Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Think You Have What You Owe

I can honestly say I wasn't really looking forward to this disc. Don't get me wrong, I've loved Low for pretty much forever. The shift from slow core to something more akin to actual rock around 2001's Things We Lost In the Fire, made me appreciate the band all over again (and Dinosaur Act is a classic). The Great Destroyer is an amazing album. Sparhawk and Co. rocking out is fine with me. However, a cursory listen to the first Retribution Gospel Choir disc didn't really grab me. And then seeing them open for mark kozelek at the varsity a year and a half ago crystallized the notion that RGC was sparhawk's guitar wanking outlet, lots of chord progressions and guitar histrionics, but not a lot of songs. So it was more whim and gift card that made me pick up RGC 2. or maybe it was the cool cover art; cool blue and white stacked up sheets of ice, and clear embossed band name.

Whatever the reason, turned out to be a good buy. Melodies rule the day here (Do I detect some nods to a 70's classic in Hide It Away?), with wanking kept well in hand. The guitars serve the songs, limited to nifty riffs and a few jamming solos, that don't get too carried away. Digging Hide It Away, Poor Man's Daughter and most Low-like tune here; Bless Us All. Even Electric Guitar (all 8 minutes) works for me. Not essential, by any means, but a fun layaway on the next Low disc.

A Fistful of Singles

rogue wave good morning: catchey, dancey; The future, oh-oh!
besnard lakes albatross: cocteau twins, MBV and sorta jesus (not so much mary chain) i miss them all (circa 1993)
ruby suns cranberry:somebody's been taking their daily animal collective (not complaining, just saying)
the knife colouring of pigeons: bran is good for you, but sugar is more fun. Let me digest a while and I'll get back to you.
she and him in the sun: not exactly making me excited for the new disc.
jj my way/let's go: I am a little intrigued. me thinks I should do a little digging. I bet they are easy to google (but not as fun to google as XX)
gorillaz stylo: maybe it's because I finally got my H1N1 flu shot, but this doesn't seem that infectious.
caribou odessa: I like the synth line, that's maybe about it. And cowbell? Really?
vampire qeekend californa english pt 2: this couldn't have been bundled with Contra instead of that stupid Toy Selectah Contramelt BS?
drive by truckers this fucking job: meh. Seems like a song with a title like this deserves more than this by the numbers tune.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Loose Inside the Shell

New National Album

New Arcade Fire and the National within weeks of each other? if only tomorrow were May....

and of course, this can only mean they would tour together......

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You Should Be....

i listened to the Bee Gees Greatest Hits Today. dunno what to say to that. other than i didn't skip a song.
also listened to beach house again (found it at cheapo, along with ANOTHER copy of the remastered Irish Heartbeat) and then some random, jump around compilations (just enough to hear the first verse and then the chorus, before i skip to the next song).

oh yeah, one more...but i'll hold off on comment on that one.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Dreamer's Only Dream

Lots of random listening lately:

Andy Gibb-Greatest Hits: Pretty fun stuff, even the non-hits are surprisingly tuneful. Time for an andy gibb re-assessment no doubt, but just keep his cds out of print, cos they make me money.

Cock Robin-st: Gonna pick the lock on it.

Marti Jones-Unsophisticated Time: Thanks so much for loaning me this album, buddy. I've been enjoying it a lot. Lonely Is (As Lonely Does), The Element Within Her (better than Elvis' own version) and of course, Follow You All Over the World. Wonderful. and now converted to cd. (and i had a ton of fun figuring out the new conversion software)

Spoon-Transference: the last three spoon albums are desert island discs all, so this one has some pretty big shoes to fill. Doesn't quite measure up to those classics, but apart from the single (Written in
Reverse), this is a pretty good disc. I really appreciate the spacious demo approach to the production. Lots of room in these songs for the sparse instrumentation and basic melodies to breath. I'm willing to let the songs work their magic on me. Mystery Zone is definitely an early highlight.

Hot Chip-One Life Stand: Apart from the last song (Take It In)everything on this disc is shite. Boring, aimless, and retried and tired. Very disappointing disc from a band I really enjoy.

Eels-End Times: Mark. Get your medication changed. Or your therapist. Or join a cult or something. Find some happiness, cos this whole working your issues out through music doesn't appear to be working.

Owen Pallet-Heartland: I should give this more time, but it's not working for me so far.

Yeasayer-Odd Blood: first song is an odd choice to lead off the album and it kinda drags to the end, but I'm liking it.

Beach House-Teen Dream
: Probably my second favorite of the new year so far. Not a dud track on this disc.

