Añejo Mockingbird

Used to be this place was mostly about music and pop culture, but it's slowly morphed into a launching pad for finding our foster greyhounds new homes. So be it. We love the hounds and are more than happy to use our modest little blog page to reach out and snag some attention for these greyt dogs... Oh, we'll still post the occasional odd music review or rant at the state of the Redskins from time to time, but they'll hafta take a back seat to the dogs 'til further notice

Location: Pennsylvania, United States

Music geek who appreciates everything from power-pop to indie-rock and most everything in between. I especially dig Reggae and its predecessor, Ska.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No More Beautiful World - The Latest Roger Clyne Joint Gets A Listen

Pity the music lover and his expectations. Just when you think an artist is gonna reliably release another quality joint, a curve-ball of mediocrity gets thrown your way. Sigh... happened last year with The Flaming Lips and this year the fates apparently decided to do the same to No More Beautiful World, by Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
Count me as a pretty huge Roger Clyne fan. Count me as someone whose got everything Roger's done; from the Refreshments right up through the latest disc w/the Peacemakers. Count me as someone who remains underwhelmed at the quality of this record. I had an inkling that the songs weren't up to snuff when I listened to a few tracks that were featured in an ecard over at the band's site a few weeks back. I pre-ordered the disc from Amazon anyway, figuring that it'd be better than it sounded once the disc was securely in hand. It arrived yesterday and after several spins through the headphones and a test drive in my pick-up's CD player, I'm somewhat baffled at the middling quality of the tuneage. The Peacemaker's previous releases have always featured passion and righteousness mixed in equal amounts with hooky, melodic storytelling that targeted Rock -n- Roll's heartland. Mixing Country twang, Tex-Mex spice, and a few dashes of the Caribbean, with a solid Rock -n- Roll foundation, Clyne created a very tasty concoction that served his smartly clever lyrics very well.
On the new record, part of that formula is m.i.a. - the music is as strong as ever, though it's taken a slow turn towards Jamaica with several songs featuring the lilting, skanking vibes that are easily recognized as the progeny of Ska and Reggae. Seeing as how I'm into music that skanks, the more prominent Reggae vibe goes down easily for me. What's a little harder to swallow is the lack of any real storytelling - always a hallmark for Roger. Oh, there's hints of storytelling. Snatches and snips of words that appear to outline a path, only to have said path disappear right before
your eyes (and more importantly, your ears). The lack of storycraft on this disc may turn out to be somewhat of a blessing in disguise, as it's harder to focus on the lyrics without a story driving them. And here's where this disc really hurts: the lyrics. Man, the lyrics are just this side of embarrassing at many points (and that's a really hard thing for me to write). They're easily summed up like this: all platitudes without even a hint of attitude. And therein lies the major fault with this disc. It sounds pretty and it sounds bouncy and it sounds like there's something going on, but with all the glittering generalities in the lyrics, nothing hooks you deeply - there's nothing to see or feel when you listen with an attentive ear. It's a startling failure when compared with Roger's back catalog and a hard one to overlook.
Now that I've covered all the negative stuff, let's move on to the positive, shall we?
No More Beautiful World contains plenty of hooks and sing-along choruses within its very tasty musical grooves. This is also a very happy-sounding album; it's positively giddy in some passages and will most likely have you humming along with a smile on your face if you're willing to allow the tunes to carry you around. And aside from a one or two clunkers - I'm looking in your direction "Lemons' and "Junebug In July" - most of the songs are relatively good if you don't listen too hard for lyrical revelations. Standouts include:
"Goon Squad"
"Wake Up Call"
The rest of the tunes are agreeable enough, but not especially remarkable or memorable. While I may be damning this album with faint praise to say it makes feel-good background music, so be it. This is a fine album to throw on and groove along with, and should be treated as such.
At the end of the day we're left with an album that, considering the Peacemaker's quality back catalog, is pleasant and sunny, but still remains an underwhelming endeavor in comparison. Those looking for a bit more substance, weight, and/or passion to go with along with sharp storytelling should pass on this disc and instead take a look at "Boys And Girls In America" by The Hold Steady.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's All Kinda Hazy, Isn't It?

