Thursday, September 17, 2009

apollo's bog: Life Starts Now, Christmas in the Heart

This is the September music edition of Apollo’s Bog, a new monthly feature that takes a look at upcoming films and music for which we have genuinely low expectations. While we want to avoid jumping the gun and panning a film or album before experiencing it, each selection here is specifically chosen because we doubt it can gracefully flutter its wings upon release. Based on the sway of its marketing campaign, trailers and singles, we judge art sullenly and aptly.

Three Days Grace - Life Starts Now (Sept. 22)

This is only the band's third album?  I could swear I've heard at least 10.  Maybe those were Nickelback.  3 Doors Down?  Ain't no tellin', really.  They might as well be the same.

I don't even need to listen to the record to know that it's going to be full of unnecessarily muddy, bass-heavy rhythm guitar and strained grunting.  It's going to have completely forgettable song titles that, again, could have come from any number of post-grunge bands. "World So Cold," "Someone Who Cares," "Without You" and "Goin' Down" are seriously four songs from Life Starts Now.

The biggest problem here is that this kind of music still has an audience, years after Creed's breakup.  It's not the heaviest music, nor the catchiest.  What's the appeal?  The ubiquitous "softer" songs, which will most definitely appear on Life Starts Now, would make so much more sense if the musicians managed to convey any sort of emotion.  But no, there's neither humor nor sorrow here, just stone-cold seriousness.  No thanks.

Bob Dylan - Christmas in the Heart (Oct. 13)

It's hard to take aim at one of the greatest living songwriters, but there are a few things about Dylan's upcoming Christmas album that deserve some needling.

It's coming out in mid-October.  Perhaps Mr. Zimmerman is unfamiliar with Christmas's date, being a man whose current views on religion amount to this quote from a Newsweek interview: "I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else."  Though, considering his past musical flirtations with Christianity, a Christmas album could play perfectly into that mantra.

The other problem: Christmas albums are the classic cop out.  An artist at the top of his game does not record a Christmas album.  Dylan's been around long enough to have earned the right to release whatever he wants, but that doesn't mean the world needed Dylan-sung Christmas carols.

Of course, the proceeds from the album will benefit a number of charities, making this a noble effort.  But why couldn't Dylan record the newest in his recent string of stellar albums and donate the money from that, rather than taking this detour?  Sorry, Bob, but I'm just going to give 13 bucks straight to Salvation Army and skip this album.

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