Wednesday, October 15, 2014

David Bazan and Passenger String Quartet - Volume 1 (Undertow, 2014)

David Bazan and Passenger String Quartet
Volume 1
Undertow
2014

Rating: 7 worn out rugs out of 10

If you ever said to yourself "I wish David Bazan would re-record some of his songs with a string quartet," well have I got a treat for you!  As a fan of Bazan and Pedro the Lion, it was a shoe-in I would like this, the question was just how much.  I might have picked some different tracks to include here, but since he did include a couple of my favorite songs ("When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run," "Priests and Paramedics") there will be no need to riot or protest.  To be completely honest I'm not sure I needed to hear his songs with strings added - his voice carries all the emotion of his music in my opinion - but it's pretty, and dammit sometimes that is enough of a reason to do something. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista, 2014)

Spoon
They Want My Soul
Loma Vista
2014

Rating: 6 depressed orangutans out of 10

I was surely gonna write something deep and insightful about this new Spoon record like I do with all of my reviews, but I just can't.  I don't think I care anymore.  Not sure if it's the band or me or (most likely) a little of both, but I just haven't given a shit about any of their records since probably 2005's "Gimme Fiction."  It still sounds like Spoon though, and it always will as long as Britt Daniel is piloting the ship, but something is missing...it might just be overproduced and not raw enough, or maybe it's more.  It's probably no coincidence that their best record is still "Girls Can Tell," and it sounds like it might have been recorded in the janitor's closet of a run-down laundromat. 

Most bands can't manage one great album, Spoon has had two or three.  This isn't one of them...but it's fine.  Totally fine, and forgettable.  Does make me want to listen to "Girls Can Tell" or "Kill the Moonlight" though. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Rosebuds - Sand + Silence (Western Vinyl, 2014)

The Rosebuds
Sand + Silence
Western Vinyl
2014

Rating: 7.5 scratching dogs out of 10

It's not like I ever wrote an unbiased review of any recording by the Rosebuds, but now with one of my best friends touring with them it's definitely right out the window.  Nonetheless, I maintain this is a great collection of pop songs, possibly their best since 2005's "Birds Make Good Neighbors."  Opener "In My Teeth" is an instant top five favorite by the band, and the following title track isn't that far behind.  Unfortunately it goes downhill from there, but only on a slight downgrade; the fourth song "Blue Eyes" seems to be the one I get stuck in my head the most even if it does sound more like a tune from a decade ago they are just now putting on a record.   This album is their first since their break with Merge, who have released all of their other full-lengths.  Regardless of label, the Rosebuds still manage to churn out catchy songs that I would definitely love even if I didn't know these kids for nearly two decades. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers
Split 7''
Merge
2014

Rating: 7 freaky dates out of 10

More Merge subscription madness.  This recent resurgence of Redd Kross has been delightful, from their 2012 record "Researching the Blues" to their half of this split, "Leave It Where You Found It."  So catchy and rad.  To continue my trend from the last couple of splits, I don't know shit about Vertical Scratchers...I thought I was more tuned in on most/all Merge releases, but apparently not!  I like their song here, "Jackie's Favorite," a jangly pop creation with some interesting falsetto vocals on top.  Need to track down their full-length now. 

Also, the record is pink so I'm not sure where the color is in the picture above.  Somebody done fucked up. 

The Polyphonic Spree & Grandaddy - Split 7'' (Birdman, 2003)

The Polyphonic Spree & Grandaddy
Split 7''
Birdman
2003

Rating: 7.5 Bolivian tornadoes out of 10

A split from the two of the hot shit acts of the early oughts.  The Polyphonic Spree delivers "The March," which sounds, um, pretty much like other Polyphonic Spree songs of the era.  That is to say, orchestral and big.  The better of the two is the Grandaddy track "The Rugged and Splintered Entertainment Center," which sounds like it was conceived, performed and recorded underwater.  Goofy ass band, but I love them.  Neither of these songs are anywhere else - well, the Spree song was also on another single I think, but that's it. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guided By Voices - Males Of Wormwood Mars 7'' (Guided By Voices Inc., 2014)

Guided By Voices
Males Of Wormwood Mars 7''
Guided By Voices Inc.