Midlake-The Courage of Others: This is not Van Occupanther. Where's the evocative lyrics and music? Where are the melodies that carried Van? All we have here is production and harmonies. Wasn't really looking for
a van squared (ok, maybe I was) but nothing on here is the equal of the least of that disc.

Shearwater-The Golden Archipelago
: wow. This is an ALBUM! Every song is perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly played, and perfectly placed on the disc. Deserves to be heart from start to finish. And then start to finish again. I'd write more extolling it's virtues, but I want to concentrate on listening again.

Dan Deacon-Bromst: I started listening to this disc wondering why it wasn't in my top ten for 2009. Build Voice, Paddling Ghost, Snookered (still can't get over the john cale like song structures), Woof, Woof; all such excellent songs. But by the end of the disc, I'm again reminded of why it just fell short. Too long, too repetitive. Get an editor dan. No song over 5 minutes, 9 songs tops. (save some material for dearly loved, but neglected b-sides). But keep making videos, cos that's some funny trippy stuff.

Crazy Heart Soundtrack: you sorta forget it's jeff bridges singing and just figure its some dusty country relic (kris kristofferson, merle haggard) having a rick rubin sponsored career renaissance ressurection rehabilitation. and who knew colin farell could sing? (i think i prefer the jeff versions of the songs as opposed to the Ryan Bingham sung tongs)

Real Estate-st: I thought Let's Rock the Beach was a seals and crofts cover. It isn't, but that's a decent enough starting point for this band.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Here Comes a Feeling, You Thought You’d Forgotten

Contra-Vampire Weekend
Contra, the second release from Vampire Weekend, shows no signs of an adolescent growth spurt. This is essentially the debut album redone, with slightly less returns. The polite poly-rhythms are still very much in abundance. Lightly lilted singing skates along the surface of the bouncing melodies. The volume never gets too loud (not even Cousins, the most revved up song in the lot, really lets loose) and emotions barely rise to the surface. Contra doesn’t seem so much like music for the backpack kids, as music for their parents. This is music NPR would be pleased to play and your grandmother would tolerate pleasantly. But when you produce such and effervescent and joyous debut (successful and with much blog love) what band (other than Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah) would be so Contra as to blow up the formula?

Formula you ask? Yes, I say. Power Pop, indie style. That’s Vampire Weekend. Verse, chorus, verse with the occasional bridge. Oh, they can dress it up in a bunch of secondhand sounds and repeated rhythms, South Africa via bowie, byrne and simon (the musical holy trinity of cultural pilfering) substituting the world for 3 guitar chords, but when you get down to it, it’s power pop.

And in that vein, there’s plenty to enjoy on this disc. If I was guessing, I’d bet someone could easily put 6 to 7 songs from this disc on their Ipod. Horchata is finally growing on me, after leaving me cold through the first listens. White Sky and Holiday are standard fare for the band, but their propulsive beats and catchy melodies more than make up for the “been there, done that” feel. The auto-tuning gone berserk wink of California English is worth a smile or two. Taxi Cab is very nice stylistic change halfway through the album, witha nice melody, a little more feeling in the lyrics and burbling synth and piano lines driving the song along.

The second half lags a bit. I love Cousins and wish the album took off from that point, but Run doesn’t really. Giving Up the Gun has an interesting beginning and chorus, but could use a little tightening up (one two many bridges to cross and I’m not really looking for extended musical interludes from VW). I could do without Diplomat’s Son. It goes on for too long and doesn’t even get started by the time it ends, but I’ll give them a nod just for stretching it out a bit. For me though, the highlight of the album is the closer, I Think UR a Contra. It’s a gem of a melody, slowed down, stripped down and ornamented with off kilter instrumentation. Personal and emotional, it smartly stakes out the spaces within the transitory political and social posturing of privilege against the hopes and desires of a relationship. Play and replay. And become very curious about the next album, after the fame and fortune and backlash have subsided.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So I'm Counting on Your Fingers

Various Artistes-Dark Was the Night:I was wracking my brain for weeks trying to place the song that plays during the opening scenes of THE BLIND SIDE. Then I finally got serious about it and consulted the web. Of course it was familiar, it was The Cello Song (a cover of a nick drake song) by The Books and José González. I'm ashamed. Made me dig out Dark was the Night, another charity collection benefiting the red hot organization.

