Last-minute gig planning: Paul Weller, cranky and cranking out tunes
Old man crankiness has a way of warming my heart. Paul Weller's "Wake Up the Nation" is a record full of sharp quips, nasty turns of direction and a general sense of ADD-like restlessness. There's plenty of bile, but this is bitterness at its most charming, such as when the 30-plus-year rock vet is snarling that you need to "get your face off the Facebook." It's the little, everyday annoyances getting under Weller's skin, and with 16 tracks clocking in at about 40 minutes, "Wake Up the Nation" captures the sound of blowing off steam.
It's not all perfect. At times, the minute-and-a-half snippets feel more like fragments than actual songs, and one can get whiplash from the album's jerks from '60s rock 'n' roll to Goblin-like horror film viciousness to cheery, baroque psychedelics. But bless the fact that Weller is still hungry, and no one can question whether the onetime leader of the Jam and Style Council still has hellraising passion. Just watch "Fast Cars, Slow Traffic" above. With its scruffy guitars, deranged keyboards and rhythm that sounds as if it's sputtering out, Weller turns crabbiness into something quite glorious.
He's in Los Angeles Wednesday for a gig at the Wiltern (3790 Wilshire Blvd). Tickets start at $33.50, not including surcharges, and are still available.
-- Todd Martens