Friday, July 29, 2011

Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread (Drag City, 2011)

Ty Segall
Goodbye Bread

Drag City


6 bags of seagull food out of 10

I like this Ty Segall record but I love the's a goddamn bloodhound people! Let's get excited!!! Ty certainly doesn't sound very excited, he sounds like his love of garage pop records and downers coincided on this platter. The whole thing sounds like it was recorded at the same syrupy tempo, which ain't bad for a few songs but over the course of the entire album does drag a little. Actually, it literally sounds like a dragging record at times...I keep wanting to adjust the tempo control. But don't get me wrong, there are some good tracks here - the back-to-back of "You Make The Sun Fry" and "I Can't Feel It" are quite nice.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Centro-matic - Candidate Waltz (Undertow Music Collective, 2011)

Candidate Waltz

Undertow Music Collective


7.5 Denton playboys out of 10

I've never tried to write a review of Centro-matic, and for good reason - despite loving the dude/band, I don't have a fuckin' clue how to describe his music to anyone else. Heartland alt-country? But that's not a very fitting description of this new album, which is as upbeat and rockin' as anything Will Johnson has recorded.
You can't compartmentalize them, and I'm someone who likes everything in neat little boxes. Many of the songs almost feel anxious in a post-punk sort of way, without sound post-punk at all. Well, album closer "If They Talk You Down" might have a big toe in that genre. At around 33 minutes the album is nearly over before it even starts, but maybe that's a good thing because it just makes you want to listen over and over again. This is a really great record, and one I'll be playing a lot over the next few months.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Men - Leave Home (Sacred Bones, 2011)

The Men
Leave Home

Sacred Bones


6 priest skulls out of 10

For example number 45,962 that everything old is new again, the imaginatively named The Men have popped on the scene as this generation's Polvo. Not that the original Polvo isn't still going strong, and preferred by this reviewer, but it was really only a matter of time before this happened. Well, to be perfectly fair it's Polvo crossed with a little surf rock wit ha shit ton of that blown out speaker/fuzz rock sound that everyone and their brother seems to be using these days. Not that I mind it, but let's tone it down a little bit people. Less is more is a statement that works for almost everything. I guess you could throw a Sonic Youth reference in there too, but it would seem a little redundant including them with Polvo.

all that might sound a bit dismissive, but I've actually enjoyed this debut record. I'm guessing they are noisy and awesome live and hope to find out soon. A nice start for sure - they might be wearing their influences a little too heavily, but at least they're pretty good influences.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73 - The Flaming Lips 2011: The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73 (Warner Bros, 2011)

The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73
The Flaming Lips 2011:
The Flaming Lips with Prefuse 73
Warner Bros


5.5 burning bushes out of 10

The Flaming Lips have been on a serious EP releasin' tear this year, and this one, wherein they team up with Prefuse 73, is the most bizarre and "out there" one of the bunch. It's very noisy, spacy, almost zen...I almost changed into yoga pants while listening to it, and I don't even own any yoga pants. Really, the opener "The Super Moon Made Me Wanna Pee!!!" is the only thing that comes close to the sort of songs you would expect out of the Lips, or at least would expect out of them these days. The other three tracks, which are more sonic soundscapes than they are songs, sound like a combination of really early Lips with, well, someone like Prefuse 73. Not the best EP for pop fans, but those who dig the more experimental side of things might be into this.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nada Surf - The Moon Is Calling 7" (Barsuk, 2011)

Nada Surf
The Moon Is Calling 7"



9 smelly wookies out of 10

This seven inch, yet another in a ton of Record Store Day 2011 releases I've listened to, is a preview of a couple of tracks that Nada Surf say they will include in their next full-length album due...soon hopefully. Because both of these songs are damn near perfection right from the first listen. According to the write-up on the Barsuk site they are demos, but they sound pretty damn finished to me. I wouldn't change a single thing about either "The Moon Is Calling" or the b-side "You're Going To Miss The Wood". Like Spoon and a few of the other more mature pop bands going strong these days, they seem to get better with each successive release.

