Thursday, March 31, 2011
Unlike Slippers and Mark, Andrew and I haven't exactly been seeing eye to eye on this latest pick.
I suggested that we do a Mad-Lib style post for our choice between "Dwight" and Deerhunter. Andrew still hasn't responded.
Until he does, here's my contribution. I'm aware that Mad-Libs traditionally ask you for (a) a noun, (b) a verb, (c) a silly object, (d) an exclamation, etc., but maybe you all can offer Andrew some suggestions:
Well everyone, it’s been quite ________________. After_______________, and now that I’ve got my____________ out of my______________ , it’s on to a ________________ choice between “Dwight” and DeerHunter, Halcyon Digest.
The choice here is easy:__________________.
Once, in high school, while I was listening to _______________ and making out with ___________________ it occurred to me that some music really is _______________, but only when you’re making out with __________________. Just like Dave Matthew’s Band.
_______________ is the same way. It’s worth listening to if you’re_________________, but once you’re ___________________, forget it. You might as well hike up your skirt a little more, show the world to me, and keep making out with _____________________, because you’re never going to__________________, until the damn album is over.
__________________, on the other hand, is to music what __________________ is to being married and having a baby. That ________________ can ______________ all it wants to, but you know _________________ will never get in the way of ______________________, in the same way that _______________________ rocks earnestly, with great guitars, unpretentious vocals, an ambient sensibility, but also _______________.
Speaking of saxophones, whoever said that ____________________ was like ___________________ (a)never woke up after having made out with ___________________ , and (b) is unfamiliar with_________________and the E-Street band. _____________________ is clearly a riff on that, but with ___________________ and everyone can keep their _______________________ below their knees.
When I got my first__________________ at age thirteen, I knew that ______________________. One thing this tournament, and having to choose between _____________________ and _____________________, has taught me is that you never can _______________________ without______________________. At least with a shred of dignity.
Then again, ___________________ is such a good album on its own, that I’m okay with ___________________. And so is my wife.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
So this round is going to be different. There are only sixteen albums left, which means there are only eight choices left. Eight choices, sixteen people. At first, I thought I'd just reward those who got their picks in first like last year. But that was when most of you were exhausted from widdling 128 album down to 16. This year we went for the wimpy 64, and considering how lazy most of you are, I think that was wise.
So, here's what we're going to do: teams. As in the following:
Bruce and Sarah
Andy and Eric S
Anne and Eric A
Jeff and Brian
Mark and Dwight
Joel and Andrew
Karl and Brad
Joe and Brooke
Don't complain to me if you don't like your partner. I tried to keep married folks togehter so as to create the kind of tension a good marriage needs. Otherwise, I had to try some different combinations to make it so no one had a former pick or their own album. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD THIS WAS!!! (Thank-you Andy and Eric for being just about the only people not to have f*%@ing Arcade Fire on your list).
Each team is assigned a choice, and you must come to an agreement. I know some of you will be like, "whatever, go ahead and pick cause I can't decide/don't care" but others will be like, "over my dead body is Hot Chip advancing." In either case--through email or post-coital bed talk or whatever--come to a consensus and then post it. I encourage those of you who take the email route to include any hilarious bits or threats from those emails in your post.
Bruce and Sarah: Kanye vs. Sufjan
Andy and Eric: XX vs. Arcade Fire
Anne and Eric: The Walkmen vs. J. Dilla
Jeff and Brian: LCD Soundsystem vs. Crooked Saints
Mark and Dwight: Vampire Weekend vs. Cat Power
Joel and Andrew: Dwight vs. Deerhunter
Karl and Brad: TV on Radio vs. Animal Collective
Joe and Brooke: Hot Chip vs. Avett Bros
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Here's why it's legal... both Steve and Jeff have told me in the past that I have the best taste in music, and not only do I have a Colbert-I-can-feel-it-in-my-gut type of mastery over music, but I also have a Karl-is-a-math-ma-gician type of understanding of the science of music. So my review of this match up is allowed. Plus what the eff is taking so long!?
So what's the correct answer to this matchup?
A Larum is not bad. My gut felt better after listening to it for a while... It was a little queasy during the first few songs. It really wasn't that bad... but it reminds me of being in a bar that I have no overt desire to be in -- beyond filling my gut with brain juice of course.
