Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Year-End Roundup, Part 2

Our year-end cleanup, part deux.
  • Against Me! - Reinventing Axl Rose (2002). As indicated here, I did in fact decide to look at Against Me!'s back catalog; when I saw this title I knew that was the one to try. "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" was a good start, but the rest is a bit raw; this experience dictates that I won't venture back into the rest of their catalog but will continue with them forward.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Sell-back Pile 1.

  • John Cale - Close Watch: An Introduction to John Cale (1999). After seeing him perform on Later with Jules Holland, I was intrigued. This album was less rock-oriented than the live effort, but nevertheless enjoyable. Think David Byrne meets Pink Floyd and Discipline-era King Crimson, with a dash of Arcade Fire and The Alan Parsons Project. Very sparse, very cool, sophisticated, and jazzy; at times the music is almost pristine, and at others it's very rough. I'll need a lot more time with this one -- it's complicated.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD Case. Great for the casual fan; for the hardcore fan, it's not worth the money.

  • Faunts - High Expectations, Low Results (2005). An aptly named album. After hearing the 2007 epic track "M4 (Part II)," I went back and found this album. I had high expectations. I experienced low results.
    Verdict: Not recommended. Pile of Death.

  • Haircut 100 - Pelican Brief (1982). I had never really had these guys on my radar until I saw their reunion as part of VH1's Bands Reunited (a canceled show that I am still obsessed with). Any band that can take the stage for the first time in 20+ years and make it sound like they had been playing together all along gets at least a listen from me. This album is so poppy it almost makes me sick listening to it. Yet... I find it really compelling. There's definitely something cool happening here. So, despite their terrible videos and occasional "teeny-bop" moments, I have to conclude that this album is excellent, fun pop that is well-produced; their songwriting and musicianship is too good to dismiss. It's too bad lead singer Nick Heyward had a nervous breakdown after the first album and this is their only group effort with him; there are solid foundations here that indicate this group could have gone on to do something great.
    Verdict: Highly recommended for a trip down cultural memory lane. Portable CD Case.

  • The Moonbabies - At the Ballroom (2007). I love The Moonbabies sound -- a little retro, a little ultra-modern, with great harmonies. The one problem I have with them is that they have dragged out the song "War on Sound" (granted, a fantastic song) around for three years, as its appeared on at least there (!) official releases. They have other strong songs as well, and this album is great; time to find another cow to milk, though.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD Case.

  • The Outfield - Any Time Now (2006). After the commercial blockbuster Play Deep in 1985, The Outfield actually released five more albums from 1986-1999; I still feel 1986's Bangin' was the only album of theirs worth owning (including Play Deep). This one, written over a four year period, is the second. It sounds like they wrote it in 1987 -- no surprises musically, although the subject matter (which is more political and religious than their early material) is a bit more mature. There are even a few excellent tunes here (like "No Fear"). They have no pretense of changing their formula, which is fine by me. The second half drags a bit, but it's a nice listen overall.
    Verdict: Recommended. CD Rack.
- Snilch

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