Monday, January 31, 2011
"Challengers" is a very strong album with loads of hooks, and a good variety of songs owing to the number of singers and writers in the band. Everything is so clean, tidy, tight, and impeccably produced.
Girls approach to the classic 60's inspired pop song takes on a bit messier and looser form. I first gave this album a listen from the library in this past year, and was less than impressed. Perhaps I was mostly turned off by the lead off track "lust for life" and a couple others where the singer takes on a puposely annoying Adam Sandleresque voice. (I also sometimes like to take pride in disliking something that is so championed by all the wise music critics). But after giving the Girls "Album" several more spins its charms began to quickly reveal themselves. Second track "laura" is a clear stand out with its infectious chorus line. Also great is "Hellhole Ratrace," a very long and repetitive track that somehow works well by repeating the singer's simple aspirations over and over again.
In the end I choose Girls shambolic pop songs over the New Pornographers air-tight productions. I just hope the voice Girls singer keeps the goofy voice to a minimum the next time.
Feist on the other hand, has been an album we have owned for a number of years and I have listened to it countless times. In fact it very nearly made my own top ten list, but I did not end up including it. This is an album I love and I do not tire of it.
Two things stood out to me in my decision making process. 1. I was judging one album I had never heard before vs. one I have owned for quite some time. Ownership bias noted. 2. One fell in a genre of music I like vs. the other one in a genre I'm not so hot on. Inability to be a good music critic noted.
I wish I could have somehow put my biases aside but that proved impossible. Hence Feist moves on to the next round.
Explosions in the Sky are great. They seem fairly derivative of Mogwai, but I love Mogwai. (Side note – I’m going to see Mogwai in Chicago on April 30th if anyone wants to join me). I’m going to call this type of music ‘epic noise’ and EITS do epic noise very well. And, as previously stated, I love Friday Night Lights. And yet, I have trouble advancing this album. You know it will be loud. Then you know it will be quiet. And then at some point it will get loud again suddenly. The biggest question is whether the drums and guitar will come in together, or a few bars apart, and how staccato they will be. Mogwai, on the other hand, may have thrown a sample of an answering machine or some such shit in there, just to keep it real.
So I’m giving the nod to In Rainbows. My apologies to Karl.
This death match deserves to be brought from the shadows of the comments now that I am able to post (thanks for fishing that email out of my inbox, Andrew!). Consider this my new and improved review:
LCD Soundsystem has roots in New Jersey, but this misfortune is overcome by its label, DFA, which comes from "Death from Above." Kings of Leon come from Tennessee, which gave us Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, and Shannon Doherty...but it also gave us Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake. Plus their album title is poor plagiarism of "By the things that light the night."
First up was LCD Soundsystem. The album started slowly (not necessarily a bad thing) as I wondered if it was solely instrumental. Track 2 was neither good nor bad, but it sent me to wikipedia to see if the band descended from Public Image Limited or White Stripes. Track 3...that was more like it...I could get into this...but I won't be singing along to "North American Scum."
LCD Soundsystem reminded me of several other bands--Human League, Cake, Joy Division. I liked it, but I couldn't help but think that it came from the 90s. Perhaps all new music should sound like the 90s.
There's not much I can say about Kings of Leon. They didn't make me think or feel anything, didn't remind me of anyone, and I had no urge to dance, sing along, or repeat any tracks. The music was earnest...but I don't think I'll keep it in my brand new Grooveshark playlist. The most damning thing about "Only by the things that buy the night" was its salesmanship for LCD Soundsystem. On the urging of everyone present, I skipped back to "Sounds of Silver" when it was done, and I immediately said, "Hey, I like this!" Brad and Vic can vouch for that (and Vic gets credit for the Joy Division comparison); they had stopped by in the middle of Kings of Leon, and I believe they now own a legit copy of LCD Soundsystem.
