Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tyvek - Live at Third Man (Third Man, 2010)

Live at Third Man

Third Man


Rating: 8 palates of roofing material out of 10

Is it weird that my favorite record by Tyvek is this live one? I guess if it worked for Cheap Trick, why not for them.

Where I might typically describe this band as "art-punk" and probably make some comparisons to Gang of Four or the A-Frames, this live recording is just straight up old school snarling punk goodness. And the recording is fantastic...I might make the vocals a hair louder, but everything sounds clean and crisp, almost as if it were a studio album recorded to sound like a live one. With 18 songs running just over 35 minutes, if you're not happy with one song you won't have to wait long for another. But then again if you're not happy with these songs I'm not sure what you're doing with the hard-to-find record in the first place.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bon Iver - Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar, 2011)

Bon Iver
Bon Iver



7.5 Bob Ross paintings out of 10

It seems like I'm always using the phrase "I like Peter Gabriel as much as the next guy, but..." in various internet arguments, but I don't think using th
at statement with Bon Iver would be very accurate. Apparently they LOVE Peter Gabriel, so much so that they decided to take it upon themselves to record a Peter Gabriel cover record without using any of his actual songs.

All snarkiness aside, I'm really digging this record (and let it be stated I also like Peter Gabriel's sappy eighties output). This is definitely not a repeat of "For Emma, Forever Ago" - the sparse beauty that made that album stand out has been replaced by copious instrumentation. But no matter what sounds the band is making (or not making), the whole package is wrapped in Justin Vernon's haunting falsetto vocals, and let's be honest - those vocals are the reason most of us are drawn to this material. If you were completely married to the style of that first record it's possible you won't enjoy this follow-up, but I've got to think that's a pretty small percentage of Bon Iver fans.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips 2011: Gummy Song Skull (Self-Released, 2011)

The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips 2011: Gummy Song Skull



6.5 day-glo worms out of 10

The Flaming Lips have been EP crazy this year, and this one is the craziest. Four songs stored on a USB drive inside of a gummy skull. As it says on their website "Eat your way to the new music!!!". Oh yeah, and it costs a hundred and fifty bucks...so obviously I stole these songs online. While I love both gummy candies and this band, I'm not that gullible. To their credit, this gummy skull appears to be actual skull sized, so at least you get a shitload of gummy.

Hopefully the other fans out there are as resourceful as I am though, because these songs are pretty damn good. The opener "Drug Chart" is a quick favorite, and as close to a "Soft Bulletin" type pop song as they've released in some time. The rest of the songs are a little more out there, almost ambient and atmospheric but still plenty weird in that Flaming Lips sort of way.

And now I have a strong urge to eat some gummy worms.

(Also, I can't figure out who technically released this - I highly doubt Warner Brothers had anything to do with it, but who knows with this band.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Fresh & Onlys - Secret Walls (Sacred Bones, 2011)

The Fresh & Onlys
Secret Walls

Sacred Bones


7 sliding glass doors out of 10

Maybe it's me getting older, but I really love the path The Fresh & Onlys have taken, from jangly garage pop band to their current state of mature pop with the slightest hint of western twang...and I say that as a lover of jangly garage pop. It's just that there aren't many bands out there playing this sort of music, much less doing it as well as the F&Os are doing it right now. If their debut album was akin to early Kinks or some of the Nuggets bands, this EP comes in wearing more of a Zombies guise, only sung in a much deeper voice. It vaguely psychedelic in places, and a hair dark (I'm no musician but I think a lot of minor chords are getting played here), but mostly this is a nice set of five pop songs clocking in at under twenty minutes that is well worth searching out. The track "Wash Over Us" is particularly good, and recommended.

My Morning Jacket - Circuital (ATO, 2011)

My Morning Jacket



Rating: 3 sad crying clowns out of 10

I'll say this much - this new My Morning Jacket record isn't as awful as their previous release, 2008's "Evil Urges". But I really, really don't like it. Yeah, I could probably give it more of a chance, but when my first instinct is to skip every song 45 seconds in, that's a pretty bad starting point. Never has a band gone from so high on my list of favorite bands to completely disappearing from it. I still listen to "At Dawn" ALL THE TIME. If there was even a hint of that sound on their new material, I'd probably tolerate it...but the only similarities between that music and the current output is a band name. Hell, Jim James doesn't even sing the same anymore. I think aliens or bigfoots might be responsible for this tragedy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Dodos - No Color (French Kiss, 2011)

The Dodos
No Color

French Kiss


Rating: 7.5 transgendered terns out of 10

It felt as if The Dodos were getting more and more professional, more and more polished with each release, which in turn was driving some fans (myself included) away from the band because it was sorta contrary to what brought us to love them in the first place. Well, "drive away" is a bit strong, but let's say I hadn't been feeling as excited about the group as I had in the past. In fact, their new album "No Color" has been sitting on my for a couple of months because I just wasn't that eager to start listening to it.

And as is often the case, I was a damn fool for putting it off so long. This is a great, great record. They seemed to have re-found that immediacy and intimacy their early music had, the very sound that got me excited about the band the first time I heard them at some random afternoon show at Thee Parkside in SF many years ago. The music still sounds well produced though not overly so. And most importantly, there are hooks and catchy songs for days.

