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Sunday, January 15

Tom Scharpling reviews Lulu track by track

So Tom Scharpling (perhaps best known as the host of The Best Show on WFMU), along with a handful of other talented music writers, recently started a podcast that features in-depth, long form interviews with musicians. The way I've been pitching the show to people is "WTF with bands instead of comedians", and that's mostly accurate. The show is called Low Times (as in not High Times, it took me a while to get it, too), and three episodes in, it's already become one of my favorite podcasts. One of the best things about the show is that the interviews are structured to ensure fans of the featured artists can enjoy the discussions as much as non-fans.

One of the best conversations thus far has been with Geoff Rickly from Thursday. He's incredibly candid and self-aware, holding nothing back in his assessment of his band's career. Low Times is clearly made for and by indie rock nerds, so this intelligent account of the world of Warped Tours and Victory Records-sponsored pornography is probably not something most listeners (and readers of this blog) would be familiar with. It's a fascinating talk that I can't recommend enough.

That's not why I'm writing this, though. The Low Times web site also features blog entries, exclusive conversation snippets, and the occasional long-form article. Scharpling is currently in the midst of reviewing the universally panned Lulu, a record that was borne from an ill-advised collaboration between Lou Reed & Metallica. The album quickly became a punching bag/punch line for amateur Twitter comedians and armchair music critics, and Scharpling's analysis of the knee-jerk critical reception surrounding the project, as well as his more visceral gut reactions to the album are incredibly compelling from his rock fan perspective.

The conceit of the project is that each track gets it's own entry, prefaced by a reflection on the album and the reception to the reviews themselves. Lucky for us, the Lulu website has the whole album available for streaming, so there's no reason to not listen along to the track being reviewed as Scharpling offers his analysis of the song, and it's position within the careers of both Reed and Metallica.

At the time of this writing, he's on track seven of ten and seems to have almost entirely lost patience with the album at this point; like a disappointed uncle, wishing his nephew's would get their act together, stop fucking around, and put their talents to work, rather than writing concept albums about a young woman's descent into prostitution in mid 1920s Berlin or whatever.

Read Scharpling's reviews here

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