Published on October 14th, 2012 | by greg0
A.C. Newman: Shut Down The Streets:: Review
There’s something to be said about growing older. After you surpass a certain age, you are no longer cool. There’s nothing that you can do about this, it’s a fact of life. The harder that you try to appear cool, the more you look like a clown. For example, twenty years ago I went to a show and saw what appeared to be a forty-something year old guy wearing a backpack and grunge-inspired clothes. At the time, my friends and I thought he looked ridiculous for even being at the show. We silently mocked this gentleman who was simply enjoying the music because he had the audacity to invade our territory with his old ways and for co-opting our youth culture. The reason for the anecdote is that karma has a funny way of resurfacing and now my once youthful friends and I are that backpacked guy. But how does aging affect musicians?
If you’re a lucky musician, you either age gracefully with a sizable back catalog or you can retire somewhere. If you’re not so lucky, you can either opt out of future career development by death or by being saddled by a mocking term such as fossil or Dad-Rock. The latest artist to become saddled with the term dad-rocker is A.C. Newman (Carl Newman) of The New Pornographers fame. His recent album, Shut Down The Streets is an album of mid-tempo pop numbers that covers weighty subjects such as getting older, having kids and the purpose of life. It’s possible that Newman is staying true to himself and writing about what he knows. However, if you’re a hipster, these topics are as dull as three day old dishwater and Newman might as well be writing about balancing his checkbook or investing in an IRA.
It doesn’t help Newman’s case that he favors gentle arrangements, (i.e. Troubadour, Do Your Own Time) over more rocking fare. “Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns” gets momentarily feisty but then Newman once again falls into his own groove. Newman’s brand of rock treads lightly while borrowing melodies and instrumentation from the Beach Boys and Beatles as he conjures these bits into inoffensive pop songs that merely tread water. You might remember a melody, but there’s really nothing here that demands heavy rotation on your hi-fi as Newman plays it safe as milk. And that’s ok, really, who wants to rock the boat at such an advanced age?