It's for a good cause. It's got names. And some pretty big indie names. And I appreciate that a lot of people got involved, but maybe too much of a good thing. There's really only one disc of worthwhile songs scattered across the two discs. The rest of the two discs is filled with generic/archetypical offerings and then a handful of bottom of the barrel, probably put together on a bender all nighter just for the cause. I love the National tune (of course) am disappointed by the Grizzly Bear and MMJ songs, expected more from Stuart Murdoch and really wish Cat Power would go away (i'll never get it, i suppose)

I'm most partial to Bon Iver's Brackett, Wi. When we were kids, we'd sell calves at an auction house down by Brackett. It was so exciting to get up early and load the calves and then drive down through the big city (Eau Claire) to the stockyard south of there. My brother and I would watch excitedly as they'd unload the calves and then grandpa would pull the pickup around front. We'd enter the building as big shots, Joe and I, all proud that we had calves to sell. Sometimes we'd get bored with the action on the auction floor and we'd dare the catwalks over the cattle pens. 30 feet above with no net, and when the catwalk was wooden, it was really exciting. And of course, there was always cherry pie in the cafeteria for lunch. Funny how a song title can strike such a chord.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dedicated to Glam

Not much today, too many meetings so no listen time at work. VW comments forthcoming, need on more car listen before i commit.

Icehouse-Great Southern Land:Strange little collection of icehouse "hits." I guess I could quibble with the song selection and song order (am I the only one who likes chronological compilations?) , but other than we can get together, none of Iva's stuff got any airplay up my way anyway. Fun to give this a listen and time to pull out the debut and primitive man again (how can glam not be on here? Or not my kind? Ah well).
Gossip-Music for Men: music for all more like. I can't listen to love long distance without thinking of dolly parton fronting a punk band (tell me it doesn't have a 9 to 5 vibe), but the association is a positive one, musically and spiritually. Lots and lots of production polish, but it works. Top ten contender from 2009 for sure.
Swan Lake-Enemy Mine: Prolific, these guys are, no? And maybe a little musically promiscuous. I mean, you have your new pornographers, your destroyer, your wolf parade, frog eyes, sunset rubdown, your bars, your temples, your massage parlours. How many more musical outlets do these dudes need? And yet,Swan Lake still feels like a separate and viable musical entity. This one has a nifty Bowie vibe, circa stardust, providing a solid spine for these musings on mortality and relationships (I guess, I can never really tell what Dan Bejar is writing about, much less what planet Spencer Krug is on) There are still a few proggy touches I could do without (not to mention a tendency to kitchen sink the songs), but still it's a good spin. Plus, this has to be the best recycled use of an 80's movie title ever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Have Reduced Emissions by 35%

Catching up on some spins:
Super Furry Animals-Darker Days:Light Years: On permanent replay. What higher praise can be provided? “The streets of your homes will never feel a recession” A really nice return to form after the disappointing Hey Venus
Pissed Jeans-King of Jeans: Why isn’t indie more belligerent and bellicose? Seems like a great idea to me. I’m not asking for Helloween or Slayer, but still....
Tegan & Sara-Sainthood: Everything’s here, but something’s still missing.
Great Lakes Swimmers-Lost Channels: Fading. Into. The. Ether......
Heavy-House that Dirt Built: Fun blast of irony free retro rock and soul. A little muscle shoals, a little james brown, a little black sabbath, a little bob marley (???!!!) all wrapped up in some great melodies and solid production. The music never transcends the influences, but a good rock out is always welcome.
Department of Eagles-Whitey on the Moon UK: Man, for as much as I love Grizzly Bear (and In Ear Park), there’s very little on here that stands out for me. Training wheels for sure and even then the bike flops over regularly.
Rancid-Let the Dominoes Fall: My soda tastes a little funny. Did they tweak the formula or was it that Throwback Dew I had yesterday, throwing off my tastebuds. Infinitesimal I know, but something’s not right. (But never fear, i’ll finish the can and Last One to Die is a great song.)
Sufjan Stevens/Osso-Run Rabbit Run: Fell asleep in the tub with this playing. No judgment, just fact.
Silversun Pickups-Swoon: Oh, so that’s what happened to the smashing pumpkins. No wait, that’s not fair. “I’ll tell you perfectly clear, There’s no secrets this year.” This is pretty fun stuff and there’s nothing wrong with being derivative. Radiohead made a career out of it.
Shout Out Out Out Out-Reintergration Time: Correction. THIS is my private disco party music. Big fat synths and urgent beats, find me a dance floor and disco ball NOW. Bad Choices was playing just as I heard the news about Mark Mcqwire’s steroid admission.

