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Monday, May 9, 2016

Mike's Picks #5

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

Iggy Pop, above all else, is a survivor.  No one expected Iggy to make it out of the 70s, when he was bouncing between mental institutions and rehabilitation centers.  His creative output since his heyday has been, to put it kindly, inconsistent.  When he was tearing it up with David Bowie and Lou Reed, people looked at the three and saw Iggy as the one with the biggest death wish.  Now it's 2016, Bowie and Reed and gone, along with most members of Iggy's original band, The Stooges, and countless other stars of the era.  But, despite insurmountable odds, Iggy is still with us.  Just as miraculous is that his new album is his best since the late 70s. 

Post Pop Depression could either be considered Iggy Pop's seventeenth solo album or the first album by Queens of the Arctic Stooges.  This is every bit a collaborative effort, with Josh Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders as a kind of mini super group backing Iggy.  This is nothing new for Pop, whose career highlights The Idiot and Lust For Life were done with David Bowie, or Homme, who has collaborated with PJ Harvey and put out a record with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones as Them Crooked Vultures.  Here, Homme takes the roll of producer, guitarist, and is credited for much of the other instrumentation.  If you, like me, have been listening to Homme through Kyuss or QOTSA or Desert Sessions, you more of less know the formula for PPD.  Much of this album sounds similar to the last Queens album ...Like Clockwork mixed with little bits of "Berlin Trilogy" era David Bowie.  I am not denigrating the effort.  This is a case where the wheel does not need to be reinvented, Iggy has been making fantastic wheels for years, he knows what he's doing.  If you are familiar with these artists, don't expect some massive creative leap.  Simply expect to hear masters of their craft doing what they do best; gritty guitar rock by guys in leather jackets and jeans.

Songs like "American Valhala" and "Break Into Your Heart" have all the brashness and swagger of classic Iggy.  Unlike most singers whose voices "get weaker" with age, Pop's vocals only seem to have gotten better, less like fine wine, more like dried, smoked meat.  This older, gruffer version of Iggy Pop fits perfectly with the desert rock of Josh Homme, and this is displayed no better than on the track "Sunday."  With it's shoulder shrugging, Al Green/Bonnie Raitt on "Nick Of Time" back beat, it sticks out from the pack as the most memorable and hooky.  Close second would be the first single "Gardinia," with its hypnotic guitar and sleaze-ball lyrics.

Iggy Pop has stated that this will be his last album.  Who knows if that will really be the case, I never take musician retirements seriously, and something tells me we wont find retired Iggy sitting on his front porch knitting sweaters for too long.  If it is though, he has pulled off a rarity in rock music; a legacy act putting out great material at the tail end of a long career.  If this is his last at bat, it's good to see him go out on a home run.

Key Lyric:
Where is American Valhalla
Death is the pill that's hard to swallow
Is anybody in there?
And can I bring a friend?
I'm not the man with everything
I've nothing, but my name

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