LCD Soundsystem moves on. If there were justice in this world, they would be joining the Weakerthans and Gorillaz. Alas, they did not swear enough.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Demon Days really pissed me off as apparently Grooveshark, changed their interface from the last Death Match, and I had a horrible time adding songs to my playlist, and then trying to figure out how to remove the hundreds I inadvertently added. Way too much work. Work on that next time Gorillaz. And a big thanks to Kathleen for solving this issue for me... by having zero songs uploaded.
I enjoyed Demon Days, i was actually looking forward to listening to it, as I had not listened to the whole album before. I'm only familiar with the songs that the regular folk would be. While listening this time, I recall thinking it was a little bit repetitive, although I also recall thinking that wasn't a fair assessment.
Asking for Flowers is not going to get a fair review here. First: I couldn't find the album online anywhere, and ended up listening to the songs (mostly live) from different sources. Second, I listened to the first half of the album yesterday, and the second half today.
That said, I have nothing to add about Demon Days. I'll repeat, its good, and probably quite good. But I do have some additional things to say about Asking for Flowers.
1. I'll make the Dough... nice, a hockey video. You're getting some points there
2. Sure as Shit... nice, you have shit in the title. You're getting some points there
3. Kathleen has tabs on her website. Not the clicky-website-navigation-type tabs, but the plucky-guitar-type tabs. Metallica would probably sue themselves.
4. While listening to the album, and reading about the artist at the same time, I learn she enjoys swearing. While I'm far too old to think that's cool... I do think that's pretty rad.
oh, a positive about Demon Days... Feel Good Inc. reminds me of White Clean and Neat by Robert Plant... really it does.
Fire Coming out of the Monkey's Head reminded me of Jacques Cousteau... anytime you channel Baxter its a good thing.
So who will I hand the rose to?? Well you should already know since I referenced a rose, and one of the albums is titled asking for flowers... I mean, c'mon she likes to swear!
BOO! NEW ALBUMs TO NEVER LISTEN TO AGAIN.
The Avett Brothers album "I and Love and You" was the first one I tackled. I had a good feeling about this one. I played spider solitaire whilst listening. I probably fit in about 12 games over the course of the album. I won all 12. Hardly using any undos. Not bad. Just like the album that was playing in the background. The first few songs had my attention. I wrote some notes that went something like; good voice, songs that sound new and familiar, every song reminds me of waking up from a great sleep whilst camping, etc...
But after the first few songs, it just became... blah. I kept listening, but it was just washing over me like my mom's rants about how times aren't like they used to be. Of course they aren't! They're like they are now! Anyhoo... It was good background music, but everytime I focused on what was actually happening, I kind of cringed and wanted to go back to letting it blah over me.
The Stars album "In our bedroom after the war" was the second album I wrestled. I. Don't. Like. Blah Blah Blah. That's what I heard. The first song on this album that I enjoyed was "Window Bird" (Track 9). It also happened to be the last song I enjoyed. I've never paid this band any attention, mostly cause everything I've heard reminds me of a so-so high school band. I don't enjoy the quality of the guy's vocals, and their repititive use of boring patterns in their harmonies don't do a thing for my addiction to excitement. I read somewhere on the internet that they wanted this album to sound like a book. If that's the case, the book goes something like this: Once upon a time in some place on some week during a month in the years before now, nothing happened. The end.
So, both albums were blahtastic, but Stars got more blahs, so Avett Bros win!
Now this album I truly enjoyed. Ferraby is a talented tune-smith who forges a sound both classic and oddly familiar while also sounding fresh and new. The first three songs on the album are just fantastic, and if we lived in a more just world, the poppy-jangle of "Harry and Bess" would have earned it some serious radio play. At times, his songs are reminiscent of fellow singer-songwriters Ron Sexsmith or perhaps Richard Hawley...Poignant, catchy, romantic (in the best sense of the word). I look forward to spending more time with this album and give it a solid: 4.1
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I first heard Mumford & Sons at Bonnaroo this past summer, and their song "Little Lion Man" sent the crowd into wild hippie dancing and cheers (due to both the song's catchiness & its dropping of the f-bomb, no doubt). Also, it was raining, and plastic ponchos abounded. I wondered why I hadn't listened to these guys and whether their album was any good, which sorta sums up my Bonnaroo experience. Well, also a hefty dose of ogling fried (crispy sun-baked) and fried (drugged-out) folks.
