Friday, April 30, 2010

Harvest vs. Soft Bulletin

I was hoping to somehow get an epiphany sometime since I started listening to these two albums. I vascillate each day between which is the better album.

Both of these are classic albums, both stand up amazingly well. Neither is currently my favorite album by these artists, but both are outstanding. I don't have anything else to say to sing their praises, and I can't find a whole lot, if anything, wrong with them (other than maybe Harvest's cover).

I have arguments why I feel each album should advance, but the next day I change my mind.

Ultimately, I've decided that whatever album has the best song should advance. I'm going with Heart Of Gold, one of my all-time favorite tunes.

I also like the idea that the album that's been a classic for a longer period of time (Eric or Andy's idea, I can't remember who) should advance, which would also make it Harvest on two counts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arcade Fire vs. Marvin Gaye

I had real trouble with Marvin Gaye.  Great voice, obviously, but I just can't get on board with the type of instrumentation used on this record.  It's the same reason I can't watch Scarface...the soundtrack is so ridiculous and cheeseball that I can't dig into the content of the script.  It's totally subjective...I just can't stand the sounds of the intruments.

I haven't been super impressed with Arcade Fire as of late.  Neon Bible is a big crapfest that makes me want to kick puppies.  But Funeral is a stellar record.

And it is the record that moves on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ease Down the Road vs. Disintegration

This is the best and worst of BPB lyrics in two stanzas:

a shark and a dog now you're laughing
the dog licks the shark dry in your photographing
and i lick you dry until you're laughing
my finger is in your behind

i woke up fat and almost unhappy
but the bigger the laugh the bigger the belly
and i bellow out and the whole bed it shakes
and you smile at my laugh as it rocks you awake

The worst is the puerile oral/fecal fixations. The best is the transparency of emotional expression.

There are of course other bests. Simplicity, as in "idle hands are the devil's plaything." Ambiguous metaphors and pithy neologisms, as in "a bird in my ear / was beaking away / about all the jewels / he had come across that day / jewels in the grass / where the worms used to be."

There are other worsts: bad slant rhymes and consonance ("your breast breaths" I seem to remember from one song, but I can't find it now).

Ease Down the Road, or, as I like to call it, "Master and Everyone: Episode 1," has a sweet synth and too much sex.

More importantly, about the artist: BPB's music is accessible. His apparent philosophy of sloppiness is eye-opening. Listening to him makes me want to make music, and that's why I don't blush saying he's one of the finest artists of the last hundred years.

But I need to punish him for the childish stuff. Punish him in a way that Eric was unwilling to. And after I've bent him over my knee (BPB not Eric) this album would be a good one with which to spank him.

My personal story with The Cure, meanwhile, is one of alienation: The cool hippie kids in high school listened to them, and it sounded magical but I didn't get it, and anyway my parents wanted me listening to only classical and oldies. Don't get me wrong. It's totally my own fault. I alienated myself and, as a side-effect, ended up dry humping for ten long years. I mean, this hot hippie girl took me up to her room and played The Cure for me while I lay on her bed. Not just on her bed: I lay between her legs, with my head resting on her stomach. And I lay there, motionless. After the song was over I said something like, "Hey, can I use your phone to call my parents to come pick me up? I wanna go home and play computer games on my Apple ][."

So I missed The Cure train, although it's not clear whether I'm biased for or against. Listening now, I find it inspiring. I know I gave BPB mad props just now for making me want to play music, but this Cure does also. I like the way the song finds its groove before the words start. The flange/phase/chorus effects are still a hit, although they sometimes miss; I wish the "Breakfast Club" synth was a little edgier, and so it misses a bit, but sometimes hits.

Too bad Lie Down In The Light got laid down, because it would be easier to 86 this album if Will Oldham still had another horse in the race. (It would be easier to mix a metaphor if I . . . uh . . .)

I just can't do it. I can't let the hippies beat the cowboys. Will Oldham, you just barely squeaked by. And you made SDR's unborn daughter cry. Your questionable album advances as a representative of your better material.

Monday, April 26, 2010

band of substance






The winner: The Band

There's just too much history for me with The Band. Richard Manuel on Whispering Pines, Levon Helm on The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down. These are songs I'll love forever.

New Order made this a pretty close fight. I really enjoyed Ceremony, Blue Monday, and Bizarre Love Triangle in particular. This is the first time that I feel that I really "got" New Order.

This was pretty close. Both of these albums really do deserve to move on. I guess this is what the Death Match is all about

Ladies and Gentlemen Is a Woman

Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentlemen...

"All I want in life's a little bit of love to take the pain away..." What a great opening refrain (and a concise summary of the overarching theme of most pop/rock music). I think this was the first Spiritualized album I got, and it is still my overall favorite of theirs. The first six tracks are solid as hell ("I Think I'm in Love", "Stay With Me", and "Electricity" being my favorites).

It's not until the scond half of the album that the band gets a little too caught up in songs that dissolve into "noise" (AKA "a test of the listener's patience and endurance"). Over the years, I find myself typically skipping through "The Individual", "No God Only Religion", and the last 9 minutes or so of "Cop Shoot Cop..." (The first 8 minutes of that last song, however, are totally awesome. )

Uncle Eric's Doppler 2000 Album Accu-Rating: 4.1




Lambchop: Is a Woman

Lambchop is a funny little big band. I think I first heard them as the backing musicians on Vic Chesnutt's The Salesman and Bernadette, which remains my favorite of his albums (May he R.I.P.). I went through a phase in the early 2000's during which I listened to Nixon and Is a Woman quite a bit, too. I didn't really sour on them, but I have to admit I haven't pulled either of these albums out in several years. It was fun to re-visit. At his best on this album, Kurt Wagner's songs remind me of Mr. Chesnutt: sad and funny at the same time, keenly observant but also impressionistic, and full of fun words/ phrases like "waggle" and "weird porno philosophy". He also seems to have gone to the same school of singing: His voice is an acquired taste, and his vocal phrasing is often odd but charming.