A couple nice pickups over the weekend (the system broke down big time, but at least nothing was lost)
John Kilzer-Memory in the Making
Gary Numan-Sacrifice

Slow sales last week, but a couple big ticket items moved:
Department of Eagles-Whitey on the Moon UK

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obsessed with Operation

Tunes for Today

Weezer-Ratitude: Dumb as hell, and the faux metal and hip hop posing is as cringe worthy as you’d think. But who could expect more than that from Weezer at this point. A tune or two had me smiling. So there’s that at least.

Yacht-See Mystery Lights
: No, it’s MY own personal disco party!

Rain Machine: Nice to see Kyp Malone get away from the Dave Sitek/TV on the Radio sound on this one. Some interesting production choices have been made here, almost singer songwriter/freak folk. The lyrics are introspective and personal, without being Alanis confessional. Just wish he’d had a little stronger melodies on which to hang his thoughts.

Andrew Bird-Noble Beast (and Useless Beasts): Should have found space for this in the top ten. Bird is easy to take for granted because of the high quality of his work. When the bar is that high, it’s hard to differentiate between albums. Sometimes that gets mistaken for homogeneity, but my bad, especially when his last album (Armchair Apocrypha) is one of my all time faves. But this one has it all; compelling and memorable lyrics, some intriguing themes, tight pop melodies (a hallmark of his), and of course, spacious, intricate and brilliant arrangements and playing. Even the whistling works. A wizard, a true genius.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Turnin' (Movie) Music into Gold

My music picking recently turned up a copy of the Young Frankenstein soundtrack on cd (One Way Record-They have some great reissues). I almost passed on it, even though it was 5.95. Only real reason I picked it up is because someone LOVES that movie and I thought he’d dig the disc. When I got home, I did a little research and found that it was out of print and people were asking for some pretty outrageous prices online. I did a full disclosure and got permission to flip the “gift.” Got me thinking about movie soundtracks and what might be OOP and worth picking.

Came up with a decent wish list of movie soundtracks, most desirable of which (from a flipping perspective) are listed below:

- Dolly. Sly Stallone. How could this not be worth big bucks?
Watership Down- My hometown library (Hi Mrs. Svee) had this on LP ages ago. I’m sure I was the only one checking it out. And it just wasn’t for the great Art Garfunkel song, Bright Eyes.
Young Einstein-Yahoo Serious. Whatever happened to....
Chinatown-I’ve never seen this movie.
Electric Horseman-Willie Nelson music.
Cat’s Don’t Dance-Randy Newman music. and cats. and dancin’
Electric Bugaloo 2- I’m sure this is unlistenable, but still....
Wild Bunch-Hard to believe this is out of print
Muppet Treasure Island- Looks like all the muppet movie soundtracks are out of print at present
U-571-Same guy who did the In Treatment music
Sword in the Stone-I’m pretty sure this has never seen cd release, but the LP is fetching some nice prices
FairyTale-I loved this movie, although i’ll admit to not remembering a bit of the music.
The ‘Burbs-This Jerry Goldsmith guy, he seems to be the bomb.

After I compiled this list, I happened across a list Melloy created a couple of years ago. Maybe I should read his spreadsheets more closely.

Caveat: I haven’t flipped the YF soundtrack, so who knows how firm the demand (price) is.

Tunes for Today:
God Help the Girl: His Majesty’s Muses. Pretty good for a one shot, but Isobel’s shadow is cast long.
Gomez-A New Tide: Hard to believe this is the same band that did Bring It On, but it’s pleasant enough radio ready music (as long as your radio isn’t too current)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs-It’s Blitz: By far their best ep. (And I could easily go GF Dead following their live shows)
Wilco-The Album: R.I.P. Jay Bennett. It might have been painful for all involved, but Wilco used to be something special when Jay was in the band. Now Jeff puts out albums like this; nothing awful, certainly very listenable and better than a lot of the alt indie country out there. But where is that american aquarium drinker brilliance? “C’mon children, you’re acting like children?” The rat signifies obviousness. “Cheer up, honey, I hope you can.”
Portugal. The Man: The Satanic Satanist: Heavenly

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter's Cold, It's Too Much to Handle

So sad, back at work. But at least I have
some prime music listening time whilst I catch up with
email and worklists.

np: vampire weekend-contra courtesy of greenshoelace
first listen. too soon to comment (but i really dig Taxi Cab already)

but here are some i can comment on:

