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Weakest officcial rating for now; review in famous Pop Matters.

"In 1998, Neil Finn released his first solo album, Try Whistling This. The title was a reference to Finn’s reputation as a writer of unabashedly melodic songs. With Split Enz and then Crowded House, Finn was responsible for some of the most accomplished, McCartney-esque pop music of the 20th Century. But like McCartney before him, Finn had developed a complex. The very traits that made his music so timeless also left him open to criticism for being a syrupy lightweight. Try Whistling This was intentionally more opaque, but not necessarily the better for it.

So now, after reforming Crowded House for two albums which showcased a more sophisticated take on Finn’s traditional pop songcraft, is Finn feeling a bit guilty? Or did he just want to try something new? After more than 30 years in the industry, who could begrudge him the desire to form a garage band with his wife? That is what Finn has done with Pajama Club. Along with Neil and Sharon Finn, the band includes Kiwi musician Sean Donnelly and former Grates member Alana Skyring.

To be sure, Pajama Club does not sound like anything Neil Finn has released before. He is consciously trying to downplay nearly all the traits that have made him great. His smooth, sincere voice is buried in the mix and coated in distortion and reverb. He often metes out his lyrics in a monotone. He’s put himself on drums, probably because it’s the only instrument he is merely proficient at. And, while it is not devoid of hooks, Pajama Club clearly puts texture before melody. The all-around vibe is loose, prickly, and a bit trashy. It’s a bold move for someone of Finn’s stature, now in his fifties and with nothing left to prove. And, while far from an embarrassment, it’s not quite a success.

Anyone expecting Finn’s trademark sincerity, warmth, wit, and pop/rock expertise will be disappointed. But that’s not really the issue, because it would be naïve to expect Finn to form a new band to do the same thing he’s been doing for decades. The problem is that Pajama Club has very little to offer other than to prove that Finn can do edgy indie/garage if he wants to. If the sound is new to Finn, it’s not new to the world of indie music. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and in a more engaging fashion.

Pajama Club is the musical equivalent of one of those films where the cast all know each other and seem to have had a great time making it, but the actual product falls flat. Lead track “Tell Me What You Want” is actually fairly intriguing, as Finn mutters behind a thumping rhythm and buzzing, slicing synthesizers. The chorus is actually pretty catchy, but Sharon Finn just can’t pull off the Kim Gordon to Neil’s Thurston Moore. She simply comes across as too wide-eyed to be either as sexy or dirty as the song requires.

Granted, “Can’t Put It Down Until It Ends” benefits from a towering, overdriven organ and a danceable beat. “From a Friend to a Friend” is Pajama Club‘s best meeting point between the melodic and the atonal. Barbed guitar lines intertwine, a sound that would be melancholy were it not so emotionally distant. Then, a howling electric blast explodes over the chorus, as the Finns croon something about magic wands, before building to a multi-layered freakout coda of Radiohead proportions. Nice. “Dead Leg” exudes an almost shoegazey fuzziness. It’s telling, though, that the sadly atmospheric “TNT for Two” is the one song here that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Crowded House record and is also the best track.

Otherwise, there’s too much amateurish thumping of drums, too much distortion-for-distortion’s sake, too much unconvincing attitude in lines like “I’m a master / Of disaster.” On albums like Crowded House’s Together Alone and Finn Brothers’ eponymous release, Neil Finn has shown that he can stretch expectations and minds without putting his songcraft and heart out to pasture. Pajama Club is an admirable grab at a clean slate, but the price is just a little too high.

Rating: 5/10

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/r...ma-club-pajama-club/
This guy, John, also wrote reviews for last two albums, TOE and Intriguer. Altough I dont agree with his ratings (TOE and Intriguer was 7/10, I think, now 5/10 for PJC), I respect him as reviewer cause its obvious that he really goes deep down in the matter, unlike R. Cristgau for example. So, this guy made some observations about PJC I would go easily with it:

1. "The problem is that Pajama Club has very little to offer other than to prove that Finn can do edgy indie/garage if he wants to. If the sound is new to Finn, it’s not new to the world of indie music. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and in a more engaging fashion."

