Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Quick Hits

Here's the latest on a few albums I've checked out recently. In alphabetical order.
  • Menomena - Friend and Foe. 2007. Like Of Montreal's piss-poor offering detailed in an earlier post, this was recommended by Pitchfork. Much like that album, it's got great packaging. At least here there are a couple of tracks that are interesting ("Muscle 'N Flow," "Wet & Nasty"), and it's well-produced. But it's by no stretch a "great" or even "very good" album. I'm starting to work up an opinion on what it is that Pitchfork likes these days, which has changed from where they were at a couple of years ago (and where I am still at, apparently). Maybe I'll even write about that soon.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-Back Pile 1.

  • On - Make Believe. 2002. The full extent of my musical man-crush on Ken Andrews (frontman for Failure and Year of the Rabbit) will become readily apparent over the next number of posts. This is the second album of what was essentially a solo project of his, On. Ken is a great producer as well as an excellent musician, and thus at the very least his stuff all sounds great. Ken also understands what type of music best suits his voice and plays to that dirty guitar sound, all the while keeping his indie pop sensibilities about him. This is a bit more electronica than his other offerings, and not what I'd consider his best stuff, but still better than most music out there. Check out the very nice cover of "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around."
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.

  • Scanners - Violence is Golden. 2006. Yet another winner from the "Under the Radar in '06" column. When I first heard the opening track ("Joy"), I was sure I had found a complete classic. While the rest of the album does not hit that high point, and repeated listens have not taken this album to a new level, this is still a very good album. Think The Yeah Yeah Yeah's with more traditional rock/pop structures. I will be buying their next album (whenever they release it) when it hits the stands -- this has lots of potential.
    Verdict: Recommended. CD Rack.
  • Shapes of Race Cars - Apocalypse Hurts EP. 2004. I ended up with this album in some "3 albums for $10" offer from CD Baby. This is the best of that lot. The first track, "Angry Books," is great -- nice 2-guitar interplay and oddly sung vocals that work very well. The rest? Extremely formulaic and generic, but what can you really expect for 3 bucks? It's not great when the cover of "Tainted Love" isn't worth keeping.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-back pile 1.
  • Ultravox - Systems of Romance. 1978, remastered in 2006. Think of this as the electronica cousin of Killing Joke's debut -- I think KJ fans will like this one as well. It really was ahead of its time. It's not as strong front-to-back as Killing Joke, but this is an excellent album in its own right.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.

- Snilch