The musicianship here is impressive, too. I especially dig the use of vibes on several songs. However, the tracks on Like a Woman seem to blend a little too easily into one long, sleepy, hushed haze to me. At times, this reminds me of "hipster lounge"...Nothing is too offensive (musically, not lyrically), and the music feels almost intentionally restrained. I wish there were a few more numbers like "D. Scott Parsley" with its discernable drum beat and even a hint at a little funk guitar.

A good album for a quiet autumn afternoon, but one I definitely have to be in the right mood for. The older I get, the less often I enjoy listening to slow, mellow, melancholy music...I crave a good beat, a little boom-diggity, and I'm not ashamed to say it.

Uncle Eric's Storm-Tracker Precision Album Rating: 3.8


A pretty close one, but Spiritualized takes it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

This one was too easy

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday vs. U2 - Achtung Baby

I was a little worried after my last match up that I had turned into a huge U2 fanboy... boy was I lucky to be assigned Achtung Baby.

Do people really think this is a great album? I'm not asking to be a smart-ass, but more in the light of 'what did I miss?' I thought it was boring, and even the songs I knew (one, even better, mysterious ways) seemed a little dull. Maybe my views were skewed by the fact that people who uploaded this album on grooveshark can't seem to get the track listings right... and I'll admit, I thought to myself that if this many people can't get the tracks right, we're probably dealing with an album people are just "supposed" to buy. The only positive thing about Achtung Baby is that I'm positive it sucks. Ok, maybe that's not fair, I mean, they do get points for having an album cover that kind of looks like a Bon Jovi album cover. I'm actually not sure if that is true, but it might be, so they get those points.

Maybe I'm all UPoo because I listened to Separation Sunday first, and pretty much immediately knew I'd like this album. While listening to this album I thought of a few other bands... Kings of Leon, Tragically Hip, Dead Milkmen, and that band that I can't remember the name of. I'm not saying these bands are at all similar or have some kind of connection, but I did think about them. For instance, the Dead Milkmen - I'm sure only came up because Andrew recently mentioned them. The key though, is that I didn't think of these bands when I was listening to U2. The Hold Steady made me feel good, increased my energy level, and made me a better person.

I also feel a lot better now that I have a valid reason for ignoring U2. That's a huge win for a weekend, and it is only topped by the few times I listened to The Hold Steady...

So, here we go, I'm proud to say this was easily the most lopsided match up so far, Separation Sunday wins. Sorry Daniel Lanois, 0 for 2 today (ok 1 for 2).

Total Rip-off

A couple of years ago, I went looking for Time Out of Mind to pop in the CD player, but it wasn't anywhere to be found. I figured one of you hosers (I'm looking at you Karl) probably stole it from me, so I went to the library, got a copy and ripped it to my hard-drive. A couple of days ago, I realized I had to actually listen to Air for my assignment, so I went to the library, got a copy, and ripped it to my hard-drive. Ripping stuff off is kind of my thing.

Anyway, here's what I thought of Air:

This is an album and a band I know and like, although I must admit it had been some time since I had listened to Moon Safari in its entirety. However, after just finishing it again a few minutes ago, I was not disappointed. I think this probably remains Air's most cohesive, consistent album to date. They are able to sustain a delicate balance throughout: The music is heavily electronic yet also feels organic; it is futuristic but with a retro vibe; lounge-y but never lapsing into mere "background music". A few of the songs go on a bit longer than I would prefer, I don't know what the hell "Sexy Boy" is about, and occasionally I long for a more invigorating beat, but I also know that's not what Air or this album is all about. That's just me being too American and not French enough.

So, all in all, not too shabby. Let's see what I thought of Dylan:

As many of you know, Bob Dylan is easily my favorite artist of all time, even though I don't listen to him nearly as often as I used to (Christmas in the Heart definitely grew on me, BTW). There's just so much there to listen to (and for) and so much variety. With "Time Out of Mind" I just love the blunt lyrical style and how Bob uses his "broken" voice to convey the brokenness around him. This really resonated with me - the feeling of being out of place with the world. I started listening to Dylan in 1989 and back then the focus was always on what he did in the 60's. I obviously love a lot of that stuff, but with "Time Out of Mind," there was finally new music to sink my teeth into. I remember where I was standing in my bedroom when I first listened to this album (I was standing by the left side of my dresser).

Hmmmm. Both sound good. I should take another listen to each and reevaluate.

Here goes:

If it were all based on album covers, Moon Safari would surely win. Sure, there's something a little too 70's going on the fronts of both these CDs. But at least the guy up front on Air's CD art could easily be modeled on those action figures that I know Jeff and me lost in our house's shag carpet when we were little and not on that menacing looking Bob Dylan.

It's supposed to be about the music, though. So: each of these albums has some lovely instrumentation. Air know how to deploy trumpet music at precisely the right instants, and that Dylan can pull in the most countrified blues riff at the beginning of "Dirt Road" proves, I think, that at his best, the guy has a knack for the finest kind of incongruity.

That said, there's a few songs that strike me as tired on each of these albums.

Dylan's,"Can't Wait" for instance, takes a critical stance that should be wry or incredulous or pointed but isn't; it's just conventional judgment gussied up in hip clothing. For my money, "'Til I fell in love with you," too, lacks invention, as do a number of the weird biblical resonances on this album, which stop short of iconoclasm, it seems, not out of reverence but because they don't know any better and lack verve. Then again, "Standing In the Doorway" and "Not Dark Yet" have enough groove that they could almost reconcile me to the Time Out of Mind album art.
As for Air, let's admit that "Sexy Boy" is easy fodder for high school movies for a reason. By and large, though, where Moon Safari sounds overplayed, it's mostly because it is played often, which speaks more to the album's quality than to any weakness for cliche on its part. And I can imagine myself overindulging in "Kelly Watch" and "You Make it Easy" especially.

