Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Music Pride. Here's Proof. I Promise.

One correction from last post: Ken points out (with video evidence, no less!) that XTC actually has made a handful of live appearances since 1982, as part of an acoustic radio tour in 1989 and also making sporadic TV appearances, such as this one on Late Night with David Letterman. (In the first clip, that's Andy Partridge who looks like a cross between Bob Mould and Freddie Mercury; in the second, that's him with the top hat).

Conclusion: I still like my story better, with the downside being that it's not true. Details, details... thanks, Ken.

Here's a whole bunch of crap I've been listening to. (And yes, I am working on your mix CD's.) In alphabetical order:
  • James Dean Bradfield – The Great Western (2006). The lead singer from The Manic Street Preachers gives us one great song (“That’s No Way to Tell a Lie”) and a bunch of innocuous ones. Pick up the song on iTunes; the album is only for the MSP completist.
    Sell-back Pile 1.

  • Love of Diagrams – Mosaic (2007). Their EP was first profiled here. This is a very solid album by a band that has a great sound at a young age and a ton of potential. My worry is that this first album is a little too polished, if you know what I mean. “Form and Function” is a great example: it’s a great leadoff track, it’s nicely produced – it’s a great song. But it’s a little too slick for its own good. That isn’t to say that should deter you from picking it up – I’m just being cranky and taking it out on Love of Diagrams. This album is absolutely great: poppy, guitar-driven, mid-to-uptempo indie rock. Somehow I hear a cross of INXS, Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Dresden Dolls, Pylon, and Rainer Maria, if that makes any sense. (Not much does make sense in this review, come to think of it.) Bottom line: I really like this album and will definitely check out their next one. This one is one of my new favorites.
    Highly recommended. Car CD Changer.

  • New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playground (2007). I saw the video for “The Bomb” on MTV2’s Subterranean and was hooked. And you probably know one of the songs – “Ice Cream” was all over TV as a commercial. They’re young, it’s danceable, it rocks! I could play “The Bomb” all day every day. Really good guitar-synth-girl singer pop, although not really a complete album. You can tell they have a great album in them… as long as they avoid input from the A&R people.
    Recommended, especially if you like bands like CSS. (I won’t name names… Andrew.) Portable CD Case.

  • Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (2006). This is actually getting more airplay now, I believe, than when it was released two years ago. I really like these guys –- this is an excellent indie rock album, IMHO. But what really sold me on the band was watching a live clip of “Lazy Eye” on MTV2, which is much more fierce than the studio version. If they can channel a little of that energy into a studio album… now THAT would be something. Think Kill Hannah meets Built to Spill. Excellent album.
    Highly recommended. Car CD Changer.

  • Sum 41 – Half Hour of Power (2000). When I mentioned Sean was a fan of these guys in this post this post, he corrected me -- he tells me he was actually into Green Day. And The Spice Girls. Seriously. No, seriously, I can’t make this stuff up, and I wouldn’t say that about anybody if it weren’t true (not even Sean). This is a decent album, but like All Killer No Filler, it’s a bit saccharine-ey. Sweet taste but not filling. So Sean – sorry for the incorrect attribution. (P.S. Scott was under the same impression I was about you liking Sum 41. So I blame you.)
    Verdict: Not recommended. Neither are The Spice Girls. “Peaches” Pile/Pile of Death.

  • Squirrel Bait – Squirrel Bait (1985). This was one of two albums these Louisville, KY teens released before Peter Searcy went out to do his own things and the rest of the band formed Slint. Musically, it’s punk-ish and pop-like. “When I Fall” is the best of a decent group of songs. I’ll keep it as a historical document.
    CD Rack.

  • Linda Thompson – Versatile Heart (2007). Linda Thompson returned in 2002 with Fashionably Late, her first record in 17 years, which was remarkable as she had finally recovered from hysterical dysphonia, which is essentially a psychological condition that resulted in her inability to sing, and thus had completely halted her career. She followed that album (which was fine but not really remarkable) with this one in 2007. Most famous as the second half of the “Richard and Linda Thompson” duo, her voice is still amazing, but this album does not do it for me.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Pile of Death.

  • Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior (2007). The other half of the duo. Richard Thompson has tended to have had one monumental album each decade (Shoot Out the Lights in the 80’s and Mock Tudor in the 90’s), and decent to excellent albums in between. This falls into the former category. “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” was an absolute scorcher live, and when you understand that “Dad” is slang for “Bagdad,” you realize that this song has a lot going on. "I'll Never Give It Up" and "Johnny's Far Away" are classic RT songs. “Needle and Thread” is also a keeper. On the other hand, there a bunch of tracks I’m on the fence about. It’s not a bad album -- I just have plenty of other excellent albums by Sir Richard I’d rather go back and listen to.
    Verdict: Enjoyable for RT fans. Otherwise, buy yourself Mock Tudor or the gold disc of Shoot Out the Lights (which really is worth the extra $$$). CD Rack.

  • Year of the Rabbit – Year of the Rabbit (2003). When I hinted here at my musical man-crush on Ken Andrews, who know it would take 10 months to actually follow up on it? (Hmmm… you don’t seem surprised.) Year of the Rabbit (like On, which was reviewed in the above link) is another band for Ken Andrews after the breakup of my all-time faves, Failure. This album is not terribly complicated, but I really enjoy it. “Rabbit Hole” is a great leadoff track and Ken follows up with great song after great song: "Last Defense," "Absent Stars," "Vaporize, and "Hunted" are highlights for me too. (Yes, I just referred to almost half the album as “highlights.”) A little heavier and grungier than Failure, it’s eminently enjoyable. There is a unified “sound” to this album that is great. Not a bad song in the bunch; I wish they had done another album together.
    Verdict: Recommended. Car CD Changer.

- Snilch

No comments: