The Unicorns, Who Will Cut Your Hair When We’re Gone? (Alien8)

The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Your Hair When We're Gone? The Unicorns
Who Will Cut Your Hair When We're Gone?
By: Eric Greenwood

My hatred of the Flaming Lips borders on the psychotic, so I am admittedly inherently biased against anything resembling free willy hippie jam pop garbage, which, sadly, is exactly what The Unicorns offer on this overly-hyped mess of a debut. Not being much of a fan of "whimsy" I tend to take the post-Pavement slacker pop tangent with a grain of salt; however, I take severe umbrage to affected "zaniness" disguised – and undeservedly revered – as "experimentation."

The Unicorns' songs themselves are relatively short, thankfully, so the unrelated melodic outbursts that seem catchy (until you try to hum what you've just heard) pass themselves off as "musical" in the most reduced form of the term. Such irreverence will lure all the smoked-out chodes that think Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is, well, any good at all, but for those of us who think everything that that bloated washout Brian Wilson touched after 1966 was ass, then this will most assuredly not be your cup of tea.

I'm just astounded by how bad this album actually is. It's a complete wanking nerdfest, replete with hollow political overtones and pseudo-intellectual stream of consciousness. Cheesy vocal effects run rampant like bad Ween, I imagine, to cover the off-putting, nasally double-tracked voices that will strip your skin off one layer at a time. The music just goes absolutely nowhere, dragging any semblance of amusement down with its pointless, pretentious digressions. It's so tongue in cheek; it's too clever by half.

Calculatedly lo-fi and undeniably mediocre, Who Will Cut Your Hair When We're Gone? is presumed to tout formlessness as a new interpretation of the construction of the pop song. But The Unicorns don't even go that far, of course. It's totally half-assed. What is mistaken for ingenuity is actually a failing of talent. It's not that the band chooses to ignore choruses and verses in the traditional sense; it's that the band doesn't know how to construct proper ones in the first place.

As if utter contempt for the listener's ears weren't enough, the band has the most annoying schtick imaginable. Smugness abounds in its "hilarious" on stage in-band freakouts. And paying off homeless people to impersonate you live might be funny to your five friends in the know, but to the audience it's pure masturbation. This album's inexplicable buzz is a perfect example of the fact that no matter what scene you cling to, you're in the midst of clueless sheep- just with different haircuts.

Damon Albarn, Democrazy (Honest Jon’s)

Damon Albarn - Democrazy Damon Albarn
Honest Jon's
By: Eric Greenwood

Fucking lead singers always have their heads up their asses. It's pretty much universally agreed that Damon Albarn is a twat. And a spoiled one at that. Always has been; always will be. Born of intellectual hippies, Albarn cheekily co-opted the Mod movement with Blur's second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish in 1993, and consequently re-anglofied the entire music scene in his country for a few years. If he weren't still a dead ringer for Jude Law, I doubt he'd get away with being a notoriously egotistical, drunk, frighteningly ambitious, drunk, naively political, yet sensitive little, that's right, twat. But we don’t begrudge him that right. He’s a full-blown rock star, and he’s earned it.

Of course, having written some of the finest pop songs of a generation will give you the benefit of the doubt, on occasion. And Albarn has proven himself capable of blinding greatness throughout his fourteen-year career, but no one is bulletproof. Yes, Thom Yorke, that goes for you, too. The trouble is, when your band gets so big that even your crap records sell, you start to lose sight of what's what. And guess what? Albarn's not quite as cool as he thinks he is, anymore.

When I first saw the title of Albarn's first solo record, I, like most of you, cringed utterly. Not just with my face, either. It was a full body cringe. My God, I thought, is he really that far gone? It just doesn’t make much sense- Think Tank was a pretty damn good resurgence for Blur, even without Graham Coxon. I mean, come on. Democrazy? Uhh, yeah, I get it and all, but it's really, really lame. I know he's all Greenpeace and anti-Bush/Blair like EVERY musician with rich white man's burden before him: Geldof, Bono, Sting, blah, blah, but this double-entendre is simply too cutesy to go without scorn.

So, of course, Democrazy, despite its silly political overtones, is a collection of demos. And even calling these half-baked, go-nowhere, do-nothing bits "demos" is a generous stretch. Albarn kept his four-track handy on Blur's summer jaunt across America last year and wanted you, the no-nothing fan, to hear what the "creative process" is really like from a "professional" who knows. Well, color me raped. I wish I could have my innocence/ignorance back because if this is the "process" by which any of Blur's string of masterpieces were created, then it's all ruined for me. My bubble hath burst.

Luckily, you'll be hard pressed to get your hands on an actual copy, as Mr. Albarn has wisely chosen a limited run of 5,000 10" vinyl-only copies for this display of gratuitous self-indulgence on his own label, Honest Jon's. It will be a shit day if I have to hear "A Rappy Song" or "America Welfare Poem" ever again. Download at your own risk.