Man, I still feel stuck. I should probably just interview myself to decide:


1. Which album would you prefer to see performed live, from beginning to end?

  1. Air - Moon Safari
  2. Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

2. Which album made a bigger imprint on you in your naval-gazing college years?

  1. Air - Moon Safari
  2. Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

3. Which album is not produced by Daniel Lanois, whose trademark tricks have begun to wear on you?

a. Air - Moon Safari

b. Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind

4. Which lyric do you prefer?

  1. "Sexy Boy Sexy Boy
    Dollars in their eyes
    Diamonds in their smiles
    One day I too will be beautiful like a god
    Sexy Boy Sexy Boy
    Apollo, perfect x 2000, 21 years old
    The ideal man, masculine charm
    Sexy Boy Sexy Boy"
  2. “When the rain is blowing in your face
 / and the whole world is on your case / 
I could offer a warm embrace / 
to make you feel my love” (Dylan) = BAAAARRRRFFFF.

5. On the other hand, which lyric do you prefer?

  1. "Kelly watch the stars / Kelly watch the stars/ Kelly watch the stars / Kelly watch the stars / Watch the stars / Watch the stars (repeat)"
  2. “I'm crossin' the street to get away from a mangy dog
 / talkin' to myself in a monologue
 / I think what I need might be a full length leather coat
 / just asked me if I'm registered to vote” (Dylan)

6. Which track is more annoying?

a. “Make You Feel My Love” from Time Out of Mind (point for Air)

b. "Ce Matin La" and "New Star in the Sky" (two points for Dylan)

c. All three make me wish a car with exhaust issues would stall in front of my house playing this.

7. Which of these artists/albums riffs on the blues and make them seem more relevant than most contemporary blues musicians?

  1. Air
  2. Dylan

8. Which pick would yield the smallest chance of jabs regarding “token feminists”?

  1. Air
  2. Dylan

9. On the other hand, which artist has probably had more sex with Lou Reed?

  1. Air
  2. Bob Dylan

10. Which album do you most want more Music Death Matchers to experience because it would mix things up and whittle the remaining Dylan down to your own favorites?

  1. Air - Moon Safari
  2. BD – Time Out of Mind

11. Which album can be indisputably described as music, not performance art?

  1. Air - Moon Safari
  2. BD – Time Out of Mind
There you have it--as those of you who closely read through the list of remaining albums know: Dylan wins.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ummmmm

Happy Birthday one day late, Bruce. I'm giving you an extra 20 points. And, may Do Makes go all the way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

wasting time

There's a great profile of the The National in the Sunday Times magazine section with links to the audio stream of their upcoming album....in case you're interested.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25national-t.html?pagewanted=1

I like to score...

Alright, now that Jeff finally got his pick in, I can post the most updated scores. Eric still leads the pack, but only because we keep picking his records (think about it):

Eric 421
Andrew 403
Sarah 292
Andy 285
Brian 278
Bruce 175
Mark 171
Jeff 168
Dwight 153
Karl 127
Kevin 107
Jane 67
Steve 56


And here is a list of the records still left in the tourney (the people who chose them are in parantheses):


Division 1
Hold Steady - Seperation Sunday (Andrew)
U2 - Actung Baby (Brian, Karl)
New Order - Sustance (Eric)
The Band -The Band (Andrew, Dwight)
The Cure - Disintegration (Brian, Steve)
Bonnie - Ease Down the Road (Andrew)
Nick Cave - Murder Ballads (Andy)
Killers - Hot Fuss (Mark)



Division 2

Marley Man - Legend (Brian)
Dylan - Time Out of Mind (Andy, Eric)
Flaming Lips - Soft Bulletin (Andy)
Neil Young -Harvest (Kevin, Mark)
Stones - Sticky Fingers (Sarah)
Beatles - Revolver (Eric)

Division 3

Marvin - What's Going On (Eric)
Arcade Fire - Funeral (Dwight, Sarah)
Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Sarah)
Stones -Exile (Andrew)
Stones - Between the Buttons (Eric)
Do Make Say Think - Winter Hymn, Country Hymn, Secret Hymn (Bruce)
U2 - Joshua Tree (Brian)
Tommy Boy - Mule Variations (Dwight)

Division 4

Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen (Brian, Mark, Dwight, Jeff, Karl, Steve)
Lambchop - Is A Woman (Andrew)
White Stripes - Elephant (Andy, Dwight, Eric)
Radiohead - OK Computer (Andy, Karl, Brian)
Beck - Odelay (Brian)
Polyphonice Spree - Together We're Heavy (Jeff)
Bob - Blood on the Tracks (Bruce, Sarah)
Cat Power - You Are Free (Sarah)

Now, here's a list of how many albums each person has left:

Brian - 7
Eric - 6
Sarah - 5
Dwight - 5
Andy - 5
Andrew - 5
Mark - 3
Karl - 3
Steve - 2
Jeff - 2
Bruce - 2
Kevin - 1
Jane - 0

As you can see, many of you could still do really well. The last few rounds are worth a lot of points, so even if you only have a few albums left, if they make it, they could jump you ahead by quite a bit.

Oh, and here are assignments for Steve, Jeff, and Jane:

Steve: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On vs. Arcade Fire - Funeral
Jane: U2 - Joshua Tree vs. Tom Waits - Mule Variations
Jeff: White Stripes - Elephant vs. Radiohead - OK Computer

Finally, a couple questions for you all as we wait people's picks: Are any of you cheering for underdogs that you didn't pick? And also, how is it that Pavement didn't even make it in the tournament? Before this whole thing started, I would have guessed Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain would have won it all. Are there other obvious records that we completely missed? And finally, are you all aware that Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers and The Hold Steady have new albums coming out on May 4? My head just might explode.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I © Everything (that was supposed to be a heart)

I felt bad as I listened to Joni Mitchell because, as Eric seemed to be alluding to in one of his comments I didn’t make it all the way through, you definitely need the proper framework to appreciate certain kinds of music. Then we come to Cat Power, where this doesn’t really apply, since it is such a huge pile of crap. From Wikipedia:

“Cat Power was the brainchild of Courney Love who felt as though she had tapped out her ability to ruin music through all mainstream channels, and turned to the indie scene instead. In an effort to clandestinely influence, and subvert, and ultimately destroy indie music, she brought together some of the most grating melodies the world has ever seen, sung poorly, with guitar and organ sounds only the most depraved cacophonist could love, with the goal of making music so grating, yet with enough indie cred, that record stores would stock dozens of copies which would sit on the shelves gathering dust, eventually shuttering record store doors when they couldn’t shed themselves of enough back catalogue.”


