Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lydia Loveless - Real (Bloodshot, 2016)

Lydia Loveless

Rating: 7 Arkansas hair pieces out of 10

I discovered Lydia Loveless by seeing her live at Hopscotch Music Festival a couple of years ago, and I've been totally infatuated ever since. I listened to her last record "Somewhere Else" to the point where if my loved ones actually cared about me, they would have been worried about my health with the level of obsession I was displaying.  I listened to it so much that it has had a negative effect on my reaction to her other records, because when I listen to this other material I just want it to be exactly like "Somewhere Else."  I listen to "Real" and enjoy it (especially the second song "Longer"), but about halfway through I'll start getting impatient and want to just put on "Somewhere Else."  Sometimes when I have this obsession with an artist it will subside and I find I can more easily enjoy their other offerings, sometimes not. It might take another Loveless album or two to figure out exactly where I stand here. 

Oh yeah, I should probably talk at least a little about Lydia and this record - she gets lumped into the alt-country world (or even worse, the stupid moniker "country punk"), and her voice does have the occasional twang to it, but these days, and on this new record especially, she's a lot closer to Beth Orton or Aimee Mann than she is Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn.  Shit, if you cleaned up the guitar in "Heaven" a little bit you could probably convince someone it was Everything But the Girl...that song is a little weird here, not going to lie.  It's a good record overall though, and I would imagine her fans who aren't idiots like me can enjoy "Real" just fine. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flock of Dimes - If You See Me, Say Yes (Partisan, 2016)

Flock of Dimes
If You See Me, Say Yes

Rating: 7.5 speedy game changers out of 10

Flock of Dimes is the solo project of Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak...and like with Wye Oak, it's more or less universally fantastic.  The woman has the Midas touch when it comes to writing pop songs. I would be curious to know how she decides when she writes something if it's for Wye Oak or Flock of Dimes.  A few years ago you could have said Flock of Dimes lacks the live instrumentation (particularly the guitar) of Wye Oak, and is a little...I dunno, dancier.  But then more recently Wye Oak released tons of songs on "Shriek" and "Tween" that fit exactly that description, so I'm really not sure what the difference is.  I guess it's just that Andy Stack isn't on this record, but given that he plays electronic drums as often as he plays real drums on Wye Oak songs these days, even that fact isn't really obvious.  I'm not sure where I'm going with this meandering nonsense...let's just say if you like Wye Oak I would be shocked if you didn't like Flock of Dimes, because the two sound mostly the same.  And that's ok, because Jenn Wasner is so damn talented and amazing no matter what the band name is on the record, I'm in. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wilco - Schmilco (dBpm, 2016)


Rating: 7 winged paintings out of 10

Hey, Wilco made another album, and it totally sounds like Wilco!  It's as Wilco-y or even Wilco-ier as the last album they put out!  Pretty much everything they've released since "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" has hit me the same way - I would be somewhat lukewarm to middling on the record to start, would randomly listen to it on occasion, and then a couple of years later would find that I quite like (but don't love) the album.  There is one major reason for this - the departure (and then much to early death) of Jay Bennett.  Tweedy knows songwriting, but Bennett knew pop hooks, and together they crafted some of my favorite records of all time - "Summerteeth" in particular is likely one of my top ten records of all time.  Without Bennett, Tweedy can meander and get a little long winded, and certainly adding Nels Cline's guitar wankery didn't help, but there's still enough there to hold my attention.  So "Schmilco" is just ok right now...but I would be all my money that by this time next year you could ask me again and I would say it's a pretty damn good release.  

And now I'm going to go listen to "Summerteeth" again. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

ISS - Studs (Self-Released, 2016)


Rating: 8 glasses of frozen hamburger juice out of 10

ISS is Rich from Whatever Brains (now of Bodykit) and another dude from Brain F≠, and together they make this industrial punk that's got kind of a...dance pop vibe too it?  Because Rich is singing it's impossible for me not to automatically compare this to Whatever Brains because I've listened to them so damn much, but it's as if the goal here was to write the songs in the style of Le Tigre, and this is what came out.  I hear this particularly in the first two songs "Part-Time All the Time" and "Five Hours to Midnight."  Possibly thecraziest track is "Peniss Envy," where I guess they decided they wanted everyone to think they were a Revolting Cocks cover band.   

Only fifty of these tapes were made, so if you see one grab one.  It's only ten minutes long (six songs total), so you'll never get bored.  According to Rich/Sorry State, "some of these songs will be on the new FULL LENGTH TAPE on NEW BODY TAPES out later this year. that will be pro dubbed. These kinda sound shitty. Sorry!"

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Constantines - Constantines / Feist 7'' (Arts and Crafts, 2008)

Constantines / Feist 7''
Arts and Crafts

Rating: 8 blood moons out of 10

This ended up being a very informative seven inch!  The a-side is Constantines and Feist combining forces to cover the classic Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton song "Islands in the Stream."  But then I'm looking at the back of the sleeve and it says the song was written by the Gibb brothers, aka the Bee Gees!  According to my exhaustive research (aka wikipedia), they actually wrote it for Marvin Gaye but Kenny Rogers ended up using it instead.  Ain't that some shit!  Oh yeah, this Constantines/Feist version is totally great.  I'm not usually a Feist fan but she works really well here.  And the b-side is the Constantines' song "Trans Canada" from their album "Kensington Heights" - love that song.

Belle and Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue 7'' (Rough Trade, 2006)

Belle and Sebastian
The Blues Are Still Blue 7''
Rough Trade

Rating: 7 hillbilly pot farms out of 10

Not my favorite Belle and Sebastian single, but worth having nonetheless.  Fittingly, this is on blue vinyl.  The title song can also be found on "The Life Pursuit" - I wasn't super into this song at first, or really this album, but it has grown on me quite a bit over the years.  The other side, "Whiskey in the Jar," feels more like an idea for a song than a fully fleshed out one.  Not terrible, just not really anything.  It was never included in any of their b-sides comps, and I've never heard it live, so I'm guessing the band isn't nuts about it either.