I just wrote a long Listening To post but FYWP ate it.
Here’s the short version:
- Beatles – Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Beatles live in 1964-65, in front of four trillion screaming girls! More fun than the BBC sessions or the final ‘rooftop’ concert-ish thing. Faster, more raw, fun! 4 things!
- Norah Jones – Day Break. She goes back to the sound that made her a coffeehousehold name – that warm and fuzzy jazz/pop/country sound. Good, if not quite as catchy as Come Away With Me. 3 things!
- Steady Holiday – Under The Influence. Dreamy, sad and sweet with whispered vocals and spacey guitars. Somehow finds a place between early Portishead and late Blonde Redhead – spacey and chilly yet delicate and intimate. 4 things!
- The Pretty Things – The Pretty Things. Do you need more rough and raw early rock in your life? Think Elvis was too hammy and the early Stones were too wimpy? This is the band for you! 3 things!
When I do these “Listening To” posts, I always have a hard time remembering which albums I’ve recently purchased. So here’s a screen shot of the most recent 16 from my iTunes “Recently Purchased” list to help me…
- Joni Mitchell – For The Roses. Haven’t heard it yet.
- The Internet – Feel Good. Haven’t heard it yet.
- Gastr Del Sol – Upgrade & Afterlife. Haven’t heard it yet. (this is going to be a great post, I can tell already)
- Attic Abasement – Dream News A band from Rochester NY. They do a version of the scrappy-but-unhurried, dissonant, ever-so-slightly folk-tinged, alt-rock thing: Silver Jews, Kurt Vile, Three Mile Pilot, etc.. There’s some ‘post-rock’ angular noodly stuff in here. Reminds me of 1995.
- King Crimson – Starless And Bible Black Haven’t been able to get into this one much. The very first line of the very first song is “Health-food faggot with a bartered bride”. And, even though I get that 1974 was a different time, it just sours me right off the bat.
- Madvillain – Madvillainy. A collaboration between the masked rapper, MF Doom, and producer Madlib. This one zips along with 19 of the 22 songs less than three minutes long, more than half under two minutes. The lyrics and delivery are very clever and the backing tracks include tons of those ironic 90s-style samples of overwrought dialog from movies of the 50s and 60s.
- Taj Mahal – Taj Mahal. A great straight-up blues record from the 60’s blues revival.
- Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You I got drunk, watched a documentary about the Muscle Shoals studio(s), and decided I had to have this record. Thankfully, it’s great!
- Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool. I like this a bit better than some of their other recent records. It’s a bit chilly, tho.
- Brian Eno – The Ship. My first late-era Eno record. It sounds exactly like what I’ve imagined all of his ‘ambient’ records would sound like. I like it well enough, but I prefer weird glam-rock Eno.
- Autolux – Pussy’s Dead I think of them as a groovier and more accessible Radiohead. They have that blend of clipped drums, cold electronics and distant, detached vocals, but it’s geared a bit more towards toe-tapping.
- Prince – Sign O The Times I remember really liking this in 86. Now, it feels very dated.
- The Underachievers – Cellar Door : Terminus Ut Exordium Sometimes I buy records because the little 30sec iTunes samples hit me in the right mood. And then the record itself makes me wonder what I liked about the samples. Just not my bag.
- Kendrick Lamar – good kid…; Parquet Courts – Human performance; New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies Already did these in a previous Listening To.
- Mos Def – The Ecstatic A couple of really groovy tunes. A lot that misses.
- Andrew Bird – Are You Serious A bit more engaging than his other recent records, but short on the quirky spark of his first releases.
- Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger Loud and raucous guitar rock, like a modern T-Rex: heavy riff-based stomp with playful vocals on top. Excellent stuff.
- Tanya Donnely – Swan Song Series The former leader of Belly and member of Throwing Muses has been releasing uniformly-great solo records since Belly broke up in the mid-90s. This is a series of self-releases that came from collaborations of various kinds with various people. Though the styles vary greatly, they’re all unmistakably Donnely. Wish Belly was coming to NC on their upcoming reunion tour.