The other day in the car my son, who had listened to The Rolling Stones only once before (the previous day) started chanting ‘I want the Rolling Stones’. When the Sally Seltman song I was listening to ended, I told him (without changing the disc) “Okay, now it’s The Rolling Stones”. After a few seconds he wasn’t buying it, and started chanting again. So I switched the CD (much to my daughters consternation) and then James sighed contentedly ‘The Rolling Stones’. Also, bonus points for the awesome circus music on track 6. That was probably the highlight of a great album.

The Rolling Stones move on. Also, I will send a signed copy of myself to the first person to comment on why I chose the poster of ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ to accompany this review. Besides the fact that it was an awesome movie. Although, kind of career poison for everyone involved.

And finally it occurred to me that the sarcastic wink I was doing at the time I typed the comment to the effect that Andy W and Eric are terrible people with horrendous taste in music didn’t come across on the interweb. So here it is *wink*. Seriously though, yous yags are all right.

Marlley vs. Stone Roses

Maybe it was the beautiful weather outside that swayed me as I listened on my porch...but Marley is the clear winner on a nice spring day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Bare Minimum

I am too frazzled to justify this to you people, but I will tell you this: Cat Power's You Are Free beats out Wilco's Being There.

Monday, April 19, 2010

ho ho hum

White Stripes-Elephant vs. Bjork-Homogenic

I had a hard time getting into either of these albums too much. I don't own either, so I had to listen to them on Lala. I have tried to get the CD's from the library when i don't have them so that I can listen to them in the car, which is a good time for me to just sit and listen to the music. So, I've listened to each album once.

I'm going to have to go with the White Stripes here. Although I am impressed with the fact that both Karl and Sarah rated this album exactly midway, 15th on their list, that's not enough for me to put it over the top. Since I got to listen to each album exactly once, it really comes down to which one could I see myself throwing on more often. Although I do enjoy Bjork, and find her voice and brand of electronica unique and satisfying, I just dont' have a hankering for electronica that often. Let me say this, I loved Bjork in Dancer in the Dark, and her singing was very powerful to me in the context of that story. Just listening to Homogenic did not have the same impact. It's great music, just not my personal fave. Sorry to be so subjective. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why this is a great and influential electronica album.

I haven't really been into the White Stripes, but, similar to the Stone Roses album last week, it just worked for me. There ain't nothing wrong with a good rock and roll song with a strong base line that carries it along. They had variety, they seldom if ever (in my recollection) devolved into just making noise, and they're clever. Although I don't know that I'd listen to this album over and over, I'd love to see them live. I think it would be a blast (perhaps not a strong argument for passing along the album. hmm...)

Anyway, my reviews are taking longer and longer to get out and they're not nearly as fun or in depth as others. Perhaps it's my time to bow out of the death match. End of the school year is coming (both classes I teach and class I take), so it's only bound to get worse. I feel that the picks from here on out deserve more attention than I'm giving them. I've really enjoyed it thus far, and look forward to reading reviews and seeing who wins. In the words of Father Leo,the 85 year old priest at my school, have fun, and try to be good

I Bet You Never Saw This Coming...

Psych.

I have a cold, and I am tired and grumpy. I am going to keep my thoughts as brief as I can, which isn't promising much.

Dylan's Blood on the Tracks is an undisputed classic, but it has never been one of my personal faves. It always leaves me feeling blah and slightly depressed. Maybe that's what it's supposed to do, being Dylan's-infamous-relationship-disintegration album and all.

"Tangled Up In Blue" has been partially spoiled for me by all the Dead-Head hippies who dance to it at live Dylan shows, as well as by a fleeting reference to it in Hootie and the Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You". Ugh. I like how "Idiot Wind" rocks, but Good Lord, Dylan just sounds so mean here. What an arse. However, I absolutely adore "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go". "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Shelter From the Storm" are real keepers, too. The End.

Uncle Eric's Estimated Album Rating: 4-ish


I have already made my distaste for most things Sufjan-ish known, and so it should come as no surprise that I found myself less than enthused while listening to Anathallo's Canopy Glow. These folks are obviously talented singers and musicians, but what they're doing just ain't my bag, baby. It sounds to me like the hipsters from the high school band got together with the cool kids from the glee club and made an album of fey, twee, campy (but in an earnest way) pop. Oh my. It's all very pretty, I suppose, but there are just one too many glockenspiels in the line-up for my taste.

Uncle Eric's Approximate Album Rating: 2.5-ish

Dylan and his bloody tracks take it.

Ask and you shall receive

Okay hosers, I was gonna wait for the last few stragglers to get their picks in, but it doesn't look like that's happening, so we'll move on to the next round. When they do, I'll get you the most recent scores and brackets. From this point out, when you post a choice, you will get your next assignment.

Now, we are getting down to it. Some tough choices here. In this round, we'll find out how Mark really feels about U2, we'll also get to see what's more hardcore--murder ballads or The Killers, and finally, we'll see how Bruce fares with a classic match-up. There are eight assignments here, which actually takes care of the first two divisions of this round.


Round 3
Division 1

Mark: The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday vs. U2 - Achtung Baby

Andy: New Order - Substance vs. The Band - The Band

Karl: BPB - Ease Down the Road vs. The Cure - Disintegration

Sarah: Nick Cave - Murder Ballads vs. The Killers - Hot Fuss

Division 2

Steve: Stone Roses - Stone Roses vs. Bob Marley - Legend

Me: Air - Moon Safari vs. Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind

Brian: Flaming Lips - Soft Bulletin vs. Bonnie P billy - Lie Down in the Light

Bruce: Beatles - Revolver vs. Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers


p.s. if I made a mistake and assigned you to an album you had on your list or that you already chose, can you let me know?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blah Humbug

U2 - Joshua Tree vs. Cut Copy - Neon Love

I can't tell you how many times I have listened to these albums over the last week. That's a bad thing, considering I can't stand U2.

