by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Tomorrow is another big music release day with new records from Digital Leather and Desaparecidos scheduled to drop.
In anticipation of the Desa release, Pitchfork reviewed their new album, Payola, today giving it a righteous 7.6 rating that tops the massively long, strange, wandering write-up by chief critic Ian Cohen. I think Cohen liked it, though the only out-and-out compliment was: “But Payola advocates chaining yourself to an ATM, taking a baseball bat to a limousine, and shouting every word at the nearest authority figure. And this makes Conor Oberst a writer of awesome punk rock lyrics,” which I’m not entirely sure was written with a straight face.
Cohen tracks through the album with cryptic nods for each track. His most accurate observation: “...a topical record that’s been cobbled together over the span of five years is going to sound dated in a 24-hour news cycle. It’s not just the references to Occupy or the NSA’s Fairview surveillance system or flashmobs, though those tend to jut out like 2012 RT’s on your timeline.” So true.
While he was busy trying to decipher the meaning of every song he forgot to notice that the record out-and-out rocks. For my money, it’s better than Read Music/Speak Spanish, though the new record’s message isn’t as forward-looking as much as reflective. Cohen’s most damning comment was a left-handed compliment: “It would appear that Payola is where Oberst’s been storing the splenetic rage that fueled his most compelling work and has mostly gone missing since I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.” Oh snap!
Overall, the album is getting raves.
Consequences of Sound gave Payola a B+, saying: “Few bands can return after a 13-year absence and sound vital and fresh, transforming an old-school approach into a process that sounds original. That’s precisely what Desaparecidos have done, making Payola a welcome comeback surprise.”
The Guardian gave the record 3 out of 5 stars and called it “middling” in the headline, concluding “They’re not exactly pushing things forward, but for anyone who wants to take a trip back to when MTV2’s Gonzo was a must-watch, Payola will pave the way.”
Drowned in Sound gave it an 8 out of 10, saying: “There aren’t many bands that would detail a song with the fantasies of a teenage gun obsessive, relate to a radicalised youth or launch a scathing attack on the Fairview Surveillance Programme. That Desaparecidos accomplish these things in the form of such frequently brilliant, perceptive tunes is laudable.”
DIY gave the record 4 out of 5 stars and said “Even Oberst’s accepting shout of “We’re doomed!” towards the end of ‘The Left Is Right’ is less doom-and-gloom and more hopeful. This is an album designed to move people, and ‘Payola’ manages to do so in so very many ways.”
And finally, the old standard All Music gave the record 4 out of 5 stars, concluding: “Politically charged punk rock can be an exhausting and overtly self-righteous affair in the wrong hands, but Oberst and company temper their outrage with unadulterated melodic might, resulting in that rare protest album that rewards both the condemners and the condemned.”
Metacritic currently has it in the green at 74. Impressive.
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Speaking of Desaparecidos, Desa keyboardist Ian McElroy’s other project, Rig 1, performs tonight at Pageturners. Opening is High Up, a band that features Christine and Orenda Fink, Greg Elsasser, Josh Soto, Eric Ohlsson and Jason Biggers. The band is “endorsed by the Gifford park Neighborhood Association,” according to their Facebook page. Can’t beat that. 9 p.m. and Free.
Also tonight, Delta Spirit and Friends plays at The Waiting Room. “Friends” could include members of Deer Tick, Dr. Dog and The Walkmen, who have been confirmed for the tour, according to the listing on the One Percent Productions website. $20, 9 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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