Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Life - Help Wanted Nights

While putting the crunchy vocals of Tim Kasher slightly ahead of brushed drums, Album of the Year wasn’t. Murky, subdued. Vivid and listless. 37 shades of tri-color rotini. Having an actual band, instead of whoever happens to be wandering through Omaha, keeps this album expansive, consistent, and crunchy in all the right ways. It’s like sticking pop songs in the broiler. What’s more spectacular is that this album is nothing more than archetypes and clich├ęs of small town drunks and whores. An abstraction of Tim’s first movie. But he abstracts them so well, that the cheesy parts don’t seem cheesy and the serious parts aren’t taken all too seriously. It keeps everything focused on lodging his wailing and guitar howling and drum drummering deep inside your log cabin mind.

Charlemagne

Down at the Orange Jubilee of Indie Music, on the menu sitting comfortably above Eclectic Noise Band and right below Post-Post-Neo-Contemporary-Post-Punk, you’ll find a nice, tall, refreshing ‘90s College Rock Revival Smoothie. Made from finely aged Dinosaur Jr licks, Pavement vocals, and early REM sensibilities, Carl John’s Charlemagne project goes well with everything. It’s crafted meticulously to make those on the verge of getting their first mortgage to feel the early pangs of nostalgia. If you have wanted to fight the mainstream, be a director to show the world your vision, or have thought that girls are hottest with Jennifer Aniston haircuts and Star Jones sized shirts in the past 15 years, this record is for you. When you are moving into your house and all of your

MV and EE

From the back porch, rain of indeterminate origin hazes down over patched earth. Water pools around the muddied city, skyscrapers of ambling weeds struggling to stay afloat. Concrete relics, yard art no one remembers buying stand alongside forgotten pine trees as the rain keeps falling. From behind you, from the door, wafts must, dirt, dust from the stack of vinyl. Neil Young. Pink Floyd. Moby Grape. As you sit on the porch, wood on wood, smoking hash, watching the rain fall. That is this album. It draws on enough classic rock, reverb and fuzz guitar drones, screeching, and psychedelic wailing while using enough modern era lingo to keep it fresh..

Drug Rug

Tommy Allen and Sarah Cronin met in a bar, fell in love, exchanged demo tapes. You know how this works. Forming Drug Rug, inviting some friends along the way, they ambled through this album, happily indulgent in their new relationship. Really, though, I wish they would have saved the music for later, because someone needs to punch Sarah Cronin in the face. This is a solid '60s psychedelic pop sound a la the Byrds meets modern indie twee sensibilities in a lo fi recording studio kind of album. Think chicken jello, vietnam, and plastics - along with a whole lot of hash. Except on the songs where Sarah Cronin gets out of control.

Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War

Twee was cute. Sweater vests and androgynous hair cuts were adorable. But Stars? Stars are pure, uncut lines of snow white bunny magic that shimmers Richard Simmons rainbows. Synth, duets, songs about heartbreak. Some may remember them from Heart or Set Yourself On Fire, the album that brought them O.C. success. Some may remember them from their kid sister playing them too loud while on the phone with Brad, oh.. that Brad. This isn't as good, but it is typical Stars. No selling out, yet.

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover

Sunset Rubdown is Spencer Krug's non commercial, least successful project, but the one he has the most control over. And we are better off for that. These songs aren't immediately accessible, but there is an honestly in their dense, suffocating nature. All the songs blend together so perfectly that it takes nearly the whole hour before you realize that songs are actually happening. Motifs about violins and random guitar melodies show up throughout these songs, further emphasizing the album over the songs. The feeling is of some crazy musical genius in a room blowing through ideas, one after the other, not bothering to stop and polish them up. No slaving over dubs and masters. Get the songs down and move on. You should play this often. It shows that indie rock is still breathing, that there are bands who are still innovative within the typical constructs of the garage.

Foreign Born - On the Wing Now

As an album, On the Wing Now masterfully begins with a straight rip off of Arcade Fire, but quickly, slowly and subtly falls into a disenchanted neoshoegazing affair. It's only when, by the 9th track, when you want honey, that you even realize you're shoegazing. What an odd state of affairs. What's even odder is that it shoegazes, but not in a wall of sound/droning guitar kind of way. It merely is saturated in delay and reverb, along with amazing production values. None of this dream pop mumble jumble: these are real life, honest to goodness indie pop songs that dance at the gates of self indulgence. Foreign Born is Slowdive sexing up Arcade Fire on a park bench bathed in yellow sodium enriched light.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Iron and Wine - Shepard's Dog

