The Three Worst CDs I Own
Take that, Fig Dish!
...meaning out of the CDs that I actually paid for, not ones that I received as promos or otherwise for free in my former life as a would-be indie rock critic.
Peter Searcy - Could You Please And Thank You
(Time Bomb, 1999)
As Jeff Koyen once put it, I'm pretty sure I bought this out of some fucked-up loyalty to Squirrel Bait. I suppose if I had ever heard Big Wheel (Searcy's post-Squirrel Bait band that Koyen was referring to), I would've saved myself the two bucks I spent on it.
Unlike the earth-churning fuzzed-out rawk that Squirrel Bait was known for, Searcy writes bland, polished, jangly pop songs that fit right in with bands like Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, and the other "adult alternative" crap that became prevalent during the pre-fab Modern Rock Revolution back in the mid-90's. Even worse are Searcy's lyrics, which are mostly just incoherent psycho-babble ("You can move the room around/But the furniture won't save your life/But then again, it might") and pseudo-Sensitive Male offerings like, "It's the cracks that make you good/It's the cracks that make you whole".
Grandpaboy - Dead Man Shake
(Fat Possum, 2003)
Grandpaboy is a thinly-disguised Paul Westerberg, of course. There's a whole bunch of misguided people that want you to believe that Paul's post-Replacements solo stuff is hugely underappreciated or just too crafty to be understood by the masses, but the truth is, most of it isn't really all that great.
Someone who knows a lot more than me said, "Dead Man Shake is one of the worst albums anyone has ever put out," and I'm pretty sure he's right. Still, not all of the Grandpaboy CDs sound as bad as this one, though that's kinda like saying that not all singers sound as dorky as Ron House.
You can tell that Westerberg and the band here are trying to sound bluesy and authentic, but instead of coming off as rockin' and loose, the whole thing just sounds amateurish and sloppy. I'm not sure how many of you are actually going to click on any these songs to listen to them, but if you click on this one, at least try to stick around up to the part where the really clueless drumming kicks in.
Big Star - In Space
I blindly supported Alex Chilton throughout his late-80's "Feudalist Tarts"/"High Priest" period, even though I knew he'd lost it. (I almost hit him in the face with a door once, so I figured I owed him.) Even though Jody Stephens and the two guys from the Posies are on this one, it doesn't really sound all that different from any of those lousy Chilton solo records. About the only difference between "In Space" and "High Priest" is, at least when I listened to "High Priest" I didn't care that it sucked, since I knew that Alex wasn't trying to trade off on his past.
There's an attempt made here to try to stay close to the format of the earlier Big Star records (one Jody Stephens track, one instrumental), but the only decent track on the album, "Dony", doesn't swing nearly as hard as Alex seems to think it does. (You can hear Alex yelping "Yeah!" and "Whoo!" in the background, as he tries to equal the feel of the early Big Star demo tracks and out-takes where he used to shout the same way, but it just sounds lame.) "A Whole New Thing" is passable as an NRBQ-type twelve-bar rocker, and that's about it.
As you listen to "Love Revolution" (presuming that you do), try to imagine why any band-- other than maybe a Jack Jones tribute band-- would be proud to write something like this, instead of just throwing it away, and then actually putting money and effort into recording it.