2014

Rating: 7 partial airedales out of 10

As always it's next to impossible to keep up with the release schedule of Guided by Voices, but this seven inch caught my ear.  Both the title track and the b-side "A Year That Could Have Been Worse" sound like vintage GBV with plenty of hooks and a lo-fi crunch to the sound.  In fact the b-side sounds so, well, wonky, that it sounds like one of their very early songs.  I'm digging it.  The actual vinyl is sold out so you'll have to let the internet fix things for you here like I did.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fujiya & Miyagi - Artificial Sweeteners (Yep Roc, 2014)

Fujiya & Miyagi
Artificial Sweeteners
Yep Roc
2014

Rating: 7.5 blind snares out of 10

Fujiya & Miyagi is a band stuck between two worlds - the electronic party anthems of Daft Punk and the vintage krautrock of Kraftwerk.  Well, stuck isn't the right word, because that makes it sound like they're in a position they don't wanna be in, when I'm guessing they're exactly where they hoped to be.  You have an opener like "Flaws" that sound like it is destined for the dance floor, and then two songs later the instrumental "Rayleigh Scattering" sounds like a partner song for Kraftwerk's "Tour de France," and the next track "Artificial Sweeteners" employs the same type of lyrical repetitiveness as "Autobahn" or "Pocket Calculator."  It's a nice mix that really works well for me, and I'm glad to have randomly stumbled upon this.  

As a side note, it's totally weird this is out on Yep Roc, home to lots of  aging (gracefully) rockers, adult pop, and alt-country, but it was totally smart on their part to infuse a little fresh (and hip) blood in with the vets. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

East River Pipe / Reigning Sound - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

East River Pipe / Reigning Sound
Split 7''
Merge
2014

Rating: 7.5 fundamental flossings out of 10

East River Pipe are one of a very small set of bands on Merge that I've never really listened to.  No reason why really, they just never entered my radar.  Now that I finally own something by them - it's good!  If this song is indicative, laid-back keyboard pop, makes me think of other "adult indie pop" as I call it, stuff like Fruit Bats and Pernice Brothers and all that.  

That was side A - side B is the Reigning Sound, and I'm plenty familiar with them.  Their track is an acoustic version of "Falling Rain," with the regular version on their most recent album "Shattered."  Great song regardless of how it's played, but it is interesting hearing Greg Cartwright play by himself with just an acoustic guitar and a little backing pedal steel. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Superchunk - Ribbon 7'' (Merge, 1994)

Superchunk
Ribbon 7''
Merge
1994

Rating: 9 fetal vans out of 10

Two great classic Superchunk songs that I previously only knew from the "Incidental Music" singles compilation, but now own on vinyl.  These are from their golden era when they had so many good songs they didn't even bother putting some of them on proper full-lengths. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Superchunk - Live in NYC 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Superchunk
Live in NYC 7''
Merge
2014

Rating: 7.5 motorized questions out of 10

I got this Superchunk seven inch in my goody bag when I picked up my Merge 25 festival pass.  While I'd like to think I'm special, I'm pretty sure everyone who bought a pass got one.  This would get a thumbs up if I paid for it, and it gets a super duper thumbs up since I got it for free.  And now, out of sheer laziness, I'm going to steal the description of the release straight from the Merge website (where you can now buy a copy if you are so inclined):

On September 28, 2013, Eleanor Friedberger joined Superchunk onstage at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC to lend her vocals to covers of The Ramones’ “Oh Oh I Love Her So” and Patti Smith’s “Free Money.” Those two recordings are collected on this limited-edition 7-inch, which features cover art by Casey Burns.

