Two Challengers, Both Doomed

Heard an advance copy of the new album from The New Pornographers, entitled Challengers, due out on August 21st courtesy of the esteemed Matador Records.

At least the album cover is good…

Someone on the Hipinion board stated their opinion that each consecutive New Pornos album has been half as good as the last, and I more or less agree with that; Twin Cinema was the first mortal album of theirs, as The Electric Version was untouchably brilliant, and listening to Mass Romantic is almost akin to a religious experience. So where does that put Challengers?

It’s just not good. I never thought I’d say this about a New Pornos album, but it’s…boring. Newman can’t seem to write a hook to save his life, Neko Case and Dan Bejar are clearly just mailing it in, and Kathryn Calder really doesn’t add anything to the group’s sound, as she’s just a less charismatic version of Case (and a live replacement, after all). The best moments on this album are ‘pretty nice’ but that’s all, there’s nothing mind-blowing or even close to approaching it. You can’t blame them for not trying, as you can witness the slick production and the attempt at epic grandiosity on the six and a half minute ‘Unguided’, but nothing on this record goes anywhere at all. Simply put, there’s no interesting hooks, and unfortunately that’s where the New Pornographers live and die.

How much longer is this band gonna last? Mass Romantic featured a group of musicians excited by the possibilities and fully embracing them, The Electric Version was the sound of a band sitting down a working together as a group, but since then it’s seemed increasingly like Carl Newman And Guests, as Bejar and Case focus more on their respective solo careers. I wouldn’t mind Challengers as an AC Newman solo record, but as a New Pornos release, the talents of Bejar and Case in particular are wasted. This is just not an interesting record. I’m pretty disappointed.

6.8/12

I don’t know what they’re doing, and it looks like they don’t either…


Meanwhile, the 2007 NBA Finals wrapped up last night, in one of the worst Finals in recent memory. Nobody likes the Spurs, yet they had to get matched up against one of the most terrible Finals teams in history, resulting in the expected sweep.

Get your hands off my Eva, you dirty scum!!!

I think the Cavs’ predicament was summed up in one play near the end of the game last night, when Donyell Marshall found himself wide open for a corner three. He got the ball, but didn’t shoot right away, he almost looked stunned that he was so open. After getting that pass, Marshall paused for a few moments, looked around confusedly, looked at the basket, and took a shot…and airballed it. If I were LeBron James, I’d either punch his lights out, cry softly into my mama’s shoulders, or both.

The ABC crew did some game breakdown somewhere in the third quarter, where they showed LeBron aggressively driving to the basket, drawing as many as five Spurs defenders, then doing the right thing and shipping the ball out to an open teammate. The teammate, without fail, missed.

They’ve been saying it from day one, but LeBron James needs help on this team. That’s unacceptable.

So who should the Cavs draft this year? Oh wait, people don’t seem to realize something yet: THEY DON’T HAVE ANY DRAFT PICKS THIS YEAR. Wait, are you serious Roger? Yeah, the Cavs will not be participating in this year’s NBA draft, often cited as one the deepest drafts in years. Apparently they traded one pick to the Magic in exchange for Gooden and Varejao, and the other to the Celtics along with Jiri Welsch in a complicated deal where they got back, I don’t remember, cash or something? Good job, guys.

The Cavaliers did not belong in the NBA Finals. They looked completely lost from the tipoff of Game 1. Yet amusingly, it will be difficult for them to build on this year’s “success” because they don’t have any draft picks! They’ll have to rely exclusively on landing big names in free agency, and look at how that’s worked out for them so far: Larry Hughes, Damon Jones? All pretty good, except you know, not.

At this point, I care more about my newborn son Bryce Maximus James than I do about this team…can you really blame me?

I really can’t see the Cavs returning to the Finals next year. That would require exponential growth from players like Gibson, or possibly this “Shannon Brown” fellow that they drafted in the first round, who saw exactly seven seconds of action in the entire playoffs (thanks popcornmachine.net). Either that, or LeBron would work on improving his game and carry this team even more, a spectacular but dangerous proposition. I’m happy for you, Cleveland, but I think the consensus is that this was a fluke, so don’t get your hopes up too high.

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One response to “Two Challengers, Both Doomed

  1. “Nobody likes the Spurs” indeed….

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