That Courtney Barnett record sure is good – especially if you’re a fan of early 90’s female indie rockers. Maybe even if you’re not; I wouldn’t know.
The new Santigold record on the other hand: very commercial, very Top-40, very no thank you.
Protomartyr – Under Cover Of Official Right. Catchy and angular guitar-based post-punk. A bit like The National, a bit like Disappears, a bit like The Walkmen, a bit like Bloc Party. I like it muchly.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights. Part of the recent retro R&B movement. They’re a bit more true to the original 60’s and 70’s soul sound than most of their peers. Very accessible, still. Fun and funky.
Tommy Guerrero – Lifeboats and Follies. Instrumental, 70’s inspired, funky, rock. Reminds me of the stuff the Budos Band currently does, or of some of those dank and funky instrumentals the Beastie Boys did on Ill Communication. Good stuff.
Opeth – Pale Communion. This was supposed to be my first peek at the current state of European metal. I’m not sure this counts as metal though. The first and last tunes on this particular album seem like a riff on late 70’s prog rock (esp Red-era King Crimson), which I dig. The rest of it is also very proggy, but a bit less edge. It’s all very, very, very crisp and tight and technical, very cleanly produced – nothing at all sounds out of place or accidental or spontaneous. It’s good when I’m in the mood.
Y’all groovin on anything groovy?
- The Internet – Ego Death. A fantastic alt-R&B/neo-soul record. So much funky, jazzy, loungey, slinky goodness going on in here. Mellow, but not sleepy.
- Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). It’s his second record; and like he did with Here Come The Warm Jets, Eno pulls off the remarkable feat of making very experimental (for ’74) music that’s also very fun to listen to.
- TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain. Haven’t been able to get into this. The potential is there: a experimental indie-rock core with some intriguing electronic and hip-hop elements. But it just doesn’t click for me: leaves me cold. Also, there’s a “woah-woah” chorus somewhere in there. And that is an automatic ten point deduction.
Anything you need to crow about?
Brian Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets
I picked this up and in the first 30 seconds, I was hooked. As a piece of rock n roll genealogy, it’s fantastic: you can hear some of the campy glam rock of Roxy Music (Eno’s previous band) in some songs, but you can also clearly hear stuff that foreshadows experimental rock of every era since in there, too. This sounds like Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah. This sounds like Broken Social Scene. Bauhaus probably liked this song. And this is essentially the piano line to Bob Seger’s “Still The Same”, over and over (though it predates Seger’s by 4 years). And, even better, it’s a great listen without paying attention to any of that.
Robert Fripp – Exposure
In the late 70’s Robert Fripp, long done with the Red-era version of King Crimson, was busy doing guest appearances on records by Blondie, Talking Heads, Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Eno, etc.. And in 79, he started work on a solo record. To support him, he hooked up with various vocalists and drummers and with session bassist Tony Levin. And they made a double album called “Exposure”. This was a couple of years before he rebooted King Crimson with Levin, Adrian Belew and Bill Bruford, but it’s clear that Fripp was already in that experimental new-wave mode. And it’s also clear that he was already fiddling around with some of the things that would become those new KC songs. So, it’s interesting in that way. But, that’s about as far as I can get with it.
Parquet Floors – Light Up Gold
There’s a long prickly branch of the R&R family tree that starts with the Velvet Underground, MC5 and the Stooges in the 60s; it goes on to produce The Modern Lovers, Wire, The Buzzcocks and The Fall in the 70s and 80s; in the 90s it gave us bands like Pavement and Yo La Tengo and Sleater Kinney. Well, Parquet Floors is right on the end of that branch. You know the sound: quick, simple almost-pop songs with shouted lyrics and often dissonant guitars, a rhythm section that can put its head down and keep things moving despite frequent squalls of feedback from the guys up front. They’re at their most fun when they cut way on melody and turn up the energy. But I dig their slower tunes, too. Good to see that branch is still alive and still growing.