Step right up, folks, we're once again being granted the honor of watching the Bush administration pull one of their favorite tactics out of their bag o' tricks: the Hazy Memory™ defense.

The White House retreated today from its claim that former counsel Harriet E. Miers first came up with the idea of firing U.S. attorneys, another apparent shift in the Bush administration's evolving version of events behind the controversy.

White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that it was no longer clear who first initiated the idea of dismissing a large number of the 93 federal prosecutors following the 2004 elections.

"It has been described as her idea but . . . I don't want to try to vouch for origination," Snow said, referring to Miers. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."

This is of course, just another tactic designed to stall the ever-swelling wave of incredulity over yet another bungled response to yet another bungled, mis-managed, and totally inappropriate - and quite possibly illegal - political ploy born out of the collectively corrupt group-mind of the White House. Last year, 8 federal prosecutors were fired for "performance reasons" or so the Bushies would've liked us to believe. That story never held water from the get-go, although it did take the MSM a little while to investigate the story behind the story. And now that they have, the water's draining out of that basin as fast as the Bushies can replenish it. They were fired for that most basic of reasons in D.C.: politics. The fired 8 weren't licking enough boots to satisfy Alberto Gonzales and his beady-eyed chief-of-staff, Kyle Sampson:

"One email exchange in particular is quite damning. It took place in late December--less than a month before Gonzales' testimony--between Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, and Christopher Oprison of the White House Counsel's office. In the exchange, Oprison asks Sampson about the Attorney General's strategy for installing Tim Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove, as the new U.S. Attorney in Arkansas. Oprison notes that Griffin's appointment is encountering resistance from Arkansas' Senate delegation but wonders why, in light of Section 546 [of the Patriot Act], Griffin is being referred to as the 'interim' U.S. Attorney:

" If this is a Section 546 AG appointment for unlimited duration, Tim [Griffin] can call himself 'US Attorney' rather than 'interim' or 'acting' and our talkers should avoid referring to him as 'interim.' What are your thoughts ?

Sampson's response perfectly encapsulates everything that is wrong with how the Bush administration operates. He writes:

" I think we should gum this to death: ask the Senators to give Tim a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say 'no never' (and the longer we can forestall that the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in 'good faith,' of course.

"Translation: we're going to invoke Section 546 and make Tim Griffin the U.S. Attorney, but we're not going to tell anyone that's what we're doing."

Well, Sampson was forced to fall on his metaphorical sword in light of all the incriminating evidence being brought forth. Which bring us back to the Hazy Memory™ defense mentioned earlier. This whole sordid affair only became this intriguing due to the Bush administration's almost pathological need to lie, lie, lie when confronted with evidence of Administrative misdeeds. Sadly, 6 years on, the White House still refuses to tell the truth even when they surely know that the truth will eventually surface and bite 'em in the ass, much like the Great White shark feeding on those reckless enough to swim in its territory.
The flunkies are warming up their excuses even as we speak:

Gonzales has "no recollection"
Snow also said that "it's not even clear"
"Anything's possible," he said, "but I don't think so."
He said Bush "certainly has no recollection of any such thing. . . . I want you to be clear here: don't be dropping it at the president's door."
"It is not clear when the idea first originates, but the bottom line is, the idea is never pursued," Perino said.
At the Justice Department, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said Gonzales "has no recollection of any plan or discussion to replace U.S. attorneys while he was still White House counsel."

Incompetence surely steers this administration's ship, but to understand that, you have to understand what powers this lumbering, lurching beast of incompetent burden. What could possibly drive so much bumbling idiocy, you ask? Easy, an engine fashioned to strictly partisans specs. The Bush White House has always advanced those who are willing to hold up partisan ideals as more important than people who have the actual background and ability to get things done. Parroting the conservative line is of the utmost importance. Or to put it another way, "partisan hacks rule - everyone else drools!"

Preach the Gospel, Brother Clyburn!

House Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said the controversies reflected poorly on administration officials generally.
"They don't know anything about running government. They're just political hacks," Clyburn said at a news conference in Columbia, S.C. "Gonzales is just a political hack."

That may be the most succinct and sadly accurate little truism offered up by a politician in quite some time.