…But he’s still good. People have been talking about Dylan’s new album, Modern Times, saying it’s one of his best. I got my hands on a copy and I must disagree. I thought it was quite disappointing except for the last track, “Ain’t Talkin’” which is damn good. Too bad the rest of the album is impotent and paint-by-numbers tripe.
I don’t expect Bob’s voice to soothe me or even sound decent. Shit, there’s tracks on the album where old Bob sounds like he’s just been gargling with battery acid and peanut butter. He sounds like Zombie Dylan on a couple tracks. I think maybe Dylan’s been dead for a few years and he’s been re-animated with some Frankenstein-esque machine, doomed to wander the world as the undead while recording songs when his rotten voice box feels up to it.
But that’s not what bothers me about his new album.
No, it’s his backing band. On most tracks they sound like a shitty wedding band, playing the blandest, most inoffensive tunes your Aunt Marge could possibly ask for. I know, I know; it’s Dylan, not Killswitch Engage. But c’mon, Bob! Crank it up a notch. The band sounds like they’re on horse tranquilizers and auditioning for a gig as studio musicians for the Muzak corporation.
I saw Dylan live on this tour and the band was a bit better on stage, but maybe that’s because you have to be loud in a 20,000 seat theater. They seemed a little more energized, even playing (sort of) the Jimi Hendrix version of “All Along the Watchtower.”
Still, Bob’s not what he used to be. He’s a living legend, but it’s not like he could write “Like a Rolling Stone” or “The Times are a-Changin’” at age 66.
Instead we need a new generation of musical geniuses to move things forward; guys like Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. Their new album, The Crane Wife, is fucking brilliant.
The Decemberists are so fucking literary they sound like a band fronted by your old college English teacher, but in a good way. Despite the focus on words and lyrics (like Dylan) the band is about much more than that. They actually have great tunes! Their sound has been described as progressive-folk rock. They’ve clearly listened to a few Pink Floyd albums, but also a lot of Dylan.
Like Dylan, Colin Meloy has a…. uh.. “unique” voice. It takes some getting used to, but he can sing and hit the notes, just like Dylan used to be able to. Colin’s timbre is reedy and somewhat nasally, but he sings with more melody than dear old Bob.
If you’re a little disappointed with 7th decade Dylan, check out a band in its prime: The Decemberists.