He tells it better than I would. And this would probably be my contibution to little debate beetwen Painaporo and someone (sory I didnt remeber who was it) about that was "Intriguer" more experimental or PJC. I could go with Painaporo that Intriguer wasnt too much experimental, and less than PJC (altough after TA the most experimental between CH records), but at least it wasnt experimental only for experimental sake like I also feel for PJC. And, ofcourse, PJC isnt something experimental on music field, as Intriguer also wasnt.

2. "It’s telling, though, that the sadly atmospheric “TNT for Two” is the one song here that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Crowded House record and is also the best track."

Definitely its the best track, altough its pretty subjective field.

3. "Otherwise, there’s too much amateurish thumping of drums, too much distortion-for-distortion’s sake, too much unconvincing attitude in lines like “I’m a master / Of disaster.”

Cant blame him for this; altough I noticed amaterish drumming only on "From a friend", but too much distortion for distortion sake- definitely. Too much shalow lyrics, and "wanna be badass" lyrics- definitely.
Belated mini-review from the Chicago Sun Times (one and a half our of four stars):

http://www.suntimes.com/entert...rbuds-this-week.html

Now that Neil Finn’s house isn’t so crowded — the kids, such as singer-songwriter Liam Finn, are grown and gone — he and wife Sharon found themselves staying up late a lot, drinking wine, and writing and recording songs. The resulting self-titled Pajama Club album (Lester) (★1/2 ) finds the perfect pop tunesmith trying on sultry grooves and foreboding textures with limited results. Most of this uneasy, out-of-element noodling isn’t worth staying up for, save the distant Split Enz shouts of “These Are Conditions” and the nearly complete melody of “From a Friend to a Friend.”
There is a hell of a lot of tall poppy syndrome going on in these reviews. A chance to have a go at Neil because of a whole heap of ageist assumptions about what artists in their 50s should be doing.

An objective listen to Pyjama Club reveals an album that has as much melodic strength as anything Neil has ever done but painted on a different canvas with stronger grooves than usual.

I rate it with his best work - Together Alone and FINN and with his brothers best post Split Enz work Feeding the Gods.

It is good I think, not to pigeonhole, genius.
quote:
Originally posted by titus:
There is a hell of a lot of tall poppy syndrome going on in these reviews. A chance to have a go at Neil because of a whole heap of ageist assumptions about what artists in their 50s should be doing.

An objective listen to Pyjama Club reveals an album that has as much melodic strength as anything Neil has ever done but painted on a different canvas with stronger grooves than usual.

I rate it with his best work - Together Alone and FINN and with his brothers best post Split Enz work Feeding the Gods.

It is good I think, not to pigeonhole, genius.


There is nothing wrong to have own opinion and taste, and I respect yours and I am glad for you to enjoy PC, cause I still cant. I wish to agree with you about critiszm of reviewers, but I simply cannot this time. I think that most of them are mostly wright when talking about that this PC is maybe something new for Neil, but nothing new in music gennerally. Also, many of them blame album for too much distorsion only for distorsion sake. I must agree with that; things that happening in FAFTAF, or These are conditions or Diamonds in your eyes in a way that these songs just wont end, or Neils voice is covered with some mud (vocoder), just arent something beautifull or highly inspired. Not to mention that Neils strongest weapon is melodic perfectionism and beautifull voice, which are here only in trails.

One thing more to notice; while in time of Intriguer was many fans who fought for Intriguer with reviewers when avarage review happened (in comments), today no such thing with PC. Maybe cause they think there is no point of that, but maybe also cause they think that PC isnt worth fighting for.
- average mark for reviews of Intriguer, as complied by Any Decent Music.com = 7.1/10

- as above for Pajama Club - 6.4/10

- not the chasm you're intimating, Mariola.

As I said earlier in this thread - a review is just another opinion; amongst fans I think more are in favour of Pajama Club than against.

A lot of us have done things in support of Pajama Club/Intriguer regardless of how much we like the individual project, e.g. :

- contacting webmasters to get bonus tracks put on a website so theyre available for all
- emailing radio stations to try & get airplay
- contacting PR/radio stations to get sessions arranged
- liaising with film directors for info.

