Prince — 20Ten (2010)

All right, if nobody else is going to go there, I will. The wave that Prince was ripping since 2004’s comeback album Musicology finally broke—but what a ride! With a renewed love of the funk, and his guitar, the purple one seemed hungry for relevance once again after foundering at the close of the millennium.

2006’s 2131 featured a classic single, Black Sweat, along with the title track that made fans actually want to dance once again! Lest you forget that the man is nuttier than a sack full of squirrels, he gave away 2007’s Planet Earth with the UK Sunday papers. ’Erm … Prince, I get that you still can’t stand the record business, who can, but how about a little Stateside love? Still, it was good to hear Wendy & Lisa back for a cameo.

Later that year, Prince spent 21 nights at London’s O2 arena tearing the place apart, judging from the bootlegs I’ve heard. 2008’s Indigo Nights, a live album of after hours indigO2 club jams from that tour was packaged for minimum penetration—stuck as it was in a Princely narcissistic coffee table book. (Watch for these on the remainder tables at your local Borders and snag one).

OK, his marketing is a little hit and miss, but at least he’s firing on all cylinders musically. 2009 brought the double shot (triple shot if you count the Bria Valente record that nobody listened to) of LotusFlow3r and MPLSound, packaged together and only available at Target. This was long before the Tom Emmer Controversy. Prince, did Target know you used to wear women’s clothes? Just asking.

Which brings us to 20Ten, chronologically, as well as by appellation. Things start well enough with the Linn drums and 1999-era keys that kick off Compassion. The lyrics are positive without being preachy, and what the hell, I’m no nihilist. The same goes for Beginning Endlessly, as a child of the ’80s, I have soft spot for those synth patches. His purpleness is getting a little metaphysical here, but he’s in good voice. Did he just ask to explore her anatomy? That has to be a good sign, right?

The heat turns way down with the slow jam Future Soul Song. Prince sings this one straight; it’s interesting to hear him croon in the lower register. I get a Stylistics/Philly vibe from this … until about halfway through, then … uh oh. Prince’s faith has underscored his art ever since his conversion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2001. To interrupt the flow to complain about “dogmatic persecution?” I don’t want to hear it.

The angular, but oddly sedate, Sticky Like Glue has a catchy hook, and I can imagine Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki rocking this song. In fact, maybe I’d rather be listening to Milk Man. Time was, you got sticky from listen to a Prince album, all right, and it wasn’t from glue.

Lavaux, brings us back to Prince the sensualist. With a subtext of escape, Prince name-checks the Swiss mountains and vineyards of Lavaux, as well as the streets of Portugal. All great places, I’m sure, but who besides Prince can afford to run off to Europe to avoid “another kind of slavery?” Musically, however, this is right in the pocket.

After a couple more unremarkable slow jams, we get to Everybody Loves Me, the nadir of the man’s output over the past decade. Lyrically and musically it sounds like something written for an appearance on Sesame Street. I can’t get the image of Muppets singing along with this inane chorus. Fuck me, Elmo.

Prince pulls 20Ten out of its nosedive with the “hidden track,” Laydown, which has him getting his freak on rocking a Missy Elliot melody. I almost expected to hear him exclaim “gimme some new shit!” By now you’ve heard the “Purple Yoda” reference, and sure, that’s cute, but the revelation here is the funk. There’s bass on this track that proves that having Larry Graham hanging out at Paisley Park wasn’t lost on Prince.

20Ten, like Planet Earth, was again inexplicably released by gluing the damn thing to newspapers in the UK. I don’t get it. As of this review, there are no plans to even put out this record in the States, or in the world at large for that matter. What’s up Prince? Maybe we’ll get a different version without that fucking Muppet song. Who knows?

Sonic Youth — The Eternal (2009)

At this point, you are either hip to what the Youth are puttin’ down or you couldn’t be arsed. Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to give them props for following their own collective muse for longer than a quarter of a century now. Remember when we were worried that their jump to a major label meant that Sonic Youth had “sold out?” Ha! Good times.

For what it’s worth, the band’s sojourn in the beige carpeted wilderness has finally come to an end, and they seem to have escaped unscathed. Maybe that’s because DGC/Geffen/CompuglobalHypermegacorp never really knew what to do with the band except leave them alone to make consistently engaging records.

