Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick Hits - The Undecided List, Part 2

The genesis of this, once again, was 25+ hours in a car, which was followed up on with an additional 12 hours on a subsequent trip. Again, these ones are out of the mix for getting into the car, as they didn’t grab me the first time there. Make sense?

In alphabetical order:
  • Gabby Glaser - Gimmie Splash (2007). As detailed here, I've always been a big fan of Gabby Glaser of Luscious Jackson fame, but was quite puzzled that neither she nor songwriting partner Jill Cunniff had released anything since the band broke up. Then they both release solo debuts the same year. Very odd. This album has the groove of Luscious Jackson, but it's oddly detached and thus falls short. This one hangs on for grim death at the very end of my CD Rack, but only because of her history with LJ. Maybe it will eventually grow on me.
    Verdict: Blah. CD Rack.

  • Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike (2005). Allmusic.com describes this group as "combining elements of punk, gypsy music, and Brecht-ian cabaret," which is better than how I would have summed them up. Pat turned me on to this band after seeing them play a screaming live show. This album is a trip... just all over the place. These people are truly nuts. I think I need to see them live to make a better determination as to what they are all about... the album itself is just tough to completely fathom. Who am I kidding, they are completely and wonderfully warped. How's that for a review?
    Verdict: Undecided but intrigued. Use this to scare unwanted Republicans away from your house. Portable CD Case as I have to give it more listens (clearly).
  • Grizzly Bear - Friends EP (2007). I got into these guys when I heard a partial clip of their fantastically sparse cover of Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which still has not been officially released to my dismay (and while I'm at it: Cat Power, please release your cover of "Hanging on the Telephone" as well). This is very sparse, delicate at times, but well-crafted and interesting. This is nice music... very mellow but never boring.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.
  • Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (2006). I make it a point not to review albums by the same band in the same post, but I goofed here. When writing the above review for Friends, I thought I was listening to Yellow House, which I discovered as I attempted to put the Friends CD in a case that was already full. This turns out to be a solid but unspectacular full-length of originals. Oddly I prefer Friends, which consists of 2 new songs, 5 alternate versions of songs they've previously released, and 3 covers of their songs by other bands (including CSS). I know this review is supposed to be about Yellow House right now, but Friends has much more to talk about. Go figure.
    Verdict: I'd listen to Friends first, but this is not bad. CD Rack.
  • Jesu - Conqueror (2006). There's not much I can say about this one -- it is so good it's scary. The 2-CD version (with "Sundown" and "Sunrise") really makes this a complete album, although when I bought this version I could only find it as an import. It's worth the extra expense. Think My Bloody Valentine at 2/3 speed. Really cool stuff, it just doesn't play in the car. Absolutely one of my favorite albums from the last 2 years. It's droney, plodding, and deliberate in a great way. I love this one.
    Verdict: Just beautiful. Portable CD Case.
  • Mia - Kala (2007). The musicality of this one can't be denied -- but as it's not quite as silly as Mu or as dense as later De La Soul, I've had problems painting this one into its proper corner. Today I've decided to be optimistic. It's a little hip-hop, a little (very little) dance, and a little old-school rap. I have to say hearing the lyrics to "Where is My Mind" by The Pixies re-done as a monotone, synthesized chorus in "20 Dollar" took some getting used to, but I'm coming around to it. "XR2" is a great play on "Shake Your Rump," complete with cash register and gun firing sound effects -- I've decided to be amused rather than disturbed by this, and to treat this as an ironic and not damning social commentary at the moment. Overall, I need to listen to this more, but for the moment I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
    Verdict: Recommended if you like the genre. Portable CD Case (for research purposes).
  • Motörhead - No Sleep 'til Hammersmith (1981, re-mastered version released in 2001). I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest you're unlikely to find any music source that is willing to go from Jesu to Mia to Motörhead in the same breath and pretend it still can be taken seriously. Fortunately, I have no such aspirations. I'd never listened to Motörhead in my life until about 6 months ago, which apparently is some type of crazy hole in my musical life. This live album would be great for Motörhead freaks... not for me, though. Probably not for you either, eh?
    Verdict: Sell-back 1.
  • The Screaming Blue Messiahs - BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert (1988). My friend Liz gave me some tapes with a bunch of odds and ends from early '80's Boston radio on it -- and what really stuck was The Screaming Blue Messiahs. Apparently known for their "hit" "I Wanna Be a Flinstone" (news to me), this group mysteriously just stopped in the late '80's before they ever got big, with no real explanation. Finding their albums is like trying to find breadcrumbs in a forest of pigeons. But I tracked this down and I must say that I'm happy I did. They are a country/blues band sped up, and thus very pleasing. Frontman Bill Carter gets on my nerves slightly with his over the top, almost evangelical, delivery, but his guitar playing is topnotch. As everything comes in 3's, think of him visually as the younger brother of Bob Mould and Frank Black -- and "once described as 'the ugliest man in rock!'" That quote (and the exclamation point) are from the album liner notes. 'Nuff said.
    Verdict: Recommended if you can find it. Portable CD Case.
  • Peter Searcy - Trust Falls (2005). This is the Squirrel Bait frontman's 3rd solo effort, following 2000's somewhat lackluster Could You Please and Thank You and 2004's breakthrough Couch Songs. This one doesn't measure up to the acoustic Couch Songs, which is odd for me as this is more rock and I tend to stray towards the heavier stuff. Peter constantly straddles the line between pure pop/rock excellence and pure pop/rock sappiness, and here he mostly verges towards the latter. Which is too bad -- he needs a bit more sneer. I wonder if his follow-up (2007's Spark) is better... but you'll just have to wait on that for another day.
    Verdict: Not recommended. CD Rack in case I have a change of heart later.
  • Social Distortion - Prison Bound (1988). I got into these guys late in the game, but 1990's Social Distortion and 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell are about as good as you'll ever hear in back-to-back albums. This album got high marks too, but it's not in that class. A little more raw, a little less defined, but you can hear where they were going. Something like "Lawless" is rough, but they are laying the foundation melodically towards a couple of great albums.
    Verdict: Recommended for Social D fans, but only after buying those other 2 albums. CD Rack.
  • Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler (2001). My friend Sean was into these guys and thus I gave them a shot. Well, 7 years later, but better late than never, right? I think he was actually referring to their debut, Half Hour of Power, but I could be wrong. This was enjoyable but a little dated to listen to, surprisingly. I just could not get into it. We'll give Half Hour a shot, though.
    Verdict: Sell-back pile 1.
- Snilch

No comments: