Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tyvek - Time Change 7" (Les Disques Steak, 2011)

Time Change 7"
Les Disques Steak

Rating: 7 pallets of building material out of 10

Anxious music. That's how Tyvek always make me feel - anxious. And I hate feeling anxious, yet I really like Tyvek, so all in all I'm not making a whole helluva lot of sense. Seems like they often get tagged with the "art punk" label, and that's because you're not sure where exactly to stack them. Their music has the ferocity of punk, but a much more primitive song reminds me a lot of a more rough-n-tumble A-Frames, a vastly underrated band that more folks should get hip to. As the group is from Detroit I feel like I should make some parallel to the Detroit sound, but the closest you're going to get these guys to anything Detroit related is maybe Jack White's first band the Upholsterers.

Anyways - Tyvek has released a ton of material, and like most of it this is worth your time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Low - C'mon (Sub Pop, 2011)

Sub Pop

Rating: 8.5 kicked chairs out of 10

Low has released their ninth album, and I'm not entirely sure what to say about other's good. Really, really good. But I say that about all of their albums, because I am very much a fan of anything this band does. This band is now very much a touchstone for describing many other acts, their name now an easily identifiable descriptor meaning "sparse, mellow, haunting folk rock with very strong vocals", or something along those lines. I guess the kids call it "slowcore".

So you really only describe Low in terms of Low - and this a fantastic Low record. I'm not sure where exactly I'd rank it, but definitely in the top half, maybe even top third of the their albums. The only ones I'd rank over for sure right now is "The Curtain Hits the Cast" and "Things We Lost in the Fire", which says a lot in my book. "C'mon" features two songs that were instant favorites upon the very first listen - "Witches" and "Especially Me", and there isn't a clunker in the entire bunch. Even letting Nels Cline (the man largely responsible for nearly destroying Wilco) play on the album didn't turn it to a steaming pile, thankfully.

There is no doubt in my mind this will be one of my top five favorite records at the end of the year. In the even you are keeping track of such things.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Animal Collective - Keep Cassette (Keep, 2011)

Animal Collective
Keep Cassette

Rating: 6 Kiss parodies out of 10

Apparently this short Animal Collective release was a cassette associated with some sort of shoes from Keep. This is what the internet tells me, cause I just downloaded the damn thing and definitely don't need any more shoes...I'm entering Imelda Marcos territory with the number of pairs I've got. I'd never even heard of this company to be honest, but they have a few cool looking pairs and the prices aren't terrible.

Despite the name, this isn't an Animal Collective release - it's a compilation of solo tracks from each of the four members of the band. So, a mini mix tape. I've honestly got no use for the first two songs by Geologist and Avey Tare, but it wraps up nicely with Deakin and Panda Bear. The Deakin track sounds a lot like early seventies Brian Eno, and ain't nothing wrong with that. And the Panda Bear track is downright pop for him, or at least what I've heard of him, which has mostly been loud noise with just a hint of song underneath it. But his work here - big thumbs up.

This thing is already out of print so don't feel bad ganking it online...or at least I didn't.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Danielson - Best Of Gloucester County (Sounds Familyre, 2011)

Best Of Gloucester County
Sounds Familyre

Rating: 7 nurse uniforms out of 10

There are two camps - those who love Danielson and those who can't stand him (and this usually stems from his vocals). Well, I guess there is a third camp, the largest one - those who have no idea who this is, but those are not the sorts of people I choose to concern myself with.

So, a new Danielson's pretty much like every Danielson record. He has a sound, ya know, and this album sticks pretty closely to that formula. Nothing wrong with that, it's true of many artists, it's just that his sound is a lot more quirky than most - and it's a quirky sound that I love, haters be damned. Five years might have passed since his last record "Ships", but musically this might have well come out the next day. It's still very Pixies-meets-orchestral pop, with horns and strings and contributions from a bunch of other artists including Sufjan Stevens, Jens Lekman, Cryptacize, and god knows who else.

Actually, maybe god does now, after all this is music to sing his praises. And if it makes you feel weird listening to christian music, just know the lyrics are often so weird and obtuse that you'd never know. I've never been one to pay a lot of attention to lyrics anyways, so as long as he ain't singing "praise jesus" over and over and keeps the catchy, weird music coming, then I'm going to keep on listening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs (XL, 2011)

The King Of Limbs

Rating: 8 royal elbows out of 10

Part of me would like to make fun of Radiohead, be one of those cool kids denouncing then as the emperor without any clothes. But fuck it, I like their music...and while I've only spent a little time with "The King Of Limbs", I really like this record.

I've honestly been a little ambivalent on their last couple of releases, preferring their material from the late nineties and early aughts. Luck for my ears, this album sounds like it should have come out right after "Amnesiac", as if it were recorded during the same sessions of that album and "Kid A". Lots of glitchy techno-pop with Thom Yorke wailing over top of it, songs that get stuck in your head even if they aren't stereotypically catchy. Plus that is what almost amounts to a ballad, "Codex", that instantly catches the ear. I can just see some kids with sharp angular haircuts slow dancing to it. These kids I'm picturing may or may not look like cartoon characters from the show "Daria".

