In case you hadn't heard, on Super Bowl eve Shields shocked the indie rock world by finally making good on his long-running promise to actually release the follow-up to Loveless.
The nine-song m b v is available for purchase only through mybloodyvalentine.net, and when it became available on Saturday it, "broke the Internet," as they say, or at least caused the band's servers to crash for a time, so it became quite difficult to buy the thing.
M b v starts off sounding an awful like Loveless - not that that's a bad thing - with cooing, Cocteau Twins-style whispery vocals by Shields or fabulously named second guitarist Bilinda Butcher bleeding into a multilayered wall of guitar sound. In its middle passages, the martial drums and captivating melodies alive in the mix on songs like "If I Am" pull m b v in a pretty, almost pop direction.
Then the tone gets much more aggressive, as skittering drum 'n' bass beats work their way into the air-raid attack on not entirely successful tracks such as "In Another Way" and "Nothing Is." Those songs suggest Shields is at long last searching for an MBV sound, but he hasn't quite arrived there yet. Be patient: He just needs a little more time.
- Dan DeLuca
On Sale Tuesday
Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Tastes;
LL Cool J, Authentic Hip-Hop;
The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, The Jazz Age;
Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, Cheaters Game
(Sub Pop ***)
Pissed Jeans distill hardcore aggression, working-class frustration, and self-conscious insecurity into a thick, heavy assault. Originally from Allentown, now Philly-based, the quartet won't win over anyone not predisposed to the shouted and growled vocals and unrelenting volume of archetypal hardcore and sludgy, trudging metal. But Honeys, their fourth album, is faultless on its own terms, mixing speedy punk rock ("Health Plan"), garage-psych blues stomps ("Loubs"), and scuzzy heavy metal ("Chain Worker").
"You're just another teenage adult, you're frozen in time," Matt Korvette yells, and he could be addressing himself until he adds, "Still you're past your prime." From the lacerating address to a smug project manager in "Cafeteria Food" to the screaming chorus of "Bathroom Laughter" to the almost bouncy romp of "Cathouse," Honeys is prime ugly, loud hardcore.
- Steve Klinge
Pissed Jeans, with Lantern and Leather, will play Friday at 9 p.m. at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. Tickets: $12. Information: undergroundarts.org.
Country/Roots Get Up!
Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite first recorded together with the late blues legend John Lee Hooker. Listening to Get Up!, you can understand why the singer-songwriter and the harmonica great wanted to collaborate more.
The 69-year-old Musselwhite is no slouch as a songwriter himself, but here he lets his harp do the talking - sweet and clean, storming and dirty, he provides all kinds of emotional shadings for Harper's songs. And those songs are among the most hard-hitting of the 43-year-old's career, both lyrically and musically. Harper's got the blues, for sure, but he and Musselwhite skirt the usual cliches, from the acoustic-texture rumination "You Found Another Love (I Lost Another Friend)" to the Hookeresque strut of "I'm In, I'm Out, and I'm Gone," the gospel-tinted "We Can't End This Way," and the heavy blues-rockers "I Don't Believe a Word You Say" and "Blood Side Out."
- Nick Cristiano
Jazz Without A Net
(Blue Note ***1/2)
The title gives a big clue. Saxophonist/ composer Wayne Shorter and his quartet engage in what his bassist John Patitucci calls "spontaneous composition," pushing improvisation to the tune itself. The results make pianist Danilo Perez and drummer Brian Blade more powerful and the leader less so, although Shorter, 79, an elite jazz composer, seems to revel in the group creation.
But the CD should also come with an advanced-
degree-of-difficulty warning, like a tough ski slope. The set of 11 originals generates a good amount of quirky chaos along with the sublime spontaneity.
Take "S.S. Golden Mean," where Shorter quotes the populist Cuban-jazz classic "Manteca" before the tune devolves into rigorous swerves for initiates. The 23-minute "Pegasus" is oddly classical, the confluence of winds and orchestration making it sound stiff, albeit with spurts of jazzy froth and a calamitous, creative midsection. It won me over by the end.
There are some mishits, but Shorter, to his credit, continues to be daring.
- Karl Stark