Which brings us to The Eternal, the new album released on Matador, home to fellow squall merchants/musical geniuses, Mission of Burma. With the first atonal clarion clang of Sacred Trickster, the band announces a new-found drive and celebration of independence. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the hazy, bucolic cruise through their Own Private Connecticut over the last decade, but I have to admit that from Diamond Sea, the closing track on 1995’s Washing Machine, through Do You Believe in Rapture? on 2006’s Rather Ripped, the serene, coolly psychedelic jams aren’t the ones I reach for when I want to drive like a lunatic or jump around the house scaring the animals.

With former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold onboard, replacing multi-instrumentalist Jim O’Rourke who left in 2005, the band sounds more focused, and hungrier than they have in a decade. Those of us lucky enough to catch the epic Daydream Nation shows in 2007 caught a preview of the new lineup that seems to have put a burr back under their saddle.

Trickster kicks off the album with a Kim Gordon vocal that calls to mind the concisely-fractured indie rock of ’90s milestone albums Dirty and Goo. Gordon’s songs have long been highlights of the sets that contain them; unfortunately, her compositions have been few and far between the last few records. As usual, she cuts straight through the bullshit and nails those with no imagination to rise above the cliché, whether in dealing with sexual politics or the business of rocking so hard for so long. What’s it like to be a girl in band? / I don’t quite understand / That’s so quaint to hear / I feel so free, my dear

As the last bit of heavy reverb dies away, Thurston Moore jumps in with a classic rock riff to announce a duet with his wife. Anti-Orgasm flips the meme of sex as violence on its head as it nihilistically proclaims that Anti-war / is anti-orgasm. Sonic Youth has the vortex of guitars sound down by now, but rarely in recent years has it sounded so vital. Around the two-minute mark, Ibod’s bass starts a counterpoint riff that adds a new dimension to the usual expanse of sounds. At three-and-a-half minutes, the band stretches out into a bit of what they have taken away from their flirtation as the punk rock Grateful Dead before Ibod’s figure reappears and brings the whole beautiful mess to a close.

Just as you think that they may be back to drifting however, Lee Renaldo’s What We Know kicks the paranoia up a notch and drives it home with a relentless riff recalling the band’s hardcore past. This strategy is also used to great effect on Poison Arrow, as percussive chordal stabs close out the track.

According to Billboard, The Eternal sold 19,262 copies in its first week and is currently 16th on the Top Digital Album chart. What does that mean in this post-everything marketplace of ideas? Probably nothing—but it could be that Sonic Youth is finally spending some of that famous indie cred. The mandate is rock.

Unknown Instructors — Funland (2009)

Shakespeare had it right. You really can’t trust anyone that doesn’t appreciate music. All of our greatest thinkers eventually seem to come to the conclusion that we are only vibrations in the great void. Call it the Big Bang Theory, call it what you will, but how could one go through life closed to the most primal and necessary form of human expression?

I think we can all agree that 2009 has already been a son-of-a-bitch; but if you are open to it, just when you need it, out of left field comes a collection of tunes that cracks the rust on your brain pan, and that beat, Goddamn it, that beat …

Dropped into the late spring of our discontent, like a silver dollar dropped down an outhouse shitter, falls the third, and most cohesive, album from Unknown Instructors, an unlikely supergroup of sorts that push the boundaries of … well, everything.

On Funland, the planet’s premier punk rock rhythm section of Mike Watt and George Hurley consistently push each other in more and more complex jams supported by Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza playing at his most insectoid. Whereas Hurley played pretty straight-ahead on the last album, producers Baiza, Joe Carducci, and Dan McGuire saved the most Rashied Ali-inspired grooves for its follow up.

Recorded at the same time as 2006’s The Master’s Voice, Funland is no mere collection of second-rate tracks, but a cohesive work of art that follows a thematic surge. Of course, that theme is loose enough to include Pere Ubu’s père David Thomas wailing as if existentially wounded on Afternoon Spent At The Bar, Sunny; while elsewhere, poet Dan McGuire reprises his role as a modern-day Jim Morrison with a penchant for language rather than just whiskey and leather pants.

