Monday, January 23, 2006

Cat Power / The Greatest / Rating 7.9

"These soul legends have played with Al Green, Booker T. and the MG's, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young, and more; in other words, they don't seem like the kind of people who would put up with tortured diva bullshit from some no-name white girl on Matador Records."


Is this really a news flash?

We paint, dance, write, make music…you know what I am talking about… ART. Art is or can be a place to pull emotional splinters out, vent, blood let, release demons, and work through things that are too difficult to easily put into words and talk about otherwise.

For others making art just happens. Art isn’t a choice, it’s something the body does like breathing or requiring food. Art can be a natural function of the body and the person carrying this trait is more like a possessed host than just a creative spirit looking for something to do or get famous from.

For many of us it is a combination of both.

I am Pitchperfect and I am bipolar II and that hopefully is the least interesting part of who I am or the art I make. I don't want to speak for anyone else but I am pretty sure I am not the only creative chemically challenged person who feels this way.

PFM dwelling on Chan’s mental state for over three paragraphs is an insult to the artist and the reader. There are lots of books on this subject (creativity + mental illness), lots of information can be found on line but if I want a psychology report I would read medical journals, not Pitchfork. Also treating a human being who struggles with balancing their emotions like a circus side show is actually sick. Half baked theories spotlighting mental illness does not make for a great music review besides the fact that PFM already wrote one piece on this issue bordering on slander called Separating the Stefs from the Sloths.

TFM also weighed in on the subject on 11/2/05. (scroll way down)

Now I too have spent too many paragraphs on this subject. My question is this. Is Cat Power or her publicity people putting this spin on her new record or do music journalists lack the skill and creativity to come up with a new angle or even better actually review the record and not the personal life of an artist? I can’t imagine Marshall approving this angle as a selling point of her art.

Reading through this Cat Power PFM review there is no way the words of the review match the rating, and I wonder if the 7.9 is actually applauding Chan Marshall getting her “shit together” and not her music at all.

Here is another age-old issue with us TFM types, why does Pitchfork hate old people? (Get it, age old? Hahahahaha.) It’s about time old people got what was coming to them. We have to wait until they die to score their vintage threads, records, and furniture. They take too long to chew their food AND they get a discount at the movie theaters when the rest of us vital types don’t.

Fucking old people.

Pfm says: “Unfortunately, the middle chunk of The Greatest just feels old. It's beyond "adult": These songs seem musty and out-dated, like stuff my grandparents would have danced to during The War. "Could We", "Empty Shell", "Islands", and "After It All" are all finger snaps and jazz hands, Marshall twirling her umbrella in the park as Fred Astaire woos her with clicked heels and a top hat.”

There is a hint of Moon River (Henry Mancini) in the title track's strings but 99.7% of the rest of the record sounds like legendary Memphis players left unchallenged and musically backing up the same old Cat Power we know and some of us love.

PFM writer Amy Phillips has her decades and genres confused. This isn’t a swingin’ jazzy big band record of the 20’s,30’s, or even the 40’s. Think Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, or hell I would take Carole King before I would accept anything compared to a Ginger / Fred soundtrack. Cat Power’s “Where is my Love” leans towards “Send in the Clowns” which I am rather certain my Granny knows the words to but still this adult ballad blanketed in strings is a far cry from a WW I or II head on his shoulder dance floor favorite.

I appreciate CM’s recording concept of heading to Memphis to play with some regional greats but the core of this record is still the traditional Cat Power found on every one of her other records. Her backup band changes the undertone of her music but don’t expect an Al Green record circa 1970. This is still a Cat Power record to the highest degree and the presence of an organ and some horns doesn’t erase that. I wasn’t expecting a SOUL record in the traditional sense but I will confess “the Greatest” falls short of my personal expectations but I don’t believe its fair to under rate the record because I think it could have or should have been something else.

The Greatest is still very new to me, two days to be exact but with spectacular songs like “The Moon” and “Hate” I suspect I will warm up to this record more than I have from these initial plays.

As I stand with this record right now, I would give it a 7.5 or something around there.

Personally speaking my favorite aspect of The Greatest might be the iridescent artwork. I like shiny and my fingers are crossed that the promotional knick-knack people over at Matador make boxing glove charms just like the front cover.

Ps: What does Eddie Vedder ( or Dave or Steve for that matter) really have to do with anything? Check out this PFM quote in reference to the players on The Greatest: They're beyond professional-- they're professional's professionals. (A far cry from Steve Shelley and Dirty Three, or even Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl.) That both helps and hurts The Greatest. "

This silly PFM line should have been omitted by the second rough draft.