While nothing will ever beat Sam Beam's first couple of albums creeping out of the stereo as the fire crawls from the wall in the room where hands stumble, clasped, holding - your love and you cuddling in a log cabin while Iron and Wine cement in the week long blizzard outside - listening to them by yourself is boring as shit. You've got to be really messed up to make it through a couple of songs. When he started his experimental phase with Calexico, everyone took note. His beautiful lyrics, played faster! Shepard's Dog takes this a step further, creating the lushest, fastest, most melodic album he has ever made. Sam Beam punching through a hazy jungle of ghosts and Gods while monkeys howl out drum riffs and the stand up toucan bass plucks out into the endless sonic canopy.

5. House by the Sea - Juju music! This one needs to be heard to understand how far this man has come. Again, for emphasis, Sam Beam doing juju music!
8. Resurection Fern - A classic Iron and Wine song, done with perfect production, slide guitars, percussion, and backup vocals. This one is so fucking delicious.
10. IS DIRTY, maybe. It says bitching. But this song actually rollicks, and it is ironic to play it on the radio. So, your call...
12. Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Beautiful, spacey waltz.

Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

Half typical Fiery Furnaces, half Fiery Furnaces dressing up as the Ramones for Halloween, Widow City is weird. Think of it as an older, wiser Fiery Furnaces impersonating the younger, more spontaneous Fiery Furnaces. The first half is mostly Bitter Tea/Gallowbird's Park territory, while the latter half falls quickly into this amazing punk rock mash up with an actual no jokes drum set!

Tracks 2, 3, 4 all blend together in the trademark FF fashion, so play together if you want to. They are all similar, typical FF tracks. 3 is the highlight for this group.
Track 5 is this great fuzzy crunchy FF track. Really good, but goes on way too long.
Track 8 on begins to get more dissonant.
10 is my favorite track, as they have never quite been here before. Starts off with a great drum solo, continues on with a fuzzy electronic FF ode to punk. Short and abrasive.
12 is another standout track. Great hook, this is the one you'll be singing days later. Let's call it this albums "Birdie Brain"
13 is one of those that feels like it goes on forever, but not in a bad way. So many tempo changes, so many lyrical shifts.
14 sounds like freaking Patti Smith jamming out with new wave robots. It needs to be experienced.
16 has a minute and half "instrumental" opening. Rest of the song is a really structured yet spontaneous sounding free jazz affair with her singing clearly over top.

Rogue Wave

My Morning Jacket started off sounding like they recorded everything inside of a barn silo. After every frat far and why picked up a copy of Z , after they hit the majors, they still sounded like they were being recorded in a barn silo. This album, which has nothing to do with My Morning Jacket, supposedly required over 150 instruments to record. What small indie band has that many ironic toy instruments lying around? Essentially, I'm getting at Rogue Wave selling out. Although I'm sure this is the album they would have recorded all along, given time and money, it just ambles along, loose and without any anchoring. It really is an odd thing to listen to, the songs just sort of exist, there is no meat to them at all. Space pop at it's finest? I don't know.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Foreign Born - On the Wing

As an album, On the Wing masterfully begins with a straight rip off of Arcade Fire, but quickly, slowly and subtly falls into a disenchanted neoshoegazing affair. It's only when, by the 9th track, when you want honey, that you even realize you're shoegazing. What an odd state of affairs. What's even odder is that it shoegazes, but not in a wall of sound/droning guitar kind of way. It merely is saturated in delay, reverb, and amazing production values. None of this dream pop mumble jumble: these are real life, honest to goodness indie pop songs that dance at the gates of self indulgence. Slowdive as the wedding band for Arcade Fire and Pavement's wedding.

Matt Pond PA - Last Light

Modern blahcore is a diverse, intricate genre. Most fans don't realize that their band is blahcore until their favorite Threadless shirt gets stained at the show from the glitter and massacre of the teenie bopping, sorority girl in training spawns of Satan dancing like coked up chipmunks in front of the stage. While Matt Pond PA's latest.. work.. is one of the lushest, most intricate, and sonically pleasing blahcore albums I've heard in a good long while, it still can't escape its roots. Barely audible female vocals? Awkward call backs during the bridge? Random ass violins? Dumb lyrics ("Wild Girl")? Blahcore, blahcore, blahcore! Still, at times, it really transcends the dollar bin at Wal Mart. And that's why this album is so frustrating. At it's worst, it still is better than almost anything on modern commercial radio. At it's best, it is slightly better. Whatever.