Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Panic At The Disco Turn Into Badfinger

I've gotta say, as far as crappy radio emo goes, I was kinda okay with Panic At The Disco a couple years back. 'Twasn't really anything special, the same kind of shouty stuff with goofy overlong titles like "Hey, What Kind Of Crappy Long Title Is This And What Does It Have To Do With The Fucking Song Anyway" that lotsa bands were doing (it was the "Big Brother And The Holding Company" of 2005!). But I got the feeling that Panic -- I fucking refuse to call them "PATD," thanks, there's something about acronyming them that bugs me shitless -- were somehow smarter than their peers (like label bosses Fall Out Boy, who seem like the have the shared combined intelligence of a stale cheese sandwich) and might have something better than just Emo Band O' The Moment in their future.

Sometime between then and now somebody slipped the kids in Panic a couple copies of "Sgt. Pepper." Which happens to about 90% of White College-Age Kids in America, nothing special. But once in a while, really overambitious smart people hear "Pepper" for the 1st time and go "oh, shit, that's awesome, I CAN DO THAT!" And then they try, which is always kind of awesome, and usually produces an overambitious, overlong failure of an album just like Panic's latest, "Pretty Odd" (see also: Terrence Trent D'Arby's batshit crazy "Neither Fish Nor Flesh," or Prince's "Around The World In A Day" for a couple other notable examples.)

I cannot imagine how the Emo Masses are gonna view "Pretty Odd." It's almost totally devoid of the usual emo touchstones -- the vocals are MOSTLY kind of pretty (though the lead singer still kinda yelps like an angry, aenemic Ben Folds) instead of screamy, and there's harmonies and weird string sections and odd sounds and such like you'd expect on a "Pepper" rip instead of One Really Loud Guitar and One Badly Played Bass like on every other rock record last year. It bears really no real resemblance to the usual stuff on the radio. Part of me hopes they all embrace it and it brings on a New! Exciting! Era! of crappy Sgt. Pepper ripoffs for me to be amused by, but I'm half-sure its gonna be laughed outta the park.

That said: its really pretty fucking great. I'm sure you all heard "Nine In The Afternoon" on SNL this last weekend, accompanied by a string section and featuring a Cor Anglais solo (just like "Penny Lane," get it?) and its a really tuneful, catchy sonofabitch of a single, besides being far too busy and chockful of production details, which I love. Elsewhere on the album, "She's A Handsome Woman" has a lovely melody and some nicely jagged guitar playing, "Northern Downpour" is a lovely ballad with some amazing lyrics and great singing, and "The Piano Knows Something I Dont' Know" almost sounds like it could have come off the Beach Boys' "Smile," with the mellotron filligrees and bizarre chord structure and melody and strings and stylistic shifts.

I'm just not sure if its enough Beatles to hook the Beatles fans, or enough emo to hook the emo fans, you know? *I* like it, but the "30-something-music-geek-with-a-really-open-mind" crowd isn't big enough to make a huge hit. How about you all buy it and give it a try, too, maybe we could get something happening here. I'd love to hear Fall Out Boy's ensuing ripoff "Satanic Majesties Request."

13 comments:

LAP said...

Hmm. Phantom Planet is playing on their tour too. Of course, it's at Myth here, so whatever. But so far it's those same compelling pop sensibilities that I can't turn away from...

Jon Hunt said...

I know, me neither. I'm such a sucker for people's "Pepper Try." Whenever a band does one, I'm there.

In the 60s it was de rigeur, of course.

The Brown Dog Affair said...

This is the second time in two days that I've read mention of Badfinger, which is odd.
As to Panic, I'd like to help you out with inspiring Beatlesesque rip-offs, but I'm currently stuck in a mild obssession with 70ies R&B, and I'm not quite ready to temper that yet. I can't stop listening to Baby Huey's Living Legend over and over and over.
Also, for solid Beatles inspired musical granduer, you should check out Snowglobe's Our Land Brains if you haven't already. It's pretty well lush itself.

Prince Gomolvilas said...

You know, I never really listened to Panic At the Disco mostly because, well, they're called Panic At the Disco and their website boasts such news as: "Panic At The Disco will be signing autographs at the Hollywood & Highland Hot Topic this Wednesday!"

But perhaps...perhaps...I will give this a try. I am emo-friendly, after all. Not a fan, just friendly, mind you.

Anonymous said...

I may have to check this band out because I was a HUGE Badfinger fan back in the day (and still am; I think Pete Ham's death is one of the greatest tragedies in musical history. What an amazing songwriter he was).

They never made a bad album...they're awful hard to come by and out of print, but I highly recommend Magic Christian Music, Straight Up and their last album Wish You Were Here which may be their best...Has a song called In The Meantime/Some Other Time which is as good as anything Lennon/McCartney ever wrote...Very Abbey Road-ish sound, too.

Jeffrey

plastic passion said...

I dearly miss the emo of the 90s.


::runs to listen to Sarge::

Ashley said...

I don't even know what to say to this. Really.

The "30-something-music-geek-with-a-really-open-mind" crowd is larger than you think...I belong to it.

Jon Hunt said...

I dunno, I know you fear it, Ash, but give it a try!

Jon Hunt said...

What happened to your exclamation mark, btw?

ashley said...

It's on loan to Panic!At the Disco.

plastic passion said...

Postscript: I enjoy several Fall Out Boy songs. How'ja like them apples?

Jon Hunt said...

Post-post-script -- I sure do too.

Pete Wentz, however, strikes me as having the intelligence of roughly one lollipop.

God bless 'em though.

Vanessa said...

Right, so I just got to reading your blog today... lord knows how I happened upon it, but I did. And in the middle of a laugh, I sort of choked, cough, and decided I have a huge crush on you. C'est vrai.