Thursday, January 22, 2015

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 

I might be partial to Chrissie Hynde because she hails from 40 minutes away from where I grew up. 

I've said before, I thought the '80s would be awesome musically, as "Brass in Pocket" was the first song I heard of 1980. Ironically, from their debut album, that is now the one I am most apt to skip, as the 3.872.108 times I've heard it have been enough. There are much better songs on that disk. 

And even with death and line-up changes, the Pretenders were always a force to be reckoned with - though their MOR "I'll Stand By You" kind of / really sucks. 

To the untrained ear, one might think that Chrissie Hynde was the Pretenders. And in later years, that became a little more true, but never entirely. I did not really see a need for her to do a solo album, but she did - almost a year ago - with Stockholm

Hynde wrote and recorded the disk with the middle guy from Peter, Bjorn & John - who have now seemingly made their fortune from letting Two Broke Girls use one of their songs as the theme. 

And while maybe it is not fair to compare Stockholm to a Pretenders disk, it's almost impossible not to do so. 

From the opening of the first track, "You or No One" is unlike any of the band's songs. It almost has a '60s girls group jive.  "Dark Sunglasses" is about as pop as this album gets. It's good....accessible too, but without any sell-out kind of feature. 

Oddly, the next song, is my favourite. "Like in the Movies". The odd part is that it seems to have the same chord progression as "Dark Sunglasses", but it still is in lighter mode than it's preceding song partner. "Sweet Nothing" is good too.....but again....a very very very similar song structure as the other two. 

Guitar work on stuff like "a Plan too Far" has a surf vibe to it - something like from Blondie's debut album back in '76. But after 30 seconds, the song is just 'meh'. There's nothing special about it at all. 

And I like the almost military drumming in "In a Miracle", but the song kind of goes nowhere. And Hynde opening with a sandcastle analogy is just....well....not what I expect or want from her. Ever.  

Songs like "You're the One", "Adding the Blue" and "Tourniquet" don't do a thing for me. The latter's lyrics would have been something as a true rock and roll song, but the music makes it a sleeper.

There really is no comparing Stockholm to a Pretenders disk. At least not the first three or four. Hynde's voice is still has strong and sharp as it was back in 1979. 

The drumming isn't - or is ever going to be - as crisp as something Martin Chambers could pull off. He is seriously the best live drummer I have ever seen. And the instrumentation is just different than a four person band. This is a lot more of a studio creation, which is fine. And that is why it is more solo than band work - which is why it is not a Pretenders disk. 

Stockholm is a perfectly fine album. I'm not sure it measures up to what I expect of Hynde. And I don't mean as in the Pretenders. I mean as a strong woman of rock and roll. Most of this music comes over as too light for rock, to hard for more often than not it just languishes. 

It certainly had potential, but it is not quite fulfilled. 

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