Friday, August 5th, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

Apparently they have a new guitarist?


Michaela Drapes: This bass line! I don’t remember Flea ever sounding quite so post-punk (Hi Carlos D!), or knowing that tidy, effective use of grace notes was in his arsenal. The rest is perfectly Peppers-ish, though. There’s more than a few shades of “Dani California” here, but that’s not a bad thing. And, I’m sure some people will complain about the sharp stabs of Josh Klinghoffer’s guitar over Frusciante’s arty swirls or Navarro’s flashiness, but the end result is something consummately professional. The emotional immediacy and nakedness of the old RHCP is long gone, but it certainly is nice to see them looking and sounding this sharp.

Brad Shoup: They had four years, and this is the single! And yet the brand’s so strong they debuted in the top 40. Woefully sluggish, horizontally melodic; Klinghoffer’s buttressing lines give the refrain some lift, but that solo is just sour. I’m sure Flea could have loosed some slapping if prodded. I admit, it’s cool that the phrase “advances to the final” made it into a rock tune, but the Delicious Vinyl reference makes me suspect that they plucked this song from a vault labeled “1996.”

Al Shipley: The adventures of that Dani chick that preceded her were pretty annoying, but they were at least more memorable than whatever antics this Maggie girl is up to for five very long minutes.

Katherine St Asaph: Came this close to closing the tab on first listen when Anthony Kiedis hopped momentarily on the Train and led the lyric with “lipstick,” but the Chili Peppers’ residual (and historical) groove stopped me in time. That counts for something, although I still can’t hear any discernible difference between the new and old guitarist.

Ian Mathers: I’m either the best or worst person to review this; I think “Scar Tissue” is one of the few great songs they’ve ever done, and honestly were it not for the bullshit rapping/”heavy” parts “By the Way” would be their best, period. Basically, I’d rather listen to a dozen “Dani California”s than the stuff that made them famous in the first place, even though there’s plenty that’s laughable about their recent work. So let’s not talk about the lyrics here (who listens to those?); this is as good a groove as you can reasonably expect from these guys, and the chorus is compelling enough. If I were driving around and this came on the radio, I’d probably leave it. That’s honestly all I want from RHCP.

Anthony Easton: I was told that this was interesting, and a return to form. It is not. When was the last time a band lasted this long and refused to do anything unique or interesting to change a moribund sound?

Jonathan Bradley: The Red Hot Chili Peppers exist for two reasons. The first is to write conflicted modern-rock ballads about how southern California is beautiful and hellish at the same time. That’s fine, though Courtney Love usually does the same better. The other is to give white kids who like slap bass an excuse not to listen to Primus. (Also fine; in the ’90s punk-funk stakes, I’ll always take “Suck My Kiss” over “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.”) If RHCP had a third reason to exist, it would be to instruct bros on whether cock-blocking is allowed. “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” clarifies that it’s not. Note: RHCP does not have a third reason to exist.

Jer Fairall: Cowbell, hair metal single entendres and sleepy blues-rock riffs. The only 80’s we’re being rocked like here are the Stones circa Dirty Work.

Jonathan Bogart: Sitting in traffic listening to this, I started thinking about the fact that it’s currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Rock chart, and that I hadn’t heard it before just now — like, not even in some kind of public situation, at a Starbucks or something — and realizing that I would never hear the kind of song that makes it on to the Billboard Rock chart at a Starbucks, not because they’re so damn indie or hip or whatever, but because rock (at least hard rock) isn’t good sitting-down-and-talking music; it’s music that demands you engage with it, whether that means you identify with it completely or you hate it and the person who’s subjecting you to it, and how rock has slipped in the past twenty years from being a public music to being a private music. Even in situations where hundreds or thousands of people are gathered together to celebrate rock, like at a Nickelback concert or whatever, it’s more like some mysterious insular rite than something that engages you with the wider culture. Maybe it was the same when I was in high school in the early ’90s, but it didn’t feel like it. There was this sense that rock mattered publicly even if it was only one of many options; that Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Green Day and even, hey, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were public music, music that you had to know to be culturally competent. The rock chart today is an entirely separate world, as irrelevant to the vast majority of the musical conversation as Smooth Jazz or Regional Mexican, and while I’m not sure it’s much of a loss, it’s a part of my past that I don’t access very often: snarling guitars and angsty lyrics and aggression, the default music of young males in my youth. Somehow I can’t imagine teenagers today being all that psyched about a new Red Hot Chili Peppers song, unless they’re, like, nerdy bass players into funk but too weirded out by blackness to like good funk. And that’s when I noticed the guitar gently weeping, and goodnight nurse.

8 Responses to “Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

  1. That is a great paragraph that Jonathan Bogart wrote, right there.

    Re: popular rock world increasingly a matter of distancing, see also: forbidding pretensions in title; the way the final minute seems to contain absolutely nothing.

  2. Haha, it was originally all one sentence. I bow to editorial wisdom.

  3. Jbogs, stop making me look bad, geez.

  4. (Which is to say, NICE SENTENCE, MAN. WISH I’D WRITTEN IT.)

  5. Thirded: good graf. Perhaps we can check in on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts more often?

  6. Fourthed and will note that Jonathan totally needs to write more.

  7. Which one? (answer: ALL OF THEM)

  8. TRUTH.