The Replacements – All Shook Down

Better! By this point it’s not really a Replacements album, but did the last one deserve to be? I’m thinking you’re thinking I’m thinking “no.” And if you’re thinking right that’s no mashed quotatoes, I’m saying “no.” It’s a Paul Westerberg solo album in that the other Replacements aren’t generally present except for “Attitude,” but was the last album really a stew of influences? I’m thinking you’re thinking I’m thinking “no.” And if you’re thinking right that’s no mashed quotatoes, I’m saying “no.”

Where was I? Oh, right, well, this album is still a battle with facelessness, and there are many nothing songs that flutter by with hardly a notice, but for the significant part there’s some life here. “Someone Take The Wheel”? that’s a genuinely sad kinda statement! “Attitude” is positively great! “Nobody” has a genuinely great moment where the acoustic guitar joins in for a second! I mean, it’s by few means something anyone will really take life lessons from, and nobody would remember where they were when they first heard it (I was at work, two weeks ago), but it’s at least not angering. It’s nice to listen to.

The bonus track are mostly boring demoes, including two versions of an awful song awfully called “Kissin’ In Action,” but there’s a sad song called “Tiny Paper Planes” that brings a sadness to my heart, even if it doesn’t tear up my eyes or tear up my papers.

I also think that the first verse of “Happy Town” sounds like the intro theme to a lame sitcom, but that’s just me.



The Replacements – Don’t Tell A Soul

How shitty this album is? That you’re a failure? That you tried your own route, and it didn’t work out, and it’s the early 90s and nobody gives a shit and you’re all alone? Whatever, they made a lot of money.

This album is hilarious because it’s a prototypical sell-out. Everybody welcome. 1-2 stupid, 3-4 dumb. A bunch of personality-free soft rock nothing songs made for AOR that didn’t even sell. But look at the album cover! SHHHHH! Don’t tell a soul! Don’t Tell A Soul! Don’t tell a soul? Why? What does that pertain to?

Really, it’s a bunch of ballads and soft rocker nothings, complete with strings all over the place for no reason. Maybe there are some good songs here, but it’s positively laughable, and nobody cares. “Talent Show” is cute, though. Also, there’s a decent song with Tom Waits. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.


The Replacements – Pleased to Meet ME

Say! A certain member of my family’s an asshole! Today I go to meet him, because he has some mail of mine. Well okay, so far so good. Anyway, he just dumped his girlfriend of six years. Well, shit happens. But! He did so four years after telling her that he didn’t want to spend his life with her. Now, sure, she’s a wimp for taking it, but come on! As a further burn to her, he dumped her a month after getting back from eight months overseas, wherein she waited for him. Fair enough on that point from his perspective, but that’s gotta feel awful. But anyway, that’s not why he’s an asshole; breaking up is hard to do; he’s an asshole because while I’m there he’s telling me about this girl he hooked up with in The Dominican, and is planning to go to New Orleans to visit. He goes on and on about how hot she is, how she’s a 10, et cetera et cetera. Well, okay, I felt a tinge of jealousy, as you do when you have a girlfriend but hear someone going on about a sexual exploit. Not really asshole behaviour yet in my opinion. But he’s really going on and on about it, all focusing on how fantastic she looks. So I’m leaving, and he’s going on about it, and I say that he sounds very proud of himself. Not the nicest thing to say, but a completely accurate one. His response: “Yeah, it’s great sleeping with someone that good looking. You should try it sometime.” Uh…you’re an ASSHOLE? You just insulted my girlfriend, who you barely know? You just dated a fat chick for SIX YEARS? And here’s the rub, thankfully but not completely unexpectedly: I checked her out on facebook. She’s not that hot. Tall, yes, with the nice body that confers, but not that fucking hot. She has very short dyed hair to go along with a goofy face and large teeth. I’d take my girlfriend over her pretty easily. Hell, I’d take anyone I’ve dated over her (over course, I only do take my girlfriend now, right, audience of my website that consists of my girlfriend?). Again, he dated a FAT CHICK for SIX YEARS prior to this. Now he hooks up with one good looking girl, out of complete luck, and he thinks he’s Casafuckingnova and insults me by insulting my significant other. What the fuck. What a bit of asshole douchebaggery. This is why we are not close, and will probably never be close until our Dad dies, at which point we’ll be close for about two hours before going our separate ways again. Ridiculous.

But enough about me, let’s talk about me: I’m currently unemployed, and that means a lot more reviewin’ in the days to come! Is this website online yet? I’m sleepy, I need to work out, I need to drink more. That last one I can do. See you in a few!

