Young for Eternity
There should always be space in your CD collection for some brash, simple and sexy rock 'n' roll played by youngsters who think they're the hottest shit on earth. What such bands offer is the chance to forget about analyzing lyrics and breaking down production values and to just enjoy the whoosh of the thing.
Supergrass filled this slot brilliantly for a time. As did Elastica. More currently, the Libertines have been touted as occupiers of the throne. Based on the strength of this album, though, we can happily add The Subways to this vat of dumb/genius rock 'n' roll gravy.
When Young for Eternity — the group's debut — was released last year in Britain, not one of the band's three members was yet 20 years old. This almost guarantees a certain level of derivative songwriting, borrowed from the fast 'n' angry set by kids who don't really know why punks were so angry in the first place. "Rock & Roll Queen" exemplifies this. The track is a love song from guitarist/singer Billy Lunn to bassist/fiancée Charlotte Cooper, gussied up in sleek power riffs. The song fails as punk rock — it's a little too clean — but it's still a hell of a track, mainly due to its addictive and energetic thrust.
It's this amphetamine attraction that keeps you from ejecting the CD and smashing it after hearing abysmal lyrics like "I live my life walking down the street/ Meet the faces of the people I see." And the whole thing, packed with hooks, rushes past you in 35 minutes, leaving little time to scrutinize flaws even if you had the desire.
We can only wait with dread for the moment that Lunn, Cooper and drummer Josh Morgan decide that they want to be "artists." If The Subways' follow-up is an electronica-influenced double album recorded over the next eight years in a studio in South Africa, we're in trouble, folks.
For now, my praise of the group may sound faint, but I mean it sincerely. Rock 'n' roll will always need cocky upstarts, and The Subways ably fill the void. 3 stars Cooper Lane Baker
The Life Pursuit
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN
Calling this album the roughest in the career of B&S — normally the twee-est of the twee — may not sound like much, but it's true. "We Are Sleepyheads" actually features a light-speed electric guitar solo, and throughout the album the drums are louder and the bass heavier than on any previous release. Dear Catastrophe Waitress, the band's prior record, was a divisive release thanks to production from the guy who brought you t.A.T.u., but Pursuit proves the band learned some damn nice tricks from Trevor Horn, while still choosing to go its own way this time around. And among so much newfound sound, when the band does slip back into its classic mode, it's more comfort food than crutch, to mix metaphors just a tad. 3.5 stars CLB
The Green Field
The one-time '70s fusioneer weighs in with his first recording as a leader in nine years. The Green Field is a satisfying post-bop date that finds the guitarist in good company: drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist John Patitucci (on strictly acoustic) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (of Weather Report way back when). The program ranges from Latin-esque originals ("Cosecha lo que has sembrado") to several sleekly swinging tunes by the likes of Ornette ("Congeniality"), Shorter ("Sanctuary/Nefertiti"), Hancock ("Riot") and Monk ("Eronel"). Khan's rich tone has more bite than the Metheny-ites and the mainstreamers, but these days he's not setting his axe on "wail." There's nothing particularly original going on here, but The Green Field is a winning, well-executed effort. www.stevekhan.com. 3 stars Eric Snider
Sun, Sun, Sun
The Elected is a side project of sorts by Rilo Kiley dude Blake Sennett, and this is the group's second record. And damn if it isn't pretty. From beginning to end, the sound is of one long, blissful and beautifully sunny spring afternoon. Piano and acoustic guitar predominate, but toss in some wistful country lap steel and some shaking maracas and the formula changes up ever so slightly. This album is guaranteed to make you want to run hand-in-hand with a lover through a blossoming meadow somewhere. So yeah, it's kind of corny, but so what? 3.5 stars CLB