Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Strawberry Weed

Propelled to fame by, of all things, an iPod commercial--Sweden's The Caesars have finally given up on cracking American radio. How do I know this? Well they finally put a record out that DIDN'T have "Jerk it Out" on it.

I can understand the compulsion to stick that song on every record (money, anyone?). But I'm glad they've finally moved on. It's a shame the band never grew beyond the warm glow of Apple's advertising department...because the band is consistently cool.

A throwback to great British rock bands of the past (The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, etc.), The Caesars take classic rock and add a dash of modern (think: retro meets-techno). Every since the band's first record, 30 SECONDS OF BLISS (IN AN OTHERWISE MEANINGLESS WORLD), the band has impressed me with both thoughtful lyrics and catchy hooks (two thing I absolutely must have in my pop music). The latest record, STRAWBERRY WEED made me a bit hesitant however. Why? Because it's a dreaded "double-LP."

Some might argue that the double record can be successfully pulled off...but I'm always skeptical. The only exception to the "all non-live, double-LP's are bad" rule is perhaps THE BEATLES (also known as THE WHITE ALBUM). But let's face it, that record has a few odd moments that should have been cut ("Revolution 9")--and let's also face it, that record was 4-solo albums packaged together as a Beatles record.

But I digress, I'm off topic.

STRAWBERRY WEED is a moody, catchy bit of popular music that's good for cold autumnal evenings and/or warm summer nights driving around (with the top down). The first twelve songs (i.e. disc #1) is brilliant. The first single, "Boo Boo Goo Goo" is classic Caesars. Jangly guitars a-plenty. The shimmering tambourines and Beach Boy--like vocals on "She's Getting High" will put a smile on your face. The album's title track, "Strawberry Weed" is also really good (such nice images those boys paint).

Disc two is where somethings could go. Like all double records, there are some "filler-tracks." Most are strange, under-produced (very Lo-Fi/early Guided By Voices-sounding) tracks that sound like they were recorded in someones basement with an old tape deck. Some of these little ditties work, but most could go (in my humble opinion). Some of the tracks on the second disc are really good though, like the psychedelic "New Years Day." Meaning you can't just skip the second disc...they kinda made little "filler sandwiches" all over both discs.

What does this mean? It means in the end, you get a fantastic one-and-a-half Caesars record...with a handful of "blah" tracks. They're not very long, or really THAT terrible...but they do stick out. Especially when compared to the rest of the records highly-polished studio recording.

Maybe that's the point...maybe the band was trying to branch out or make a statement and I just don't get. But overall this is a good record. If you like bright, sunny sounding songs (with a slightly darker bent) you'll dig this record. If you like jangly British rock of yesterday and/or songs with the occasional handclap...then this is a record for you.

Jason gives STRAWBERRY WEED a "B-"


Murph said...

When you lived here in KC or when you visit, did you listen to Sonic Spectrum on KCUR? Robert Moore, the guy who created the show now runs it out of 96.5 the Buzz. I was thinking of that show while reading this entry.

Northtown, Missouri

Jason said...

I didn't. I grew up on KYYS 102 (classic rock). When that got shut down/re-formed to 99.7 KY I listened to that. On one of my last visits to KC I was shocked to discover that once again KY was off the air.


I liked 97.3 The Planet (they played Little Steven's Underground Garage late night on Saturdays when I was pulling my night shifts for Uni-Guard). But that too is now gone.

Never really listened to the Buzz, but I will check it out online.

I used to want to work in radio, but like newsprint--it's a dying medium. What a shame.

Murph said...

There is podcasting, Jason. Hell, a lot of SF and Fantasy writers are falling all over themselves to have their stories podcast.

My ponder that.

Jspace is down, btw. I didn't delete the blog.

Northtown, Missouri

Jason said...

I would LOVE to get a podcast going...but it's one of those techy-things that I'm too intimidated by.

That and I know it does cost a little money to start up.

Jason said...

Dude, I just listened to the most recent "Sonic Spectrum," and it was rad!!!!

He played XTC David! On the radio!!