Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology

Ryan Adams and the Cardinology
Cardinology **

Ever since 1994, Ryan Adams has one of the most impressive résumés in the music world. In the 90’s, he was one of the founding members of the seminal alt-country band Whiskeytown. After Whiskeytown, he began his expansive solo career, releasing albums at least once a year, and in 2005, he released 3 albums worth of music. In this decade alone, he has released 10 full length albums. One year he wrote over 200 songs. So basically Ryan Adams is the Lil Wayne of indie rock.
Unlike Lil Wayne, Ryan Adams’ worked is marred by inconsistency. Only one of his albums, Heartbreaker, received uninamous praise. Every album he has released has their lovers and their haters. So it is so hard to measure Ryan Adams’ talent and abilities if he is so divisive as an artist. However, I have managed to not fit into either of the “Love Ryan Adams” or “Hate Ryan Adams” groups. Some of his work is actually great, while some of his other stuff is just plain annoying. Cardinology, his fourth with his backing band The Cardinals, is just plain annoying. It’s an album that somehow manages to capture his notorious outbursts.
The album starts off with mellow albeit boring “Born into a Light”. That, and the next two songs continue to bore, with uninteresting melodies and lyrics. It’s music that doesn’t move you in any way. The fourth song, “Magick”, is where thing just get annoying. Okay, Ryan Adams has a great voice. Unfortunately he sounds too much like an American Bono. And this song not only is annoying, but sounds exactly like a U2 song. “You're like a missile strike/Government goes underground/Warhead on legs“, he yelps. He has to be reading Bono‘s songbook. It’s the only explanation for those lyrics. The song has all the U2 mannerism and clichés. Who knows, maybe those backing vocals were done by the Edge.
The album continues bordering on the mundane and the boring. After the failed attempt of “Magick” to spruce up the album, the next song “Cobwebs”, is indie rock that is both boring and annoying, and still U2esque. I can’t take him seriously if he’s trying to be a country Bono. And I can’t take him seriously enough with these depressing songs. “Crossed Out Name” is just depressing as he moans over an acoustic guitar. And that depressive singer songwriter moan continues with “Evergreen” and the album closer “Stop” How are we supposed to believe that Ryan Adams is depressed? This isn’t Ryan Adams circa 1994, when he came out of a broken home. This is Ryan Adams 2008: Living in New York, appearing in the biggest music magazines, and getting the girls. I can’t help but laugh when he sings. I feel nothing from this album.

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