Back in the glory days, I actually owned The Joshua Tree. I believe I picked it up as one of my 10 albums for 1cent from Columbia House. Maybe that just goes to show that I didn't have very much music on my palette at the time. What a shame, that I wasted 1/10th of a cent.

The original reason why I don't care for U2 has nothing to do with music at all, but rather it was for political reasons. Wouldn't Bono be proud. I won't go into what the circumstances were to create such a travesty, but I will say to those who think it is stupid to hold onto a grudge for 20 years and to suffer collateral damage with something that has nothing to do with the original issue...

1) There is no suffering with an absence of U2.
2) Replace U2 with, oh lets say, Creed, and tell me your aren't holding a grudge.

So that's basically the prelude to this match up.

For Neon Love, I have to say, it's not bad. I certainly wouldn't want it turned off if I heard it. If the first track came on the radio, I'd probably crank it. The second track isn't too shabby either. By the third track, I'm wondering if we're repeating things though. Plus it has a major sin in it... lyrics referencing communication, but to make sure everyone understands the concept, they make some telephone sounds. Absolutely terrible. The only thing worse is singing about "keyboards", a "mouse", or the "internet". But hey, even great artists make this mistake (GNR, Roy Harper to call out some my favs. Although, when Dread does it, it effing works). Going Nowhere, isn't too bad either, but by now, I'm really doing a double check with my keyboard and mouse to make sure my internet music player is not on repeat. I have to keep reminding myself, does the song stand on its own, and it probably does. ZapZap, is this just a lyricless rehash of an earlier song? AutoBahn Music Box, same thing. Bright Neon Payphone... I like the less electronic, more guitar, sound of this one. It sounds different enough that I am worried it isn't Cut Copy. If it is them, then they get bonus points. A Dream seems to take us back to the beginning, which maybe is good. But I'm not so sure.

Overall, this isn't a bad album, but I wasn't wowed. It gets points for not pissing me off too much, points for being acceptable music that my friends can play in my presence (oh the honor!), and points for having some tunes that can be cranked. It loses points for being repetitive, and being too obvious with everyday objects.

The Joshua Tree needs no further introductions. But lets get this over with quickly. Streets have no name... yeah, ok it is a good song, fine. It has that edge guitar sound, which gets old pretty quick, but what can you do. Still haven't found..., again, fine, I'll admit it is a good song too. Bullet, shit this is a good one too. Running to stand still, not bad, but nothing special.. hah, these guys suck. Red Hill, I'd say this is a throwaway too, but it might not be. There are some interesting, simple things here, which I can appreciate. A little muzak-y. In God's Country, we're back up tempo, they've obviously opened a new can of edge guitar - regular flavour. Not bad, but it is standard-issue U2.. Trip Through is kind of lame. Like they are all cool and hip because they have a harmonica. One Tree Hill, I'm going to judge the song based on the show of the same name, which some would say isn't fair, but I say tough. The show has Chad Micheal Murray and he was in Dawson's Creek, so OTH must rule, and therefore the song kicks ass.

Overall, this album as a few songs on my list of things I can leave behind. But it also has some really good stuff on there too. So it isn't so easy to dismiss.

At first, I figured I would just listen to Neon Love, just to verify it wasn't crap, and then pass it on to the next round. But after listening to The Tree, I knew I couldn't justify doing that. I listened to these albums numerous times, really trying to find the magic in Bright Like Neon Love, and validating the pure evil in The Joshua Tree. I was unsuccessful in each. Neon Love gained more points on each listen, while I was less impressed with Joshua Tree on the last listen vs the first, but overall I must hang my head in shame, and move Joshua Tree onto the next round.

Kin I pretty please have an assignment to take too long to compare?

please?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mule Pit



There's no way a bunch of Emerson and Berklee preppy punks who got started the year after I left Boston are gonna beat out the dark rider, the nighthawk at the diner, Doc Heller, the pot banger, the potion barker.

I put up Rain Dogs on my list, but I had considered Bone Machine, Mule Variations, Frank's Wild Years, and Swordfishtrombones. Any Tom Waits album is good as longs as it's got one good grand weeper and one good grim reaper -- and perhaps I'd add, one good pot banger.

Mule Variations is strong on the weepers and bangers. When I start listing favorites I have a hard time stopping. Mule variations might be a little weak on reapers, depending on how you define them; songs like Black Market Baby and Eyeball Kid and Low Side of the Road don't really do much for me. (Contrast to Bone Machine and Rain Dogs, which are full of good reapers.)

Overall I think Mule Variations feels a little more well-rounded and accessible than other Tom Waits, which is a good thing.

So yeah, the Tom Waits is going to win. Still, there's a reason three of you nominated a few Bosto punks to be (forever, indelibly) memorialized in the great Music Death Match of 2010. I listened for about thirty seconds to Chunk of Change and I added it to my shopping cart. Some really nice electronics. Scratches the Postal Service itch and yet it feels (granted, from a first listen) like it might have more staying power.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beck is Elected, The Elected is not elected

"Brian, I think you'll really like (30) The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun; however, I don't know if you will like it more than (19) Beck - Odelay"

Andrew is once again prescient....I'll save the suspense. The Elected is pleasant music, but doesn't really grab me. I enjoy listening to it, but have trouble paying attention to it. I don't dislike it, but it's not grabbing me enough to separate it from other bands that do this style well.

Odelay still sounds fresh. I love the beats and grooves. It at times feels gimmicky, but I like these gimmicks. After continued career progression and evolution, even Beck has tried to recapture some of Odelay's brilliance on Guero and the Information. I think this is still more cutting edge than a lot of current music.

