Shabby Shriek of the Week: Liz Primo

Liz Primo’s debut ‘Exposed.’ Shab or fab?

For this week’s entry of Shabby Shriek, we look to Liz Primo. Last week, I received her debut Exposed, which might have been renamed “derivative.” With her Nicki Minaj look on the cover and Katy Perry whimsical and colorful getups on the inside, I wondered if I had heard this already — you know, without having to open it and listen.

But to be fair, I did open and pop it in on the drive home. With only six songs (and one remix), I figured this would be easy to get through. By track four, I pulled out Primo and put in the infinitely better Femme Fatale by Britney Spears. Now, how often do you hear that?

So here we go:

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: In the wake of Britney’s show, soldiers get ‘Drop Dead (Beautiful)’

This video just popped up on my Twitter feed and it might be more entertaining than Tuesday’s Britney Spears concert.

I’m not quite sure how the trend of masculine, butch soldier boys doing pop princess tunes on YouTube started (this is still my favorite), but it continues with these four men taking on Spears’ “Drop Dead (Beautiful)” from Femme Fatale. With all the abs, pecs and guns (the real kind) present, Spears should hire these boys stat. That is if Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t.

The 1:29 mark was especially grabbing. If not, at the very least, jaw-dropping — in so many ways.

 

—  Rich Lopez

REVIEW: Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE SHOW

I came to an epiphany on Tuesday night at Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale show at the AAC. She may not be the most artistic or profound artist out there, but she does serve a purpose. Much in the same way Transformers movies serve a purpose at the theater. You can’t expect a deeper meaning behind them. Spears’ music isn’t trying to change the world; it’s pop music that has fun and flirts and dances its way through the ears and body. If anything, and without knowing it, Spears might actually encourage people to live in the moment.

The cohesion of her show may have been applied with a Band-Aid as her costume and set changes were the femme fatale in various disguises, but her and her cadre of dancers churned out the energy like DJs at a gay bar in full swing. Nary a break was to be found in the high energy set list that thumped its way into the adulating fans as they roared with each song. The true fans knew all the words to even her non-hits from Fatale, while the rest fanatically pumped their fists and danced to the beat.

Each costume and set was threaded with a film narrative of a man tracking the “sexy assassin” down but to try to tell a story here didn’t add much to any theme or tone.

Gone are the strong line dances as she’s reduced her moves to patty-cake hand movements, cheap stripper-esque poses and a whole lot of hair whipping, but instead, this is who Britney Spears is and even if it lacked a certain panache, it still reduced fans to tears and screams. Unfortunately, lip-synching rumors were evident as her vocal tracks were crystal clear from the beginning with “Hold It Against Me” to almost the end. I could say I heard a breathier, realistic tone to her singing in the encore “Toxic” and it wasn’t bad.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Brewing: New York marriage vote could come tonight or early Thursday

Jon Huntsman

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The New York State Senate’s vote on a marriage equality bill is now likely to come late today or early Thursday, as talks continue over protections for religious groups, the Associated Press reports. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he remains “cautiously optimistic” the bill will pass.

2. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman entered the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, and his campaign is making a pitch to gay donors based on his support for civil unions. But Huntsman took a step back this morning when he called marriage equality “impossible.”

3. Britney Spears new video for “I Wanna Go” premiered Tuesday night. Watch it below. Spears’ Femme Fatale tour comes to Dallas on July 12.

—  John Wright

Mixed messages: Britney, R.E.M. deliver shiny, happy CDs … but not without some dents

NOT YET OUT OF TIME | R.E.M. breaks its 15-year slump with the release of ‘Collapse Into Now.’

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

2011 has already been an impressive year for major music releases: Adele and Jennifer Hudson’s strong sophomore albums have impressed, and Lady Gaga’s third is on the horizon.

But these relative newcomers aren’t scaring off pop and rock veterans. R.E.M. just released its 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now, and Britney Spears is halfway along with her seventh, Femme Fatale. Ultimately, it’s the hard rockers who prove their metal, while the pop princess struggles.

 

Spears declared Fatale “a club album,” as if that’s her excuse for putting out drivel. So be it: Fatale praises dancing, cocktails and sex, making her the voice of a generation of aimless twinks everywhere. While the production behind it is top notch, the CD is held back musically by two things — bad lyrics and Spears.