(and that's just me Smiler Red Face))

For me, 5 months on, Pajama Club still sounds like a breath of fresh air and I can't wait to see the band again, hopefully at a club venue ASAP in 2012.
quote:
Originally posted by BART:
- average mark for reviews of Intriguer, as complied by Any Decent Music.com = 7.1/10

- as above for Pajama Club - 6.4/10

- not the chasm you're intimating, Mariola.


No, its not big difference, but nobody from reviewers, not anybody yet, declared PC as masterpiece. On the other hand, Intriguer was declared as masterpiece from more than few reviewers in and out of Metacritic and Any decent music; Times, Popblerd, Popdose, Iconfetch, croatian Sound guardian music site, and many more reviews with praises such as "close to the perfect".

Ofcourse, that all means nothing if you like or not like Intriguer or PC. Everybody got his own taste, and measure things with that. In my previous posts here I just admit that most of these reviewers who wasnt delightfull with PC are very specific in their critics, has almost the same issues with PC and thats why mostly objective. Happens to be that I feel the same from first listening of PC album till now, almost 40 times.


quote:
Originally posted by BART
As I said earlier in this thread - a review is just another opinion; amongst fans I think more are in favour of Pajama Club than against.


It seems like that, but you have to notice that many of fans who was very active in discussion about Intriguer, arent even here now, on this polls about PC. I dont know why; maybe they are bussy with something else, maybe they even didnt hear album, or just dont like it. Anyhow, you have almost "silent majority" out there.

quote:
Originally posted by BART
A lot of us have done things in support of Pajama Club/Intriguer regardless of how much we like the individual project, e.g. :

- contacting webmasters to get bonus tracks put on a website so theyre available for all
- emailing radio stations to try & get airplay
- contacting PR/radio stations to get sessions arranged
- liaising with film directors for info.

(and that's just me Smiler Red Face))


Same here, mate - emailing croatian radio stations to airplay PC, wrote reccomendation in national youth magazine, wrote few comments on some really not objective reviews...
(and that's me, too Smiler Red Face))
I don't understand where all the confusion is coming from. Crowded House released Intriguer and it was well done and consistent. The Pajama Club released their album and it's fresh, new, exciting, and interesting.

They're both very good albums but they have very different assets. It just so happens that the assets of the PC are the type of things that get people talking. Intriguer was just another well crafted piece of lush pop music from a band that always releases well crafted lush pop music. That's just not going to get anyone as excited as the PC.

Is it unfair that Neil doing something different gets more attention and praise than Neil doing what he's consistently great at? Perhaps, but I'm just happy to have ongoing active conversations on the forum to participate in!
quote:
Originally posted by Mariola:
you have to notice that many of fans who was very active in discussion about Intriguer, arent even here now


- not sure I agree with that; most of the recent threads on this board are about Pajama Club, & a lot of the same names keep cropping up

quote:
Originally posted by Mariola:

Same here, mate


....oh I was just listing my successes Big Grin


End of the day, Mariola, if you don't like Pajama Club, fine, a lot of people probably share your view. Equally a lot of Frenz are delighted that Neil is doing something new!
quote:
Originally posted by BART:
End of the day, Mariola, if you don't like Pajama Club, fine, a lot of people probably share your view. Equally a lot of Frenz are delighted that Neil is doing something new!


You are absolutely wright. Cheers!
PS. cant say I dont like PC, just dont like it as previous Neils works. If I dont like it all, I probably wouldnt listen it almost 40 times till now. Smiler
http://www.messandnoise.com/releases/2000967


Pajama Club
Pajama Club
11 Track, LP (2011, Lester Records)
Related: Crowded House, Neil Finn, Pajama Club.

It’s interesting to note how much music Neil and Tim Finn have made together over the last 30 years, simply because they’re such different artists. Tim with the talent, his songs twisting and turning in on themselves until they find their way to backhandedly logical conclusions; Neil with the technique, carefully crafting melodies that are as close as possible to perfection.

