It’s time for some new music as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out new albums from producer supergroup Garbage, British rocker Jake Bugg and the hard-living Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oh, and what may possibly be the worst movie theme song of all time…
New Album from a New Artist
Jake Bugg — On My One
Born in Nottingham, England in 1994, Jake Bugg grew up on a council estate, raised by a single mother. When he was 12 his uncle gave him a guitar and he discovered Metallica, the combination of which set him on a path to a life of music. When Bugg was 17, he was selected to play on the “BBC Introduces” stage at Glastonbury, which led to him signing with Mercury records in 2011.
In 2012, Bugg released his self-titled debut album, including the single Two Fingers. The album generated critical praise and sold well in the UK, garnering Bugg a support slot for fading Britpop star Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Around this time, Bugg met superproducer Rick Rubin, who signed on to produce his sophomore album, 2013’s Shangri La. Including the singles Slumville Sunrise and What Doesn’t Kill You, the album received mixed reviews but strong fan support, raising Bugg’s profile internationally.
On My One is Jake Bugg’s third album, with a title that derives from Nottingham slang for “on my own”. Over two years in development, the album covers a lot of musical bases, from country to folk, rock to synth-pop and an ill-advised attempt at rap. There are hints of the Springsteen crossed with Ray Davies storytelling that defined Shangri La, however the departure of Rick Rubin as producer has resulted in a decidedly mixed bag.
A handful of tracks on this album are great, with heartfelt lyrics and beautiful tunes, but just as many are average and a couple are borderline unlistenable. It’s somewhat of an exercise in frustration listening to this album in one go, but fans of lyrical Britpop will find something to like.
Standout tracks: On My One, Love Hope & Misery, Bitter Salt
Sample lyric: "Every town has a stranger, when I’m around." (On My One)
Verdict: 6/10 — Bugg definitely has great potential, but he doesn’t quite reach it on this album
New Album from an Old Artist
Red Hot Chili Peppers — The Getaway
I’ve always sorta liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not loved them, you understand, but sorta liked them. Like many people, I first discovered them when Blood Sugar Sex Magik became a big hit back in 1991 (produced by the aforementioned Rick Rubin), but the band got their start in Los Angeles back in 1983. They didn’t have the easiest run in the early days, releasing a series of unsuccessful albums and battling serious drug addiction before the death of founding guitarist Hilliel Slovak in 1988.
Fortunately, singer and lyricist Anthony Kiedis turned his pain into art, writing the single Under The Bridge (about scoring heroin) which drove the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik to multi-platinum success. Of course, it didn’t help that the album also contained hits like Suck My Kiss and Breaking the Girl, but it’s safe to say that the Chili Peppers wouldn’t be where they are today without Under the Bridge. The band continued to release new albums every couple of years, but they struggled to recapture the freshness of BSSM, despite hits including Californication and Dani California.
From the first notes of The Getaway, it is obvious this is a Chili Peppers album, driven by Flea’s funky bass, Chad Smith’s metronomic drumming and Kiedis’ distinctive voice. The big difference to previous albums is that the band sound like they’re actually having fun. They’re also experimenting with some new sounds, possibly due to the contribution of new producer Danger Mouse. There is a lot more focus on melody and subtlety, and as a result The Getaway improves with subsequent listens.
For a band almost 35 years into their career, The Getaway is remarkably modern, embracing new influences while remaining true to the Chili Peppers roots.
Standout tracks: Dark Necessities, The Getaway, Feasting on the Flowers
Sample lyric: "Pick you up like a paperback, with the track record of a maniac." (Dark Necessities)
Verdict: 8/10 — funky, fresh and very listenable, this is the best Chili Peppers album in years
New Album from an Old Artist
Garbage — Strange Little Birds
Naming your band Garbage is a provocative move, seemingly designed to taunt lazy reviewers into some faux-witty response. Well I’m not going to fall for it!
Formed in Madison, Wisconsin in 1993, Garbage were initially described as a ‘supergroup’, featuring noted producers Butch Vig on drums, Duke Erikson on bass and Steve Marker on guitar, along with then unknown singer Shirley Manson. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1995, and went on to double-platinum status off the back of singles including Only Happy When it Rains. Follow up album Version 2.0 was equally successful, including the powerfully dark single I Think I’m Paranoid.
After 2001’s Beautiful Garbage didn’t perform to expectations, fractures began to appear in the band, and they went on hiatus prior to the release of 2005’s Bleed Like Me. Over subsequent years, Garbage reformed and split up a few more times, formally regrouping in 2011 to record Not Your Kind of People. Four years after the release of that album, Garbage have released Strange Little Birds, and it’s certainly… strange. Gone are the catchy hooks and lyrical precision of early albums, replaced by a faux-metal approach of just turning up the amps really loud.
While there are a couple of decent tracks on this album, they are buried under layers of mystifyingly bad production, which is particularly hard to understand with three freaking producers in the band!
Standout tracks: So We Can Stay Alive, Blackout
Sample lyric: "I’m already broken hearted, so let’s get the party started." (Blackout)
Verdict: 5/10 – for all of the talent involved, this is a wholly unremarkable album
Is This the Worst Movie Theme Ever?
Fall Out Boy — Not Afraid
For about 15 minutes in the early 2000’s Fall Out Boy were a big thing, having multiple hits, appearing on magazine covers and marrying slightly less successful siblings of superstars. Formed in Chicago, Illinois in 2001, the band has stuck with their original lineup and pop/emo/punk sound through half a dozen albums and a premature Greatest Hits set.
For many kids born in the mid-1970’s, Ghostbusters was one of the best movies of all time when it came out in 1984. Funny, scary, and with a kick-ass theme song, sung by one Ray Parker Jr. A few years later a sequel was made, and Bobby Brown sung the theme song ‘On Our Own’, which wasn’t terrible, but nowhere near as good as the original.
Now it’s 2016, and there is a new Ghostbusters movie about to hit the big screens. Mired in controversy from the beginning, this version flips the gender of the main cast members, which initially led to a whole lot of whinging from men-children and MRAs. Unfortunately, the studio reacted by releasing a terrible trailer, which went on to be the most disliked movie trailer in the history of YouTube.
If that wasn’t bad enough, some genius at Columbia Pictures had the bright idea to hire Fall Out Boy to sing the theme song, and the horror of I’m Not Afraid was born…
Sorry for subjecting you to that.
Verdict: 0/10 — Worst. Theme Song. Ever.
Enjoy what you've just read? John Turnbull's books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller, Damnation’s Flame; action/romance, Reaper; black comedy, City Boy; and travel guidebook, Bar Trek: Europe. Check 'em out!
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