Friday, December 19, 2008

Year-End Roundup, Part 1

My goal: to get through all of my outstanding CD reviews before the end of the year. Here's part one of three.
  • Big Wheel - Slowtown (1993). Peter Searcy's first post-Squirrel Bait project. This band is simply not edgy enough for Peter's voice; it has potential to be much better but unfortunately is not. Too much sickly sweetness throughout. I'll take a few tracks and call it a day.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-back Pile 1.

  • Eric Matthews - It's Heavy in Here (1995). I went out and found Eric Matthews' 1997 album The Lateness of the Hour, which I find to be absolutely fantastic. It's Heavy in Here is the (allegedly) breakout debut, which is well crafted, low tempo, orchestral, crooner pop. It's a great offering, but at the moment I'm really stuck thinking the second album is better, which might be due solely to the order I listened to the two albums. After this album, he stuck his head in the sand until 2005, and has released three albums since -- any Matthews fans here listened to them? The reviews were not great so I've shied away.
    Verdict: Still processing, but recommended. Despite the hesitation, it's good enough to hit the Portable CD Case.

  • Me'Shell Ndegéocello - Peace Beyond Passion (1996). Eh.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-back Pile 1.

  • Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway (2002). This was suggested to me on the Sugarlist (a.k.a., the Hüsker Dü/Sugar/Bob Mould e-mail list) in a thread as a driving disc. When I listened to it in the house, it sounded really soft, so I was not that encouraged. I was therefore extremely surprised when I played this in the car -- it is not only absolutely a great car album, but a great album period. Who knew? It's beautifully sparse. Think Uncle Tupelo without the country conventions, fronted by Nick Drake. Occasionally I even hear Christopher Cross when listening to this. And still like it. Verdict: Highly recommended. Car CD Changer.

  • Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead (2007). The first question I have: Why is this necessary? Why not just make this another System of a Down record (a guilty pleasure I openly admit)? SOAD is better than this. Collaborate and get it right! In the end, though, despite the fact that it sounds just like SOAD, despite the fact that SOAD is better than this, and despite the fact that it does drag in a couple of places, Tankian is such an excellent artist that even this mis-step has its moments of brilliance, and is worth keeping.
    Verdict: Recommended. CD Rack.

  • Various - The Baxter Soundtrack (2005). This is an eclectic indie soundtrack with a few really strong songs; "Put" by Amy Miles is a real standout.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-back Pile 1.

  • Year of the Rabbit - Hunted EP (2003). Containing two album tracks from their Car CD Changer-worthy full length self-titled album and two non-LP tracks, this one is for completists only. Yes, I am one of those people.
    Verdict: Recommended (completists only). CD Rack.
- Snilch

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