And while Tim’s work is harder to corner, Neil’s can sometimes be the trickier to get close to. His songs always seem to be climbing, reaching for something just out of reach – even on Crowded House classics such as ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ and ‘Better Be Home Soon’. A cut as pop-sprung as ‘She Will Have Her Way’, from Neil’s 1999 solo debut, Try Whistling This, still has about it a mathematical precision that makes it hard to truly engage with.

But on Pajama Club, Neil Finn proves that all it takes to lighten a man up is an honest life partner. A series of bedroom bash-outs on a variety of instruments between Neil and his wife Sharon – electronic musician Sean Donnelly and former Grates drummer Alana Skyring later joined the fold – have slowly morphed into this engagingly loose yet surprisingly impressive LP. Pop craftsmanship’s been set aside for off-kilter groove and driving bass, intricate vocals traded for paranoid, furtive deliveries.

First track ‘Tell Me What You Want’ strikes as an immediate departure. There’s not a guitar in sight, the shambolic beat breaking into a fuzzed-out, bass-driven chorus as Sharon coos breathlessly into both Neil’s and the listener’s ear. It’s effective at setting out the stall on this new project, but when you dig a little deeper into Pajama Club you begin to realise this lead single is really only the tip of the iceberg.



Pajama Club: These Are Conditions by lanewayfest



How far left the project is willing to go is better encapsulated on something like ‘Can’t Put It Down Until It Ends’. Built on a driving, percussive beat, the track features Johnny Marr on guitar but you’d hardly know it. This is all about pounding grooves and a fearsome chorus that sounds as though it’s sung through a harmonica mic, even if Neil’s verses gently scale about the place in a way not too dissimilar to his more recognised work.

Elsewhere, the album hews closely to its themes, with ‘Golden Child’ appropriately sitting in the middle of the playlist. Over a sparse, electronically coloured treatment, the Finns sing about letting go of their prodigiously talented offspring. It’s a beautiful moment – one of the highlights of the album – and it’s actually easy to imagine Neil and Sharon sitting about in their pyjamas, plucking instruments, drinking tea, and wondering where the **** all the kids have gone.

But it says a lot about Pajama Club that the very best moments echo the children who indirectly inspired the whole project. ‘From A Friend To A Friend’ and ‘TNT For Two’ could almost be lifted from Liam Finn’s FOMO, released earlier this year. The former’s tightly wound beat provides the most instinctively propulsive and exhilarating moment of the entire album, while the latter’s shaggy-dog strum is offset by a haunting treatment and a knee-weakening keyboard solo. ‘Diamonds In Her Eyes’ as a closer, meanwhile, shares a remarkable similarity in rambunctious spirit to Liam’s ‘Jump Your Bones’, both cuts being in the running for giddiest love song of the year.

There will be a temptation for the music industry, press and public to underestimate this record – if only because of the dubious nomenclature – but this deserves to be so much more than just an evening hit-out.

by Matt Shea
quote:
Originally posted by Paināporo:
Is it unfair that Neil doing something different gets more attention and praise than Neil doing what he's consistently great at? Perhaps, but I'm just happy to have ongoing active conversations on the forum to participate in!


I don't think that PJC has got more attention than Intriguer.

Intriguer are pulled a part and over analysed to a rather depressing degree on the CH forum, but despite that the conversation was interesting and at times great fun.

PJC by contrast has not been given the same level of scrutiny. Where are the threads publishing the lyrics and analysing what the songs mean?(yes I know I've done 2 but I'm the only one) and who is asking whether the lyrics are up to snuff (as Watney would say Wink)

On this one I have to agree with Mariola, there has been less scrutiny of PJC because there are less Frenz posting on it and those that are posting are largely so happy with the product they aren't giving it the same third degree Intriguer got.
Article from last Sunday's Times which someone has sent to me (have to post the entire article as link not available) :

Two's company

At a loose end one day, Crowded House’s Neil Finn decided to get funky — with his wife on bass. Result? A fine new band, Pajama Club
Mark Edwards Published: 27 November 2011

What do you do when the kids have grown up and left home? More pertinently, what do you do when you’ve sold millions of records as the front man of Crowded House, and the kids have grown up and left home?