I can already tell I'm going to listen to the shit out of this's going to be one of those that gets left in the CD player of my car for weeks on end. I like already knowing that. I like already knowing I'll have a good friend riding around with me for the next few months, and for years after that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Apex Manor - The Year Of Magical Drinking (Merge, 2011)

Apex Manor
The Year Of Magical Drinking

Rating: 7 Magic Hat beers out of 10

A friend had a stack of free CDs on his table last I visited him, and I grabbed this Apex Manor disc on a whim figuring it's on Merge, and worst case scenario it would at least be an okay album. I can't think of the last time Merge put out anything that was actually bad. I didn't know shit about this band but it turns out it's the new outfit for the man behind the Broken West, Ross Flournoy. And I liked that act pretty well, but I find myself much more drawn to Apex Manor.

Not that the music is all that terribly different between the two bands - it's still very much a clean pop sound, not overly dependent on hooks and sing-a-long verses. It is what I think of as "adult pop", making me think of Nada Surf or Teenage Fanclub or some of Spoon's offerings. Not that Apex Manor really sounds like any of those bands, they just all attend the same social functions and have a lot of friends in common. Every track on this record feels like an old friend the first time you listen to it, sounding like everyone and no one all at once. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who will find this a bit boring, but straight forward pop rock done this well sounds pretty good to these ears.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop, 2011)

Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues
Sub Pop

Rating: 7.5 slow coyotes out of 10

My first impression on this new Fleet Foxes record - more of the same. And I view that as a good thing, because I really liked the same. With some bands you might be looking for growth, exploration, all that shit - but this is a band firmly implanted on bringing the harmonies and melodies of sixties pop folk to the new century, and they do a really fine job of it. I've had too many bands I love wander off into new territory, looking to expand their sound, only to end up inhabiting a space that I want no part of. This description fits a number of acts, but I'm looking hardest at you, My Morning Jacket. And certainly it's understandable that groups would want to explore new sounds, but if you're really damn talented at something why fuck with a good thing?

I'm quite certains this is going ot get a lot of spins in my car, especially this time of year, when you can drive around with the windows down and enjoy a nice spring breeze. Fans of the first record should rush to pick this up, because it picks up right where the last one left off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You (Labrador, 2011)

Acid House Kings
Music Sounds Better With You

6.5 Daft Punk side projects out of 10

Here I was thinking I'd just lost touch with the Acid House Kings, cause the last thing I heard by them was 2005's "Sing Along With Acid House Kings". But nope, that was the last record they released, and my record of being perfectly in touch with everything and all bands remains untarnished.

This release didn't strike me as instantly sweet and precious as their last album, but that would have been difficult to pull off - that record would make a sugar factory taste sour. It's still very twee and poppy like you'd expect, but a little more of a grower. Perhaps as the years have passed since their previous releases, they've developed a more nuanced sense melody and hooks. It's still a damn decent listen, but I probably prefer my Acid House Kings songs to hit me over the head with cuteness.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lower Dens - Batman 7" (Gnomonsong, 2011)

Lower Dens
Batman 7"

Rating: 6.5 robin eggs out of 10

I saw Lower Dens play live a few months back and stylistically they were all over the map. This seven inch is no different. "Batman", the front half of the record, is a summery lo-fi pop song that sounds nothing like anything I heard them play live. The flip side, "Dear Betty Baby" is a mellow Beach House-type dirge that sounds even less like their other material than the A-side. I think these guys are trying to fuck with my head by not letting me box them into a "sounds like" category. This makes me a little mad because my mathematical side likes to break everyone down to a simple equation. Whatever, the songs are both pretty good - I actually prefer the B-side the most. Worth seeking out.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Destroyer - Kaputt (Merge, 2011)


8 sudden endings out of 10

I've been listening to Destroyer so long, I don't even really know how to review it. Destroyer has become a touchstone for other reviews, like a basic building block of life. How do you review helium or carbon or unununium? They just are. Destroyer just is.

I guess you compare it to other Destroyer records. It's not really like anything else he has released, but it doesn't feel out of place in his catalog either. The main man behind the band, Dan Bejar, has moved through a few different phases in his career. He started with off-kilter folk aka "albums I don't listen to very much", and then around "Thief" he started exploring his glam-pop David Bowie/T-Rex side. This culminated in his best work "Streethawk: A Seduction", a collection of some the greatest pop songs of the last 25 years. Then he decided to make a synth-pop record all by himself with "Your Blues", and then later re-recorded some of those songs live with Frog Eyes for the "Notorious Lightening" EP (my second favorite release, if you're keeping count). After that, it was a slow transition through a couple of records to the mature-yet-experimental adult pop that is "Kaputt".

Outside of "Savage Night at the Opera", there aren't a lot of hooks here like with most of Destroyer's records. These songs are slow burners, taking multiple listens before they worm their way into your brain like a case of herpes left untreated. It's a record for late-night solo drives down country roads, just you and one musical madman's musings. He ends the release with the song "Bay of Pigs" from the self-titled EP from 2009, an eleven minute long self-described "ambient disco" track that perfectly bleeds out of this sophisticated pop opus. And bleeds back into it, if you're listening to it on repeat like I have been.