Sorry Zwartitude.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

blue train floating in space



i'm glad i got to listen to a jazz album...despite numerous tries over the years, i've never really latched on to the jazz music...i've got a smattering of stuff by coltrane, miles, ornette coleman, coleman hawkins, lionel hampton, charlie christian, dave brubeck, and others, but none of it has really grabbed me...i mean i like it and it doesn't annoy me or anything, it just doesn't really mean anything to me...blue train was an album i hadn't heard...it followed along with my past experience with the jazz...for a classic jazz album, i'd give it a solid A+...but at the same time, i don't care if i ever listen to it again...



not to sound like that douche ken burns, but i think jazz reminds me of baseball...if you really understand it, there are alot of things there to pay attention to...in baseball, there are the pitching matchups, position of the infielders, and so on...with jazz, a lot of the action favors the educated listener...i don't think i'm really that person...like i know coltrane uses lots a different modalities or whatever, but if it was just up to me, i'd never notice those things...i don't have the music knowledge to get all that stuff without reading about it...i read a biography of miles davis a coupla years ago and i barely understood any of the music writing...i guess i'm saying this: jazz is enjoyable to listen to, but i don't think i can fully appreciate it...



i've got 3 spiritualized albums, including ladies and gentleman...this is my favorite of the three (i also have let it come down and songs in a and e)...i feel like jason pierce found a theme with this album and followed through with it pretty well...this is a quite ambitious batch of music and it almost always succeeds...as a negative, there are a few parts that just turn into noise for me...i feel like they must be fun to play, but not much fun to listen to a (kinda like jazz)...9 times outta 10, though, i'd pick to listen to spritualized...

winner: ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Compare / Contrast Assignment on Radiohead and Guh

Again, I had a hard time deciding between these two albums, so I assigned my students to listen to them both and write a compare/contrast essay. I chose the best essay among them, figuring the best writer should get to decide. Here it is, along with my comments on the bottom:

Many things share similarities, but also there are many things that are different. Some of these things include art, fruit, cars, and even music. In music, every album is different, but also shares some similarities. For example, Radiohead’s album “OK Computer” and Guh’s album “We are Sunburning” share some of the same things like they are both music. But these are also very different records because one has lyrics and one doesn’t, one is very creative but one is just the same thing over and over, and lastly one album is popular and one is not popular. Therefore, OK Computer deserves to move on in the tournament.

Since the dawn of time, man has wrestled with technology. Sometimes technology is helpful, but oftentimes it can be bad. On “OK Computer” lead singer Tom Yorke writes lyrics about how technology can be bad. According to Wikipedia, it says “its lyrics and visual artwork emphasise common themes such as consumerism, social disconnection, political stagnation, and modern malaise.” Therefore, this album as you can see is pretty deep. On the other hand, Guh’s album “We are Sunburning” has no lyrics except for the song Whitey on the Moon, which according to Wikipedia “is a song written and recorded by Gil Scott-Heron in 1970. Combining jazz and funk, the song was illustrative of prison-style recreational poetry and played a significant role in the development of rap music and hip hop. The song is a cultural commentary depicting socio-economic and racial inequity of the late 1960s in the United States, inspired by the Moon Landing of 1969. The lyrics criticize the US government for spending billions on the space program while ignoring the condition of its poorest citizens.” So, in some ways the lyrics of both albums share some characteristics because both deal with society, but mostly they are different because for the most part, Guh does not have lyrics as mentioned above.

Speaking of differences, OK Computer is very creative. Each song has neat things in it like drum machines and guitars and synthesizers. Some of it sounds like rock music while some of it sounds like trip-hop. In their song Paranoid Android there are many parts to it. It is 6 and a half minutes! And it sounds like many different songs put together. On the other side of things, Guh is a jazz band, and therefore each of their songs sounds like jazz. Mostly they just use trumpets and saxophones and bagpipes. Some people might think there songs are creative but anyone who knows about music would know that all there songs sound the same. Except for Bug Night which sounds like kind of like jazz but actually mostly sounds like crazy insects. Who would want to listen to this?!!!!

Also, if we compare the two group’s popularity we will see that Radiohead is actually very popular while Guh is not popular at all. This is not just my opinion either. Wikipedia states that “Upon its release, OK Computer received almost unanimously positive reviews. Consensus among critics was that the album was a landmark of its time and would have far-reaching impact and importance.” You might ask yourself how could an album get so many “positive reviews” if it wasn’t popular. In contrast, Guh does not even have a Wikipedia page. However, here is a quote I found on a webpage: “In the summer of 1994, Henry, Blake, Brian, and Jason went to Europe. They slept outdoors, ate bread and cheese in the park, rested in the Cathedrals, washed in Art Gallery washrooms, and drank beer. In Germany, people said they would be big in Prague. In Prague, they also knew how to drink. Four months later, GUH returned to Canada, recordings what would be released as a tipple CD package by Unmanageable, an independent record company run by Craig Barnes. The CD's were self titled GUH. With the help of the Ontario Arts Council, they released recordings of their new compositions and called it FLOG…In the summer of 1999, GUH toured the coast of British Columbia, Canada, promoting their latest release We Are Sunburning.” You can see that these guys are so unpopular that they needed help from the government to even record a CD!

In conclusion, Radiohead and Guh have some similarities like they both write and play music, they are mostly very different and Radiohead are mostly different in that they are much better because of their lyrics, creativity and popularity. And because of this, OK Computer should win in the tournament.

Nice work, Madison. You have a well structured compare/contrast essay with clear categories/criteria. You also have very few spelling errors. At the same time, there are a few things you could continue to work on. For example, you state that Radiohead is criticizing technology, but are you sure they’re not simply exploring the ambiguity of it? And if they are, does that necessarily make them deep? You need to show me this using actual lyrics from the album. You do make a nice connection though between the societal critique of "Whitey on the Moon" and OK Computer. In the section on creativity, you might want to actually define what creativity is, and again use actual details to support your points. You attempt to do this when you discuss the song “Paranoid Android” but you might want to consider that just because a song is long and has many different parts, it doesn’t necessarily make it creative. Some might actually consider the song a bad rip-off of a bad genre of music called prog-rock (before your time). Regarding your reference to trip-hop, I’ll have to check with Uncle Eric. You might also consider that just because you think all jazz sounds the same, it doesn’t mean everyone does. Some people might point out that “The Barnes Exhibit” is absolutely funky with its amazing drum fills while “Patron Bentley” is quite beautiful and moving. And I would note that while the marriage of bag-pipes, jazz, and middle-eastern melodies might be difficult to take over the course of a debut three-disc set, We Are Sunburning distills the best of what Guh does on one amazingly solid disc. You are right that Radiohead is, in fact, the more popular band. Some actual statistics might have been nice here, but really, isn’t this claim rather evident? In any case, your overall thesis is pretty clear, and I daresay correct. Therefore OK Computer will advance, and you will receive a very generous C-.

