Chicago Drive-In
Pavement Entertainment

Diddy? O diddn’t he?

| April 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

With the name changes, crude samples, talent shows, and complicity in pillaging the B.I.G. archives, Sean Combs makes it easy to hate on him.

He’s never shown much interest in artistry, and the surface theatrics of Last Train To Paris (Bad Boy/Interscope) – a jetsetter’s heartache, a la Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak – portends another aloof disaster. Yet it’s quite good. An incomparable panderer early in his career (his tactics are to blame for Will.I.Am), Paris reveals an elegance and complexity previously thought impossible for him. Faintly disguised as a Dirty Money/female-vocalist showcase, it pulsates with Italian electro in some spots and shimmers with lush symphonics in others. The stuffed guest list can’t detract from its coherent sequencing, which careens from emptiness and arrogance to anger and pleading with equally satisfying results. (Thursday@House Of Blues with Lloyd and Tyga.)

Buffalo Tom‘s 25th-anniversary album does not coincide with triumphant horn blasts to herald its arrival. As we’ll have to acclimatized ourselves when approaching reenergized ’90s stalwarts, darkness prevails. This doesn’t make Skins a brooding, self-pitying affair, though it’s hard to ignore deep facial lines, yellowed fingernails, and weary exhales. The album’s most addictive track repeatedly sighs, “Down, down, down, down,” and lest you think it’s just something Bill Janovitz and co. have been drinking, even Tanya Donelly‘s guest vocal on “Don’t Forget Me” comes like a lightly etched letter from someone too drained to push pen firmly to paper. Elsewhere, the menacing “Lost Weekend” and desperately anthemic “The Big Light” push the idea that this album wasn’t perfunctory, but therapeutic. (Thursday@Lincoln Hall with Judson Claiborne.)

Who knows if the headliners are ever in the building when the openers — especially the tacked-on local one — go on. By the time Lexington, Kentucky’s Morning Teleportation were established enough to open for Modest Mouse, the latter had gotten huge off of “Float On” and moved around in buses large enough to put most greenrooms to shame. But if they were in the vicinity when MT played their set, we bet Isaac Brock choked on his cashews. The band’s Expanding Anyway (Glacial Pace) doesn’t directly lift from Modest Mouse, but the sounds are so close to MM’s early albums that you could throw a blanket over them. MT allege to have a classic rock fixation, but what comes through is frantic energy and a tendency to nosedive and attempt to pull out too late. When the songs do crash, however, an ecstasy prevails, as if finding some anthemic resolution wouldn’t do justice to the chaos that preceded it. It’s certainly a more interesting way of business than what the other band’s up to these days. (Thursday@Subterranean with District Somnium and Continental Breakfast.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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