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Day: May 3, 2006

review: “surprise” by paul simon

SurprisePaul Simon’s latest work, Surprise, is a bold step into new sonic territory that finds Simon teamed with Brian Eno, whose modern sonic textures give a very modern and experimental feel. And unlike Simon’s earlier foray into modern sounds (1983’s Hearts And Bones), this works much more effectively, complementing Simon’s trademark lyric storytelling and imagery.

On a whole, this is another crafty retooling of the Paul Simon sound. It’s perhaps the most electronically-processed album Simon has done – and that’s not a bad thing, at all, so long as the sound meshes well with Simon’s sound. And to these ears, it works – though it’ll be jarring to the world-beat and folk faithful who long for Simon to keep hitting the same chord as he did in the 1970s and 1980s. This is not the same Simon sound as There Goes Rhymin’ Simon or Graceland.

In a way, I see the matching of Simon and Brian Eno as something akin to Paul McCartney’s recent work with David Kahne and Nigel Godrich: working with a younger and/or more “out there” producer who will push the envelope.

Overall, the sonic tapestry is much more lush and varied under Eno’s watch. If anything, this may be the most atmospheric Simon work, on a par with Rhythm and Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in terms of depth of musical textures. And lyrically, there are many small story arcs that continue between songs, something that Simon hasn’t done since the early 1980s, save for his musical, The Capeman.

It’s a fun album – let’s look at it track-by-track:

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shame on steny hoyer!

According to The Hill, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip, defended the president against a spot-on keynote speech delivered the other night by Stephen Colbert:

“I thought some of it was funny, but I think it got a little rough,” Hoyer said. “He is the president of the United States, and he deserves some respect.”

No, Rep. Hoyer, President Bush does not deserve any respect – after all, he fails to respect the people of the United States, the Constitution upon which this country is based, and the people and leaders of the global community. Does this kind of behavior deserve respect from people who say that we deserve better?

C’mon, Rep. Hoyer – grow a spine and stand up for your party. The gloves must come off if the Democrats want to regain clout in this country.

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