Monday, August 13, 2007

Quick Hits - The Losers List

There's nothing like 25+ hours in a car over a long weekend to help separate the wheat from the chaff in your CD collection. While there were a bunch of nice surprises to pass the time, the following made the trip seem even longer -- avoid them. In alphabetical order:

  • Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell (2007). It's not bad, it's just not good either. It's exactly like all of their other albums since The Grey Race. They are still angry, which helps, but they're also old.
    Verdict: Pile of death.
  • The Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia... (2006). Their 2nd album falls into the category of "you have a lifetime to write your first album, and one year to write your second." The vocals sound great. The drums sound great. The piano sounds great. They just don't seem like they belong in the same song most of the time. The lyrics feel like they're an attempt to top the quirkiness of the first album. I still love these guys despite this.
    Verdict: Pile of death.
  • Enuff Z'Nuff - Live (1998). You may be surprised that I own 3 albums by this group, and that I believe they are quite good as a band. Not so much in this live recording, however.
    Verdict: Pile of death.
  • The Happy Accidents Soundtrack (2001). I had thought this was a "Dusty Trails exclusive" soundtrack, but they actually only are responsible for 3 of the 14 tracks. There are only 3 tracks worth keeping (wanna guess which ones?). Dusty Trails is/was Josephine Wiggs (bassist for The Breeders) and Vivian Trimble (keyboardist for Luscious Jackson). They only released 1 full album, which they called a "soundtrack album without a film." These are the last 3 songs released commercially from a very promising band that just faded away.
    Verdict: Sell-back pile 1.
  • Grant-Lee Phillips - nineteeneighties (2006). I love the era. I love cover albums. And Phillips is enigmatic but occasionally brilliant, which seems like the recipe for at least limited success. Surprisingly, he takes 11 songs and covers every one the exact same way. It's terrible. I figured there'd be at least 1 song worth keeping, but that must have been my unbridled optimism.
    Verdict: Pile of death.
  • The Rogers Sisters - The Invisible Deck (2006). I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was certainly something better than this. Once I heard "The Clock," I was filled with a homicidal rage, which I was forced to quell with the soothing sounds of Motorhead. Seriously, one of the worst songs I've ever heard. That was it for this album, although there were a couple of songs worth keeping.
    Verdict: Sell-back pile 1.
  • Van Gogh's Daughter - Shove (1995). It's always a bad sign when the one song you know from the album turns out to be a mix of a bad album track. The album is generic and pretty bland. The video was cool back in the day...
    Verdict: Pile of death.
We'll have news from some of the better albums in the coming days.

- Snilch

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Baby Ray - Low Rises (2005)

All right, all right. This album is dated 2005 and the band is no longer together. And I've actually been listening to mixes of the thing for three years.

As you may have figured out, I have no qualms about any of this. Low Rises is an excellent album by one of my all-time favorite local (Boston) bands.

If you don't know Baby Ray, think an XTC/Guided by Voices 2-guitar attack with a great rhythm section. Primary songwriters and guitarists Eric Groat and Ken Lafler switch off on vocals as well.

It's a shame that the band broke up after Low Rises -- as much as I loved Monkeypuzzle, Do I Love America and Demonstration, I think this album is their best. The whole album is a nice combination of their pop melodic sense with complex arrangements. My personal highlights include "Superbitch," "The Idiots are Out," "Red Flags," "Rocket-O," "I Look, There You Are," "You Could Go to College" -- who am I kidding, except for one song, the whole album is absolutely great.

I'd encourage you to check them out: here is where you should buy the album. This band is not going gold from sales anytime soon, so just suck it up and get the damn thing. It'll make Ken happy and help put his kid through college.

Merch rating: My commemorative T-shirt and mug combination is apparently on back-order, although the action figures just came in yesterday. I'd obviously go see them if they ever played again. And of course if I didn't already own the album, I'd be buying it here.

CD Placement rating: This goes into the Portable CD Case, but it has spent time in the past in the Car CD changer. So go buy it already!