Friday, August 26, 2011

Tommy Keene - Crashing the Ether

Crashing the Ether (2006) ***

In which the most strikingly consistent man in showbiz comes perilously close to making a bad record.  The problem isn't so much the songwriting - when he's on, he's on, as "Quit That Scene," ranks among his finest ever, and the Based on Happy Times-ish "Driving Down the Road in My Mind," sits well next to any random melancholy Keene ballad of wistful listlessness.  The sprightly "Warren in the '60s," and the lovely "Wishing," (which unfortunately emphasizes his annoying habit of lazily tossing off obvious rhymes) are up to his usual standards as well.  But the album's misfirings are apparent from the first track, "Black and White New York," which lives up to the crashing part of the album's title, in more senses than one:  it's a thuddy metallic drag that sorely lacks Keene's usual melodic touch, substituting loud rock dynamics for pop tunecraft.  Things right themselves swiftly with "Warren in the '60s," and the first half of the album is mostly excellent, containing all the highlights I've previously mentioned.  But the second half is much, much weaker, with the final three or four songs a complete mess - a string of unpleasantly noisy rockers that makes one wonder if Keene had misplaced his talent by fancying his strengths were that of a guitar hero rather than tunesmith.  "Texas Tower 4," drags on its hard rock bombast for over six excruciating minutes, closing the album on a harshly bum note.  Maybe all those Mission of Burma records rubbed off on Tommy the wrong way, or he's trying to keep current with grunge fashion ten years too late, and while experimentation and fucking with the formula are important directions for any artist to pursue, as a hard rocker Keene's always made a much more compelling Alex Chilton than a Ted Nugent.

Youtubes?  No puedo encontrar los videos.  Tommy Keene videos are extremely hard to find, period, much less any for songs from one of his least popular albums.

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