Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Bumblebeez 81 -- Printz
Modular/Geffen; 2004

Sometimes encouragement goes a little too far. People are told they're talented over and over again, regardless if the compliment is sincere or not, until they believe it. Such seems to be the case with Australia to NYC transplant, Bumblebeez 81. Printz, the first album from multi-instrumentalist Chris Colonna and friends, is a mess of half-assed melodies, painful yowls, and an utter lack of awareness as to what people will actually stomach.

The album starts off pleasant enough, the brief and blippy "O U No" providing false pretenses as for what is to follow. Quickly though, Printz starts to tumble down the cliff of good taste. A large weakness of the group is its vocals. Colonna delivers his half rapping, half singing like he'd rather be watching grass grow; and when he does give a care it's more like he's singing out of physical pain than from a sudden burst of energy. Often his voice is so awfully distorted that lyrics are incomprehendible, a godsend in disguise. Not helping matters is his sister Pia (or Queen ViLa, if you're silly) and her "rapping," which could use a serious lesson about lyrics from the Beastie Boys: If you're going to rap about pointless shit, at least make it hilarious.

Just as unfunny or even amusing is the music -- awkward and irritating melodies that bear little repeating but aggravatingly enough, are! The majority of the tracks are either tuneless noise rock or elementary hip-hop beats and the occasional record scratch, neither of which hold much appeal. Some songs try to pass off fumbled guitar-picking and rudimentary drum patterns as lo-fi charm, but truly, it's nothing but a frustrating lack of songwriting ability. At times Colonna crafts something vaguely inoffensive and Beck-like, such as the "whooo whooo!"-filled "Bambino," but most tunes have you holding your head thinking, "I wonder if there's something better on television" or "where did I leave the aspirin?"

Maybe it's because people are trying to bring back no-wave or perhaps someone's asleep at the switch over at Geffen, but I'm entirely serious when I say that I'm surprised a major would put this record out. Like a vanity project gone wrong (or a series of compliments gone too far), Printz would have been better left on a dusty shelf to be laughed at during dinner parties. To quote my Uncle Grambo of fame, NO BUZZ.

You had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend

Or the new single from The Killers, "Somebody Told Me"

The Killers are an interesting sort of band. In one respect, they're very much like Franz Ferdinand in that they can chalk up much of their buzz to the Blogosphere, with blogs by Ultragrrrl and KarenPlusOne coming to mind in particular. If it weren't for their support (and countless others' too) of The Killers' looks-- I mean music (sorry), it's possible they would be just another band from the Las Vegas.

But yes, there music is good too, particularly their single "Somebody Told Me." They're a bit like the now greatly ignored The Faint, in that they use loud and laser-like synths and dabs of backbeat. Distinguishing them is the lack of mellowdramatic goth overtones -- a pleasant ommission. Also, The Killers are much more rock-centered, exemplified in the tense guitar riffs and ploinking bass. Singer Brandon Flowers's liberal tenor has as much drive as the song's chorus has bounce, laying out semi-sensical lyrics like it ain't no thing. Possibly the song's greatest moment is at the end of the prechorus where everything cuts out to go "WHAM, BAM" then dives back into the song -- a fantastic 80s homage. So hmm, with all this it sounds like The Killers are due to blow up any moment now -- I mean, they've already played with The Cure. Maybe NME would dub them the "best band ever" and Rolling Stones will call them the "saviors of rock n' roll" or something. STAY PURE, BOYS, STAY PURE!!

I Got Love For

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