With the recession and all, the days of music writers' snail mail boxes getting stuffed daily with press kits is pretty much over. Most labels and publicists send private download links these days, which is actually an excellent idea. Promo CDs are just going to get put on a music media geek's iPod or computer anyways, and it saves all the envelope-tearing and physical sorting on the receiver's end. Plus, of course, it's green and all that.
The occasional CD still arrives in real-life form, though, but because the majors and large indies have all gone digital, what usually arrives is from the realm of, well, super-indies. Or, more often, from the realm of WTF?
As such, we bring you a new feature, Mailbox Horrors, examining the strangest, funniest, or most embarrassing nuggets sent over to Crossfade HQ. We'll consider e-mail submissions, too, if they arrive bearing a particularly awkward idea or piece of artwork. If you've seen a particularly horrendous or lulz-worthy new release, feel free to e-mail us some info -- that counts as a mailbox arrival for our purposes.
Hit the jump for this week's "winners."
This Week's Most Awkward Overall Concept For An Album: A Boy Named Blue: The Bluegrass Tribute to the Goo Goo Dolls, featuring Iron Horse
It's a punchline that barely needs a joke around it. One Crossfade contributor previously encountered Iron Horse while trying to download some Modest Mouse, instead mistakenly grabbing Iron Horse's Pickin' on Modest Mouse tribute album. Seems the Killeen, Alabama group has given similar treatment to Ozzy Osbourne, the Shins, even Black Label Society. Sounds like a funny novelty act for jam-band festivals, right? So why choose the Goo Goo Dolls next?
Bluegrass seems to be one of those much-abused genres like reggae -- the unscrupulous take the most obvious characteristics of the style and slap it onto a cover for novelty factor. A Boy Named Blue is like Iron Horse's bluegrass answer to the reggae-abuse work that is Dub Side of the Moon. The most excellent part is that the CD is dead-ass earnest about the whole thing. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough already getting caught listening to "Iris," here it becomes a mournful, even slower ballad -- with banjo!
Verdict: Good musicianship, regrettable idea.
This Week's Most Awkward Album Art: AZ Kenny Tsak, 56 Deluxe: Like I Do
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Just ignore, for a minute, the artist's confusing pseudonym and album title. Just check out the photos accompanying this locally produced disc. A scene of scantily clad white chicks posed provocatively around a guy in a loud paisley shirt really screams classic blues, doesn't it?
No? But what about the addition of the album's title in an amazing Star-Trek-meets-Tron font, coupled with a spiffy drop shadow? Still no? You would have to actually put in this CD to discover it's a competent collection of guitar-driven, bar-friendly blues rock by a local guy. But to do that, you'd have to get around its terribly misguided Rock of Love-style packaging.
This guy must have a chunk of change to himself, or at least some wealthy friends and family -- how many self-released South Florida CDs do you see that list not only the artist himself as "executive producer," but also two "co-producers" and an "associate producer?" And of course, one problem with being wealthy is that nobody ever tells you your ideas are perhaps ripe for criticism by the grizzled, more cash-poor cynics out there. Or that naming a song "My Tastee Cake" is a little creepy, considering your overall image.
Verdict: Fine music for swaying drunkenly in a Broward bar... But next time, AZ Kenny, for the photo shoot, hire one less Eastern European woman who "loves watersports" (hey, that's what it says on your web site). Use the leftover cash for a better stylist and graphic designer.