Friday, February 11, 2011

Yes, I Got Your E-mail. Now Leave Me Alone. Part 1.

I do (eventually) get around to most of what you recommend.  I generally try not to publicly disparage you unless you really provoke or annoy me.  Which most of you do.

In any case... here are your feeble well-intentioned efforts to expand my already prodigious musical vocabulary, and the details on how you all have failed me yet again.

  • The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You (2009)Al actually sent this to me to listen to, which is good because I probably wouldn’t have bought it on my own. Oddly enough, he chose this week to get all over me about listening to it as well.  Normally I run screaming from this brand of light pop, but I have to say it’s decent.  It’s very nice, light, and introspective, although I rarely sit down to listen to music on the porch rocker with my corncob pipe to watch lightning bugs.  Nothing against that; I just don’t do it that often.  But this is decent and well worth a listen.
    CD Placement rating:  CD Rack.

  • Adam Ezra Group - View from the Root (2008). Brian (via John S.) recommended this one, as a light powerpop album in the vein of Alanis Morrissette.  As I listened to the opening track (“Vision”), I was more struck by a cross between the Dave Matthews Band and the Goo Goo Dolls, with the vocals reminiscent of the lead singer of the O.C. Supertones.  Now, it is true that I’d like to like both Dave Matthews and the Goo Goo Dolls, but they both lack some indefinable something that ultimately sours me on both.  Not here.  Adam and the band play in that folk-rock vein that can very easily verge into the self-indulgent; they have a bit more substance than that and manage to stay on the correct side of the ledger throughout, even when they veer to the brink (like in “Basement Song”).  Ultimately there’s less Goo Goo’s and more Dave Matthews, but the more authentic lyric quality and meticulously produced sound is ultimately undeniable.  Now don’t turn into Train, guys.  
    CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.

  • A Band of Bees - Free the Bees (2004).  Andrew likes to recommend bands whose names start from A-L so he doesn't have to scroll too far down to see his name.  This strategy plays off here in spades.  A Band of Bees took a time warp directly from the 60's, and have refused to adapt past that musical technique, style, and production.  Even the vocals make you think this is from 40-50 years ago.  It's a pleasant listen, just not really my thing these days.
    CD Placement rating:  If you still listen to The Beach Boys or Herman's Hermits, this will be a Portable CD Case or Car CD Changer pick for you.  For me, it's nice, but ends up in Sell-back Pile 1.

  • Miklós Rózsa - Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Soundtrack) (1982). Another Brian recommendation, who keeps trying to expand my musical vocabulary with soundtracks, and it must be working because I keep picking these things up.  First impression:  it’s orchestral.  (Thanks, I’ll be here all week.  Please try the roast beef, and tip your server generously.)  It's very good, but I lack the musical vocabulary in this genre to explain exactly why.
    CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.

  • Killing Joke - What's THIS for...! (1981, re-mastered/re-issued 2005). The mysterious uzine and its unidentifiable author posted a response to a 2007 post in August 2010 (!), claiming I had wrongfully represented Killing Joke's best album as their first, despite the statute of limitations on that review having long since run out.  (Yes, these are the jokes.)  I went back to Killing Joke source/"expert" Mark, who immediately backed down from his 2007 statements with a "well, I haven’t listened to EVERYTHING they’ve done," thus hanging me out to dry.  So I now throw him under the bus in public.  (Well, this blog really only qualifies as "semi-private.")  Having listened to their sophomore follow-up, I find that it is really splitting hairs:  they're both great albums.  If I had to pick one, I'd probably give the edge to the first album over the second simply because the second doesn't have an equivalent to "Wardance" or "Complications."  But this one is musically more mature; in two or three years I could easily see reversing my opinion.  Or not.
    CD Placement rating:  Car CD Changer.

  • Plunderphonics - Plunderphonics 69/96 (2001).  I had to pick this up off iTunes as I didn't want to plunk down the massive quid based on what I believed was a "blind" recommendation by Donna M.  Quite simply, this whole album (all 60 tracks) is absolutely nuts.  On the first disc it's sample after sample after sample -- the album starts with the final piano chord at the end of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life," and continues with Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Public Enemy, Dolly Parton, and everywhere in between.  There's even a song that appears to be a career summary of The Doors. So it's all over the place with rock, rap, pop, etc., until the second half, which is spoken word and orchestral, which is also nuts, but different, and, much like this run-on sentence that seems like it will never end, in some ways you don't want the album to end either because you're not quite sure what's coming next.  I didn't know what to call this music, but calls it "Avant-Garde," which is another way of saying "you will love this or despise this."  Allmusic has a lot more prose, flowery language, and pointed descriptions of this album as well.  My take is "Me likee."
    CD Placement rating:  This is a Car CD Changer worthy play for me, but could be Pile of Death for you.  One word of warning:  these songs most definitely are not shuffle friendly; play them as an album, it is an experience.

  • The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (2003).  Thanks to @gcn1 for this one.  Somehow all Canadian bands (from Sloan to The Tragically Hip to Glass Tiger) all share a common tonality – I can’t put my finger on it, but I knew The Weakerthans were Canadian before I read the liner notes.  (Okay, so the song “One Great City!” with the line “I hate Winnipeg” may have been a pretty obvious clue as well.)  Overall, it’s excellent Canadian indie/garage power pop touched with a twang of Uncle Tupelo, with the standout track “The Reasons” occupying my T rides on repeat for the entire month of November.  They’re fun, smart, self-depricating, and they rock.  Great car drive fare. 
    CD Placement rating:  CD Rack.  Go get “The Reasons” on iTunes, jackass.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

11 Songs I'm Playing Constantly These Days

In no particular order:
  1. The Weakerthans – "The Reasons"
  2. Scott Bishop – "The Start (Again)"
  3. The Wrens – "Rest Your Head"
  4. Ride – "Time of Her Time"
  5. Ride - "Furthest Sense"
  6. Idlewild – "Little Discourage"
  7. All – "She’s My Ex"
  8. The Shiela Divine – "Like a Criminal"
  9. Manic Street Preachers – "Marlon J.D."
  10. Bob Mould - "Paralyzed" (yes, still)
  11. The Big Sleep - "Pinkies"
- Snilch