Moroccan Role: Ryan Adams - "Two" & "Halloween Head"

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ryan Adams - "Two" & "Halloween Head"

Ryan Adams's upcoming album Easy Tiger is due June 26th. A couple of days ago, two tracks from the album made their way onto the intertubes. These tracks were featured on an exclusive promo only CD alongside a "mini-greatest hits" collection of older Ryan Adams tracks. While "Two" fares much better than the more rockish "Halloween Head", I have to say that I am less than overwhelmed by these tunes. "Two" is a mid-tempo alt-country number with nice lyrics ("Well my money's no good, when I'm up to no good") and features tasteful backing vocals from Sheryl Crow. There is a undercurrent of resignation throughout the song and Ryan is letting a lover know that he is willing to sacrifice, as "it takes two when it used to take one". The song is mostly true to the live versions, but feels a bit short at 2 minutes 38 seconds. "Halloween Head" sounds like a Rock n Roll B-side and suffers from the tossed-off feel and lazy-ass lyrics that plagued tunes like "Wish You Were Here" from that album. Here are two examples of the offending lyrical atrocities: "It's all the same old shit again, I've got a Halloween Head" and "What the fuck's wrong with me, God I'm a Halloween Head". Seriously? He even shouts "guitar solo!" before the simple, effect pedal-heavy "guitar" lead, for christsakes. Why? When many of your critics are quick to point out that your version of rock and roll is sometimes cartoonish (denim jackets, American flags, etc.) and prone to posturing, why even bait them with this type of shit. With that said, Ryan's vocal performance is actually pretty excellent if you can get over the crap that comes with it.

While I'm disappointed with "Halloween Head" and a bit indifferent towards "Two", I still have a feeling that Easy Tiger will be strong. This is based on the strength of live versions of the material and the early reviews of the album. Filter Magazine gave Easy Tiger an 86%, calling the album "focused and fortified", "the real deal", and said it would "likely be adored by many". In an album "preview" that pretty much reads as a review, Rollingstone similarly gushed about the album. But, they also referred to "Halloween Head" as a "great track", so that doesn't bode incredibly well. Still, I've been a fan of Ryan for years and get excited about every release. It's just unfortunate I had to hear a clunker like "Halloween Head" before the presumably numerous better tracks on the album.

Stream the tunes:





Here's a previously recorded version of a good tune (from the Suicide Handbook sessions) that will appear on Easy Tiger-->
MP3:Ryan Adams - "Off Broadway"

Download/listen to live versions of many of the tracks on Easy Tiger: Here.

Watch a sweet video of Ryan and the Cardinals performing the excellent tune which will be the opener on Easy Tiger, "Goodnight Rose": Here.

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22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when i think of a duet with sheryl crow, I think of kid rock..and that just displeases me.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto about Sheryl Crow, even though she is still kinda hot. Anyhow, I saw Ryan do some songs in Philly May 15th. Albeit short, "Halloween Head" blew me away. He was starting to loose me, and I too have been a fan since Whiskeytown. But, these songs are kick ass.

1:47 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

Hey, there's no way Stephen King can be wrong, right? If he thinks it's Ryan's best, it must be. And I actually REALLY like "Two," but I do share your thoughts on the abrupt length of it and your opinion of "Halloween Head." Hell, it's not even his best song with "Halloween" in the title.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

brad-- you're completely right about the "Halloween" Love is Hell B-side being far superior to "Halloween Head". I still have high hopes for Easy Tiger...let's cross our fingers, shall we?

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that a kind-of resignation comes through in a lot of tracks on the new album - along with a lot of shorter tracks. "Everybody Knows" and "Two" are very good, short tracks that clock in around 2:30. I suspect they might be targeted for radio, but Ryan's always faced the problem of not fitting into mainstream pop or country...so we'll see.

I disagree with your assessment of "Halloween Head." I think "Rock 'N Roll" was essentially a joke/half-assed record he put out so Lost Highway would release "Love Is Hell," so any comparison to R&R doesn't really fit. And I'd simply say "Halloween Head" is musically a break from all that resignation, and "cartoonish" aspects like DA shouting for a guitar solo are simply him having some fun (albeit in a song about how f-ed up he is). Nevertheless, thanks for the post and tracks - keep up the good work.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm really digging "Halloween Head" (complete with it's cheesy '80's call for the guitar solo). It's an accessible rocker that may win RA some new fans. As for "Two," I think it is absolutely gorgeous and I love the fact that it's short, direct and to the point. Thank God this already sounds better than "29"

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only person in the world that liked Rock n Roll? And yes, I've been down since Whiskeytown.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Download "Two" and "Everybody Knows" here:

http://www.spinner.com/2007/05/29/free-mp3-two-and-everybody-knows-by-ryan-adams/

11:24 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

...or download both of those songs and "Halloween Head": HERE.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, those mp3s are 2-minute clips.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

yeah, i realize that these are 2 and a half minute clips...the post was quite clear about that...but they are the very same versions that Spinner and every other blog posted...I'm simply letting people know you can also hear a snippet from "Halloween Head" there too...

