Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Notwist - Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff (Sub Pop, 2016)

The Notwist
Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff
Sub Pop

Rating: 8 museum debts out of 10

I didn't really have any intentions of writing about a live Notwist album - honestly, I've not paid a ton of attention to them since "Neon Golden," though there probably aren't a ton of albums in my collection that I've listened to more than that one.   Thing is, even though live records are often write-offs in my book, this is good - really fucking good.  The "Neon Golden" songs are why I decided to give "Superheroes, Ghostvillians + Stuff" a listen, but the recording sounds so fantastic that I've even enjoyed the tracks I don't know and it's inspired me to spend some time listening to their last couple of records.  There is an energy & life here that is hard to really describe or quantify but it makes for an album that's even more engaging than their studio output, and that's rarely the case (at least for my ears).  Built to Spill's "Live" from 2000 might be the last release of this nature to make me feel this way, and like on that record the band really lets the songs "stretch their legs" if you will...quite a few are twice or even three times longer than their studio counterpart.  This doesn't always work, in fact it rarely works, but it definitely works here. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Terry Malts - Lost At The Party (Slumberland, 2016)

Terry Malts
Lost At The Party

Rating: 7.5 fragile egg chairs out of 10

Terry Malts first record "Killing Time" was one of my favorite releases of 2012; their second effort "Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere" was still decent, but a step down from their debut.  Given that, I wasn't sure what to expect from this third outing "Lost At the Party" - a continuing (very slight) downward trend, or a return to their previous form?  Luckily, it was the latter - the differences between this release and the last are subtle and I'm way too dumb to accurately put them in words, but this batch of songs has a little more punch or sheen (or whatever you want to call it) to them that was missing on the last pass.  As always, the Terry Malts sound is cold and very eighties, a combination of punk and new wave and pop...they're more or less a modern version of XTC, Jesus & Mary Chain, and/or Echo & the Bunnymen depending on the particular songI mean that as a compliment, for the record, as I've loved all three of those bands for much of my life.  It's not so much that Terry Malts are ripping off those bands as they are re-imagining the same sounds for a new, current audience.  Opener "Used To Be," "Won't Come To Find You," and "Seen Everything" are my picks for best tracks but there isn't a weak spot in the entire procession. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teenage Fanclub - Here (Merge, 2016)

Teenage Fanclub

Rating: 8 sand toddlers out of 10

I've been thinking for a few months on what to say about this latest Teenage Fanclub record, "Here."  I'm not sure I have a lot more to go with other than "sounds a lot like Teenage Fanclub" and "really damn good."  For my money, this is the best pop band in the world, and nothing about "Here" changes my mind about that.  If you enjoyed their last couple of records on Merge, "Man-Made" and "Shadows," then this is a must buy.  In fact, this is the best of these three records that I think of as their "mature pop" years.  "I'm In Love" and "Thin Air" is up there with one of the best one-two punches to start any of their records.  Maybe a few more mellow tracks than this band usually features, but even those are terrificIf you've never listened to this band, go get "Bandwagonesque" or "Songs from Northern Britain" first - otherwise, a worthy buy to be sure. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Preoccupations - Preoccupations (Jagjaguwar, 2016)


Rating: 7.5 eco-warrior latrines out of 10

Preoccupations used to be called Viet Cong, a band I had never heard of until there was a bit of hubbub over their name.  Apparently it was offensive to some folks - I'm guessing the Vietnamese - though I'm not entirely sure why, as it's the name of a group that fought with the North Vietnamese and not a slur I don't think.  I think a good rule to follow is that if you're a bunch of white dudes, don't name your band after anything that in any way has any connection to another culture, even if it seems non-offensive.  Non-white culture obviously - I can't imagine anyone would give a shit if you named yourself after somethingFrench or German, well, maybe not anything Nazi related.  Unless you're a Nazi band, in which case I guess it makes sense.  Maybe don't be in a Nazi band though, okay?  That seems like a dumb thing to do.  Let me state for the record that Preoccupations are not Nazis, though they are Canadian.  The Stampeders and Pilot are also Canadian, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.  

Uh, where was I?  Anyways, old band with a new name, first record I've heard by them, and I like it quite a lot.  Sounds like the perfect combination of Wolf Parade, Constantines, and the Walkmen (token non-Canadian reference).  One of those rare cases where I was in a record store and heard this album playing and actually asked the clerk who it was.  I never do that - either I already know who it is, I'm too embarrassed to admit I don't know who it is to the music nerd clerk, or my desire not to talk to people is greater than my desire to know what it is.  I guess I could have just used Shazaam.  

This review has been almost entirely useless and pointless.  Just check this record out, it's worth a listen for sure.