Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

  • Music:

Honeycomb's big, yeah yeah yeah!

Amount of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince read: 25 chapters (554 pages). Almost done!

Last night, bethje and I watched Short Circuit, another Essential Eighties Movie that I'd never watched. It was kind of goofy, but still fun to watch. Now I need to watch Short Circuit 2.

Today, I bought a copy of the new Frank Black album. Apparently Frank found title inspiration in the same place as Tori Amos.




I've seen some reviews mentioning that Honeycomb is Frank's first solo album since The Cult of Ray, apparently because the albums released in between those two have been credited to "Frank Black and the Catholics." (Actually, I'm not sure Oddballs does credit the Catholics, but I guess that doesn't count, being a rarities collection and all.) I find this to be misleading, though, since some of the future Catholics did play on Cult. They just weren't called the Catholics yet. Besides, the Catholics albums were all by "Frank Black AND the Catholics"; it was clear that they were Frank's albums, with the Catholics as his back-up band. So I'd say they're just as much "solo albums" as the others. Really, though, does it make sense to still refer to Frank as releasing "solo albums" at all? I mean, isn't that term usually used when a member of a band does an album without the rest of the band? When the artist has been releasing albums under his own name for years, during most of which his old band was not a going concern, it strikes me as kind of unfair to stick Frank with the "solo artist" label.

Most of the reviews I've seen for the album have been positive, although they still have to mention the Pixies, and how Frank doesn't scream as much anymore. Is there some law obligating reviewers to say these things? It's like how almost every They Might Be Giants review has to use the word "quirky," and preferably talk about how the band and their fans are huge nerds, and how TMBG parodies popular music. And speaking of parodies, how many Weird Al reviews are there that say the original songs aren't as good as the parodies? As someone who often thinks the opposite, I sometimes have to wonder whether the critics even bother to listen to the originals, or they just see "written by Al Yankovic" in the liner notes and hit the skip button. Of course, that would require them to actually READ the liner notes, so I tend to doubt it. (And, to be fair, I think some review copies don't even contain liner notes.) I guess critics are always going to do things like this. That's why they're still critics. 'Cause they're stupid.

The cover art is simplistic, but pretty cool. The art in the liner notes includes a tasty-looking picture of shrimp, and one of Frank driving and holding a soda. On a more annoying note, both the back cover and the CD itself sport tacky FBI anti-piracy warnings. Is this common on CD's nowadays? I can't recall having seen it before.

As for the music (yes, I AM going to write about that, believe it or not), the basic concept is that Frank recorded it with Nashville session musicians, many of whom had quite impressive résumés. I have to say that my overall feeling toward the album is a positive one. There are fourteen songs, and I'm going to say a little bit about as one, as is my wont:

1. Selkie Bride--Pretty cool way to open the album. A selkie is a seal-woman who will marry a man who steals her seal coat. This is a Scottish or Irish legend, but I believe there are similar myths in other parts of the world. I know I remember reading something about seagull girls who act in a similar matter. I think the reference in and of itself makes the song cool, but it's pretty good anyway, even if it ends a little too abruptly.

2. I Burn Today--I think this might be the first single from the album (as if anyone gives a crap about singles these days, except maybe from Top 40 artists), and it deserves it. Very catchy, and I like the bells in the background. There's sort of a similar sound to "Preacher's Daughter," a Show Me Your Tears outtake that I also like a lot. Best lyric on this one: "Hold my heartstrings and have yourself a strum."

3. Lone Child--Eh, it's okay. This one doesn't really grab me, although the music is pretty good.

4. Another Velvet Nightmare--Good opening line to this song: "Today I felt my heart slide into my belly, so I puked it up with liquor." This sounds like it could have fit pretty well on Show Me Your Tears, coming across musically as sort of a mix of "Manitoba" and "New House Of The Pope." For what it's worth, I like it better than "Pope," but not as much as "Manitoba." I like this instrumental ending.

5. Dark End Of The Street--A decent little slow song. Not one of my favorites, but I do like Frank's vocal on it. I think it has the potential to grow on me.

6. Go Find Your Saint--The shortest song on the album. I like it, but I can't think of anything specific to say about it.

7. Song Of The Shrimp--A novelty-type song that had been recorded by Elvis at one point. I've never heard the Elvis version, and Frank apparently hadn't either. Frank seems to like this song a lot. In November 2002, I saw him play both an in-store and a full-fledged concert with the Catholics, and he did this song at both.

8. Strange Goodbye--A duet between Frank and his ex-wife Jean. (Incidentally, there were some nonsensical rumors circulating a few months ago that the duet would be with Courtney Love.) The song is all right, but I can see why Jean never sang on any of his earlier songs. She's not that great at it. She seems to be going for a country voice, but I don't think she really achieves it.

9. Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day--Another cover song where I've never heard the original. I had, however, heard a few earlier versions of Frank playing it. I don't know that this official version is the best (I seem to remember the others as sounding a bit more enthusiastic), but it's good, with an extended ending. The song is quite cheerful and fun, and I like it a lot. It's probably my second favorite on the album, after "I Burn Today." Oh, and Frank seems to be channeling Tori Amos not just in the title but in his pronunciation of the word "mill." {g}

10. Honeycomb--For some reason, this is the only song on the album with its lyrics printed in the liner notes. It's a sad sort of song, and both the vocals and music are very good.

11. My Life Is In Storage--The longest song on the album, and possibly the one with the best title (although it's a bit of a toss-up with "Another Velvet Nightmare"). I like the shift in the music around the two-minute mark, but the instrumental ending isn't as good as the one on "Nightmare."

12. Atom In My Heart--There's kind of a country vibe to the music, which is cool. My general feeling toward the song is positive, but I can't really think of anything to say about it.

13. Violet--Since Violet is the name of Frank's current woman (I'm not sure whether they're married or not), I guess this is a personal song for Frank, and it might be his most straightforward love song. I don't think it's that great, but it's not bad either.

14. Sing For Joy--It doesn't sound as joyful as the title would imply. It sounds like "Sing For Resignation" would be more appropriate. (Um, that's "resignation" in the sense of being resigned to something, not in the sense of quitting.) It's a little long, and maybe not the best way to end the whole thing, but it's okay.

Keep in mind that a lot of Frank's songs take some time to grow on me, so don't be too surprised if, a few months or so from now, I'm saying, "Hey, [Honeycomb track I don't like that much now] is an amazingly cool song!" Actually, though, I'm kind of surprised at how much I liked so many of these songs on my first listen. (The reviews are based on my second listen to each song, for what it's worth.) It's probably Frank's most instantly likeable album since Dog in the Sand.
Tags: albums, movies, tmbg, weird al
Subscribe

  • The Birds and the Beasts Were There

    Sunday was our last day at Walt Disney World, and we visited the only remaining park (not counting the water parks), Animal Kingdom. It looks like…

  • Land, Sea, Air, and Space

    For our third day at Walt Disney World, which was Leap Day and our anniversary, we visited Epcot, which is officially no longer spelled with all…

  • The Monster Truck at the End of This Book

    I attended my first monster truck show yesterday. It's not something I would have thought of doing on my own, but it was fun. Beth had never been to…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 6 comments