On the racks: August 8, 2006

Dirty Pretty Things, Ani DiFranco, and the Cure
By MATT ASHARE  |  August 8, 2006

REISSUED: All the Robert Smith you can handle, thanks to Rhino
Blood Meridian: great name for a novel. Pretty good one for a film too (especially now that HBO’s prepared us all for it by watering down Cormac McCarthy’s brutally hyperreal vision of the Wild West with Deadwood). But as a band name? Let’s just say that if his work as the bassist in Black Mountain is any indication, Matthew Camirand has already spread himself a bit thin. Not that that’s going to stop hacks all over the world from turning to the thesaurus to find poetic alternatives for “dark,” even if Camirand’s more of a gray kinda guy. His dark and, ah, whiskey-soaked (yeah, whiskey-soaked and or nicotine-stained) Blood Meridian debut may be titled Kick Up the Dust, but I don’t think he’s got the poetic license to last even an afternoon in Deadwood.

Is it my imagination, or is Ani DiFranco dropping new albums at the rate of two a year? This time, on her second 2006 disc (the first was a live one so maybe that doesn’t count), it’s just her and her touring bassist Todd Sickafoose, and we’re guessing the title, Reprieve (Righteous Babe) refers to the time she took off from her busy touring schedule to record the baker’s dozen of new tunes at her New Orleans studio. Reprise may have made for a more apt title. But you gotta give it to Ani. She’s got that Puritan work ethic, her own label, and writer’s block seems to be something she’s immune to.

The tawdry tale of the Libertines continues with yet another amusing twist — Dirty Pretty Things. The formula on their debut is simple: take Pete Dougherty’s disruptive junky supermodel-dating  unpredictability out of the mix, hire Jet producer-of-the-moment Dave Sardy (who was once is a pretty good band called Barkmarket, for all you downloading kids out there), and record a professional sounding album with a vaguely nihilistic title like, oh, I got one, Waterloo To Anywhere (Interscope). But, as in most Shakespearean tragedies, our hero — in this case Dougherty’s more down-to-Earth Libertines foil Carl Barat — is haunted by the ghosts of his past, not to mention guilt over the virtual fratricide of firing Dougherty. You can almost picture an OCD-wracked Barat washing his hands over and over again in a vain attempt to rid himself of the blood from Dougherty’s syringe whilst Kate Moss cackles like a witch in the background. Hamlet or MacBeth? Pick you poison girls and boys: Babyshamble Dougherty will always be the broken genius, while Barat, who may be getting a dig in on his old partner in crime in “Last of the Small Town Playboys,” remains stuck recording respectable albums that are at least as good at Jet’s last one. Look for a Libertines reunion round about 2010. You heard it here first. . .

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