Neil Finn’s answer was not to go on a world cruise with his wife, Sharon, but to form a band with her. Despite knowing that Sharon had never been in a band before — and, in fact, didn’t play any musical instruments.

Finn’s CV and his songwriting prowess mean he could have called pretty much any musician in the world, suggested a collaboration and expected a favourable response. So the decision to form a band with his non-musician wife is an intriguing career move. Especially as the briefest survey of the popular-music world tells us that asking your romantic partner to become your musical partner is a path that can be fraught with difficulties.

The two most famous, most successful, most influential rock stars of all time, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, both tried it, neither with especially successful results. We’re kinder to Yoko Ono these days than we used to be — in an era when the phrase “female singer” can conjure up PJ Harvey, or Björk, or Joanna Newsom, we have a greater appreciation of Ono’s talent, attitude and subject matter than we did back when the category was encompassed by Cilla Black and Petula Clark. Even so, it would be hard to argue against the proposition that the albums on which Lennon collaborated most closely with his wife are his weakest. And while McCartney’s decision to install Linda behind the keyboards in Wings might have made sense when it came to maintaining their relationship during periods of lengthy touring, it had no discernible musical merit.

A combined romantic/musical partnership can certainly flourish. Arcade Fire go from strength to strength fronted by the husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. But we tend to be more aware of the times when musical success came at the cost of the personal relationship. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox were a couple as members of the two-hit-wonders the Tourists, but split up romantically before they re-emerged as the hugely successful Eurythmics.

After years of torturing yourself searching for melodies, playing the drums seemed the perfect release

The hugely successful Fleetwood Mac are a band whose entire mythology — like many of their hits — is based firmly on the unhappiness and gradual dissolution of intra-band relationships between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and John and Christine McVie.

More recently, the musician Jack Gillis discovered his true musical voice when he asked his wife, Meg White, to try playing drums (and opted to take her last name). This musical epiphany, however, came at the cost of the relationship, and the couple had divorced by the time they gained any real commercial success. Mind you, just as with Fleetwood Mac, the complex relationship fuelled both their songs and their profile.

Clearly, then, combining a romantic and a musical relationship is, at the very least, hard work, and in many cases has proved impossible. So what made Neil and Sharon Finn decide to form a band?

The answer appears to be that they never did decide to form a band. They were just larking about — or, as Finn puts it in the vernacular of his Irish mother, “having a larrup” — in his music room. “It was late one evening, and we just discovered that it was enormously entertaining for us if I smashed the hell out of the drums while Sharon played bass,” he explains

What was Neil Finn, guitarist, singer and songwriter, doing behind the drums? Acting on the whim that they might enjoy playing music together, this was his answer to a fundamental problem: how does an accomplished musician play with a beginner in a way that both will find satisfying? His solution was effectively to make himself a beginner too, placing himself at the helm of an instrument he couldn’t really play so both he and Sharon would be stretched by the experience.

“It’s not strictly true to say that I’ve never played drums before,” Neil clarifies. “Once, about six years ago, at [the LA music venue] Largo, they had one of their improv sessions. Grant Lee Phillips was there, and Robyn Hitchcock. By the time I got onto the stage, all the other instruments had been taken, so I sat behind the drums. I did all right for a bit, but All You Need Is Love undid me.”

Finn enjoyed the experience, even if the Beatles’ psychedelic period proved a beat too far. “After years of torturing yourself searching for melodies, playing the drums seemed the perfect release,” he says. “It’s so involving — there’s no more fun to be had.” So, in search of an evening’s entertainment, Finn was drawn to the drums, while Sharon was attracted to the bass. “She’s a really good dancer,” Finn says. “She has great rhythm, and she plays the bass the way she dances — from the hips. Once she gets started, she’s a relentless groove machine.”

In fact, Finn’s attempt to level the playing field by choosing the drums may have tipped things slightly in Sharon’s favour. “To be honest, she looks poised on the bass, while I look fragile and vulnerable behind the drums,” he says, adding: “Sharon likes to see me in that state.”

