Published on March 29th, 2018 | by Dave Scaddan0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Music we’re discussing this week at The Feedback Society, like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Dean Ween, Hendrix, Insecure Men, and a Netflix movie about Roxanne Shante.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex and Food
After their last record’s foray into polyamorous funk/pop, UMO are keeping it interesting with Sex and Food – their fourth album – with a style that sounds more like their first record than anything they’ve done since. They sound on record like the very tight live band they’ve been from the start. Some – but not all – of their Prince influences have been scaled back into the kind of light, funky jams the Bee Gees used to make, though decidedly less cheesy. Ruban Nielson is still filtering most of his vocals through some kind of gravelly distortion, which is an odd thing to do with a tender falsetto, but UMO fans have heard this before, and it doesn’t seem to have done their music any harm.
The Dean Ween Group – rock2
rock2 is a more rough, loose record than last year’s The Deaner Album, which just shows how versatile a guitar player Mickey Melchiondo is; he’s comfortable with slick, over-produced tracks with solos and riffing abound, but he’s also got his garagey, Dead Kennedys side. Despite feeling pretty thrown-together, this is a really fun guitar-rock record that’s coming out in a time when we don’t say, “guitar-rock record” that often.
Jimi Hendrix – Both Sides of the Sky
This may well be the record that indicates that the Hendrix family estate is finally out of decent unreleased material to turn into merchandise. Both Sides of the Sky feels like more of a crappy, patchy bootleg than a new Hendrix album of “previously unreleased” material. And hearing Stephen Stills try to croon his way through a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock is motivation enough to never leave this album open for potential shuffle again. To give you an idea of how bottom-of-the-vault this compilation of early versions and studio jams really is, Woodstock doesn’t even feature Jimi on guitar . . . he’s playing bass, and believe me, that’s not as exciting as it sounds. There is a very nice, mellow version of Power of Soul here that keeps Both Sides . . . from being a complete waste of time, but if you love Hendrix enough to check this out in 2018, you also respect his legend enough to be a little offended by what this album does to his good name.
Insecure Men – Insecure Men
My friend Jay – one of my most vital music tipsters – hipped me to this after following songwriter Saul Adamczewski from The Fat White Family to this new project. Some albums get it right by being wrong, and Insecure Men is just such an album. There’s plenty of pop sensibility on offer from this duo’s debut, but there’s also an underlying sleaziness to keep things interesting and to provide each track with an edge that seems to stem from some pretty hard living.
Getting kicked out of The Fat White Family because of chemical dependency issues is a bit like losing your job as a lifeguard for being too wet, but that’s what happened to Adamczewski before teaming with Ben Romans-Hopcraft (of Childhood) to become Insecure Men. Hard-to-classify duos like Sparks, Ween, They Might Be Giants and Foxygen will all echo when hearing this album, maybe because all these groups have songs that sound like the spawn of two artists playing off of each others’ crazed, frenetic energy. Insecure Men’s energy is a little more muted, but just as crazed. They sound like a band that’s already grown a bit tired of making pop music, yet are undeniably good at it, so instead of playing the pop game safe, they’ve clouded it with quacky synth lines and bizarre lyrical themes.
Roxanne Roxanne (Netflix)
I was just as excited this week about a Roxanne Shante biopic than any “purely audio” music release. It’s cool when a talented and important artist who never really cracked the mainstream gets a film made about her instead of someone making another Straight Outta Compton or Ray or The Doors. Cool ideas aren’t enough though – they need to be well executed, and that’s just not what happens in the 100 minutes it takes to get to the end of Roxanne Roxanne.
There’s hardly any rapping, breakdancing, or battling in this movie! Even though Chante Adams is well-cast and plays the part of the seminal emcee with skill, the project makes the error that all biopics seem to make these days: it tries to tell all parts of the story and ends up telling none well, offering instead a loose pile of scenes that don’t stack agreeably. Hopefully the movie will serve its purpose by generating buzz and steering hip hop fans to YouTube where they can experience the real Shante in a few of the performances and videos on offer there. As dated as her style may sound, whenever you hear Shante rapping, you’re hearing a natural, one who blazed the trail for literally hundreds of rappers who did less for and made more from the game than she did.