Just saw Cullen Omori's solo debut video of his new song "Cinnamon".
First impression: It's not rock n roll, not an immediate deal killer, but I am definitely prejudiced in favor of guitar-based rock, which is what his former band (with his brother on bass and Max on guitar) The Smith Westerns played.
Second impression: I don't like it that much.
I am reminded of The Morning Benders, from the same era as The Smith Westerns, who gave up guitars for synths, gave up rock for pop, and even changed their name to Pop Etc.... and the results were equally underwhelming.
I did like The Smith Westerns a lot. I heard the All Songs Considered crew rave about them and checked them out. I saw them perform a couple of times (see two videos I shot of them below) and thought they had great promise. They clearly had pop sensibility, but with a rock template. I'm not against pop (wow, almost did a typo here which pointed out to me that there's only one letter that separates "pop" from "poop") or other non-rock forms of music, but I favor rock and guitars, and it hurts to have someone switch teams like this. In the case of Pop Etc. (that ridiculous D'Angelo video they made still makes me cringe...) it seemed to be clearly a case of "going for the gold" (record). I can't blame artists for wanting to be heard and/or popular, but selling out "just" to have a hit is just plain wrong. An artist is supposed to challenge people, not cater to their whims. Look at the charts - guitars and rock are out, but our legacy is worth preserving and adding to, not just ditching it to make a few bucks.
Well, this is a bit harsh. I should wait for the whole album or tour to really condemn him, right?
Cullen's 2016 Tour
02-03 Indianapolis, IN - The Hi-Fi
02-04 Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
02-05 Champaign, IL - The Accord
03-24 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
03-25 Madison, WI - High Noon
03-26 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St. Entry
03-28 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
03-29 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
03-30 Boise, ID - Neurolux
04-01 Seattle, WA - Barboza
04-02 Vancouver, British Columbia - Fortune Sound Club
04-03 Portland, OR - Doug Fir
04-05 San Francisco, CA - The Independent
04-07 Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom
04-08 San Diego, CA - Casbah
04-09 Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar
04-11 Austin, TX - Stubb’s Jr
04-12 Dallas, TX - Prophet Bar
04-13 Houston, TX - Raven Tower
04-15 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
04-16 Nashville, TN - High Watt
04-17 Columbus, OH - The Basement
04-18 Washington, DC - DC9
04-19 Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle
04-21 Boston, MA - Great Scott
04-22 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
04-24 Toronto, Ontario - Horseshoe Tavern