Sonic Socialism vs. Hamburger Travellin Music

Another post from Steve:

Polyphonic Spree vs. Bob Dylan and the Band

First riffs of Polyphonic: this will be a good matchup…there seem to be some 60’/70’s sensibilities that will make comparison interesting. The gang vocals on Section 11 are right up my alley. I love big anthems and I tend to believe the urgency with which the Sprees sing.


Right away Section 12, “Hold me Now” grabs me. It’s not my favorite style…a little to boppy-poppy for me, but man the chorus with all the vocals are killer. What I like about Tim DeLaughter is that he could easily make his voice overshadow the rest of the vocals, but he doesn’t. Neither does he lose himself in the choir…there is still a very distinct presence of his voice in the mix. It’s like what America should be like, a distinct community built on some specific ideals while not neglecting the role and place and the opportunity to flourish for everyone who is present within that community. It’s like a sonic example of socialism.


The other thing that strikes me about Polyphonic Spree is that they are apologetically sweet, but do not simply rely on convention to express the presence of sugar. Sure, there are some very familiar, even classic melodies that come out from time to time, but it is obvious just how creative this group of people are. They’ve created their own convention…I don’t feel like they are imitating anyone. This is kind of the problem I have with Anathallo lately. You listen to them and you think Sufjan, and while I’ve been known to wear my influences on my sleeve and shouldn’t be so critical, I just don’t think of anyone else when I listen to Polyphonic Spree. I just take them in and benefit from what they are presenting. Plus, the use of saw throughout just floors me.


All in all, I really enjoyed listening to this record. Here’s the thing though…I don’t feel the urge to pop in the Polyphonic Spree very often. I only own one of their records and it isn’t this one. That being said, if ever I do want to listen to something syrupy, this would be a quick go to.


Now, on to the Band and Dylan.


Another record with some fun backing vocals. But the talk/sing of Dylan is not sitting right with me. Plus, the tinny quality of the acoustic guitars is something that I really don’t enjoy…it almost sounds four-tracked.


I love the B3 organ.


Now, while I’m not super into Dylan’s voice here, I really do enjoy the one dude from the Band. Katie’s Been Gone is a great tune objectively speaking. Traveling music is how I’d describe a lot of this. Like I would appreciate it most if I was traveling Highway 61 and eating a lot of hamburger. But here’s the thing, I don’t eat meat anymore. So what am I to do? Well, if I’m a Bible-believing man, I’ll take Paul’s admonition to not judge anyone for what they eat and I’ll keep giving this record a fair shake. In all honesty though, it’s not looking good for this record.
Is this Dylan singing on Going to Acapulco? If so, why doesn’t he sing like this more often?


And then there is Lo and Behold. I know I’m supposed to like this for one reason or another. It’s sarcastic. It’s another good travelin’ song. But I just can’t conjure up much appreciation for it. I kind of like the bass backing vocals…but it’s not enough.


Odds and Ends, on the other hand, just smokes it. Awesome guitar. Killer piano. I’d dance to this at some juke joint on a Friday night…spinning my lady across the floor while giving the crowd a knowing look…yeah, we rule this place.


There’s just too much music here to comment on in detail. The skinny is: I like the stuff where the members of the Band sing lead way better than the stuff where Dylan sings lead. I like so much of the instrumentation for what it is…good ole playing of instruments. Nothing pretentious. Nothing contrived. It’s just good.


And I think that’s why the Polyphonic Spree win. The Band and Dylan are just good…and I know that’s sacrilege in some way, but that’s how I see it. The Polyphonic Spree’s creativity and ability to invoke joy is something worth pushing forward. And so it is.


The Band: 5 gold bunnies
Polyphonic Spree: 18 pounds of fairy dust.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nirvassive Attana Nevermind the Mezzanine

Nirvana Nevermind vs. Massive Attack Mezzanine:
Sorry to have taken so long once again. Also damn the taxes.
Let me take you back to high school jazz band. There are only two or three people in my school who actually know how to play guitar but my band teacher is a pretty good jazz guitarist and oboe player and used to teach at a military academy, so there's definitely going to be a guitar in jazz band, sir, yes sir! The first guitar player—who actually liked jazz—graduated from high school so the other guitar player took his place. This guy was a huge Ramones fan and was in a punk-ish band with the drummer in jazz band who, since there aren't that many rock n roll kids to go around, was also kind of a Deadhead. Every day when concert/marching/pep band practice ends and jazz band begins, the Ramones fan guitar player pops over to his guitar, plugs in and goes "dun da dut. cha dut da dut dut dah, dun da dut. chucka chucka chun dut... and the drummer says, "no, man, it's dun da dut cha dut da dut dut DAH dun da dut," and I feel completely out of the loop because I'm still really into Petra. This is my first exposure to "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It might have been two years later in college before I actually heard the song. Yes, it and the rest of Nevermind was pretty important in pop music history and helped to change things in some pretty awesome ways, but the damn drums sound like Rush. Not in the size of the set, but the size of the sound. It's all polished and touched with just the right amount of reverb. It doesn't make sense with this album and I think it's what has kept me from being into it much in the past. If I had been listening to much good music at the time, I think it's likely that I would have really liked this album and then it would have stuck with me and I would defend it to the death. I think I just missed the train on this one.
By the time Massive Attack's Mezzanine came out I was listening to some decent music and this pushed my musical boundaries a little further toward darkness. I kind of appreciate that. I think this decision does come down to history (sorry if there's been too much of that in my decision making here) more than anything else, but also I sometimes think, "I'd like to listen to Mezzanine," and I almost never think that about Nevermind.
Oh, one more thing. The second song on Mezzanine, "Risingson," reminds me of this. Or vice versa.