Look, I’m having trouble writing these days, so here’s my quick review of the damned album that I’m sick of forcing myself to listen to in the hopes that I’ll review it:

1. It’s too 80s. Right from the first drum kick you’ll go ‘shit, that’s too 80s!’ And so it remains.

2. There are three great songs: “Alex Chilton,” about the lead singer of Big Star in a quite direct and almost Philip Glassishly nonjudgemental sense, is the best pop song the band ever wrote, a complete song from riff to verse to chorus to bridge to the wonderful two yells in the last ten seconds. “Skyway” is a superlative acoustic number about a certain mode of public transit (and romance and other stuff nobody gives a shit about), and “Can’t Hardly Wait” is a song about some kind of anticipation that’s so perfect it titled some shitty fucking movie.

2. This is an album that doesn’t stand for anyfuckingthing. you could replace the best songs on “Tim” with the worst on here and set it on fire, and you know what to do with the better songs, and you’d have made as much of a “statement,” though really they’re not statement albums, they’re just The Replacements’ late 20-somethings albums. One is a continuation of the other.

Corollary: so much so that the album does the same dumb things as Timmy the ‘tard, like having a dumb-as-a-dumb-song ‘touph ring guy’ rocker (“Shooting Dirty Pool”) some dumb lounge song, and having a bunch of totally unmemorable blah songs.

3. Tbere’s a lot of bonus stuff here, a whole second (terrible) album’s worth. It’s all somewhat enjoyable, including the genuinely rabble-rousin’ “Kick It In” and a throwback silly song (“Bundle Up”) and more 50s nostalgia covers. And, don’t forget, useless demoes of album songs, and another god damned early version of “Can’t Hardly Wait.”



The Replacements – Tim

Of all the bands that have autobiographical careers, I cannot think of any lives/bands as stereotypes as Westerberg’s Replacements. They were callow, raucous teens, then they were confused and experimental, then they came of age, now they’re of age and serious. No more laughy fun, no more silly noisy songs, no more crashing on friends’ couches and making out with their girlfriends and getting the crap beaten out of them for it. Not that I do that, I’m just saying.

Maturity is a must musically (probably in life too – and yes, I do I think rompers are attractive), or you end up doing the same thing in watered down form, hammering the same blah chords over and over, like The Ramones. The Subs of this album are barely recognizable from the “Sorry Ma, I Just Don’t Like Black People”, with only raggedy-Ann Westerberg’s distinctive voice really keeping it the same.

So they matured and shit. Musically, this is mostly good, but let’s deal with the bad first. In coming of age, they realized they want to make money, so the productive is way the shit cleaned up and 80s-ized. It’d get worse later on, too. Nowhere do guitars noodle noisily in one ear, or songs sound half-finished or half-recorded. So that’s mostly bad because of their “let’s go with the times’ production, but also because, with age, they could no longer make decent rock songs, only “rock” songs and rock “songs.” The latter are awful – the overly macho quasi-metal “Dose of Thunder” and “Lay it Down Clown” – which tries to sound all tough and threatening but calls the antagonist a “clown,” which just sounds like the product of someone who’s never actually been in the kind of knife fight the song describes – are both terrible. Fortunately, the “rock” songs are great! Midtempo, pleasing stompers like “Hold My Life” and  the please-give-this-radio-play-because-I-speak-for-my-generation “Bastards of Young” will please all discerning folk. And despite their maturity, they aren’t above being cute! “Kiss Me on The Bus” is a lovely Hollies-ish song that mentions “your tongue” and “your transfer” consecutively, and “Waitress in the Sky” is a playful acoustic jab at hostesses.  And thanks to their maturity, they can now convincingly write great songs like “Here Comes A Regular”, the album’s tale of sad alcoholism and by far the best song here – thank the ghostly production! …And decent songs like the “parties are done” song “Swingin’ Party.”

Unfortunately, if I didn’t mention it here, it wasn’t memorable at all, and on a short album like this one that’s sort of a big deal! The bonus tracks are blah too: one good outtake, two stupid demos of “Can’t Hardly Wait” that are only good for reminding you that it became a great song on the next album and not on this one, and unnecessary, unilluminating alternate versions of three album tracks. Alternate versions are supposed to say something about the featured works, record company! And stop putting the stupid “slamming door and footsteps” sound afTER THE LAST SONG! I’M TRYING TO LISTEN TO “HERE COMES A REGULAR” HERE. I wish I liked this album more, but really I just really like five songs a whole lot. I’ll have to give it a six.