Having enjoyed the evening together, the couple thought nothing more of their debut as a rhythm section. Yet Finn, in his usual guise of a songwriter searching for that flash of inspiration, had long since got into the habit of switching on a tape recorder the moment he walked into the music room. Realising, a few days later, that he had their larrup on tape, he listened to their efforts and realised that, as well as being tremendous fun, it had something.

He had been listening a lot to ESG, a funk band who emerged in the early 1980s with a captivatingly simple sound, and realised that — consciously or otherwise — he and Sharon had unearthed a similarly simple but hypnotic groove. “ESG made funk accessible in the same way that the punks made rock music accessible — they showed that you didn’t need brilliant musicianship to create something worthwhile,” Finn says. “Listening back to what we had done, I thought, ‘If we build on these tracks, perhaps we can create something worthwhile too.’ ESG gave us a benchmark to aim for that seemed achievable, even given our limitations.”

So Finn worked on the tracks, crafting melodies and lyrics on the top, and a new group — Pajama Club — was born. Their debut album, also called Pajama Club, is out now, and reveals music that is as much fun to listen to as it obviously was to make. Sharon anchors the songs with simple but infectious — and prominently mixed — bass lines, and Finn is entirely correct when he modestly affirms that the songs have “a certain sassiness — if a middle-aged couple from New Zealand can actually get sassy”.

Tracks such as the gently simmering Tell Me What You Want and the thumping These Are Conditions also have musical hooks that remind you Finn is as good a songwriter as you’re likely to find, whatever genre he’s playing in. That said, they’re very different songs from Weather with You or Don’t Dream It’s Over, because, as well as playing another instrument, he was using a different songwriting process.

“It’s the first time I’ve built songs from the rhythm up,” he says, “and I found it a really inspiring process — and, partly because the process was different, and partly because I knew that Sharon would be singing some of the lines, I think I’ve written things that I wouldn’t otherwise have written.”

As well as ESG, Pajama Club occasionally resemble Tom Tom Club. More surprisingly — on From a Friend to a Friend and Dead Leg — they even hint at David Bowie’s Scary Monsters sound. Add in the gorgeous pop of Can’t Put It Down Until It Ends and Pajama Club is an album that leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, we might get some more. “I think we have opened a door that remains open,” Finn says.

They’ve also opened a new door on their relationship. “From my perspective, I’ve seen Sharon go through a measure of anxiety and fear, but I’ve seen this wellspring of endurance and dedication kick in. And, musically, she’s primally connected to a great feel.

“From her perspective, she has a better understanding of what I go through. Previously — like everyone else, I’m sure — she’s assumed it’s a pretty self-indulgent way of making a living.”

And Finn now realises that the drummer in a band is having more fun than the tortured songwriter. Why confront your demons when you can just beat the hell out of them?     

Pajama Club is out now on Lester Records/EMI

- think we'll chalk that one up as a (more than) positive review, eh Mariola?
quote:
Originally posted by BART:
- think we'll chalk that one up as a (more than) positive review, eh Mariola?


Cheers, Bart, its always nice to read something positive about best musician ever being on this Earth. But, I dont think we can take this as some serious, objective review. Its more like some kind of interview with artist, with his own views on new album, and ofcourse some thoughts from writer. So, I think its far less objective review (if we even could call it that) from those on Metacritic or Any decent Music or many more others on music sites.

But, I salute your entusiasm for showing better perspectives for this album. I would probably do same thing for Intriguer. Smiler
Disagree.

Phrases like :

Pajama Club is an album that leaves you wanting more.

A fine new band

Pajama Club, is out now, and reveals music that is as much fun to listen to as it obviously was to make

Tracks such as the gently simmering Tell Me What You Want and the thumping These Are Conditions also have musical hooks that remind you Finn is as good a songwriter as you’re likely to find

(all comments from the interviewer) mean I regard this as a very good piece/review and the fact that it featured in last Sunday's UK Times
means it carries more weight and will have reached a far wider audience than on some obscure music site!

Case in point - the article was sent to me by my ex-manager @ work; who is 63 and a Times reader

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