The Appleseed Cast - Middle States (Graveface, 2011)

The Appleseed Cast
Middle States



Rating: 5.5 tin pans worn as hats out of 10

I've long been a fan of the Appleseed Cast, but the sort of fan who likes their records, listens to them for a little while, and then totally forgets about them. To be honest, I didn't even know they were still around until this album crossed my computer. Well, at least they seem to be calling it an album, but at four songs and under thirty minutes this is an EP in my book. But that only matters to assholes like me who get anal retentive about classifications.

The last time I really paid a lot of attention to this band was 2003's "Two Conversations", a fantastic record of post-emo-post-rock with lots of sonic exploration but still within the confines of the traditional rock song. Their music is quite catchy but not really poppy, if you know what I mean. Honestly, this EP only hits that territory for me in one of the four songs, the title track "Middle States". But it hits really hard on that one, one of their best songs of all time. The rest of it kinda fills a touch like filler, or maybe the greatness of that song just makes everything else feel mediocre. At a minimum, if you're a fan of this band hunt out the title track, and who knows, maybe the rest of it will stroke you properly as well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Herman Düne - Strange Moosic (Fortuna Pop, 2011)

Herman Düne
Strange Moosic
Fortuna Pop

6.5 Swedish meatballs in gravy out of 10

We're all pretty much in agreement that Herman Düne is just the modern version of Jonathan Richman right? Not that the current version of Jonathan Richman isn't also the modern version of Jonathan Richman, obviously. But I'll be damned if
Düne doesn't give me that same warm feeling, the jangly shambolic folk pop, the talk singing, all of that.

This new record "Strange Moosic" differs from their older output in that they got some fancy professional producer in the studio with them for the first time, but I'll be honest it sounds pretty much like any other Herman
Düne record to me. Maybe the recording is better, who knows. Thing is, this sort of music doesn't need polish or shine - the imperfections are part of what makes it so great, so endearing. To that producers credit, my lack of being able to tell he did anything is a good thing. The dude apparently understood the vibe of this group and kept that intact.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Fat Possum, 2011)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Fat Possum


Rating: 5 engorged marmots out of 10

I know
Unknown Mortal Orchestra are one of the hot new buzz bands going right now, lots of kids digging then and all that shit. And the music ain't bad, fairly catchy pop songs, maybe a little more falsetto singing than is necessary, but not bad. But here's the thing - they sound pretty much just like Super Furry Animals. Well, SFA if they were being played from a shitty tape deck at the end of a long metal pipe. You could certainly do much worse if you're looking to hear some lo-fi soul-tinged pop music, but it just makes me want to break out "Rings Around The World" or "Phantom Power".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

White Hills - H-p1 (Thrill Jockey, 2011)

White Hills

Thrill Jockey


7 mounds of cocaine out of 10

I guess you'd most simply classify this album by White Hills as shoegaze-krautrock-metal? Shokrautal? That might be the dumbest thing I've ever said, a statement not without plenty of competition. I guess the most obvious touchstones are Hawkwind and Can and Tortoise and My Bloody Valentine and Ride and Brian Eno get the idea. My lack of words for this record are inversely proportional to the length of it, coming in at better than 70 minutes. And also my enjoyment, cause I'm digging the shit out of zones you out just the right amount, then whips back around to some swirling guitar-heavy jams, then back to powerline buzz, then it sounds like there is a bee trapped in the room with me, and all of the sudden it's like the lost soundtrack to the film "Wargames", and now I've totally forgotten where I was going with this. I think what I'm trying to say is this is awesome.

Wilco - I Might 7" (dBpm, 2011)

I Might 7"
Rating: 7.5 so-it-goes out of 10

Even if the output of Wilco since "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" has been pretty spotty (not critically, just for my enjoyment level), I'll continue to check out everything they release. They are responsible for two of my very favorite records of all time after all - "Being there" and "Summerteeth".

So "I Might" is a pretty damn good song. Very upbeat. Make it a hair twangier and it would have fit on the first record. Sounds like a song that is going to be used in a car commercial very soon, which I suppose could be taken as both an insult and a compliment. Certainly a compliment to the band's checkbook.

The b-side "I Love My Label" is a Nick Lowe cover and clearly a poke at this being the first release on their own label dBpm. But Nick Lowe is rad, their treatment of his song is also rad, so that makes this double rad.