The Replacements – Let It Be

The year was 1985, and Winnipeg, Alberta band The Replacements were about to embark on their song-by-song cover of Soundgarden’s “Big Blue Moon” EP. Luckily, along the way something involving dancing chimps happened, something involving black people, and the band decided instead to play a Beatles tribute while appearing on the cover wearing sandals and socks like the rebels they were. But seriously, their career not exactly thriving, they decided to off themselves to see if it would help. That’s how “I Will Dare” got stuck in my head for seven years, and “Answering Machine” became an endearing pre-emo emotion-o-thon. I mean, it’s no “The Police and the Private”, but we’ll take what we can right? Right? Needle to the Groove, Mantronix! You rock so hard. Way to bleep your dangerous s-word. Why does the PItchfork 500 involve so much “rap is all about black people dancing and having a groovy time while wearing loud suits” old-school funk crap? Who the fuck was in charge of that editing committee?

But seriously, does anyone listen to Bloc Party anymore? No? Then it’s a good thing the Reps switched up their “Like Eating Grass” cover to be about androgyny, and use swooshy hand swoosh things that I don’t remember the colloquial name of (so I’m forced to use the technical term “swooshy hand swoosh things”). Also they completely changed the lyrics and music. And just in time for pride, the gay anthem “We’re Comin’ Out’ uses its fucking powerful apostrophe to shift expertly between being a riff-rockin’ rocker and an unsettling quiet section, both about youth who are apparently not gay. Plus, “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” accurately sums up every fear about going to the dentist – “let’s get this over with / I tee off in an hour” – whee, interesting lyrics! Bonus tracks are crap though.

But seriously, this is the last time they really cared about entertaining us, so it’s a good thing they do a good job, like Mir Hossein Mousavi, tearing down state walls, leaning to and fro, wanting that Iranian Jew money, singin’ about fuckin’.  I don’t know what i’m talking about, I’ve been depressed for like two weeks here. It’s a really great album! There are four fun rockers (though you really have to be in the mood to hear a song called “Gary’s Got A Boner’ to enjoy “Gary’s Got A Boner” even if it IS a wonderfully sarcastic anti-Gary song) a few mid-tempo radio-friendly songs, two emotional chick songs (my personal favourites on this album), and one annoying ass unrealistic and melodramatic whining about being sixteen song. Plus a bunch of fun, albeit unremarkable, bonus cover songs, and two useless alternate versions of album songs.  Aw, it’s the bee’s patellas.


The Replacements – Hootenanny!

Well, this isn’t punk at all! Though The Replacements are supposedly about loud songs and youth and rebellion and stuff, this is only their second album and already they’re filling it with spy music, country ramblers, half-covers, and improvisations. What the heckfire’s going on here?

I don’t know either, obviously. But I have a few thoughts, and I’d figure they all figured in, figuratively speaking:

1) Lack of material – It’s the classic “2nd album” problem – bands suddenly have about a year to put together a whole new album of material, while on tour, while under pressure, and don’t come up with as full an album as they did the first time around. Add to this the sorta-fact that The Replacements weren’t a great studio band and the resulting frustration explains why, for instance, the end of “Treatment Bound” calls for a solo, but then the end abruptly ends and Westerberg says he fucked up the chords, or why they included “Buck Hill”, the aforementioned country-spy music jam, and the title track, where they just kinda jam on the wrong instruments while yelling “It’s A Hootenanny”, apparently for chuckles. Note that the latter is not actually as much fun to listen to as it may have been to perform. It is, however, probably almost as frustrating to have to hear it as the first track every time you turn on the goddamned album.

2) Boredom – See, at least a couple of these guys clearly didn’t want to write one to two minute long punkish yelly songs forever, and they already did it really well on their first album, not to mention 31 times on their first album. So now there’s a lot of “experimentation.” Luckily, it’s not shitty experimentation, and it’s not goddamned “atmospheric” music, the latter being a code word for a band not having any hooks and substituting overproduction – see Band Of Horses’ second album. There’s only three old-timey fast “rockers” here, and two of them aren’t any good.

3) Getting older – apparently The ‘Mats started to get all serious on their next album, but I see all sorts of signs of it here. No longer are they all just driving around drinking and dropping out of school. Here is where Westie and co. start to confront their drinking problems and (perhaps) objectionable lifestyle choices, and that makes for fewer good timey fun songs and more for songs that fit the more introspective mood. Though being smart and being twenty (or whatever young age they were) don’t go together particularly well, and they still seem to be having a good time. Or having a frustrating, angry time, it’s hard to tell, but they still aren’t taking things too seriously while they note their downfall.