The ideal time to listen to this album can be understood when shown mathematically:
g(A) + y(A^2) = y ∪ g
where A = 'this album is awesome'
g(A) + y(-A) = y - g
You & Me on the other hand, had my gut rumbling the notion that this album sounds exactly like all the other albums 'you people' seem to like. What's with that? While nothing stood out to me sounding anything like Kelly Clarkson, I tried to keep an open mind. I did at one point have a feeling wash over me that I wish there were 40 Bob Dylan albums in this years death match again... but that quickly faded as I remember Bob doesn't sound like Kelly either.
When I stepped back and really analyzed my position on these two albums, I, of course, realized my immediate thoughts were accurate. Both have their merits, and are competent. But only one succeeds where others have failed. I tend to think that 'you people' on the whole have adequate taste in music, therefore The Walkmen move on.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
(To be honest, I don't think of particular music I want to listen to upon waking. I like morning silence actually. But Joe seems to always have something in mind, acutely, when he rolls out of bed. This morning is Art Ensemble of Chicago and yesterday - King Tubby).
Monday, March 14, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Crooked Saints "Beatrice"
Feist "The Reminder"
Crooked Saints are an up and coming band from the Grand Rapids area that to currently be on a hiatus. Their one full length album so far is called "Beatrice" and it is a very cohesive album that has a nice flow from beginning to end. The record begins on a nice and spooky tone with the quiet droning of strings leading into a meditative bluesy track "I am the Lion's Lamb." The energy grows over the next two tracks highlighted by the wicked guitar work on "Dark Charade" which builds to the brief and excellent Velvet Undergroundish freak-out at the end.
The following tracks are a good mix of quiet and loud, tension and release, and plenty of what might be the combo's strongest suit: the group vocals. Whether it is the calm and understated "I Am: Yer Life," or the big choruses like "Finding Station" the gang vocals act as a great unifying element throughout the album (the lead guitar kills on that song as well).
Another of this band's strong suit is the frequent use of the "vocal riff," a wordless yodeling type of singing that the band uses in places where others would normally employ instruments. Given the the relatively low recording budget that the band was working with, it is a great sounding record, including a very nice drum sound (played by Chris N. best known for his work in the 90's underground sensation Baxter).
A tough competitor for this record is found in Feist's "the Reminder" I thought to myself.......or is it? I own this record(....or at least I have it on our Ipod, I can't be sure how it got there...) and I have listened to it often...so I must like it. The Remainder seems to in the music collection of just about every music loving friend that I have, all the way to Jeff "up the punx"Bolt. It seems that it must be a pretty phenomenal album for its appeal to be so far flung. But as I gave it another spin I wasn't sure what there was to be excited about. The album has a pretty mellow vibe as a whole with a few exceptions. While I like a lot of "mellow" music, I normally enjoy stuff that has an underlying intensity just below the surface, like a Low or Cat Power or something. But much of this record seems simply "laid-back" and not too interesting to me.
In my book, her strong suit is upbeat songs as exemplefied in "I Feel it All" and "1234" (ok I know she like a total sellout for using it in an Apple ad, but that song rules). She should make a whole album of these kind of tunes.
Entonces.....the big winner is: Crooked Saints.
Now if they could write a tune to sell iPods they'd really take off.
No offense to the Baird Brothers. I love you guys and you rule in all ways musically and otherwise.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Top Five Female Voices:
1. Karen O. - Her version of "Worried Shoes" on the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack is really all I need to hear. She has this kind of twang or something that I just totally fall for everytime.
2. Nina Simone - I remember seeing her in Ann Arbor in 2000 with my not yet wife and it was right before the Bush/Gore election. During Mississippi Goddamn she belted out: "Everybody knows about Bush/Goddamn" I'll never forget it. She really knew how to say goddamn.
3. Lykke Li - She has a kinda quirky voice, but still powerful in different ways. Good phrasing and soulfulness. Sounds original to me.
4. Marianne Faithfull - Mainly the later years for her. I know it's probably from smoking and drinking and stuff that her voice got all raspy. But it really fits her material. Favorites are Broken English, Sex with Strangers and Last Song from Before the Poison. Check out her version of John Lennon's Working Class Hero.
5. Victoria Legrand - She's the Beach House singer. I know she's really mellow but that's what I like. She calms me down.
Honorable Mentions: P J Harvey, Mavis Staples, Neko Case, Elizabeth Cotten, Stevie Nicks
Top Five Male Voices:
1. Harry Nilsson - Just so smooth. The music pours of of him. Or at least it used to, he's dead now.
2. Bob Dylan - His voice is a great mystery. I think he sang all shitty and gravelly on purpose and it killed his other wise normally sweet and sugary vocal cords, leaving him where he has been for the last 10-15 years, all croaky. If you listen to any of the stuff he made in high school, he sounds just like he does on Nashville Skyline. That's his real voice. Weird, huh. Columbia Records used to have a slogan: Nobody Sings Dylan like Dylan. Kinda says it all.