Anyway, I've been listening to Sigh No More the past few months, and it is catchy, earnest, over-the-top, raw. I suppose this captures why Mumford & Sons are both loved and hated. (Pitchfork's reviewer gave this album a 2.1/10, finding it caca & phony.) My theory (as someone unduly interested in reviews): Anything that can earn such a low rating might actually deserve a listen.
And I've listened again and again. There's a fair portion of juvenile heartache & rebellion going on here, but I'll cop to feeling those emotions now and again, and this pushes the right buttons when needed. Still, I suspect I won't be returning to this album frequently a year or ten from now. I also can't help comparing them to their cronies in the Brit folk revival scene (Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn) and finding I prefer the cronies.
But then there's Sigur Ros. Their songs are just more more full-bodied, more flavorful than Mumford's. I could chalk it up to a longer career, and maybe that's part of it, but the other part might be that they're just the more interesting band. I do think Sigur Ros might have stood to change up their act a bit more and been, well, less like Sigur Ros. Initially, they were a big surprise. Today they're unmistakable, nearly possible to reduce to parody or formula, and I like to be mistook, rattled. Like, could a song remain teeny-tiny now and again, instead always swelling to some HUGE CACOPHONY?
Whatever: Sigur Ros wins.
I think one of the problems I have with Jackalope (besides having to try kind of hard to listen to them for free) is a lack of definition of what they want to be / are. Perhaps you could call this originality, but I find the clash between gothiness and bubblegum poppies to be frustrating and uninteresting. I'd like them more if they were more like Katy Perry or more like The Sisters of Mercy. This is meant as more of a confession than a dig, but they kind of remind me of this band I really liked around 1990, Mad at the World.
So, Crooked Saints wins.
I like Cains & Abels name, I've seen them listed on concert listings in Chicago, I recognize some of them from Calvin, but their just not doing it for me.
The exe's move on
I have, though, matured since those brutal dark days. No longer do I think capacity for violence is the deciding factor. Instead I think that popularity should decide.
Johnny Flynn, we assume, is known and loved by everyone in England, which, as I was taught in middle school, is an extremely important country in history.
M.I.A., on the other hand--I really don't know where she's from, but it can't be from anywhere as important as London.
Therefore the world votes, and the world votes for Johnny Flynn.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I've tried to make sure that no one has two of their picks going head to head, and I tried to make sure that no one got assigned their own album.
Do you all want me to keep score, or is that so 2010?
Finally, would it be too much to ask to try and make your picks by Saturday?
Eric Smith: (1) Weakerthans - Reunion Tour vs. (16) Ferraby Lionheart - Jack of Hearts
Sarah: (2) Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust vs. (15) Mumford & Sons Sigh No More
Karl: (3)Johnny Flynn - A Larum vs. (14) M.I.A. - Kala
Andy: (4) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes vs. (13) Hot Chip - The Warning
Joel:(5) Portishead - III vs. (12) Dirty Projectors - Bitte Ocra
Anne:(6) Against Me! - New Wave vs. (11) The Walkmen - You & Me
Steve: (7) K'naan - Troubadour vs. (10) Jay Dee - Donuts
Dwight: (8) Avett Brothers - I and Love and You vs. (9) Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Bruce: (1) Crooked Saints - Beatrice vs. (16) Jackalope - Things that go Jump In the Night
Brooke: (2) Arcade Fire - The Suburbs vs. (15) Nina Nastasia & Jim White - You Follow Me
Jeff: (3) Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone vs. (14) Radiohead - In Rainbows
Eric Arnoy(s): (4) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver vs. (13) Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
Joe: (5) Girls - Album vs. (12) New Pornographers - Challengers
Brian: (6) The XX - XX vs. (11) Cains and Abels - Call me Up
Mark: (7) Gorillaz - Demon Days vs. (10) Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
Brad: (8) Feist - The Reminder vs. (9) The Chemical Brothers - Further
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Actually it's 57 because the next 10 entries are all tied.
