Echo and the Bunnymen - Siberia
This hit shelves yesterday, and from what I can tell after a half dozen listens or so, it's not half bad. Basically picks up where 2001's Flowers left off, which is to say more sweeping ballads about how a now craggy-voiced Ian McCulloch ain't the young buck that he used to be. Granted, he's roughly the same age as Bono, but sounds twenty years older on account of his multiple pack a day Marlboro Red habit (seriously...listen to the vocals on Porcupine and then compare...smoking kills, kids). The production is far more full than its been in awhile, and though there's at least one mid-tempo ballad too many, "Parthenon Drive," "Stormy Weather" and "Sideways Eight" would have sounded nicely at home on Ocean Rain. Bass player Peter Wilkerson does a considerably admirable job of replacing Les Pattinson's bounce (especially on "Parthenon Drive") and there's a lot more Will Seargent on Siberia than on any of the other late 90's Bunnymen-MK II discs. A little goopier than I would have liked, and the subject matter seldom strays from 'oh man, look how friggin' old I am' but Siberia constitutes good proof that the Bunnymen are still far more relevant than nearly any one of the current crop who cite McCulloch and co. as a major influence (cough, cough, Coldplay, cough).
The Strokes - "Juicebox" - Kudos to Stereogum for providing a download link for (what I believe) is the new Strokes single. That being said....what the hell is this crap? I don't mind the now uber-glossy production (relatively speaking), but this sounds like four songs stitched together, none of them being overly good. A seriously de-tuned bassline with what sounds like power chords seems to herald a heavier, angry version of this band, and then you've got Julian sounding oddly like Kurt Cobain as he wails that "we've got a city to love!" Maybe this will grow on me, and while I appreciate the band's willingness to explore their horizons...it sounds like they're trying a little too hard here.
King Biscuit Time - "C I AM 15" - More props to Stereogum are in order for providing a link to a new video from King Biscuit Time, a/k/a the now defunct Beta Band frontman Steve Mason's solo project. While I was aware that King Biscuit Time was going to release a record at some point, I was unaware that the street date was Spring of 2006 (too long!) or that a single was even in the works. This video is a mere reaffirmation of the obvious; Steve Mason fucking rules. This has made my day.