McGuire has an eye for the details of the less-than bucolic childhood that many of us aging suburban California kids can relate to. He remembers the forgotten places, the weed-strewn empty lots and trampled-down hurricane fences, but he’s not the only poet on deck.

Whereas Voice was a hard-charger right out of the gate with the swirling Swarm, Funland’s opening salvo is Maji Yabai (Japanese slang originally meaning something like, “Oh shit,” and morphing in recent years into something like “sick” or “bad,” but in a good way), an introspective Watt-spiel. This paints the scene in a peculiar midway twilight. The unmerciful heat of the summer sun has finally abated and that belly full of PBR and corndogs isn’t going to hold you. It’s time to make some decisions. As the buzz loosens its grip, you can opt to reinforce it with another flat cold one, or pop out to the car for something stronger.

Funland’s hard stuff includes a cover of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Frownland, welding its odd gravitas to the album’s own weird sense of bacchanalian carny freedom. In addition to Thomas’s unique contributions, artist Raymond Pettibon’s unexpected jazz-influenced rap on Lead! proves that his take on Voice’s Twing-Twang wasn’t just an anomalous laugh. Pettibon has a surprisingly direct and, dare I say it, swinging delivery that may just cause me to rethink my idea of him as a quiet, misanthropic artist; or someone you might meet working the ring toss. It’s good to remember not to confuse the artist with his art.

Funland is all about pushing the boundaries of what you think you know about these musicans, and like the famous Tilt-A-Whirl, if you don’t hurl, you just might have the time of your life.

Bob Dylan — Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

I was 11 years old in 1977 and while punk was exploding elsewhere, I was in a backwater of the San Francisco Bay Area discovering Bob Dylan. My best friend’s dad was an ex-folkie with a guitar and a great collection of vinyl. Whereas my dad still loved and played Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Ray Charles at full volume (at all hours), to enter the neighbors’ house was to glean a small residual bit of the magic and late-night menace of New York and Greenwich Village. Red wine. Mysterious women of Gypsy origin.

I seem to remember the gateway drug for us was Blonde On Blonde with its classic leadoff track Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, but like Bob himself said, we “started out on burgundy, but soon hit the harder stuff.” We were kids raised on AM rock radio, and as such, we understood Dylan after 1965. The classics were still in heavy rotation: Hendrix transforming All Along the Watchtower, The Byrds chiming about Mr. Tambourine Man, Dylan himself spitting out Like a Rolling Stone.

It was the earlier records that were a revelation.

The tracks on 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan painted a picture of that world we had only guessed at. Talkin’ World War III Blues introduced us to a world of Cold War paranoia filtered through Woody Guthrie, while Corrina, Corrina reached back to a deep well of traditional music that, even then, we sensed was the secret current; the hidden aquifer of American culture.

The Times They Are a-Changin’ was a little intense for a couple of suburban kids. It would be a few years before we understood the power in Ballad of Hollis Brown and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll; even the face staring out in disdainful sepia was off-putting. At the bottom of the pile, however, was a simple black and white cover with a photo that seemed almost like an afterthought. It showed a quite different person than the disapproving fundamentalist folkie from the year previous. This guy seemed to be comfortable in his own skin. This guy was cool.

When the needle hit the first track, we knew something else was going on here. The Jimmy Rodgers yodel in All I Really Want to Do, along with the song’s platonic admonishments showed a fun side of Dylan that we had missed wading through the heavy hitters. Sure, Rainy Day Women had been fun, but to a 11-year-old, Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands was decidedly not.

Spanish Harlem Incident laid out the bohemian mise-en-scène we had imagined was out there, but hadn’t yet experienced roaming our backyard kingdoms; but the track that totally captured out imaginations and ensured that we both would be life-long fanatics, was Motorpsycho Nitemare. Dylan’s ability to set a scene and tell a story was, and remains, unparalleled.

For years, we called each other “Unpatriotic, rotten doctor Commie rats.” Good times.

Van Morrison — Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2009)

On the list of things I never thought I’d see (or hear), this re-visitation of Van Morrison’s seminal 1968 album, Astral Weeks, has surely lived at the top for more years than I’d care to count. On the face of things, Morrison has developed a thick-skinned persona that holds stardom and the chasing of the easy buck at a disdainful arm’s length. He is not going to be your trained monkey, no matter how badly you might want it. You want another Moondance? Bollocks.

