CD Picks: Aqua Teen Soundtrack, TV on the Radio, Grinderman

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

TV on the Radio Live at Amoeba Music Interscope

TV on the Radio is clearly a studio band that thrives on layers, arrangements and orchestrating myriad genres into their own stylized package. What made Return to Cookie Mountain so good were perfect notes embedded in a landscape as manicured as a the 10th tee on a private golf course. The sound wasn't always clean, but it was clear that nothing went unexamined.

On stage, like at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles last September, the band sacrifices nearly everything that makes them so important. Sure, they're energetic and impassioned, but so are a lot of bands people won't be checking out in 50 years. Likely TV tries as hard live as on record - the results just aren't the same.

These four tracks sound like little more than skeletons of album versions. Not stripped, rowdy skeletons, but meek versions played by a band that sounds exhausted, out of synch and breath.

Fan-favorites like "Wolf Like Me" and "Province" will intrigue die-hard fans, but few others.

So why should you buy this record, which is available online and at the three Amoeba locations? Not for any intrinsic value - only for its eventual status as a must-have collector's item when the band expands its amazing catalogue and influence even further.

Grade: C Web: www.amoeba.com

More reviews inside...

Grinderman Grinderman Anti-

When Iggy and his depraved band of Stooges began to make music, their main concern was frustration. It's there in every note - every squeal of distortion, every snare snap, every street-grit lyric - on their first three albums.

Working in a nearly crippling haze of sexual, cultural, racial and societal tension, this was their primary goal: How do poor, struggling white dudes from the slums outside Detroit tell the rest of the world how bad it sucks to be a loser in nearly every sense of the word?

Their answer: Play loudly. Confront listeners with the grimiest sounds imaginable. Shout and screech a lot. On stage, cut yourself with broken glass.

In a slightly more quiet and arty fashion, Grinderman, the new project from Nick Cave, continues that confrontational nature to examine life's myriad frustrations. Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos don't want to be your dog, but they don't want to be your friends either.

There isn't a happy moment here.

The 13 tracks waver between repetitive, somewhat empty rock songs that sound as if they've been hollowed out with shovel and noisy rockers that affront you with dissonance and volume.

And like the Stooges, they're aware that white guys playing traditional blues is routinely boring, even if they love the genre as much as possible. This results in the haunting "Grinderman," "No P---y Blues" and other tracks that sound as angry as anything on Fun House.

For much of the record, the quartet takes a more subtle route - there's much more empty space - but the angst is familiar. It makes for a powerful record that most will recommend only to friends who are in a great deal of pain.

Grade: B Download: "Electric Alice," "Grinderman," "Go Tell the Woman" Web: www.myspace.com/grinderman

Various Artists Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Soundtrack Williams Street

"Alright. Alright. I wrote this next one when I broke up with my girlfriend cuz I slept with her friend and then I dumped the both of them. And I think everyone can releate to the blues like they had after I dropped 'em like two hot rocks."

So begins "Nude Love," Master Shake's love ballad and just one of the hilarious skits and songs that appear next to a solid collection of hip-hop, metal and bar rock that composes this depraved movie soundtrack. Other funny moments include appearances from Carl and Meatwad and a send-up of the vintage movie concessions.

You know, "Let's go out to the moooovies..." Except much weirder and more sexual.

Shake has trouble forming a G chord midway through the song, but that's the only time when this compilation isn't completely on point. Like many of the gags in the show, this 17-track disc blurs any remaining lines between adoration and irony. It also revels in the peculiar limbo between: parody and pastiche; satire and homage; trash and beauty; and a nearly constant flow of cultural references from the past and present.

Current artists the Hold Steady, Unearth, Killer Mike and others make appearances with original tracks, but this sum is definitely more than its disparate parts. Taken together, this is a perfect sonic embodiment of the show's twisted sense of humor and its refusal to take seriously the harshest reality of living in Jersey squalor.

The best moment: On "Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife," new metal gods (not to be confused with nu-metal) Mastodon say that if they find you videotaping this movie, they will "rain down your throat with hot acid and dissolve your testicles and turn your guts into snakes."

Grade: B+ Download: Mastodon, "Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife"; the Hold Steady, "Girls Like Status" Web: Movie site