Author: Rob Smith

vinyldiaries_aerosmith

The Vinyl Diaries: Aerosmith, “Done with Mirrors”

Remember when Aerosmith’s Music from Another Dimension was supposed to be the band’s return to rockin’ form, a Seventies-style throwback to the groovin’, Stonesy, Yardbirdsy, slap-happy lewdness of Toys and Rocks, complete with the full-album return of Jack Douglas, who’d been behind the boards for those early high-water marks? Remember when, with the exception of Douglas’ return, it wasn’t any of those things? Did we believe them? How could we believe them? How could we believe that Perry, Tyler, and the other three dudes (who don’t get to wander the catwalk), could channel their most triumphant moments as young men, into the creepy, over-slick mannequins they’ve become in their dotage? How could fans view the record as anything other than a cash-grab in the wake of Tyler’s American Idol experiment, or as an excuse to light out upon another headlining shed tour? And how could fans view the ballad “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”—a duet with Carrie-freakin’-Underwood—as anything other than a thumb in the eye, a knee to the groin, and a full-body coating of methanethiol …

Bestof2013

Popdose 2013: Rob Smith’s Favorite Music of 2013

  If these records could talk … 1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern The last time I saw her, she was standing in a doorway, about to go inside and do something—something, that is, in addition to transitioning from a physical presence to a figure in memory. An embrace, a “see you later,” a wave from the doorway, and gone. We missed each other the next day, a breakfast date canceled at the last minute, the click on the phone was pretty much final, though neither of us knew that then. In the ensuing months, there were attempts at meeting, weak though they were (mine were stronger by far, but no matter), but there was physical distance too wide to bridge, and distinct lives to return to, and work of the sort that causes too many disconnects, too many wires severed and cauterized at their ends. We hadn’t been together long, but our togetherhood was impressive for its intensity, for our intensity, the intensity of us. Ultimately, though, we weren’t together long enough. Over the years, I’d …

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The Vinyl Diaries: Last Thoughts (for Lou Reed)

A journal entry, October 28, 2013, evening (later amended). It figured, the last sound you made for others would be a drone, 20 minutes of drone  and guitar and poetry (half spoken, half somewhat sung), after 70 minutes before that of misshapen sound, noise and words that never quite melded, barely even intersected, your compatriots in the endeavor just as confused about your intentions as anyone who would, in the ensuing months, stumble into listening to the mess. The mess you made, the mess you made them make. Dissonance, without being dissonant. The poetry made sense to you, though. The poetry in the words, yes, but also the poetry in the drone, in the sound, in frequency and volume, in the ability to resonate. To make sound, to sympathetically vibrate and cause others to vibrate as well. You did this and it all made sense to you. The poetry of resonance. The poetry within the resonance. It moved through you, moved through your body, your bruised, shrinking body, eaten from within by parts of itself …

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Truth & Salvage Co.: The Popdose Interview

If you were looking for me the last few months and couldn’t find me, it’s very possible that I was off somewhere, curled up inside “Pick Me Up,” the title track of the new Truth & Salvage Co. album (Megaforce Records). Behind its “Like a Rolling Stone” organ figure, expertly placed melody modulation, and positivity-exuding lyric, “Pick Me Up” is a breath of fresh country air at a time when so much seems stale and stagnant. In a day and age in which hearing “You are not alone” usually provokes a bit of trepidation and a nervous backward look or two, Truth & Salvage wrap the listener in a much-needed cover of Southern sunshine. I drank the Kool Aid for this band three years ago (it tasted like sweet tea and kicked like a triple Cuervo), after seeing them live and digging the fine songs on their debut (my album of the year in 2010, for those keeping track). I thought then and think now that what Truth & Salvage Co. is, is a classic …

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The Vinyl Diaries: Jason Isbell, “Southeastern”

Since maybe late February (when it leaked online), my favorite record of the year has been the Flaming Lips’ The Terror. The record’s unyielding tone of desperation and desolation appeals to me. Its abstraction and noise play nicely with the cacophony one might experience in one’s head, particularly when one finds him- or herself in a particularly despairing mood, for whatever reason (or no reason at all), in which every voice encountered, every sentiment expressed, every attempt made at connection, everything slips down a hole somewhere inside one’s heart and disappears. Everything tastes sour. Everything sounds like static, like Psychocandy and Loveless, with melodies extracted from them, turned up way too loud. The Terror finds space in the fuzz, like a seed in soil, germinating in all directions. Still, The Terror is merely an acknowledgement, proof of life inside and outside the noise. What it isn’t is a balm—an agent of comfort. For that, one might turn to new records by Americana artists I have long revered—Steve Earle (The Low Highway), Patty Griffin (American Kid), …