Definitely looking forward to the new record.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Black Lips - Arabia Mountain (Vice, 2011)

Black Lips
Arabia Mountain


Rating: 5 pissing contests out of 10

To be perfectly honest, I've never been a huge fan of the Black Lips, and I think it's best to be up front about that right away. My mind is probably made up on this band, but they always seem like a band I SHOULD like, so I keep trying to get into them. And it never sticks. But if there was an album to turn someone around on the band it would probably be the Mark Ronson produced "Arabia Mountain" - it sounds so clean and shiny and new compared to most of their material, they could definitely win over some new fans. I'd guess they are pissing off some of their old fans too, producing this polished album of only slightly interesting garage retreads that sound like they could be B-sides to the Nuggets compilation. But clean or dirty, their music just doesn't hold my attention...their live show didn't either (though one of my very favorite bands Gentleman Jess & His Men opened, so it was worth going). Guess every band ain't for every person, no matter how many times they listen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped (Jagjaguwar, 2011)

Organ Music
Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped


8 wedges of soft cheese out of 10

Apparently, Spencer Krug is crack to me, because I get hooked on his music like a goddamn drug. Moonface is his newest venture, and if you're keeping count at home this is his 87th band or musical group or what-have-you. I guess technically this is just a solo project as all sounds are made by Krug, but he gave it a band name and I find it hard to refer to Moonface as a person. All apologies to anyone actually named Moonface out there, like one of those Zappa kids or something.

The music of Moonface is entirely electronic, mostly made up of organ, synth loops & noise, all held together by electronic drums. But like with all of Krug's other endeavors, his easily identifiable voice stands out above it all, making it instantly identifiable, like an old friend you'd never met before. I suppose one could argue there is a sameness to much of Krug's work, to which I would say who gives a fuck - it sounds awesome. Really, the only one of his bands you might confuse this for is Sunset Rubdown, and maybe only if you weren't paying much attention. I'm paying attention. I'm paying attention to every damn thing this man releases.

Gillian Welch - The Harrow & the Harvest (Acony, 2011)

Gillian Welch
The Harrow & the Harvest

Rating: 7 Neil Young records out of 10

It seems crazy that it's been eight years since Gillian Welch last released a record (2003's "Soul Journey"), but that is what every review was saying and yep, I counted the years myself to make sure an elaborate joke wasn't being played on me. I suppose when the music you release is as timeless and nebulous as her output, release years kinda blur into the background.

And eight years down the road, nothing has changed really - Welch & David Rawlings are still writing songs you'd swear were 200 year old Appalachian mountain ballads. They sound immediate and instantly familiar, like songs your mama would have sung you as a small baby up in the boonies where I grew up. Not my mama, mind you, she would have been much more likely to sing you a Yes or an Alan Parsons Project song, but still. I can't imagine any fans of Welch being disappointed with this release. It appears that what was always will be.

And dig that awesome album art. It makes you want to like the record even more.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jonsi - Go Out EP (XL, 2011)

Go Out EP



Rating: 7 barren valleys out of 10

Say, did you like that Jonsi record? I agree, it was pretty great, sounding like what you'd get if his parent band Sigur Ros decided to make a pop record. Another question - how do you feel about remixes? You're right, if the parent material is good and they don't step on the original too much or get too hammy, it can be a great way to rediscover a song you already love. So it sounds like you might like to check out this "Go Out" EP Jonsi released, four remixes of three different songs from his album "Go". I don't think anyone who dug that record would be disappointed.

As a side note, it had never struck me until this EP how much Jonsi's voice reminds me of Jeremy Enigk at times, especially when Jonsi is singing in his lower register.

13 & God - Own Your Ghost (Anticon, 2011)

13 & God
Own Your Ghost



8 schnitzels bought on International Boulevard out of 10

In 2005 there wasn't much out there that I listened to more than the self-titled debut of "superband" 13 & God. This collaboration between German electro-poppers Notwist and "out there" Oakland hip-hoppers Themselves could have been enormous clusterfuck of good ideas gone bad, but they made it work. So when I found out they decided to do another album together some six years later, I got excited.