Luckily, these guys are a very good band, and point 2) was a good call. They were way too effective to continue with their silly “Careless” and “Takin’ A Ride”-ing ways. They hadn’t quite figured out doing new things, but consarnit, they were well on their way, and while they seem to have figured out that they were moving on in-studio and didn’t really know what to do, most of what they did do turns out very well.  The best songs on here are “Take Me Down To The Hospital”, just listen to how it suddenly switches from a buzzing guitar-led rocker into a bass-led country-ish stomper ten seconds in! ….And “Treatment Bound”, which is a fantastically catchy, purposefully lo-fi tale of alcoholism and where it might lead us all. Plus, it appears as a bonus track in not shitty lo-fi form, albeit with a way worse vocal! Plus, the spoken word + jam song “Lovelines” starts with the immortal line “slightly overweight girls need sex also” – and then you get to laugh at how he says “hormones” later on!

Unfortunately, the other version of “Lovelines” is terrible. Also, the brooding, almost proto-Nirvana “Willpower” isn’t very good at all. Also, the requisite acoustic-demo-that-didn’t-get-recorded, “Bad Worker,” is great! “Minimum effort for minimum wage”!


The Replacements – Stink

Am I the only one here, audience that consists exclusively of my girlfriend, who is constantly imagining horrible things happening to me? Recently I went for walk to get subway tokens, and here were a few of the things that vividly came to mind in response to normal occurrences, and bear in mind this happens every day: 1. Someone walked past smoking (they go nuts and stab me in the eye with the burning end), 2. A crazy person walks by on Bloor yammering to herself (she goes crazy, pulls out a knife, and stabs me in the eye), 3. I jog across a street because I am jaywalking (I slip and fall forward, smashing my teeth into the curb and breaking them horribly). Another common one is whenever I’m in the sauna with one other guy I imagine him attacking me with the burning rocks. Or when I’m alone in there I imagine the door not opening and basically boiling to death. Usually these happy daydreams are enough to make me shudder at least a couple times a day.

Recalling that made me not want to talk about this album very much, but life’s a rich tapestry, so here we go: on this EP (originally eight songs, now twelve) The Replacements manage to sound about two years younger than on their debut album. Nearly all the songs are very short (less than 2 minutes) and about topics that follow from their titles, and here are some of those titles: “Fuck School”, “God Damn Job”, “Dope Smokin Moron”, “Gimme Noise.” All very very juvenile stuff, and not as interesting as the album, but it IS faster paced and just as hooky, so it isn’t like it sucks or anything. You’ll remember every song on here forever, except maybe ‘Gimme Noise” and the shitty outtake “Staples in her Stomach.” Here are some things that annoy me:

1. Opener (and likely reason for the whole album) “Kids Don’t Follow” starts with a terrible 30-second long unironic SLC-Punk-esque “fuzz shutting down our party, man” sketch that’s laughable from the first time you hear it, and then you have to listen to it every time you want to listen to the song/album, which more or less ruins everything good in the world.

2. That song itself, the aforementioned “Kids Don’t Follow” just sounds like Offspring-ish pop-punk now. I like it, but I’m undecided on that angular nee-nee-nee riff. Or maybe I do like it. Fuck should I know.

3. The two covers included with the remastering aren’t very good. “Hey Good Lookin'” is cute, but they included the lame fast version instead of the hilarious slow version that B-sided a song a couple albums later (that doesn’t get re-released at all, the fuckers), while “Rock Around the Clock” is just nothing, unless you really really like the bassline to “Woo Hoo” accompanying some 50s words.

4. The album has a space between album and extras, which is fine, but like all the reissues, it’s this stupid door slamming/footsteps noise that just makes listening to the last song on the album proper less appealing. Thanks for doing that on ALL THEIR ALBUMS, record company.

But I only criticize because it’s enjoyable. This album is lots of fun, and, aside from “Kids Don’t Follow” does not sound it came from the early 80s at all; be sure to look out for endlessly-amusing (to me) “blues”/punk hybrid “White and Lazy,” “Fuck School” and “Stuck in the Middle” getting stuck in your head forever, and “You’re Getting Married,” which is this album’s completely out of character acoustic song (like “If Only You Were Lonely”), only this time instead of being a sappy love song it’s a plea to a friend to NOT getting married. Much better topic! And it’s complete with screaming in the second half of the song, where he repeats all the verses for some reason, but we still love him.  Well, this review was boring! I’m really, really sorry.