Maybe this will serve as a lesson to stop sleeping on groups I love just because they've grown their sound. I highly doubt that happens, but I'll definitely not let a Dodos album sit around for so long again.

Lower Dens - Deer Knives 7" (Sub Pop, 2011)

Lower Dens
Deer Knives 7"
Sub Pop
Rating: 6 Bodymore Murderlands out of 10

This was the Lower Dens addition to all of the exclusive Record Store Day releases, and it's not a bad addition. Not as quirky as other music they've put out, both songs sound like the band might slowly be morphing into Beach House, or a non-electronic version of Stereolab. They're good songs though...maybe not crucial, but if you happen across them they're worth a listen. I still haven't decided how big of a fan of this band I am, but they seem to be building a decent foundation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light (Interscope, 2011)

TV On The Radio
Nine Types Of Light


Rating: 5 little TVs sitting on top of big TVs out of 10

I keep waiting for TV On The Radio to release another record as good as their first, "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes", and it keeps not happening. And a big fat "goddammit" to that. It's hard to be mad at the band though - they keep growing as musicians and artists, but my heart is still stuck in those sounds they produced over seven years ago. This isn't a bad record, it just isn't what I want to hear them doing. More than anything, to put it crudely, it doesn't "rock out". I want them to rock out, cause they do it really well. I've "outgrown" a lot of bands over the years, but I think this is an example of the band outgrowing me.

Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter - Marble Son (Fargo, 2011)

Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter
Marble Son



Rating: 6.5 LSD-laced grilled cheeses out of 10

I listened to the ever-loving shit out of the second Jesse Sykes record "Oh, My Girl", but I honestly hadn't given her a ton of thought until coming across this newest release by her called "Marble Son". To be honest, it didn't grab m
e as instantly as "Oh, My Girl", but few things in life have. All of the same root pieces are there but the songs aren't as immediately catchy. No, this album is a slow burner, one that slowly seeps into your psyche, burrows in there like some of those house eating bees, and just eats away at your brain...but, you know, in a good way. Imagine having your brain slowly eaten away by bugs in a positive fashion, like, if they were smiling the whole time or something.

The more I listen to it, the more this record sounds like a female-fronted Grateful Dead album. The double vocals, the intertwining, noodly guitar lines...you can just see a girl in a sun dress and a ton of armpit hair spinning in circles to these songs. The song "servant Of Your Vision" might be the most perfect example of this sound on the record, but all of the songs roughly fit this description. Some may find this description off-putting. Hell, I probably would if I wasn't the one making it, but I'm enjoying the album, hippieness be damned.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital (Sub Pop, 2011)

Handsome Furs
Sound Kapital

Sub Pop

Rating: 8 full-on boners out of 10

I'm sure there are probably reviews out there that don't talk about how hot Alexei Perry is, the non-Wolf Parade half of the duo Handsome Furs...but it ain't going to be this review. I don't think the above naked picture on the cover of their newest record "Sound Kapital" is her, but take one look at this photo and try not to feel a little tingly in your nether regions:

As much as I love Dan Boeckner's musical abilities, I'd prefer he weren't in this photo, as he's just obscuring my ability to gawk at her. And a recent viewing of the band live proved that she might be even hotter in person. I found it impossible not to stare at her like a perv the entire show.

Now, on to the music, and specifically this new record. Let it be stated that I didn't even know there was an amazingly hot woman in this band when I first started listening to them, so my love of the music is not based purely on superficial desires. No, that love is based on them putting out one song after another of the catchiest electro-pop heartland rock. Because Boeckner is singing, it's impossible not to compare them to Wolf Parade, but I've got to be honest - I like Handsome Furs even more than Wolf Parade, and I'm not sure it's even close. The middle section of this record - "Bury Me Standing", "Memories of the Future", and "Serve the People" - are three of the best songs Boeckner has ever been involved with, and easily some of my favorite music of the year. This will definitely make my top ten list for 2011, and in the top half of it probably.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

David Bazan - Strange Negotiations (Barsuk, 2011)

David Bazan
Strange Negotiations


Rating: 7 silky manes out of 10

It seems like all the talk over the last couple David Bazan (aka Pedro the Lion) solo records is how he's turned away from God-Christianity-religious business. And no doubt that religiosity brought a lot of listeners to his tunes, but it wasn't the be-all end-all. I'm about as far from religious as you can get and I've loved the dude's music for well over a decade. Because his lyrics were never hit-you-over-the-head with their higher power praise like most all contemporary christian music, Bazan also gathered a rather healthy roster of secular fans, so to that group this talk of change doesn't add up to much. All that really matters is one thing - are the songs any good?

Yes. Yes the songs are very good. They're very David Bazan/Pedro the Lion. Old fans who don't really give a shit about lyrics (aka myself) aren't even going to notice much of a difference. It's mostly introspective electrified folk music, with the occasional upbeat rocker (the track "People" fits this description nicely, and is a great track). Bazan's mostly monotone voice is still there leading the way, and you could easily stick one of these songs on an older record and never miss a beat.