audio review : Bruce Wayne [ Gothom City 1987 ] ( album ) … Esham

audio review : Bruce Wayne [ Gothom City 1987 ] ( album ) ... Esham

I don’t know what the 1987 bit is about; he says that’s when he “came up”; but Gothom City is Detroit, which makes Esham Bruce Wayne. Batman is, of course, a member of The Justice League and the rapper embraces a life of crime. Perhaps the moniker has to do with the fact that they’re both millionaires with a thing for sexy women.

“We can fuck like animals, bitch, I’m not soft,” he tells one before vowing to “take the dick out the pussy and jack the fuck off… all over your body.” How’s that for romance? When he’s not chasing females, or fading “that little pussy like Telly Savalas”, he’s riding down 7 Mile Road in his Volvo 850 with a heavy stash of cash, drugs and guns.

There are almost enough good songs here to make a short album; You Betta Ask Somebody, a fun summer anthem based on Rock With You by Michael Jackson, is easily the best of the bunch; but Esham revels in excess, so he gives us another album with too many songs on it. There are some demos near the end he didn’t even bother to title.

my rating : 3 of 5

1997

audio review : Such Pretty Forks In The Road ( album ) … Alanis Morissette

audio review : Such Pretty Forks In The Road ( album ) ... Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette has long lost the quirky charm she exuded when she first transitioned from just another Canadian singer to a Jagged Little Pill rammed down the throat of the pop music world. That album, one of the biggest-selling ever, was 25 years ago. She’s had plenty of time to mature; she started as a teenager; now she’s in her mid-40s; and these new songs reflect as much.

“Take me back in time,” she demands on Sandbox Love before engaging in post-traumatic sex that’s “awkward as fuck”. It’s lyrically and sonically about as close to the artistic edge as she gets here. Most of the other songs stay near the middle of The Road. The album ultimately comes across as sad and desolate even when she’s Smiling; a “crash” survivor that’s too damaged to feel Pretty.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

audio review : The Curb Commentator [ Channel 2 ] ( EP ) … E-40

audio review : The Curb Commentator [ Channel 2 ] ( EP ) ... E-40

It’s disappointing to hear E-40 jump on the BLM bandwagon. “Racism is heavy; it still exists,” he complains, but he only focuses on white people, ironically enough, when black people are just as racist. Racism isn’t exclusive to certain races. Neither is violence, but he ignores “black on black crime” to cover “police brutality”, which, in the mind of a black racist, automatically means the white cop is racist when the victim is black. That said, Channel 2 is what Donald Trump would call fake news.

Conceptual disagreements aside, this second Curb Commentator EP is about as decent as the first one if not a little better. The aforementioned race anthems, Black Is Beautiful And The Funk Is Still Pending, are on-point musically. The latter has a weak hook, but the rapper makes up for it by talking during the breaks, which he should do more often. The best song is Born In It, featuring Chippas and Milla, which does have a good chorus. It’s about growing-up in the inner city.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

audio review : Folklore ( album ) … Taylor Swift

audio review : Folklore ( album ) ... Taylor Swift

If there’s a sense of Folklore surrounding Taylor Swift, it’s high school alumnae gushing to their acne-ridden successors over her “like amazing” musical talent. I’m much less impressed. She has some good songs, including False God from her previous album, but they’re far and few between. Her music is mostly middling and this album is no exception.

With Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff at the helm, it’s a solemn; in one case Illicit; affair. This isn’t pop music in the loud electro-synth sense. Taylor Swift tips a hat to her country and western roots on the opp-gender love ballad Betty, but these are mostly “like folk songs”, which makes for easy listening. It’s also thoroughly unremarkable and a little bland.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

audio review : Outrageous ( song ) … Paul Simon

The best parts of this quasi-rhapsody come near the end when the chorus question is finally answered. “Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone,” it goes, “God will like he waters the flowers on your window sill.”

Paul Simon also compares using that same rain water to wash your face a “blessing”, which I guess makes this a fitting choice for the Christian rock genre. It sounds more like a gritty Bob Dylan song during the verses though.

my rating : 3 of 5

2006

audio review : Surprise ( album ) ... Paul Simon

audio review : Surprise ( album ) … Paul Simon

audio review : Surprise ( album ) ... Paul Simon

The real surprise is that after waiting six years for a new Paul Simon album, it arrives with only two good songs on it. The rest is decidedly decent like about half of the songs from his previous One. Perhaps it’s not such a surprise after all.

