Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008

Ruminations on Sadness: Dead Confederate and Ne-Yo

By Evan Rytlewski
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Like the murder ballad or songs about cars, sad songs will always have a special place in the American songbook. This week is a great one for sad music, seeing the release of two wonderfully downtrodden albums from wildly different genres:

Dead Confederate - "Wrecking Ball": This one is for everybody who has complained about what a wayward, elite genre indie-rock has become over the last half decade, a balls-out grunge rock that reminds us sounding like Nirvana is a good thing. Harrowed and sometimes screamy, singer Hardy Morris embraces Kurt Cobain's vocal ticks, but these songs are more brooding and expansive than most Cobain wrote, embracing the band's southern-rock roots without embracing southern-rock values. It's heavy, it's deep, it's direct—it's everything I want in a record. Pick this one up. It's the Tha Carter III of rock albums.

Ne-Yo - "Year of the Gentleman": Forget that he's rich, famous and suave: Ne-Yo is the Charlie Brown of contemporary R&B, and as irrational as it is, I can't help but feel bad for him. On his third album in three years, nice-guy Ne-Yo is typically luckless, watching as the women he loves cheat on him, dump him and marry other guys. Poor little guy. Though his old-fashioned songs sometimes clash with StarGates' contemporary futro-synth production, Ne-Yo has never sounded more like Stevie Wonder—though Steve Wonder never came across as this helpless.
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