1 Weakerthans Reunion Tour 19.98
2 Crooked Saints Beatrice 19.45
3 Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz 18.98
4 Deerhunter Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. 18.47
5 Sigur Ros Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust 18.27
6 Arcade Fire The Suburbs 18.08
7 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion 17.94
8 M83 Saturdays = Youth 17.81
9 Johnny Flynn A Larum 17.81
10 Explosions in the Sky All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone 17.81
11 TV on the Radio Dear Science 17.61
12 The Walkmen Lisbon 17.48
13 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes 16.87
14 LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver 16.53
15 Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 16.04
16 Cat Power The Greatest 16.04
17 Portishead Third 15.55
18 Girls Album 15.55
19 Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid 15.30
20 Joanna Newsom Have One On Me 15.06
21 against me! new wave 15.00
22 The XX XX 15.00
23 The Dead Weather Horehound 15.00
24 Neko Case Middle 15.00
25 K'naan Troubadour 15.00
26 Gorillaz Demon Days 15.00
27 Good Luck Into Lake Griffy 15.00
28 Dwight Natural Disasters 15.00
29 Avett Brothers I and Love and You 15.00
30 Feist The Reminder 14.81
31 Sufjan Stevens (Come on Feel the) Illinoise 14.79
32 Dirty Projectors Bitte Ocra 14.75
33 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend 14.63
34 Low Drums and Guns 14.55
35 This Will Destroy You This Will Destroy You 14.00
36 The Chemical Brothers Further 14.00
37 Stars In Our Bedroom After the War 14.00
38 Mountains Choral 14.00
39 Lady Gaga The Fame Monster 14.00
40 Kathleen Edwards Asking for Flowers 14.00
41 Jay Dee Donuts 14.00
42 Frightened Rabbit Midnight Organ Fight 14.00
43 Do Make Say Think You, You're a History in Rust 14.00
44 Cains and Abels Call Me Up 14.00
45 The Walkmen You & Me 13.50
46 Dirty Projectors Rise Above 13.35
47 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! 13.30
48 The New Pornographers Challengers 13.07
49 Tycho Past is Prologue 13.00
50 Neil Young Living with War 13.00
51 Kings of Leon Only by the Night 13.00
52 Hot Chip The Warning 13.00
53 Beach House Teen Dream 13.00
54 Deerhunter Halcyon Digest 12.61
55 Radiohead In Rainbows 12.07
56 M.I.A. Kala 12.04
57 Hercules and Love Affair Hercules and Love Affair 12.04
Natural Disasters - Dwight
Beatrice - Crooked Saints
Only by the Night - Kings of Leon
The Reminder - Feist
Chinese Democracy - Axl n' Roses
Band of Joy - Bobby Plant
On an Island - David Gilmour
Move Along - All American Rejects
Ladies and Gentlemen - The Tamboureens
Dirty Projectors - Bitte Ocra
Plan on complete destruction of all highly rated picks in the early rounds... If the Tamboureens don't go far, the Weakerthans/Arcade Fire/whatever else all you individuals collectively listen to, aren't going far either.
10. amadou and mariam - welcome to mali
9. best friends forever - romantic conflict adventure
8. ukamau y ke - para la raza
7. beyonce knowles - i am sasha fierce
6. the tiger passion - bouncing light into crowds
5. m.i.a - arular
4. immortal technique - 3rd world
3. janelle monae - the archandroid
2. kanye west - my beautiful dark twisted fantasy
1. against me! - new wave
Friday, January 21, 2011
Arcade Fire The Suburbs 67.51
Weakerthans Reunion Tour 62.30
Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz 61.03
Sigur Ros Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust 60.32
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion 59.99
TV on the Radio Dear Science 59.66
Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes 58.92
Deerhunter Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. 56.50
The Walkmen Lisbon 55.51
M83 Saturdays = Youth 55.46
Johnny Flynn A Larum 55.46
Explosions in the Sky All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone 55.46
But honestly, I don't see why we don't just call The New Pornographers the winners and be done with it.
