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Music reviews - 11-01-06 

This week: The Sadies, Pixies, Jeff Tweedy, and The Decemberists

Untitled Document


Live at the Paradise in Boston
Eagle Rock

Why should you purchase this video instead of the 2004 concert DVD, The Pixies Sell Out? You shouldn’t --- if you’re a fan, you’ll want both. Sell Out was filmed at a huge outdoor European festival while Live at the Paradise was filmed the same year at an intimate venue in Boston, the Pixies’ hometown. Both have their charms. In this case, it isn’t the close camera work alone, but the band’s casual onstage demeanor that fosters an intimate vibe. Frank Black and Kim Deal aren’t exactly known for their warmth, but they leave their usual aloofness (which works great in the other video) at the door, joking around and clearly at-ease in this setting. They even stop songs to try them again amidst much laughter. For all their power, the Pixies’ lackadaisical approach to song order can set them adrift on big stages; here, it enhances the fun, as does the shockingly green bonus footage from Halloween night 1986.

--- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni



The Sadies
Tales Of The Rat Fink
Yep Roc

The Sadies blend everything I love --- rockabilly, blues, country, spaghetti Western, surf, psychedelic rock and so on --- with an unparalleled reverence, authenticity, and intensity. By championing rock ’n’ roll’s rebellion and lust the way its pioneers did, The Sadies have (perhaps unwittingly) become the soundtrack to subversive culture and its art. Take for instance kustom car Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and his beloved bastard creation Rat Fink (the anti-Mickey Mouse).

Tales Of The Rat Fink is a documentary about Roth and the hot rod culture he spawned. The Sadies contributed 48 kick-ass gems to this film. Twenty-six found their way to this release. It’s an all-instrumental affair with the Good brothers’ trademark twang keeping it familiar to those who already love the band. There are spacey trips, creepy sci-fi slithers, and surf-a-go-go, with a heaping helping of greasy twang.

Each of the 26 cuts have been named after the various dives dotting the map that The Sadies ply their trade. Naturally, the best cut on this platter is No. 20, “The Bug Jar.”

--- Frank De Blase




The Decemberists
The Crane Wife
Capitol Records

You’d never think that listening to The Decemberists would lead one to wonder if lead singer Colin Meloy likes Yes. But there it is, six minutes into the second track of The Crane Wife, a quite-the-progging explosion of Rick Wakeman’s legacy splattered all over your speakers. An album that takes legitimate steps into new territory for the Oregon band, The Crane Wife centers itself around an old Japanese story about a fella who finds a wounded crane in his front yard. If the aforementioned Yes nod doesn’t grab you, a jingly, Talking Heads-y “The Perfect Crime” is so good you’ll want to ask Colin Meloy out for some ice cream. And I’ve listened to “Shankill Butchers” --- depicting the terrifyingly brutal Irish gang of the ’70s --- approximately 3.4.8 million times since I got the record last week. If you were worried that The Decemberists wouldn’t have the moxy to follow Picaresque with solid work (especially now that the band signed to a major label), worry no more. They’ve got moxy in spades; and if they keep pushing boundaries, the best is yet to come.

--- Tim Goodwin



Jeff Tweedy
Sunken Treasure DVD

Fans drawn to Wilco’s exquisite sense of layering and group interplay might be shocked to see just how much of the information in songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s creations translates to just an acoustic guitar and voice. Directed by Christoph Green and Fugazi’s Brendan Canty (creators of the Burn to Shine documentary series), Sunken Treasure follows Tweedy over the course of five West Coast shows, drawing interviews, stage raps, and, of course, songs from each. Aside from the disarming openness Tweedy shows in both the music and his monologues, the filmmakers strike gold by presenting the footage in a segmented, night-by-night structure. Without Wilco’s funnel-cloud noise swirling around him, Tweedy appears achingly bare --- not to mention vulnerable --- on his own. He instills intense affection, and rightfully so; these knockout performances make it easy to see why. Unfortunately, the film also captures how eagerly his audience expresses that affection while he’s playing. Tweedy seems unbothered, but it’s a real shame that adulation causes inadvertent disrespect to the music. After all, who goes to a show (or buys a DVD) to hear some idiot yell “wooooo!” during your favorite song?

--- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni



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