the queue ripe for the reviewing, though I’ll think I’ll take my time with them. Too often I’ve been writing slapdash reviews and hackneyed political pieces, so I see this as an opportunity to recuperate, spend quality time writing quality stuff, and engaging myself in other projects I find equally if not more important and fulfilling.
Anyway. Really wanted to like the latest Gogol Bordello and wound up just hearing it. Been holding on to Rachid Taha for a long time, unconvinced for several plays though hung in there because people I admire admired it. They were right. Chances are they’re right about Gogol Bordello, too. Thing is, when I get into slumps like this that murky line between B Plus and A Minus becomes increasingly muddled until I hear something that punches me in the face the first time rather than patting my head—Superchunk’s latest is an example of this, a solid A Minus without a doubt, no more, no less.
That’s all for now. Might slip in another post at the end of the week.
GOGOL BORDELLO – Pura Vida Conspiracy (ATO): Nothing really wrong lyrically, sonically, or aesthetically with Eugene Hütz’s punk-gypsy enclave’s latest, but admiration isn’t always the same side of the coin as desire, and my desire to put on this album falters without fail; not because competitors have usurped their novelty sound, not because Hütz’s new anthems spit in the face of the nostalgia mockery he previously engaged in. Not because I don’t agree with its politics, not because I don’t find this material as ‘catchy’ as earlier stuff (though I don’t, regardless). It’s because my admiration stretches as far as my admiration for a fine painting; should be seen, will recommend to my friends, but wouldn’t expect anyone to take it home. B PLUS
RACHID TAHA – Zoom (Wrasse): Algerian singer-songwriter does half in Arabic, half in English with splashes of French, quite different from his largely traditional if fevered material, covering just about every genre imaginable: trad. Aegean and Arabian folk, blues rock, 90’s ballad feat. Jeanne Added, even sneaks in some autotune. I doubt his venturing is reaction to—or worse, appeasement of—French xenophobia: he wouldn’t live in his homeland’s former colonizer were that the case. If anything it’s the opposite. No better way to piss off your racist haters than by appropriating another’s music and succeeding in spades, which, you know, parades one pillar connecting humanity: a love of music. A MINUS