“The Answer EP”
UNKLE career is like a roller-coaster for me, lots of ups and lots of downs. My love/hate relationship is due to their inconsistent quality of their musical output, which is in turn due to James Lavelle’s lack of consistent band members. Record to record, James is the only steady member. Their first record, “Psyence Fiction”, which he made with the help of DJ Shadow is their most popular. Most likely you remember the car-wrecking bum video for “Rabbit In Your Headlight” featuring Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame. It’s kinda hard to forget. While I like moments on that first UNKLE record, there are also moments on it that make me cringe (aka the song with Mike D, Badly Drawn Boy & Kool G Rap) from second hand embarrassment.
UNKLE – “Rabbit In Your Headlights”
It wasn’t until the hip-hip oriented DJ Shadow was replaced with the rock n’ roller Richard File and UNKLE released their second album “Never, Never, Land” that I really started to pay attention and consider myself a fan. The guests on this record included Stone Roses -> Ian Brown and Mani (on my favorite song “Reign”), Queens Of The Stoneage’s Josh Homme, Brian Eno & always charming Jarvis Cocker. It’s a good record but it’s nowhere near as good as what came next with their third album (and second with Richard File on board). They were warming up and getting familiar with each other on this one, what would happen next would be light years ahead of this.
UNKLE – “Reign”
The Chris Goss produced “War Stories” is where UNKLE peaked, it’s a near perfect record that tastefully mixes rock with danceable beats. The all-star guests list reads like this: Ian Astbury (of The Cult), Josh Homme, The Duke Spirit (who soon after Goss produce their record), Autolux, 3D, Gavin Clark, Lee Gorton and even Goss himself. If you don’t own this record, I can’t recommend it enough. Buy it.
UNKLE – “Hold My Hand”
UNKLE – “Burn My Shadow”
UNKLE – “Restless #1″
UNKLE – “Restless #2″
Anyways, long story short Richard File was fired from the band (rumor is that it was over a girl) and soon after that it was announced James would release “More Stories” (B-Sides Compilation), “End Titles… Stories for Film” & “End Titles… Redux” (all of which seemed to take b-sides or scraps from File-”War Stories”-era Unkle and rehash them) under the name UNKLE. There was a lot of filler on these record but I liked a few tracks here and there. “Heaven” stuck out as a nice jam but overall it was crystal clear that the band was in a creative lull now that they were without Richard. I couldn’t wait for fresh, brand new full length.
UNKLE – “Heaven”
I got excited this year when UNKLE announced that James had a new partner in music-making named “Pablo Clements” and that they had recorded a new album “Where Did the Night Fall”. But I was let down HARD when I heard it because aside from the song “Natural Selection” (featuring The Black Angels) the record sounded like even UNKLE couldn’t do UNKLE anymore. It was a completely confused and sad attempt at an UNKLE record and made obvious that Richard File (who just produced the new record from The Duke Spirit which will come out in 2011) was missed very much. I was sad that one of my favorite band was possibly over.
UNKLE- “Natural Selection”
Which is why when the band gave away The Answer EP to their fans a few months later, I really gave it a chance and listened with open ears. I even got the slickly designed limited gate-fold double LP in the mail (I just noticed they are selling it for a whooping $45 on their website!!! Anyone wanna buy mine?), which has zero text on it aside. What I’m trying to say is at least it looks cool!
Here’s by track by track blow by blow review of UNKLE’s The Answer EP:
01. The Answer (ft. Big In Japan – Baltimore)
Prolly the best song on the EP, this could have fit very nicely on “War Stories”. I have no idea who Big In Japan are but if they could continue to help James not suck donkey dicks I’d really appreciate that. You guys cool with that Big In Japan?
MP3: UNKLE – “The Answer”
02. Separate Half (ft. Lumerians with Rebecca Coseboom)
At first listen I was sure this was another UNKLE collaboration with LA’s industry darlings Autolux, I’d know Eugene’s voice anywhere I though! But once again I was wrong, this isn’t Autolux and that’s not Eugene singing! It’s some chick named Rebecca Coseboom with some band I’ve never heard of called Lumerians and it’s real mediocre. They’re losing me here.
03. Country Tune (ft. Gavin Clark)
I remember Gavin from “War Stories”. “Country Tune” doesn’t sound country at all. It sounds exactly like what it prolly is, an unfinished scrap from some other UNKLE record. At first I thought my record player was on the wrong speed, but NOPE that’s how James wanted this one to sound. Bummer. Yawn!
04. The Runaway: Lupe’s Revenge (Lupe Fiasco vs UNKLE Reconstruction)
By the time this track rolled around and “Lupe” started rapping, I knew things were NOT going the way I wanted them to. Hey James, it’s 2010 and not only are you white but you’re BRITISH! You have as much business being in the hip hop world as I do in the professional football league. Fuck it, next year I’m trying out for running back for the Los Angeles Raiders!
05. Follow Me Down (ft. Sleepy Sun) (Tim Goldsworthy Remix)
Oh now the dude who ruined The Rapture & brought us LCD Soundsystem (which I’m pretty sure stands for Lowest Common Denominator Soundsystem) is back? Yeah this dude had something to do with the first UNKLE record. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess it was the part that sucked cuz this song should get the Lars’ Dad treatment with DELETE!
06. Heavy Drug (Reprise)
Only six tracks long yet seeing as how I only liked the first one it felt like sixty tracks long. This last one blows too. Dear James Lavelle, call up Richard File and put all that bullshit behind you. You guys need to make some good music together cuz this current UNKLE isn’t working for me. Come on man, drop th ego and pick up the phone. Love,
Travis Michael Keller
Axl feels the same way I do James. He’s skullfuckin’ you bro.