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Adam Green: Gemstones

Adam Green: Gemstones

Label:Rough Trade
Release Date:2005

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 5/4/2005

What a difference four years make. Four years ago, 18-year-old Adam Green and ex-baby sitter/partner-in-rhyme Kimya Dawson were gearing up to release their self-titled debut as smut-smearing, anti-folk duo the Moldy Peaches. Three years ago, as the NYC-based crit-darlings basked in subfame, they fast-forwarded into solo adventures. While Dawson’s fragile, bedroom twee blossomed into produced protest twee, Green’s daffy muse brought him to Jessica Simpson’s attention, the oft-published conclusion that the Peaches are on “indefinite hiatus,” and the glib travesty that Gemstones is.

To be fair, Green and his band are proficient at writing amiable, aw-shucks shoulda-been standards that would have Grandad’s fave crooners creaming—the Vegas swizzle-twinkle of “Carolina,” the show-tune patter of “Choke on a Cock,” the roadhouse ivory-smushing of “Crackhouse Blues” and “Teddy Boys.” Green’s voice has deepened to the point where he can slip comfortably into the leisure and rhinestone suits on display here. It’s the lyrics that suck the magic out of Gemstones. Observations of the potty-mouth and random varieties that served Green well before sound totally incongruous now. When not placing products or dropping names—why rhyme Fabrizio Moretti with Dostoevsky?—Green is working hard to make you puke. “Oh her lips taste/ Just like sunk ships/ But her breasts taste/ Just like breakfast,” he brags on “Carolina,” before adding, “Here’s her hand now/ On the cock-sock/ Filled with white tears/ From the thrift store.” Earlier, he was “mopping up stains from a blood transfusion” and sagely observing “she’s a showoff/ Xanax, Zoloft.” In these circumstances, even a rare, sincere ballad like “Country Road” becomes suspect in its intentions, and you kinda wish Green had made this a Probot-style, invite-the-elders-to-sing affair.

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