Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
With his creative light hidden firmly under a bushel, Chris Knox continues to bake up fresh and flaky pastry from the scratchiest of scratch. Better known as the prolific songwriting half of New Zealand's magnificent and m... more »
With his creative light hidden firmly under a bushel, Chris Knox continues to bake up fresh and flaky pastry from the scratchiest of scratch. Better known as the prolific songwriting half of New Zealand's magnificent and messy Tall Dwarfs, Knox positively drips with the kind of hooks, melodies, and daft-smart lyrics that most pop hacks would trade a body part for. On Yes!!, his sixth solo venture, Knox has stepped up the production from his usual, whacked-out, low-fi chicanery toward a slightly higher plain where his guitar is mostly tuned and the percussion is less spasmodic. Among the hipster contingent, Knox is a songwriting pharaoh, rubbing elbows with revisionist pop-hoppers like Robert Pollard or Lou Barlow, and this time it sounds as if he wants to let a few more people into the fan club. Not that this is at all a polished affair (he plays everything except the bagpipes), but Knox's voice flows through the mix with more clarity and less clutter. His lyrical mindset is still tuned to the comic and frightening misadventures between man and woman, like "Uncoupled" a bulls-eye jab at the transitory nature of being in, and out of, love. Yet even his simplest observations shake with universal significance: "We're just potential/a sub-atomic dance/you know there is no pattern/just randomness and chance" ("The Uncertain Principle"); "This may be the time of your life/so take it and live it completely/you don't get to do it all twice" ("Penultimatum"). As a summation of his underappreciated brilliance, Knox naturally puts everything into perspective: "I don't have a heart of gold/I don't have a silver tongue/all I have is flesh and blood to give/I don't want a life of fame/I don't want enormous wealth/All I want is somewhere I can live." Well said. Pay the man, you Philistines. --John Chandler
Starts strongly, gets winded, crashes fatally
John L Murphy | Los Angeles | 10/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's a platitude that Knox's albums, with or without a Tall Dwarf, defy easy distinction given their uniformly high ratio of successes to clunkers. "Yes" starts out on the first five songs in typically strong fashion. I keep hearing Robyn Hitchcock here, which can be frustrating, for he and Knox are nearly exactly parallel in their ages, career-lengths, and influences from earlier music. So, Knox is, I emphasize, not imitating RH or vice-versa. But if you like one, you'd probably like the other.
Knox is as intelligent as Hitchcock but tries less to be clever or whimsical; Knox's delivery tends towards the thoughtful rather than the surreal. This collection leans towards a dense guitar sound recalling Phil Manzanera's processed contributions to early Eno/Roxy Music. Combined with less of a Beatle (both Paul and John) fixation that for me has weakened his songcraft, the emphasis more on early 70s art-rock, from the same roots Hitchcock has shared and expanded, makes for a more focused, intense delivery. The bagpipes on Pibroch work well, and such experimentation adds to the usual accomplished range Knox shows.
The rest of the album's less inspired, but moves along well enough. He sounds happier here--I guess the reason for the record's title--than on other efforts, judging from the lyrics and slightly sunnier style. Predictably if not panderingly, there is the requisite nod to Brian Wilson on one song. The end, however, of track 14 degenerates after an extended silence back into a quarter-hour of goofing around in the studio which does the rest of the album no credit, and lessens the earlier maturity. You know, dealing with Knox's records, that some silliness threatens on the margins, but it shouldn't be allowed to invade the center of the art he frames otherwise nicely here."