Tonal Irreverence: Retarded Amounts of Pop Edition

Posted on June 27, 2007 Under Music

Tonal Irreverence is, in short, a weekly summary of new (and new-ish) music releases, the print and e-buzz surrounding them, followed by our honest opinions"¦without the pretentious crap that often accompanies in unneccessarily long reviews. We're not music journalists"¦we just love music. This column tends to annoy people, which we find quite amusing.

This week: Kelly Clarkson, Ryan Adams, Beastie Boys, Marc Broussard and Mandy Moore.


Kelly Clarkson: My December [RCA]

Entertainment Weekly says: "Recent management changes and her cancelled tour have furthered the assumption that December must be a train wreck. It's not. There's real artistry blossoming on this, the boldest and best effort ever by an Idol star."

Slant Magazine says: "The press about the album… would have us believe that My December is some radical departure for Clarkson, but it's really just a logical progression "“ if not exactly a refinement "“ of the fingerless-gloved rock-chick persona the singer has created for herself in the years since her crowning as the premier American Idol."

We say: "So, Miss Independent flips off Clive Owen, fires her management and finally makes a record her way "“ with honest, self-penned songs about her recent heartbreak. Good for her! It's just too bad we don't give a shit. Come on, nobody is buying Kelly Clarkson albums for the tortured introspection and personal exorcism. We buy them for the smash hits with karaoke choruses "“ and since summer sing-alongs are obviously absent from My December, we'll save our money for Rihanna singles."


Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger [Lost Highway]

Tiny Mix Tapes says: "For once, we're presented with a work that is distinctly Ryan Adams. The pieces of the same old puzzle he's always been building are still there, but on this occasion, his wandering voice sticks close to his chest."

Rolling Stone says: Since he’s built his reputation on wild inconsistency, allowing himself inspired whims like Cold Roses, this is a strangely atypical Adams record, just because it’s his first typical one. For the only time since Gold, he wants you to notice how hard he worked pulling it all together."

We say: "Given this alt-country heartbreaker's infamous prolificacy and seeming inability to let a single thought go unrecorded, we're about as likely to write home about a new Ryan Adams album as a new Lay's chip flavour. Which is why we're pleasantly surprised to announce that with Easy Tiger, Ryan Adams sounds less like a guy that just loves to hear himself talk, and more like a songwriter with something genuine to say. Betcha can't listen just once."


Beastie Boys: The Mix-Up [Capitol]

Drowned in Sound says: "The Mix-Up features a sticker on its digi-pack casing: "Their first-ever full album of all-new instrumental material". What it should have read is similar, but a lot clearer: "If you're one of the weirdoes who reckons The In Sound From The Way Out! is the Beasties' best LP, this is for you".

Stereogum says: “The predominant mode is often less ’70s soul-jazz, more outer-realms cocktail spy music (see “Suco De Tangerina”) or mellow-ass post-Slits/P.I.L. dub minus the spy (see “The Gala Event”). But, um, why vocal silence now? Who knows, maybe they ran out of things to say about Tibet.”

Pitchfork says: "There's a distinct lack of fun in the instrumental wankage of The Mix-Up, a bad sign for a band that has seen their results fade in direct proportion to how seriously they take themselves."

We say: "A self-indulgent experiment with mediocre results and mostly forgettable… oh, who are we kidding? A fully instrumental album from the Beastie Boys? We can't even bring ourselves to press play, and if you listen to the sound of that silence, you’ll hear our souls gently weeping for the 90’s."


Mark Broussard: S.O.S.: Save Our Soul [Vanguard Records]

Slant Magazine says: "S.O.S. is ultimately a singer’s showcase. While Broussard is certainly one of the best soul singers to emerge in recent memory, S.O.S. still feels too much like a rote genre exercise from an artist who has already proven that he’s capable of something far more inspired." says: "Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album is how well Broussard’s backing band recaptures the sound of the original compositions; matching the deep soulful vibe of Broussard’s vocals. The pitch-perfect recreation of the music coupled with the rich but overly cautious vocals makes for a sterile album."

We say: "As evidenced by the almost certain failure of all cover albums, Broussard made a bold move with this album. Even bolder was that he changed not a thing about the songs but chose to perform them exactly as they were originally, sort of karaoke-esque. For that we salute him. That kind of reckless, who-gives-a-fuck-what-anyone-thinks sort of behavior is such a bad move post-Carencro success that it can only be admired. And damn, can he sing — so well in fact, Heather would like to make her womb available for the incubation of his bastard offspring. That is all."


Mandy Moore: Wild Hope [Firm Music]

Billboard says: "…the former bubble-gum star has traded in slick, catchy pop filler for more substantive, folk-driven material, all of which she co-wrote with Lori McKenna and the Weepies. The country-tinged “Extraordinary” finds Moore in a glass-half-full state of mind, while such songs as “Most of Me” and the stripped down, piano-led “Gardenia” offer a more intimate glimpse at her personal side." says: "Moore took her time to create what is easily the best work of her career with Wild Hope. With the help of such artists as Rachel Yamagata and indie duo The Weepies, Moore co-wrote every song on the album, which bounces effortlessly between upbeat indie-pop tunes and more subdued folk inspired tracks. The result is an honest record, that, in spite of a few cliche missteps, is an overall success."

We say: "Get out your home-made cookies and a glass optimistically half-full of 2% milk; Mandy Moore is doing her best Jewel impersonation. The songs are strong being written by various female folk singers, but Moore's voice just doesn't carry them like say, collaborator Rachel Yamagata whose cd could just as easily be purchase instead. While the pop princess can belt out some pretty tunes, chances are no one will really care. Unless of course, she shaves her head, gets a DUI, or at the very least does it pantiless. Mandy: The future is your oyster."