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August 3, 2004

"San Diego" is German for "Whale's Vagina"

Jet has crop dusted America. From loud rock adds to iPod ads, in Top 40 playlists and Hollywood party A-lists, the combo is thoroughly cheesing the States' rock hunger away. This is irritating, particularly since Get Born is stuffed with crappy balladic filler instead of the balls-out rockers you'd expect from the singles. But there's also the nagging feeling that Jet's people just spent the right amount of money to fuel their ascent. "Cold Hearted Bitch" crops the riff from Deep Purple's "Woman From Tokyo" into a jackscrabble of AC/DC power slides, and suddenly Cameron Muncey's enjoying the comely charms of some startruck Reality TV hottie? Damn! Can't someone get Ritchie Blackmore a courtesy lay?

For their RCA debut, Sahara Hotnights went recombinant, too. However, Kiss & Tell is one of the stronger entries of 2004, since it never dwells on its 1980s influences, and is the best representation yet of the quartet's hard rock/sweet hooks sound. You have to assume the flacks went wild at the thought of selling the Hotnights to gullible 'Mericans. "They rock, and they're hot," the breathless A&R hentchman says to his overseer. "They're Swedish, the lead singer's dating that guy from the Hives, and best of all, unlike The Donnas, there's no fattie to hide behind the hotties!"

This crass little one-act play is what makes Kiss & Tell even better. Sure, the Hotnights have the video and a big promotional budget. They've got the sweet support slot on what will undoubtedly be the Hives' most succesful US tour yet. And they all got makeovers for their major label debut. But there's no simper on Tell, no pandering to the moment. As I said in my Pitchfork review, "In its punchy production and eagerness to mix hard rock with boppy little guitar leads and cheeky catchy choruses, [the album] is a direct throwback to that fertile crossroads between thickheaded 70s AOR and the pop/new-wave nexus of the early 1980s...It balances expertly between mainstream accessibility and validation for the Hotnights themselves. It's a ballsy doll revolution."

All this, and it still must be said: I pine for Johanna Asplund. If that makes me a mimbo, I am unashamed.

Devon, England's Buffseeds recently saw their Picture Show LP released in America. The album's a stylistic peer of Muse and Coldplay, turning on the keening notes of frontman Kieran Scragg (what a name!). As I said, "it might be the aggregate of every sunny day England will ever see." Which makes it all the more disappointing that the album will be just another Limey rock casualty on American shores. It's too bad the roughly 350 college couples currently having clumsy dorm sex to "Clocks" will never hear Buffseeds' "Sparkle Me" - the rhythms are better.

Patton Oswalt is fucking funny. He might toil on "King of Queens" while his pal David Cross gets the hipster rim jobs for It's Not Funny and "Arrested Devlopment", but that doesn't change the fact that Feelin' Kinda Patton is a non-stop hilarious comedy record, full of acerbic and absurdist humor that will appeal to anyone who grew up between the Energy Crisis and "No new taxes". There's a distinct undercurrent of 80s hate in Oswalt's stuff that I just love. He does a whole bit about this stupid Asti Spumate ad that I remember seeing on TV back then. He expertly twists its garish yuppie framework into a commentary on plastic people and the dirty lives they really lead; it's smart, pointed, mean-spirited, and totally great.

There's this guy, who originally released a very slick version of Chariot to minor response, and has now returned with the same album bundled with an acoustic version of the whole thing. What? It's true. It doesn't make the record's weak points stronger, but it shows that the major label types might be seeing some value in keeping the rawness of singer/songwriters they sign. Not everyone has to be tarted and tweaked into another Jason Mraz.

Kev Hopper plays the saw.


Posted by Johnny Loftus at August 3, 2004 10:38 AM