It seems that Paul Simon, one of my all-time favorite song artists, is simply losing his knack, which he’s had since at least the age of thirteen when he composed The Girl For Me; a romantic doo-wop ballad that easily topples anything here.

The focus now seems to be poetic words to rhythm. He’s as lyrically brilliant as ever, choosing his words carefully like that of a poet who expects to be quoted long after he’s dead, but catchy vocal melodies seem to be a thing of the past.

The “sonic landscape” of Brian Eno, which can go from easy rock to trippy jungle to cool space noise at a moment’s notice, is modern and fresh, but without interesting songs to wrap itself around, it just feels like boring background music.

The two good songs are Another Galaxy, about a girl who ditches her fiancé on their wedding day, and There Was An Ocean, which is best during its second verse where harmonious vocals and quirky bass jerks help bring it up from mediocrity.

my rating : 3 of 5

2006

audio review : Lianne La Havas ( album ) … Lianne La Havas

audio review : Lianne La Havas ( album ) ... Lianne La Havas

Bittersweet, one of the best songs on this album, would’ve made the most fitting title for it, but any of these song titles would’ve been better than Lianne La Havas. That it’s confusing as to whether I’m referring to the artist or the album is a testament to why self-titled projects are almost always an awful idea, especially when it’s not even a debut.

This is her third full-length set and she’s still singing mostly about “love” to 1970s-style soul grooves. Those funky/lush soundscapes remain the best thing about her music. The singing; not her voice, which is husky yet soothing, but her melodies; is usually trailing behind. Read My Mind is a joy to listen to though, along with Paper Thin and Green Papaya.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

Espresso Monster : Vanilla Cream [ Triple Shot ]

Espresso Monster : Vanilla Cream [ Triple Shot ]

“Italians are famous for artistic masterpieces, fast cars, fashion, beautiful women and the perfect espresso,” the can reads, “The latest trend is the Macchiato, a blend of strong espresso and milk.”

The milk is nice and smooth. It’s the strength of the Triple Shot of coffee, which, along with the milk, is apparently imported from Europe, that’s a tad overwhelming, at least during the aftertaste.

my rating : 3 of 5

Rainy Season ( story ) … Stephen King

This is Stephen King’s take on the old “raining cats and dogs” idiom. That he takes it literally, swapping mammals for amphibians, makes the story, which traps a young couple in a small town vacation house, more comedy than horror.

Once the downpour begins, things get interesting. It’s preposterous all the way; this is a story about killer toads Raining from the sky; but fun and somewhat captivating, at least during the second half where most of the action occurs.

my rating : 3 of 5

1989

Rainy Season ( story ) ... Stephen King

video review : 3 From Hell

video review : 3 From Hell

When I first heard Rob Zombie would bring back The Devil’s Rejects after they went out like Thelma And Louise nearly a decade and a half ago, I figured it would be some sort of prequel. This isn’t. It’s a bona fide sequel featuring the original members with one disappointing caveat.

While all 3 Rejects are here, Captain Spaulding, the most enthralling, is limited to a cameo role. That’s reportedly the result of real-life health problems. The actor, Sid Haig, is 80 years old. He’s replaced by a less interesting brother of Otis, who helps him (Otis) escape from prison.

That’s one of many blatant implausibilities happening in this movie, including the fact that the Rejects are still alive in the first place, though it’s Baby’s escape that’s most absurd. Once the new trio is set, the plot starts to get good, but by then it’s almost at the halfway point.

The best parts are still the kills; what I like most about Rob Zombie movies is the amoral depiction of brutal violence; but 3 seems incomplete without Cutter. A phone call in Mexico gives the peak dramatic suspense, but this is the worst movie in the Firefly trilogy.

my rating : 3 of 5

2019

video review : 31

video review : 31

The first scene, a black and white introduction to a Jokeresque clown; but don’t call him that; named Doom Head, is intense. 31, named after the game of death five unlucky protagonists find themselves in, mostly falters from there. It’s Rob Zombie’s version of Saw; some people are actually killed with chainsaws; perhaps a sign the filmmaker is running out of ideas.

my rating : 3 of 5

2016