Empire of the Sun-I know, it's only indie music, but I like it
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-vs children: twee. Painfully.
The whole "I can make music" schtick is getting old. Shine. Rose. Off. Worn.
Black Moth Super Rainbow-eating us: daft punk trip hop.
Sunset Rubdown-Dragonslayer: (everything about sunset rubdown and swan lake
and wolf parade should not work for me.....grating vocals, proggish song structures,
indie aspirations, diffuse melodies.... and yet everytime i put one of these cds in,
i ask myself why i don't listen to it expection here.
i don't know why it works given my aesthetic, but it does)
Death cab for cutie-open door ep (it's what we do and we do it
well...for about one more album anyway)
Depeche Mode-Sounds of the Universe (definitely not my number 2.
funny that there is a song on here called Perfect. Formulaic would be
a more appropriate song title. This disc is uninspired, repetitive,
and entirely too long. The second listen was unwarranted.
This is exhibit A in defense of pre-screening music.
Too bad there are no returns on cds.
Enjoy the silence. Mope on your own. Avoid this.)

Oh yeah, and here are the memorable shows from 2009:

Passion pit-triple rock (pogo baby, pogo....a year of great shows but this
was the most fun i've had at a show in pretty damn near forever)
Grizzly bear-cedar cultural center (caught this show two hours after a
flight back from decide)
Phoenix-Varsity (the sweat, the sweat)
National-first avenue (I wish someone would have brought a camera)
White lies/friendly fires-triple rock (shawn gets his groove on!)
Mates of state/black kids-varsity (pretty sure MoS did the same show
as last time, even with new songs,but the kids are ALRIGHT!...still a
little embarrassed for taking a header over a stairs)
Leonard cohen-orpheum (legend....wait for it.....)
Handsome furs-seventh street entry (sexy hot and hard rock and roll...
and I was in bed before 1 am on a school night ...supercool)
Metric-first avenue (we got stadium love!)
Animal Collective-first avenue (I'm still feeling like something was missing,
but it was pretty darn fun)

Worst show of the year:
Peter, Bjorn and John-Fine Line (PB&J were ok, but chairlift were obnoxious
and I nearly got trampled by overserved stage crashers)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Being the First, the One, the Party Started

Check, Check. Is this thing still on?

NP: Brother Ali, US

Leftovers first.

My humble selections from 2009.

1. Grizzly Bear Vekatimest
2. David Bazan Curse Your Branches
3. Animal Collective Meriweather Post Pavilion
4. Passion Pit Manners
5. Handsome Furs Face Control
6. Metric Fantasies
7. Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca
8. Neko Case Middle Cyclone
9. Islands Vapours
10. Veils Sun Gangs

Singles (no particular order, the man can't hold me to 10, and suffer my indifferent punctuation/capitalization):

there are ten or twelve, ac newman
loaded, the idle hands
feel a whole lot better, brendan benson
young adult friction, pains of being pure at heart
lust for life, girls
1901, phoenix
11th dimension, julian casablancas
harold t hawkins...., fanfarlo
my love, the bird and the bee
song away, hockey
last dance, raveonettes
death, white lies
i wonder who we are, the clientele
hysteric, yyys
doomsday, elvis perkins (slow doomsday too, but space limited)
airport surroundings, loney, dear
the strangers, st. vincent
snookered, dan deacon
walkabout atlas sound ft. panda bear
love of an orchestra, noah and the whale

New/Old Bidness (too early for 2010 music other than illicits, but more on that later, eh):

it's cold, i was out late last night, (but not that late) so mostly just lazing on the couch. book, football (on mute) and music. random scatterlistenings as follows:

Miike Snow-definitely worth a few more rotations
Grant Hart, Hot Wax-unremarkable, oh where oh where has my husker gone?
Calvin Harris, Ready for the Weekend-i feel ya, shore i do. why no love for this?
Phish, Joy-blind taste test. i passed. it failed. not sure even drugs would help this hopelessly boring stuff
Dinosaur Jr, Farm. nothing new under the sun, but i guess there's nothing wrong with the grunge equivalent of vaudeville
REM, Christmas Songs. thanks man, for the listen. i will always keep the candle burning in the window.
Kurt Vile, Childish Prodigy. This is growing on me, no one song jumps out, but still, i play and maybe play again.

Still working on giving 2009 releases one last appraisal before the 2010 stuff starts to hit.

Groovy Sale Day. Sold a rare Church import (Sing Songs) for a $40 profit. nice. Jane's Addiction box (Cabinet of Curiousities) and an Essential Squeeze collection also flipped. Guess there were some dollars left after Christmas and a night of festivities.

No cheapo run today. But at least i updated the ledger, if not the amazon account (i still can't believe i spent $50 on a greg kihn cd)