I wouldn’t presume to ask Morrison to look backward any more than I’d ask for his autograph at a Holywood take-away. A more careful read of his journey reveals the threads that tie the disparate pieces of his 40-year-old solo career together. The return to certain tropes: the streets of Belfast, the green hills and mountain streams of an Irish dream-state, a town called Paradise; it all weaves together to create one of the richest imaginary tapestries of any artist living or dead.

Morrison has said he has always wanted to properly record this group of songs with a string section—the way he heard it in his head 40 years ago. Right off the top, the violin prominently featured on the lead track, Astral Weeks, adds to the sonorous gravitas of the original. The master’s voice has deepened with age and has taken on more of the characteristics of a band instrument—at times honking like a tenor sax, at others, vibrating and humming low like a cello cradled between the legs of a ginger lass, or more appropriately, an aging Dublin transvestite.

Which leads me to the most striking difference between the original album and the new performance: the sequence. Morrison has shifted around the order of songs, which fits the dream-like nature of the record. Astral Weeks always struck me as ephemeral, the more you tried to grab it on to it and put it in a box, the more likely it was to turn to smoke. That said, the two final songs after Madame George always felt like a coda, or a post-coital afterglow. In any case, coming right after such a masterful vision of humanity at its most exposed and fragile, they weren’t exactly in the best light to be recognized as the subtle masterpieces that they are. Slim Slow Slider and Ballerina are recast here as shamanistic trance state-inducing chants guiding the listener toward the heavy hitters of Sweet Thing and Madame George respectively and the state of bliss that Astral Weeks always promised.

I’m not going to ruin the surprise of all of the little tweaks and changes that Morrison has made to his songs. The hungry 22-year-old singer-songwriter has now become the 62-year-old veteran, and some perspective is bound to creep in. Half the fun of diving into the new versions is comparing them to the old mental tapes earned from spinning the original record hundreds, or possibly thousands, of times over the years.

It’s rare for an artist to fully grasp what a particular work means to its admirers—to be able to put his or herself outside of the memory of process and see what others see, hear what others hear. I think that Morrison must consider himself more in our camp than as the singular creator of Astral Weeks. I’ve read interviews in which he claimed to not know where these songs came from, and I tend to believe him.

Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship — Blows Against the Empire (1970)

Credited to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship before there was such a thing, Blows Against the Empire remains one of my all-time favorite albums, the centerpiece to the Planet Earth Rock ’n’ Roll Orchestra (PERRO) experience, itself a loose (very loose) confederation of Bay Area musicians that cross-pollinated David Crosby’s masterful If I Could Only Remember My Name, as well as Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s first solo project, Garcia, the first eponymous Graham Nash/David Crosby record, and Nash’s own Songs for Beginners.

If that heady company doesn’t given you an idea of what’s going on here, Kantner provides some insightful notes along with the 2005 remastered Legacy CD. By the end of the ’60s, Kantner’s band Jefferson Airplane had begun to come apart at the seams. After recording their seminal album, Volunteers, in 1969 and watching as the hippie dream was beaten to death with pool cues by the Hells Angels at Altamont, the center could not hold.

Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady had recently become more interested in their side project, Hot Tuna, and Marty Balin, perhaps tired of being arrested and/or punched in the head for a while, had disappeared—leaving Kantner to indulge his space fantasies at Wally Heider’s Studio in the San Francisco Tenderloin. That’s where the story gets interesting.

Kantner soon enlisted Grace Slick to help him sketch out some demos for the next Airplane album. According to Kantner’s notes, Slick had been really influenced by the playing of pianofighter-for-hire Nicky Hopkins on Volunteers. Slick’s rhythmic and dramatic grand piano work on Blows Against the Empire help to give the album a cohesive, timeless feel. Also wandering in and out of Heider’s at the time were various members of CSN, the Dead, Quicksilver, and Santana, as well as Jorma’s brother Peter Kaukonen, and Electric Flag bassist Harvey Brooks. Jack Casady later joined the ad-hock group and added his heavier-than-God bass playing (most notably to Slick’s vocal tour de force, Sunrise).

