Thursday, August 23, 2018

Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today (Atlantic / Barsuk, 2018)

Death Cab For Cutie
Thank You For Today
Atlantic / Barsuk

Rating: 6.5 near-sighted ophthalmologists out of 10

Hey guys, there’s a new Death Cab For Cutie record out called “Thank You For Today“!  It sounds just like that Postal Service band, only less electronic!

To put it quite simply – the songs that sound like classic Death Cab For Cutie songs?  I quite like those.  There’s a place in my heart for somber Ben Gibbard indie pop, a place that’s been there for twenty years now, a place that I doubt ever goes away.  But the bad eighties pastiche of “I Dreamt We Spoke Again” and “Gold Rush,” the song that sounds like an Imagine Dragons cover?  Oof, that’s some hot garbage, and it actually seems even worse than it actually is because those two are the first and third songs - putting a bad taste in your mouth from the start.  Luckily, I stuck with it and the good far outweighs the bad, and unless you’re listening to this on cassette it’s damn easy to skip to the next track.  The entire second half of the record is especially good – “Autumn Love” and “Northern Lights” should have been the first two songs, and album closer “60 & Punk” is one of their best tracks this century.  A little better tracking during post-production to bury the couple of turds floating in the pond would have worked wonders here. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Superchunk - Fishing 7'' (Merge, 1991)

Fishing 7''

Rating: 10 bottles of railroad wine out of 10

What can I possibly be expected to say about a single featuring two of the best ever Superchunk songs, other than to sing it's praises of perfection?  In 10th grade I bought my first ever album by the band, "Tossing Seeds" on cassette (probably from the Radio Shack in my town, the only store that carried music; and I most likely had to have them special order it for me).  Yeah, it's not actually an album but rather a compilation of their first few singles, but regardless I listened to that tape so much I'm truly shocked it never broke.  Both "Fishing" and the b-side "Cool" were on there, holding down the end of side A and beginning of side B - "Cool" probably got a few more plays because I definitely listened to side B more as it featured my favorite Superchunk song of all time, "Cast Iron."  It's impossible to listen to this and not feel nostalgic for simpler times, driving around in my beater Mazda 323, skating parking lots with my friends, and dreaming of what the future might bring when I finally got to escape that small town.  These aren't just songs, they're integral building blocks of my childhood and the adult I came to be. 

Added bonus: they actually made a video for "Fishing," in case you want to remember what Jim Wilbur looked like with hair.  

Friday, August 17, 2018

Spider Bags - Someday Everything Will Be Fine (Merge, 2018)

Spider Bags
Someday Everything Will Be Fine

Rating: 8 of those red flashing lights you see at the top of radio towers out of 10

This is obviously just one dumb old man’s opinion, but our local scene here in the Triangle of North Carolina hasn’t been much to speak of the last few years.  It’s always gone through peaks and valleys so I’m not overly concerned about it, but either way it’s still particularly nice that we have a few acts out there carrying the torch that this area still matters musically.  There’s the immortal Superchunk of course, Sylvan Esso has a large following, and we get to at least sorta claim Future Islands, but for my money Spider Bags is just as important as any of them.  There’s not really anyone else around here doing exactly what they do, a hybrid of punk and garage and country that over the years, at their best, is a blend of the Replacements, Meat Puppets and James Gang.  Second track “Oxcart Blues” is an automatic top five song by the band, “Cop Dream/Black Eye” proves they can just turn into the Oblivians if the notion strikes them, and “My Heart Is a Flame In Reverse” might be the song Hank III has been trying to write his whole career.  “Someday Everything Will Be Fine” sounds live and sweaty and immediate, like seeing the band perform live but only with your ears (obviously, you should definitely see them live with the rest of your body if they ever come to your town).  It may or may not be their best record – I really, really loved “Frozen Letter” – but it’s damn good, and the closest they’ve ever gotten to capturing what this band sounds like in my brain when I think about them. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cause Co-Motion - Which Way Is Up? 7'' (What's Your Rupture?, 2006)

Cause Co-Motion
Which Way Is Up? 7''
What's Your Rupture?

Rating: 9 quiet limos out of 10

Quite simply, "Which Way Is Up?" by Cause Co-Motion is one of the best pop songs of the last 25 years.  Maybe even longer.  I've thought that for a damn long time, and the conviction of my feelings have not wavered one bit.  I don't even care about the b-side ("Falling Again") here - it's fine, but inconsequential in comparison to the lead track.  The song is a little quirky, a little jangly, and if you're anything like me it will be instantly stuck in your head FOR TWELVE FUCKING YEARS.  Honestly, I'm totally fine with it. 

The Rocking Horse Winner / Electro Group - Split 7'' (Slide The Needle, 2002)

The Rocking Horse Winner / Electro Group
Split 7''
Slide The Needle

Rating: 5.5 lost sisters out of 10

I grabbed this out of the bargain bin because I've enjoyed a few Electro Group songs over the years, not even realizing it was a split at first.  That means only one song by them called "Panzer Treat."  It's a decent enough track, the band continues down their path as poppy My Bloody Valentine acolytes, though the production is a little more muddled than I would like. 

The other side is a band with a terrible name I'd never heard of called Rocking Horse Winner - "Tomorrow" is Velocity Girl-ish indie pop, interesting enough when you're listening to it, but ultimately forgettable.  I think there are some Dashboard Confessional ties with one or some of the members of this group, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence that I would want to hear more from these guys/gal.