John Waters, Lucinda Williams, Hella and Loney, Dear

  • Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:00am
  • Music

Various Artists

A Date With John Waters

(New Line)

I never thought I’d say this about the maker of one of my favorite childhood films (Hairspray), but on the cover of his latest comp-ilation, JohnWaters looks downright fuckable. Hiding behind his collar with a flirtatious look, he’sa youthful version of the mustachioed dirty old man seen reading Date‘s liner notes on YouTube–”Want a popper?” the 61-year-old asks the camera. Eww! The follow-up to 2004’s A John Waters Christmas, which featured absurdities like Rudolph & Gang and Alvin & the Chipmunks, Date really should come with an “odorama” card like the ones Waters distributed with Polyester, his first film not rated X. If it did, the comp would smell like sweat, leather, lipstick, and gunpowder. The album opens with “the first record I ever shoplifted,”Patience and Prudence’s “Tonight You Belong to Me”; Elton Motello’s much-covered “Jet Boy Jet Girl” follows, setting the gender-bending tone with the famous chorus of “He gives me head.” Each whacked-out song Waters includes (“Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun” by his protégé Mink Stole, a cringe-inducing cover of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Edith Massey) is tempered with one from Ike & Tina or Ray Charles, but the weird stuff is way more fun. 1930s jazz diva Mildred Baileycelebrates sexual discipline, while Clarence “Frogman” Henry creates a trisexual personality by singing one verse each in a man’s, woman’s, and frog’s register. “You can be the ‘girl’ just as long as I get to be the ‘frog’–I’m just kinda kinky that way,” Waters writes. To properly experience your anything-goes Date with the granddaddy of TMI, listen to this with one hand clasping a joint and the other down your pants. RACHEL SHIMP

Watch John Waters read the liner notes from A Date With John Waters.

Loney, Dear

Loney, Noir

(Sub Pop)

After hearing Loney, Noir, Sub Pop’s rerelease of Loney, Dear’s 2005 seemingly sugar-sweet LP, you might think mastermind Emil Svanängen spent a lot of time alone in his parents’ basement. Then you find out that the album, originally self-released by Svanängen, was indeed recorded and produced in that oppressive locale, and it all makes sense. However, a cursory listen to Svanängen’s innocuous falsetto and catchy Postal Service–esque drum and synth loops would fail to expose this sad fact–actually, he sounds downright cheery. Loney, Dear crafts 10 very similar, at times very catchy, gloss-pop songs. But aside from a few gems, such as the album’s first single, “I Am John,” which crescendos in a myriad of synths, bells, and deep-layered percussion, only a few other tracks have the hook, and the result is a Charms Blow Pop of an album, sweet and delicious for the first few minutes but bland and boring at the core. KEEGAN HAMILTON

Listen to Loney, Dear’s “I Am John” from Loney, Noir.

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Lucinda Williams


(Lost Highway)

Since Lucinda Williams’ last studio release, 2004’s World Without Tears, she’s buried her mother, endured a nasty split with anex-lover, and gotten engaged to a long-lost acquaintance she hadn’t seen for 15 years. Given this emotional volatility, and knowing that Williams does her best work when in the throes of such a pendulum swing, it would be reasonable to expect West to be a moody roller-coaster ride that combines the sweat-soaked Southern eroticism of Essence with the cathartic rockers of Car Wheels. But that’s not what West is–not by a long shot. Instead, we’re largely left with a mellow, dreamy ode to Left Coast maturity and the challenges therein–a straight-line progression from the aforementioned Tears. On only two tracks, the solid “Come On” and the misguided “Wrap My Head Around That,” do Williams and her band really let things rip. Otherwise, “Where Is My Love” is downright jazzy, while “Are You Alright?” and “What If” are emblematic of the spare, hallmark lullabies that dominate the album.But West‘s standout, by a good distance, is its title track, which serves as the record’s finale. Clearly written with her fiancé in mind, the six-minute ballad will resonate instantly with anyone who’s ever been ina long-distance relationship. It’s as emotionally poignant and gorgeous a song asWilliams has ever written, no small statement considering her deified status in the wordsmith’s realm. MIKE SEELY

Listen to a sample of “Are You Alright?” from Lucinda Williams’ West.

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There’s No 666 in Outer Space


From Sacramento, Calif., Hella are of thegeneration for which “progressive rock”(or “prog”) is no longer an uncool relic of the 1970s and ’80s, that cerebralyet hyperactive nattering their older siblings (or parents, even) listened to while herbally enabled.Inspired by streamlined punk and speed-metal but fueled by the brainy intricacy of prog and avant-rock, Hella are scary. Not “scary” as in “sinister” or “malevolent,” but scary for their utterly uncompromisingapproach and unhinged precision in its execution. The guitars grind and clang away with angular melodic lines and dissonant progressions; if their drummer played any faster, 666 might be considered drum ‘n’ bass or jungle, and singer Aaron Ross (new guy) has a vocal style that’s part yelp (a bit like that clown from Journey) and part adenoidal rant, U.K. oddball division (think Syd Barrett, Robyn Hitchcock). Hella mostly dispense with the verse-verse-chorus-solos-verse template; driven rather by their own internal logic, the songs sound more like 20th-century classical music played by a cross between the Minutemen and Yes, or the Ruins and Rush. Hella skelter, indeed! MARK KERESMAN

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