Sounds of Silence

Ray LaMontagne: “Trouble”

My adoration of folk music began to wane around the same time Istopped smoking dope. It seemed as if the deep, soulful confessionsof the singer/songwriters were nothing more than misguided whiningwhen not heard through the filter of half an eighth ofHumboldt-kind, sucked through a two-foot bong.

Strange thing is, Ray LaMontagne has managed to produce a folkalbum that transcends space and time to emulate the best ofsinger/songwriters who have never lost their post-marijuana appeal.With the waltz-like sadness of Elliot Smith, the bar ruined voiceof Joe Cocker and the lyrical skill of Van Morrison, LaMontagne hascreated a beautifully troubling and yet optimistic world that begsto be explored. No dope required.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings: “Bark”

Speaking of dope, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings must have the goodshit up in Toronto. How else would they be able to mix the sound ofthe Wallflowers, Hank “Are you ready for some football?” WilliamsJr. and The Band in one southern-fried romp through pop countrysensibilities.

The music on this album is all over the map, but my desire forBlackie to just find a damn genre and stick with it did notnecessarily impede my vague enjoyment of their music. If you areone of those folks who enjoys Wilco, but doesn’t mind dipping intothe ol’ Garth Brooks every once in awhile, then crack a Miller andput on your shit kickers ’cause Blackie and the Rodeo Kings arehere.

Stockholm Syndrome: “Holy Happy Hour”

Loosely defined, Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological conditionwherein an individual who has been abducted or taken hostage beginsto identify with their captors (think Patty Hearst). I don’t thinkthat I am overstating the matter when I say that Stockholm Syndromeis also a shitty band.

Let me back that up. Do you remember Hootie and the Blowfish?Shitty band with some catchy singles. Blues Traveler? Okay bandwith some catchy singles. Dave Mathews Band? Hugely popularcrap-fest of a band with some great singles.

Stockholm Syndrome has managed to take the worst from all thesegroups, mash it up in some sort of ugly, funk-influenced, frathouse rock and serve it up in a completely uninspiring album. Theirbiggest claim to fame is that they have a member ofParliament-Funkadelic in the band. My guess is that it’s thecowbell player. I could be abducted by Stockholm Syndrome for 20years and never come to identify with them. I’d probably hangmyself with a beer bong first.

Ladykillers: “Welcome to Rock ‘n’ Roll Kid”

Ladykillers want to be tough and I suppose that they are. Theyroll through their heavy, swinging rock as if they were demonsreleased from Elvis’ worst nightmares. With a Stray Cats nostalgia,billed as authentic rock and roll, the Ladykillers’ sideburn,bowling shirt, lucky strike aesthetic is sure to appeal to anass-load of cat-eye-glasses hipsters.

Hell, they even cover Tom Petty. The unfortunate thing is,despite their energy and attitude, this genre of rock ‘n’ roll hasbeen done better. Sure, you can rock to the Ladykillers, but as awelcome to rock ‘n’ roll? Well, it’s come too late.

The Dead Science: “Bones in the Birdhouse”

All signs point to Goth: death, science, bones, birds. I havelittle patience for “Goths.” Something about them just makes menauseous. It might be that in every Goth-themed film I’ve ever seenthe characters wind up walking through autumn leaves in slow motionwith blank, angry stares. I think that when Goths attempt toemulate this slow motion walk in real life, it fucks with my depthperception and inner ear, causing dizziness and emesis.

All that aside, I have a weak spot for gothic music. Give meNick Cave. Give me Rasputina. Give me Diamanda Galas. I love thecold emptiness and anger of the sound. Which is why I have fallenin love with The Dead Science’s “Bones in the Birdhouse.”

Their music sounds like rain falling on rusted banjos beside theold barn. It sounds like a storm blowing through the bars of awrought iron bed frame left in a roofless house. It sounds likesuicide and homicide and funeral marches and I love every fuckingsecond of it. But the day I start wearing black mascara and tornfishnets is the day I give my editor a gun and ask him to finish meoff quickly.