Opening with her single “Till the World Ends,” she sets the dance tone with a strong beat, but the moment she sings I notice that you got it / You notice that I want it / You know that I can take it to the next level baby, you just can’t help but think, “Really?” Ke$ha, credited here as a co-writer, is new enough that she can get away with such dumb sentiments; Spears should be striving for more at this point. Brit has always been her own worst enemy, and her poor judgment shows.

Using a joke of a pickup line and turning it into a hit, her team of producers and writers are on top of dance music trends, creating radio-ready tracks like “Hold It Against Me” while keeping the Britney formula intact. Instead of competing with current pop-stars sounds, Spears adheres to her own, jacks it up with modern, fresh beats and sticks to her guns with sex kitten tunes. Perhaps we can never expect much substance from her, but she knows at least who she is.

With some flat out dance songs, the first half is stronger than the second; that’s when Fatale peters out. “How I Roll” is a hot mess of vocal effects and pedestrian “bum-de-dum” skatting while her collaboration with Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am on “Big Fat Bass” is downright embarrassing, especially as she repeats I can be the treble, you can be the bass to a painful, idiotic degree.

There are moments that break from the pack. “Inside Out” delivers a surprisingly crisper voice. She’s not a great vocalist, but we get a glimpse of some actual prowess here that isn’t hard on the ears. The final track “Criminal” follows suit. We’re not pounded with the song; instead, it contains some nice intricacies and has the most narrative. Musically, it’s fresh with actual guitar touches. Is that a pan flute in there? I wish she’d take this direction more. It’s not so bad to hear an actual story.

Femme Fatale is a nice workout album, but Spears remains trapped by heavy production. We always hope she’s smarter than that, but Fatale doesn’t lend itself to brilliance, only to working up a sweat on the dancefloor.

 

R.E.M. rediscovers itself with Collapse. Gone is the overwrought tone of late, which has been in apparent search of recapturing Out of Time. Letting go of those expectations, R.E.M. is back to delivering the edge of their early days, And we feel fine.

The band launches the CD with the raucous and strong “Discoverer” and “All the Best.” The flat-out abandon Mike, Michael and Peter play with here is a harbinger of mostly good things to come. “UBerlin” suffers from some underproduction, but the fourth track, “Oh My Heart,” is a beautiful song of pain. I came home to a city half erased is a simple but devastating line, yet sung without sadness. The band doesn’t spend emotion needlessly here and still gets a point across.

What is funnily unnerving is Stipe’s voice. Most noticeable on “It Happened Today,” he sounds older, which will remind early fans they are getting older, too. But the wisdom behind it is comforting, like when your father first talks to you as a fellow adult, not as a child.

I can’t quite figure out what the message of “Mine Smell Like Honey” is, but with lyrics Climb a mountain, climb it steeper, steeper / Dig a hole, dig it deeper, deeper / Track a trail of honey through it all, I feel like my imagination is allowed free rein to interpret it. The energy is infectious but again, underproduction cuts into Stipe’s vocals. He sounds muffled, being swallowed by drums and guitars.

Initially I wanted to hate “Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter” for it’s ridiculous title and it’s opening line I feel like an alligator, climbing up the escalator, but it recalls that vivaciousness of “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” followed by the equally strong “That Someone Is You.”

Going for a slower finale with “Me Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I” and the spacey “Blue,” the album has a lackluster finish. After a rowdy ride, R.E.M. opts for a poignant, slower ending.

Collapse allows us to remember what R.E.M. can still do. With the help of friends like Eddie Vedder, Peaches and Hidden Cameras’ gay frontman Joel Gibb, the band has found its mojo. They probably didn’t think they lost it, but listeners had. That should likely change.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Concert Notice: Britney hits up AAC in July

If you caught Britney Spears’ performance on Good Morning America today, you likely heard her announce she’ll be on the road quick-like to support her new album, Femme Fatale (I’ll have a review of it in this week’s ish). According to Billboard, the North American tour starts in June, and hits Dallas at the American Airlines Center on July 12. Enrique Iglesias was to be on the bill as well, but has reportedly dropped out already – just hours after the tour announcement. Perhaps two divas on a bill just wasn’t a good idea.

For those who missed GMA this morning, here’s some video of the concert as a preview of what to expect in July.

—  Rich Lopez