Now, sometimes I get too excited about things I love, and they end up disappointing because I built them up way too much. But there is absolutely nothing to be disappointed about with "Own Your Ghost" - it might not be better than the first record, but it's damn close to being it's equal. And like the first, it sounds exactly as you'd expect it to - A Notwist record with Themselves performing on the songs with the band. It's a winning formula as near as I can tell, because for the second album I know this is going to be getting played quite a bit in my car, on my iPhone, through the computer speakers, whatever. The melding of rap and rock is almost always clunky and tiresome, but these fellas seem to have it down to a science.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bare Wires - Don't Ever Change 7" (Robot Elephant, 2011)

Bare Wires
Don't Ever Change 7"
Robot Elephant

Rating: 8 Rickey Henderson third-person references out of 10

God knows the Bay Area loves themselves some glam-pop-punk, and good god do the Bare Wires fit this description in spades. I shit you not, the title track would be right at home on a Gary Glitter record. Don't read this as I'm suggesting this band is into kid touching; rather, they're into sounding like seventies glam stadium rock. And then you have the b-side "Ready To Go!", one of the catchiest songs I've heard in ages, sounding like Billy Joel joined Cheap Trick to make the catchiest song ever in order to save the world. That may or may not have been a film made in 1978.

Vetiver - The Errant Charm (Sub Pop, 2011)

The Errant Charm

Sub Pop


5.5 Greensboronians out of 10

It's somewhat funny I would just get a copy of this new Vetiver record to listen to, as I was just listening to this CD of Vetiver demos from 2002 the other day. Man I love those demos - the early songs are so intimate and lo-fi, the band so stripped down and different from what they are today. I saw them many, many times around that period and they were easily one of my favorite bands working in SF at the time.

And then you have this new record "The Errant Charm"'s by no means a bad record, but it just doesn't sound anything like the band I fell in love with. I though 2009's "Tight Knit" sounded too over-produced, but this release makes that one feel like it was recorded on an old boom box. It's very likable country-tinged, seventies-style soft rock, but it just ain't right. I do like the track "Ride Ride Ride" though, and album opener "It's Beyond Me" ain't half bad. Mostly though, it just makes me want to go back and listen to the old Vetiver releases, back when they really meant something to me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The New Pornographers - Moves 7" (Merge, 2011)

The New Pornographers
Moves 7"

Rating: 7 out of 10

I always feel weird googling The New Pornogra
phers on my work computer...I just hope if I ever get fired for smut it's for actual smut and not perceived smut. Anyways, yadda yadda yadda limited Record Store Day release. Or I should say half-limited, as the title song of this mini-slab of vinyl is from their last full-length "Together". A great song and all, but maybe not worth racing out for. The b-side "A Drug Deal of the Heart" is a new track though, and a pretty good one at that. Yeah, it sounds just like the bulk of their catalog, with AC Newman leading and being backed by Kathryn Calder probably. But I like the bulk of their catalog, so that's a-ok with me.

By the way Tom Scharpling made an awesome video for "Moves", starring a ton of comedians. Of course Jon Wurster is in it, but Kevin Corrigan as Dan Bejar was inspired casting. And Todd Barry as a record store clerk. And they have Wyatt Cenac in the band, for reasons unexplained. Well, it's funny, I guess that's all the explanation you need. Watch it here.

Wild Flag - Future Crimes 7" (Merge, 2011)

Wild Flag
Future Crimes 7"



6 Olympia beers out of 10

I'm probably not supposed to compare Wild Flag to Sleater-Kinney, but of course everyone is going to do that. Cause shit, two-thirds of S-K are in this group. It's still Carrie Brownstein singing for the most part. They're still playing that mid-to-late nineties style of angular post rock that they've all been playing in various incarnations (though this outfit might have a hint of seventies anthem rock in them...I'll need more music to fully decide that though).

This is was a seven inch they released for Record Store Day through Merge...I suppose it is their first proper release? Honestly, I never could get that into Sleater-Kinney's recorded material and I'm getting the same vibe here. Not sure why, because when I describe it to myself it sounds great on paper. S-K were fuckin' killer live though, and I'm guessing Wild Flag is no different. Some bands are meant to be recorded, some are meant to be live. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

More to the point, I hope Carrie doesn't let this music thing get in the way of filming more episodes of "Portlandia".