Les Savy Fav - Let's Get Out Of Here 7'' (Frenchkiss / Wichita, 2010)

Les Savy Fav
Let's Get Out Of Here 7''
Frenchkiss / Wichita
2010

Rating: 7 squeaky feet out of 10

I think the record store gave me this when I bought Les Savy Fav record "Root for Ruin," and I always thought it was an odd giveaway / bonus considering both of the songs on this record (the title track and "Sleepless in Silverlake") are also on the full length.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to own anything Les Savy Fav put out, but this is pretty redundant.  Still, both of the songs are excellent regardless. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Total Control - Typical System (Iron Lung, 2014)

Total Control
Typical System
Iron Lung
2014

Rating: 7.5 sassy dogs out of 10

I'm trying to think of a smart or witty way to say this Total Control record "Typical System" sounds pretty much exactly like an early Gary Numan record, but I can't find my way around it.  Bear in mind this is definitely not a complaint - I've actually been listening to a fair amount of Numan lately, and this slides nicely into a playlist with him.  The vocals are a little more laid back/less paranoid sounding than Numan, but I'd be hard pressed to find many more differences than that.  I actually thought the second song "Expensive Dog" was a Tubeway Army cover at first, and don't get me started with the following song "Flesh War" - I'm pretty sure that synth line is directly lifted from Numan. 

Let me really reiterate that I don't give a shit, not even a little one, that these songs sound just like Gary Numan.  Catchy songs are catchy songs, and I plan on listening to these quite a bit...can't say that I give a good goddamn if it's a rip-off of someone else or not. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spider Bags - Frozen Letter (Merge, 2014)

Spider Bags
Frozen Letter
Merge
2014

Rating: 7.5 stages of healing out of 10

There is much to like on this new album by the Spider Bags called "Frozen Letter" - but like in the past, the recorded material just doesn't do their live performances justice.  On wax they come across as a very likeable but somewhat straight-forward garage rock band; not a damn thing wrong with that, and in fact I'm certain I'll listen to this record quite a lot just like I did with their previous effort "Shake My Head."  The songs offer plenty of hooks paired with fuzz and distortion and even the occasional cowbell - immediate highlights include "Japanese Vacation" and "Summer of '79."  There are also jams that fall out of the garage rock mold, "Coffin Car" and "Walking Bubble" specifically,  that approach something akin to Giant Sand's take on fractured country.  

But live, man...live they're a different beast, a squirming mass of caged animals in the form of a rock band, sweaty and ferocious and usually a little drunk and it's just a scene that is hard to adequately put into words no matter how many times I have the pleasure of seeing them.  So listen to this record for sure - it may end up one of my favorites of the year.  More importantly, if they ever play anywhere near you, drug your own father* and steal his car if that's what it takes to get to the gig.     

*Don't be an asshole and actually drug your father or anyone else for that matter.  Just steal his keys when he isn't looking. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Easybeats - Friday On My Mind 7'' (United Artists, 1966)

The Easybeats
Friday On My Mind 7''
United Artists
1966

Rating: 8.5 sweaty bottles out of 10

The song, "Friday on My Mind" by the Easybeats, the "Beatles of Australia," is one of my all-time favorites from this era. So catchy and upbeat, it's the sort of song that I think a lot of people forget about until they hear it and then exclaim "oh yeah I love this song!"  The track hit number 16 on the US charts...should have been much higher.  The b-side is also good, but the name is better - "Made My Bed: Gonna Lie In It."  The rare colon in a song title!  It's the small pleasures...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Capitol City Dusters / Aina - Split 7'' (Superbad / Dischord, 1999)

The Capitol City Dusters / Aina
Split 7''
Superbad / Dischord
1999

Rating: 7 reported casts out of 10

I'm not sure where I have heard the Capitol City Dusters track at other than this release, but it sounds very familiar to me.  Maybe it just comes from the same place as their other Washington DC indie punk songs, but wither way it's pretty decent.  I'd never even heard of the band on the b side before, Aina, but their track "Lutton Can Wait" sounds like a mash-up of Jawbox and the Archers of Loaf, so I'm backing it.