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Surfjan Stevens - (Come on Hear the) Illinoise
Low - Drums and Guns
Arcade Fire - Suburbs
Sigur Ros - the one with the naked bums on the cover
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Feist - The Reminder
Crooked Saints - Beatrice
2. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion
3. Dirty Projectors- Rise Above
4. Nina Nastasia & Jim White- You Follow Me
5. DJ/rupture- Uproot
6. Tim Hecker- Harmony in Ultraviolet
7. Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid
8. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
9. Xiu Xiu- The Air Force
10. Year of No Light- Nord
2. TV on the Radio--Dear Science
3. Weakerthans--Reunion Tour
4. Regina Spektor--Begin to Hope
5. Arcade Fire--The Suburbs
6. Low--Drums and Guns
7. Radiohead--In Rainbows (especially if it's in the 10 mix)
8. Sam Phillips--Don't Do Anything
9. Sufjan Stevens--Illinois
10. ben and bruno--100 Grim Reapers
1. M83 – Saturdays = Youth
2. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster
3. Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.
4. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
5. The Roots – How I Got Over
6. Atlas Sound - Logos
7. Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/Love Sounds
8. The Knife – Silent Shout
9. Radiohead – In Rainbows
10. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
* Best line from "Community" last night: "He's in his late thirties. He still uses the word 'album' and has a land line." Let's call this contest The Land Liners' Death Match?
1 Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (2007)
2 This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy You (2008)
3 The Walkmen - You & Me (2008)
4 Mono - You Are There (2006)
5 Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (2008)
6 The New Pornographers - Challengers (2007)
7 The Black Keys - Attack & Release (2008)
8 Cat Power - The Greatest (2007)
9 Feist - The Reminder (2007)
10 Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)
2. Mountains - Choral
3. Portishead - Third
4. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
6. Kaki King - Until We Felt Red
7. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
8. M.I.A. - Kala
9. New Pornographers - Challengers
10. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
2) Donuts - Jay Dee
3) The Warning - Hot Chip
4) Jarvis - Jarvis Cocker
5) Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
6) Kala - M.I.A.
7) The House That Dirt Built - The Heavy
8) Living Thing - Peter Bjorn and John
9) The Ecstatic - Mos Def
10) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
2. Do Make Say Think - You, You're a History in Rust (2007)
3. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Ocra (2009)
4. Midlake - Trials of VanOccupanther (2006)
5. Samamidon - All is Well (2008)
6. Brendan Canning - Something for all of us (2008)
7. Lambchop - OH (Ohio) (2008)
8. Constantines - Kensington Heights (2008)
9. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)
10. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009)
2. The Walkmen - Lisbon
3. Beach House - Teen Dream
4. Ferraby Lionheart - Jack of Hearts
5. Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block
6. Girls - Album
7. Raveonettes - Lust Lust Lust
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
9. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
10. Lykke Li - Youth Novels
Thursday, January 20, 2011
1. XX – The XX
2. Further – The Chemical Brothers
3. Lisbon – The Walkmen
4. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter
5. Saturdays = Youth – M83
6. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
7. Dear Science – TV on the Radio
8. Feed the Animals – Girltalk
9. Contra – Vampire Weekend
10. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
2. Kathleen Edwards- Asking for Flowers- 2008
3. Neil Young- Living with War- 2006
4. Jakalope- Things that Go Jump In the Night- 2010
5. Weakerthans- Reunion Tour- 2007
6. Tegan and Sara- The Con- 2007
7. Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record- 2010
8. New Pornographers- Challengers- 2007
9. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs- 2010
10. Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans- The Falcon Lake Incident- 2010