The new remastering job sounds fantastic, but beware: there is a very disappointing glitch four minutes into the first track, Mau Mau (Amerikon). I have to admit it took listening to the whole album three times in a row to notice it. The upside is that the record sounds so good that I was inspired to listen to it three times in row. Kantner’s dense lyrics helped hide the problem, as I often find myself drifting and riding the groove rather than hanging on every word. It’s a shame that an obnoxious digital goof mars such a great work of art.

The good news is the bonus tracks help make it well worth upgrading your copy. The “original” version of Let’s Go Together has been restored to the running order whereas the alternate version that had been strangely slipped into the first CD offering is now a bonus track. Kanter’s original question “Shall I go off and away to South America? / Shall I put out in my ships to the sea?” owe more to Crosby, Stills, and Kantner’s original vision of escape captured in the Airplane/CSN song, Wooden Ships, and it makes more sense in context of Kantner’s space opera for him to ask “Shall I go off and away to bright Andromeda?”

Slick’s acoustic demo of Sunrise proves that it is her amazing voice and not the myriad of overdubs that brings chills whenever I hear that song. SFX is Garcia and Mickey Hart goofing with musique concrete in much the same way as what became X-M on the album and Spidergawd on Garcia.

The last track is a live version of Starship from the Fillmore West later that year, but it although it sounds like latter-day Airplane, the notes don’t reveal what confederation is responsible. The Airplane would drift back together the next year for the uneven but shamefully out-of-print Bark, and hold together for one last hurrah, Long John Silver in 1972.

To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, this is the high water mark where the crest of a beautiful wave broke and began to roll back.

Go to the forest and move.

Henry Rollins — The Portable Henry Rollins

To see the august Henry Rollins holding court on his cable television show, you might say to yourself, “Gee, that guy seems like he has it all together. He seems like a really swell individual.” Maybe. For his sake, I hope Rollins has found some peace and understanding in middle age. I know from experience that the years do bring a certain acceptance of the shortcomings of our fellow human beings and the way that life works.

Of course, historically it has not been Rollins’s job to be a paragon of human compassion. I have long enjoyed his giving voice to the frustration of growing up and living through the late 20th century and all its false, hypocritical bullshit. But, Jesus Christ, Henry—if you haven’t done it already—get some help. Life really is a richer experience if you don’t tackle it alone.

As anyone who has a passing interest in Rollins’s written work knows, there are basically two separate men you will encounter: the angry musical one, and the really angry—angry one. At the risk of getting my ass kicked should I ever run into him, I find Henry’s output in the latter category to be too personal, and dare I say, infantile to enjoy.

While I respect the bravery of publishing the deepest, darkest thoughts of your tortured youth, I find it as uncomfortable as reading my own decades-old teenage journals. Thank goodness for the ’02 flood that turned everything in our basement to mud-colored papiermâché.

Then again, I’m not Henry Rollins.

I found this collection of examples from his early output to be evenly split along these same lines. I really enjoyed the excerpts from his tour journals and his later prose, and I’ll definitely make a point of seeking out the full books at some point. Rollins became a better writer the more he did it and some of the stuff from the early ’90s, while not as visceral (or maybe because of that fact), is very well done.

Van Morrison — Keep It Simple (2008)

First of all, lest I be accused of burying the lede once again, Keep It Simple is the most consistent, most enjoyable Van Morrison album for my money since 1991’s Hymns to the Silence. Stop what you’re doing right now (OK, not what you’re doing right this second) and beg, borrow, or download it.

I have to admit, even a die-hard Morrison fanatic like myself kind of lost track of the wee man after the turn of the new century. While his output during the ’90s had been consistent—records like The Healing Game and Back On Top had moments of sheer brilliance—things usually came to a screeching halt whenever Van decided to return to the bitter theme of how he’s been screwed over by record companies and the music business.

Morrison himself takes an unrepentant yet balanced look at his habit of occasionally slipping into solipsism in the title track.

Illusions and pipe dreams on the one hand
And straight reality is always cold
Saying something hard edged is off the wall
And it might seem too bold

Mocked me when it got out of hand
Nobody tried to understand
Now we got to keep it simple and that’s that

The advance press on Keep It Simple quoted Morrison as saying that for the first time in a long time, he felt he had something to say and actually sat down to write a cohesive batch of songs expressly for the album. Hell, getting Van to say anything is just short of miraculous, so my curiosity was peaked for this disc, his 32nd by most counts, to drop.

