CD Reviews: 10-03-07

Kurt Cobain: About a Son, Music from the Motion Picture
Various Artists

We can blame Nirvana for the existence of so many bad bands. On the other hand, leader Kurt Cobain’s consistent name-dropping of dozens of favorite bands helped introduce a generation to numerous artists that could have been otherwise forgotten. A.J. Schnack, director of the equally unlikely They Might Be Giants doc “Gigantic,” has crafted “About a Son” from audiotapes of Cobain talking to his biographer, Michael Azerrad. The film features visual footage of the Washington state towns in which Cobain spent his life.
This disc serves as an intro to the bands whose influences were fused together by Cobain to create the Nirvana sound: sugary pop, weirdo singer-songwriters, children’s songs, classic rock, folk rock, blues folk, hillbilly psych, fiery punk, glitter, sludge, Iggy and grungy, heroin-shooting peers. A fan with a huge appetite, Cobain absorbed everything from R.E.M. to Scratch Acid. A few snippets of him speaking add context, and equally unlikely pop star Ben Gibbard acknowledges the debt his career owes to Cobain’s example. —Peter Berkowitz

Club Hits to Hit the Clubs With
All Teeth and Knuckles

All Teeth and Knuckles, or you may want to refer to this duo by their middle-school conceived acronym, ATAK, may have created the most uninspired album of the year. Beats notwithstanding, each track ironically skewers the act. “Let’s Get Famous” and “*&$! Your Jacket” tend to mock those “sell outs” and “dudes who go to concerts wearing leather jackets” as pinnacles of lame.
In particular, “Jacket” is the paradoxical confrontation track wherein the duo trumps up their “outsider” personalities, because they wear hooded sweatshirts and windbreakers. FYI: Members Only jackets are the most ironic, and therefore, the coolest. On “Let’s Get Famous,” ATAK talks about their edginess while losing their credibility in the process. The sad fact is that beneath the talk is a fine dance album with interesting beats, but the lyricism disallows appreciation. ATAK, please refer to The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime to hear electronic music without human interference. —Patrick Mulloy

The Icarus Syndrome

Wanna go for a ride, child/You know the first one’s free/I’m sure we’ll meet again/In your shattered dreams.
There you have that. My wish is that this album is therapy for him, because it’s sure painful for the rest of us. Perhaps that is it — as is defined by the term “Icarus.” In his attempts to escape, he meets his own demise. But the music component isn’t all boring.
There is slight instrumental diversity from one track to the next, and if you manage to drone out the words, it’s moderately bearable. Truth bequeaths somewhat of a blues appeal, causing imagination of round-table jam sessions. “There’s Something Rotten in Denmark” is grunge gone poetic. The rest mostly reminds me of a highly unwelcome Styx reunion — not entirely boring, but not entirely desirable.
Dax is a city in southwest France where one finds mineral hot springs. Too bad nothing on his album resembles any depth or natural wonder of the same. —Michelle Manker

Monterey International Pop Festival
Various Artists

At the time of this concert — 40 years ago — popular musicians weren’t so totally cool as to be above and beyond their audience. There’s a lot of “let me entertain you” shilling among the 26 cuts. Otis Redding was working so hard to win the audience that he comes off a little like a wedding singer. This bygone style of audience interaction, as practiced here by many musicians who became legends, seems quaint and novel. The Summer of Love was just taking shape, almost no one had heard of Hendrix (his “Like A Rolling Stone” anchors Disc 2), and folk-pop was a big gun in the music industry (among the few previously unreleased cuts are two by Simon & Garfunkel). Disc 1 builds predictably to Janis Joplin’s career-making turn but then goes over to interesting acts whose big moments came and went quickly (Hugh Masakela, Electric Flag). This veering away from celebrity worship, achieved without indulging too many early attempts at psychedelic meandering, lets the timelessness of the event shine through. —T.E. Lyons

The Fervor

“Don’t worry, ’cause you won’t feel a thing,” lead vocalist Natalie Felker warns on opener “Moment of Truth.” Reminds me of the time a doctor once said the same thing, followed by the insertion of a six-inch needle that ripped through my skin. I certainly felt something then, and I certainly feel something — albeit stirring and introspective as opposed to pain and anger — after each listen of Bleeder. The production is raw and pure, much like Felker’s vocals. Her general musings, often backed only by keys and drums (“The Void,” “Control It”), are witty, punchy, even powerful. Think Mazzy Star sans over-production.
The Fervor recorded Bleeder at a Louisville funeral home, which may very well have great acoustics, but it’s kinda creepy. Perhaps when Felker recorded that warning above, she wasn’t talking to her breathing fanbase. Good, mellow stuff here. (Disclosure: Mat Herron, who plays drums for The Fervor, is LEO’s music editor.) The Fervor’s CD release party is Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Pour Haus (1481 S. Shelby St., 637-9611). —Sara Havens