3. Johnny Cash - His voice from the 90's onward is perfect.
4. Jeff Mangum - His voice is just so...hip.
5. Leonard Cohen - He's really the only one who does what he does. There is so much precision. You can follow every word.
Honorable Mentions: Neil Young, Colin Blunstone, Ray Davies, Joe Strummer, Scott Walker
Monday, March 7, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
First off, and this is meant to be a great compliment to both artists, listening to both these albums made me miss dearly my favorite music magazine of all time, the venerable but sadly out of print- No Depression.
In fact perhaps a future contest lining up our favorite print music magazines against each could be in order? Anyhow, both these bands would have been favorites of No Depression, in fact Avett Brothers were already featured heavily in No Depression print magazine for a number of years http://archives.nodepression.com/artist/avett-brothers/
Ferraby's music definitely fits in the roots/Americana vein that No Depression championed so well. It is fair to say that this genre allows for enough musical expression that various instruments can be featured prominently within this category of music. Ferraby's instruments of choice are varied, using drums, guitars, multiple types of stringed instruments, and I think multiple types of keyboard instruments thrown in as well. Most importantly there is his voice that sounds like honey to my ears on almost every track. Perhaps almost too sweet and polished for my ears, but delightful nonetheless. The total effect is songs that have almost an orchestral pop quality to them. Although put on on an indie label, everything about this album has a refined feel to it, with very tight sound and production values. I very much liked these songs- Pocketknife, Sweet Tanzini, and Drag me Around . I found a number of other songs to be solid but not of stand quality out for me. I really dislike track 4 Arkansas and I found the last track Minuteman unremarkable, more of a filler tune for me. In summary I would count The Jack of Hearts as a classy honkytonk album of a high order. Most importantly Mr. Lionheart and I are now in a right and proper relationship, no more gnashing of teeth or wearing of ashen sackcloth for me when I here his name or his music.
The Avett Brothers use many of the same instruments as Lionheart but the effect and tone of their music is much different for me. They do add in some banjo on some songs as well, which is a happy addition for me. Overall they have more of a hootenanny approach and less tightly constructed sound. Although I will say I and Love and You is more structured than much of their earlier material . Furthermore the vocals of Seth and Scott Avett are ragged and have a beer and cigarettes tinge rather than the honey flavor tones of Ferraby. It is uncommon for me to listen an album and not find at least one or two songs to be filler or uninteresting, so this album proves the exception to the rule since I like along the songs on this album. Some real highlights for me are Head Full of Doubt, The Perfect Space, Kick Drum Heart and Slight Figure of Speech. Unlike the last reviewer of I and Love and You, I find this album to be an absolute gem. As such I have to cannibalize bands I like against each other in this round, just as I did in the last round.
The Avett Brothers advance to next round.
Listened to each of these 5 times or so in the last week. Arcade Fire wins; the proof is left as an exercise for the reader.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Like I said, I hadn't listened to Deerhunter, and I'm glad I got them in this matchup. The double album thing is kind of problematic here and I'm having a hard time thinking of them as one unit because they seem distinctly different to me. Microcastle seems like what I'd expect to be considered good music right now. It has a mix of moody, atmospheric songs that sound like the album cover looks (too bad it's not here, huh?) and some nice beat-driven stuff with drumming that's just fuzzy and haphazard enough to feel warm, but good enough to complement the rest of the music well. I really like how the song, "Microcastle," does both. But then I just get kind of bogged down and everything kind of melts together.
As someone who is far more impressed with Jeff's beard than either album, I find it difficult to offer anything of value in this debate. In fact, I don't think there is a debate to have.
The Fame Monster is just not my cup of tea. It was a little too much Madonna + George Michael for me... and while I don't mind either of those artists, I really don't want to listen to them either.
Merriweather Post Pavillion didn't do anything for me either. Nothing. I'm pretty sure I had my volume adjusted correctly, and I wasn't doing anything else of substance while listening. The one positive I'll give this album is that I kept asking myself why it isn't doing anything for me.
Animal Collective moves on, if only because I'm probably not smart enough to understand it. Whereas Lady Ga Ga makes me feel like I'm buying Art at Best Buy.