The first thing that grabs you about the new record is the resurgence of that voice—Morrison’s main instrument has only deepened and aged like a fine whiskey. To draw conclusions from the lyrics (which I realize is a fool’s game at best), he doesn’t drink or “go to nightclubs anymore.” Whatever his new regiment may be, his voice has rarely sounded better.

After opening with the slow blues of How Can a Poor Boy?—featuring some smoking organ work by John Allair—Morrison reaches all the way back to the bucolic landscape of records like Tupelo Honey for the tongue-in-cheek titled That’s Entrainment. Webster’s defines entrainment as “to draw along with or after oneself” and that’s exactly what he seems to have had in mind for this outing.

Guitarist John Platania, who accompanied Morrison during his incredible 1970-1974 run, is back in the flock—as is intermittent stalwart David Hayes on bass. The most surprising instrumentation on Keep It Simple, one that adheres to the new mantra while providing an immediate, homespun feel, is the ukulele, played by Morrison himself.

Some reviewers have pointed at Behind The Ritual’s chorus of, literally, “blah, blah, blah” as proof that Morrison isn’t taking any of this seriously anymore. I disagree. I think it’s the most punk rock thing he’s written since his days as a snotty garage rocker in Them.

For me it brings to mind Comet—one of the best songs off of Wire’s 2003 album Send.

And the chorus goes
And the chorus goes
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah—bang
And then a whimper

And that’s that.

The Breeders — Mountain Battles (2008)

OK, class, today we are having a pop quiz on the history of The Breeders. Listen carefully to the question, and make sure to listen to all of the answers before you choose the correct one. As always, keep your eyes on your own paper:

Mountain Battles is to Title TK as:

a) Last Splash is to Pod
b) Title TK is to The Amps
c) Both a and b
d) None of the above

Charles? … No, you can’t go to your locker … I don’t care who you have in there … OK, pencils down!

R.E.M. — Accelerate (2008)

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

R.E.M.’s freefall into irrelevance was underlined in fat black Sharpie for me when a promo copy of Behind the Sun came to the music magazine where I worked and sat on the giveaway table like the last piece of pizza at a party—the one with bottle caps, cigarette butts, and someone’s crumpled phone number stuck to the tomato sauce. No one was quite drunk enough to try and eat it.

When R.E.M. Live showed a few years later, it was more like someone had dropped their pants and defecated. As a building full of self-respecting (and admittedly not much else) music snobs we walked quickly pass the table, glancing over just long enough to see if anyone had cleaned it up.

I have to admit my skepticism when the hype machine began to hum for the Athens Three’s newest release, Accelerate. Even the decent single Supernatural Superserious didn’t assuage my doubts. It wouldn’t be the first time the band had a good tune walk point for an ill-trained, lackluster squad of songs (Although let me say right here, Stipe should retire the word “cry,” and all of its derivatives from his rhyming dictionary right now. I’m old enough to remember an interview in the late ’70s with the Eagles agreeing to do the same with the word “desert.” Of course, look where it got them, so never mind).

The thing that put me in the car and off to the shop was the SF Chronicle’s resident ass clown Aidin Vaziri’s review in the Sunday pink section. If Vaziri came out against trepanation, I’d have to go knock a hole in my own head just for the fact that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Ever.

So, with mallet in hand, I dropped the new rekkid into the box. Imagine my surprise! I soon dropped the hammer and started pogoing around the room. Gone are the layers Upon layers of synths, replaced with renewed purpose by Peter Buck’s guitar playing. It had superseriously bummed me out to see all those beautiful Gretsches going to waste.

The biggest revelation is the prominence of Mike Mills’ bass in the mix. Long languishing in secret weapon status, his classic Fender P is up front and rock solid, and I am reminded that, yea, this is the band that took the Minutemen out on tour.

Was Accelerate a calculated move? Perhaps, but if the last eight years in America have taught us anything, it’s that a plan isn’t always a bad idea.

Is it derivative? Hey, it’s rock ’n’ roll.

But once again, I like it.