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan never seizes to amaze me. I can honestly say that I pretty much think every single one of his albums is brilliant, 29 included. I actually think 29 is a masterpeice. As far as Halloweenhead, I think it's one of the best songs off Easy Tiger. I love Everybody Knows and Rip Off also, but Halloweenhead is a nice rockin' break from the rest of the slower, more low-key songs. I just got tickets for Red Rocks Aug. 3rd and can NOT wait!!!!!!!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think "two" is actually a well written layered song...on the top is the love takes 2 thing and then you have this drug/pill addiction undercurrent---kinda of like GNR's Mr. Brownstone (it used to take a little but a little got more and more). I also agree with the previous comment--- 29 was genius.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

It's a great album all around, and Adams reinforces his ability to be a musical chameleon. I'll be seeing him play with the Cardinals in Minneapolis tonight and am nearly pissing my pants in anticipation. I won't go on to wax poetic about Easy Tiger because everyone and their dog seems to be taking care of that. I will offer a few words on Rock n Roll, however: what you're not realizing, Matt, is that the "tossed-off feel and lazy-ass lyrics" are basically intended posturing. It's that cheekiness that makes the album awesome in my book. The guy named the album "Rock n Roll" for fuck sake! His rock n roll is cartoonish because he draws it that way. Do you honestly think someone who has penned some pretty amazing lyrics (insert your own examples here—a few of mine are Sweet Carolina, How do you Keep Love Alive?, Life is Beautiful, Goodnight Rose...) would write the words to HalloweenHead or Shallow or This is It in earnest? I absolutely think it's intentional and like him even more for making great songs out of campy lyrics... Anyway, I felt compelled to soapbox there for a bit because I think you may be missing the point, particularly in regards to his Rock n Roll.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Brian, you make a number of valid points. I truly appreciate those with divergent opinions who comment intelligently and respectfully. I've been a Ryan fan for years and the very name of this blog is evidence of that. The point of my argument was simply that, intended posturing or not, I believe Ryan is too talented to employ these types of devices in his songwriting. I was in the camp that actually enjoys Rock n Roll on some levels, but when an artist capable of writing the type of incredible songs you mentioned above pens tunes that feel intentionally lazy or sub-par considering their talents, it inevitably leaves me disappointed. Obviously this is simply a matter of taste and everyone has their preferences.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats wrong with halloween head its a good song thats got a catchy chours and why do all the lyrics have to make sense why can't they just be fun. i mean halloween head you think he was trying to change the world when he wrote that or tyring to have a song thats fun to play live.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

"Halloween Head" lyrics are those of a recovering junkie, aren't they? In that context, they carry some weight. And by rapping them in a catchy tune, adams has made a much better song than you give him credit for.

Shouting "guitar solo?" Some say it's corny. I say it's cool.

roachbom

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Realize that the man recently quit heroin and speed cold turkey.... listen to the lyrics of "I taught myself how to grow old" and "Halloweenhead" "The sun also sets" and "Two" again. By the way I'm pretty sure that "it takes two and it used to take one" is referring to a drug tolerance that he most likely developed and not a relationship. Simply put, you're an idiot.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous ann said...

"Simply put", these songs are just not very good.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoa, nice one!

12:06 AM  
Blogger tahdzilla said...

Halloween Head rocks. It's got weird lyrics, a catchy chord progression and totally rings sincere.

I can listen to that song over and over and over again...

Although I will admit the "guitar solo" call beckons a bit more guitar virtuosity. I'm not sure if he was making a statement ("drug use impairs my ability to wail") or if he was just being cheeky, but the song would have been improved by 32% had he gone off on a kick ass solo.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous cheap cialis said...

ryan adams two & halloween head


a joke/half-assed record he put out so Lost Highway would release "Love Is Hell," so any comparison to R&R doesn't really fit. And I'd simply say "Halloween Head" is musically a break from all that resignation

7:15 AM  

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