Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Music, 2007-2008 - Part 1

I'm sure most people want to know what new music I'm listening to -- that's usually what they ask me about as a starter. To be honest, I've done a pretty piss-poor job of spelling that out lately; so I'm going to make up for it and play catch-up with a bunch of albums from 2007 and 2008.

I'd like to make one general comment before beginning: the radio is terrible, and the current state of music is extremely pedestrian. There is a little voice in my head that keeps saying, "Guitar music is done, something else is next," but I can't see what or who that might be. This has been an incredibly stagnant decade for pretty much all forms of music, and thus nothing I'm going to review over the next few posts is revolutionary by any means. There is a lot of good music out there, just not the next Nirvana or My Bloody Valentine.

That being said... I've heard a lot of very good music this year, so I really shouldn't complain. Yet I still do. Ah, poor Mrs. Snilch Report...

In alphabetical order:
  • The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (2007). Now when I asked for any thoughts on this album last year, what I got back was resounding silence. So when I saw the album cheap, I figured I would give it a shot. This album is very good; it's just that their first (Funeral) was epic. And this is not. If you've never heard Funeral, it's similar to listening to U2's October without hearing Boy: on its own, it's a very good album; when compared with Boy, its warts begin to show. A couple of classic songs, but I'll pick up Funeral again nine times out of ten over this one.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.

  • Battles - Mirrored (2007). At times this sounds like a demented version of Jesus Christ Superstar; other times it sounds like Mars Volta. In either case it's a highly pleasing cacophony of sound.
    Verdict: Recommended. CD Rack.

  • The Big Sleep - Sleep Forever (2008). At that start, it appears this is album plodding and full of itself; the first three songs are instrumental. By the time the album hits track 5, the brilliant "Pinkies," it's apparent that this is more of a single thought stretched over the glorious map of an album. There's a wistfulness and an epic quality to their ambitions as a group that come through -- a little shoegazer, a little prog rock, and even a little stoner rock. (Okay, light stoner rock.) A little slow at times, and it feels longer than it really is, but still... Winner. Winner. Winner.
    Verdict: Recommended. Car CD Changer.

  • British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music? (2008). Album #3 from this English band, still trying to measure up to their impressive debut album from 2003, The Decline of British Sea Power. I like this album but it overstays its welcome a tad. It sounds very familiar, very safe, very 80's -- it's very "pleasant" music. Probably would be perfect to impress your new potential girlfriend or boyfriend that you're hip, while safe (i.e., not living in your mother's basement planning horrible revenge on people who wronged you in the fifth grade). Great for doing dishes or playing in the background while you're doing something else. I know it sounds like I'm damning this album with faint praise -- I like it more than that. Sort of. How about this: I'm glad I bought it.
    Verdict: Recommended. CD Rack.

  • M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008). After the bomb that was Digital Shades Volume 1, I honestly wasn't sure whether M83 would ever touch the heights of Before the Dawn Healed Us. This one is not quite there, but it's a step in the right direction. This has a depth and a vibe to it that DSV1 did not; I don't like primarily keyboard music unless it can capture a spacey/dreamy aspect while having at least a slight edge. This does. I will still be enjoying this in ten years.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.

  • Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08 (2008). This is a CD compilation of a series of limited edition 7"s released by Matador this year. If you don't know his work... well, let's just say Jay Reatard amuses me -- he writes bent pop songs. Great disc but definitely not for everyone. Generally pretty simple musically and lyrically; think Andrew W.K. with more wit and musical chops. He's mid-tempo indie/pop/punk rock... tough to absolutely classify, which is reason #212 I like him.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.

  • Teddy Thompson - A Piece of What You Need (2008). This is Teddy's third album (fourth if you count his album of country covers), and his best one yet. The only son of Richard and Linda Thompson, this album sees Teddy sounding absolutely confident, and surprisingly establishing his identity as a crooner. Think Eric Matthews meets Jens Lekman. Not my kind of music but my kind of album. I find myself shocked that he's progressed this far in such a short period of time. It's nice to hear him find his voice and his own identity outside of his famous folks.
    Verdict: Recommended. Almost CD Changer worthy, but ends up in the Portable CD Case.

  • The Thalia Zedek Band - Liars and Prayers (2008). Thalia Zedek has been fronting bands in Boston since the late '70's, including Uzi and Come, and I've always felt I should like her stuff on principle... but it's never happened. This album is where I can happily meet her halfway. Sounding like Courtney Love in about another ten years of serious smoking, minus the haughtiness, Zedek has a lot more life in her. Musically, it's a standard three piece plus a viola and a piano, which sound great. Vocally, she goes for it as well -- she's got the voice of wisdom combined with the earnestness of youth. The small complaint I'd lodge would be that there is not much variation from song to song musically; but, in the end, I still feel this is an under the radar, great sounding album.
    Verdict: Recommended. Portable CD Case.
Wow... uniformly positive. How did that happen?

- Snilch

No comments: