Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lightships - Fear and Doubt (Geographic, 2012)

Fear and Doubt

Rating: 7 broken spokes out of 10

I'm not sure I knew Lightships was the solo project of Teenage Fanclub's Gerald Love when I found this EP online.  If I did know it, my brain has since purged itself of this information.  But even coming in not knowing jack, any longtime supporter of the Fannies (one of my all-time favorite bands) knew exactly what was going on as soon as the unmistakeable vocals of Love kicked in on the first track "Fear and Doubt."  Also featuring members of the Pastels and Belle & Sebastian, this music is pretty goddamn twee and there ain't a thing wrong with that.  All four songs on this short player are quite enjoyable, and now I need to seek out the band's full-length that also came out in 2012.  Hopefully Love is also saving some of these great songs for a future Teenage Fanclub record as well. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pinback - Information Retrieved (Temporary Residence, 2012)

Information Retrieved
Temporary Residence

Rating: 6 Miami nightclubs out of 10

I have absolutely nothing of note to say about this Pinback album.  It pretty much sounds like every other Pinback album, a statement that can be seen as a good or a bad thing depending on your opinion of Pinback. You could do worse.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Gallants - The Bloom and the Blight (ATO, 2012)

Two Gallants
The Bloom and the Blight

Rating: 6.5 bug collections out of 10

It feels like it's been a long time since I've paid much attention to the Two Gallants.  I don't mean that to sound as bad as it does, it's just when I used to live in SF I saw them play live quite a few times and listened to their records frequently, and then for whatever reason when I moved back to the East Coast they sorta dropped off my radar.  

In listening to "The Bloom and the Blight," the first album of theirs I've really paid attention to since "The Throes," this almost sounds like a different band.  Not that that should be surprising nearly a decade later, but I was surprised at how upbeat and rockin' this new record is.  Their older material felt so intimate and delicate, but these tracks are thick and robust like a television advertisement for spaghetti sauce.  The first three songs are all rollicking affairs, and you don't get back to the old alt-folk version of the band until the fourth track "Broken Eyes," and then the tempos shift intermittently for the rest of the record.  

I'm really not sure what to think of this new's an enjoyable record to be sure, but in some ways a little off-putting to someone like me who doesn't handle change well when bands go in different directions.  I'm totally guessing but I bet this album really translates well live, probably even better than in the recordings.  Guess I'll just have to see them live again and verify this. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sea and Cake - Runner (Thrill Jockey, 2012)

The Sea and Cake
Thrill Jockey

Rating: 7.5 jump shots out of 10

The Sea and Cake!  They might keep sorta releasing the same record over and over and over, but fuck if they don't have that indie-jazz-pop sound of theirs dialed down to a science.  A really awesome sounding science. The album kicks off with the upbeat "On and On" and it only gets better from there.  According to the label website the band took a different approach to recording this record - Sam Prekop wrote the songs on a synth, then sent the tracks out to the rest of the band to be fleshed out... and while this may sound neat, to my ears it just sounds like another in a long line of very enjoyable Sea and Cake records.  For long-time fans picking this up should be a no-brainer.  Looking for a place to start with this iconic Chicago group?  "The Biz" would be my first choice, but not a damn thing wrong with starting right here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boomgates - Double Natural (Bedroom Suck, 2012)

Double Natural
Bedroom Suck

Rating: 6.5 book ends out of 10

If you're like me, you're listening to or interested about this Boomgates record because it features a member of the super great Eddy Current Suppression Ring.  Specifically, the two bands share the same singer, so you can guess exactly where the comparisons are going to go when trying to review Boomgates in the half-assed fashion that is typical from me.  This group doesn't have the Gang of Four-terseness or Television-influenced guitar work of Eddy Current.  This is a little poppier and janglier, sounding more akin to the Kiwi pop of the early eighties than anything else.  Think of Boomgates as a Clean cover band, only with original songs.  Then again if they (or anyone) chose the throw in a "Tally Ho" cover, no one would ever complain.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jason Lytle - Dept. of Disappearance (Anti, 2012)

Jason Lytle
Dept. of Disappearance

Rating: 8 firestarters out of 10

The differences between those final Grandaddy albums and the pair of solo albums Jason Lytle has released are really in name only.  I mean no slight to the rest of the members of Grandaddy, but Lytle seemed to be such a decisive force over their sound and direction that only the superest of super Grandaddy fans could probably tell a difference here.  Lots of synths and keyboards make up the bulk of the music here as in all Lytle-related recordings, with a simple drum backbone, a week but of guitar strumming and Lytle's easily-identifiable vocals.  I read somewhere that this album (and really, any of his albums) sounds like a late night by yourself - introspective and maybe a little lonely.  Being an only child, I like and am very comfortable with being by yourself, and maybe that's why his music speaks so well to me.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mono - For My Parents (Temporary Residence, 2012)

For My Parents
Temporary Residence

Rating: 7.5 shock troops out of 10

As with most instrumental post-rock bands of this nature, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to say about this new Mono record "For My Parents," especially to those already familiar with their work.  When you play the sort of bombastic music these Japanese rockers have been churning out on multiple albums for the past decade or longer, it's kinda hard to differentiate from one set of the music to the next.  It's all immaculately played, beautiful stuff.  My heart will always rate the first record of theirs I listened to a lot - "One Step More and You Die" - as their finest work, but there is no reason someone couldn't feel the same way about this newest release.  I would guess the only real difference is the orchestral strings backing most of the songs, and the level of quiet-loud-quiet bombast that was their early hallmark seems to have been taken down a notch.  I think that means the music is prettier and less aggressive, or something along those lines.  If Explosions in the Sky are the soundtrack to slow-motion Texas football, Mono feels like the score to a Kurosawa samurai picture (and if that seems racist, I mean it be more geography-ist).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jehosaphat Blow - Natural High For Low People (Cold Slice, 2012)

Jehosaphat Blow
Natural High For Low People
Cold Slice

Rating: 6.5 containers of cumin out of 10

I got an email from Jehosaphat Blow to check out his music, a one-man band thing out of Chicago.  There was some mention of it sounding like Mark Sultan which is all it took to get me to listen.  Turns out that was a most fair assessment of this album - dirty, lo-fi one-man garage stomp with some slight soul vibes to add color.  The songs are all pretty catchy - my juvenile side especially liked "She Doesn't Give A Fuck".  At 12 songs in barely over 25 minutes, this is a quick listen and seemingly a good introduction to Jehoaphat Blow...and hell, I think if you go his Facebook page (linked above) he even points folks to free downloads of this album.