Terse at Tax Time


I sure would rather wax smart about The Flaming Lips & Johnny Cash than muddle through our complicated taxes. (Note to selves: Uncle Sam no likey the self-employed.) But I'm not here to have fun this weekend, so here's a short rationale and decision.

Johnny Cash rules and all, but there are some cringe-worthy moments on American IV: The Man Comes Around, and these moments make me want to skip tracks like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "In My Life," "Desperado," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." In all of the tracks listed and then some, I wish I were enjoying the original, not Cash's cover. Yes, even "Desperado." And I certainly enjoy Cash covers, like lots of the ones on American III: Solitary Man and Unearthed: Redemption Songs. On American IV, I much prefer his reinterpretations of his own songs.

The Soft Bulletin, while it lacks the emotional urgency of the best tracks on American IV, inspires repeated listens from beginning to end. And it never gets maudlin. And I like spending time with this whole album, not just with selected tracks.

The Flaming Lips win. Back to Turbo Tax.

Death Match 2010 Drag Race: "Little Honda" Vs. "Turd on the Run"

I dig both these albums. And I was gonna write all this good stuff about them...

Like I was gonna mention how much Exile on Main Street reminded me of my recent match-up of The Basement Tapes and Rattle & Hum but how I just like it better than either of those albums...And how when I first listened to it all the songs kind of blended together into one long world-weary countrified blues rock juke joint kind of thing, but over the years the individual songs have slowly started to define their own personalities...And something about how after any self-respecting rock band has spent years seeing/ doing/ f*cking/ ingesting everything imaginable, there arises a need to return and be baptized in the primordial musical ooze from whence they came...And a mention of how ironic it is that rich white urban British blokes can crank out the music of poor black rural Americans so authentically and without pretense...And a neat anecdotal comment about how Tom Waits allegedly claims "I Just Wanna See His Face" as his favorite Stones' song...

And I was gonna make some clever analogy along the lines of: "If what they say is true, that the blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll, then EOMS stands as the afterbirth that slid out during the whole delivery process"...Nothing cute and adorable here, folks, just a loose, sticky, gritty little entity all its own...With a pair of giant lips and a big ol' tongue stickin' right out at ya, crying for your mama and a bottle of Jack Daniels...

But I'm not gonna write any of that stuff. Instead I'm just going to assign it Uncle Eric's Highly Scientific Overall Album Rating: 4.8


I was also gonna write a fair amount about I Can Hear the Heart...About how the folks in Yo La Tengo seem like genuinely nice folks and I really appreciate that about them...About how this album captures so much that was great about 90s "indie" music...About how the mid-album trio of "Stockholm Syndrome", "Autumn Sweater", and the fuzzed-up "Little Honda" is friggin' brilliant...About how this is probably my favorite YLT album, next to maybe Fakebook...

And I was gonna say that I love a lot of YLT's individual songs, but I often have a problem making it all the way through their albums because they change mood or tone or something too much...Maybe they are almost TOO eclectic for me, at least over the course of individual albums...Like how I love "Sugarcube" but when it goes right into the following track "Damage", I feel like they lost the potential to keep riding that awesome momentum...And I always like their poppier tracks (e.g., the fun little bossa nova influenced "Center of Gravity") far more than their raucous arty avant-garde sound experimentation songs (e.g., the never-ending "Spec Bebop")...And how I really love the album closer "My Little Corner of the World"...

Again, I'm not gonna bother with any of those comments, but instead just give ICHTHBAO Uncle Eric's Evidence-Based Overall Album Rating: 4.2

It was a good race but Mick and Keef and the Turd on the Run take it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jane gets around to do making it

The Neko Case songs that I like best roll up and down the piano under a Patsy Cline voice turned a little cloudy, a little dark (like apple cider vinegar kept around too long). That's the kind of thing that I find in "Magpie to the Morning" and "Red Tide" and, most of all, the title track, "Middle Cyclone." A number of the songs on this album also have lyrics that lie just one side of country music, just inches away from schmaltz. Take the long infinitive phrase "to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love." And some of the songs on this album borrow unlikely personas to great effect--"You Got a Nerve" and "This Tornado Loves You" being the best examples.

When she is good, then, Neko Case is very, very good. And when she is bad she is, well, not horrid, not even quite bad, but staged. Something in "Prison Girls," for instance, strikes me as overreaching, like period pieces often strike me as overreaching, but where everything's done up denim and white leather jackets (okay, those white leather jackets are from "The Pharoahs," another song I'm not nuts about) instead of in lace and tulle and organzas.

Do Make Say Think, on the other hand, can be a little undercrafted sometimes. There's something a little directionless, for instance, in the way many of these songs begin--"Ontario Plates" being a prime example. But that song, like many of the others on this album moves into something resolutely joyful, something celebratory but not triumphalist. "Auberge Le Mouton Noir," for its part, never falters; a little classical and a little shoe-gazey and a little punk and a little hymnody, it makes my mind play all kinds of bright, blurry filmstrips.

Wendell is fussing, so I'll condense: Do Make Say Think wins.

Steve does it fast

This following post is by Steve. He did this in one day, the fastest turn-around so far. You gotta admire that.

Stooges.
There are some really good licks in there guitar-wise, but the mix on this record sucks. On T.V. Eye The guitar is all the way to the left. The bass is always to the right, and it’s pretty crappy. The drums and vocals are almost exclusively panned left as well. If I were listening at a barbecue or some kind of sleep depravation clinic, maybe it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but the mix while listening on headphones is really distracting. Ultimately it just makes the guitar too quiet and the shitty bass too loud.

The moodiness on “Dirt” just doesn’t land. There’s something to be said for being sparse, but this just sounds empty. I don’t know what it’s supposed to evoke. It kind of makes me want to listen to the Doors…who really pull this kind of thing off. And again, the bass guitar sucks crud face.

1970 is a great Detroit sounding song…lots of guts…but the bass sucks when the guitar solo kicks in. They should have sax in every song.

There’s almost a pre-80’s non-hair metal thing going on here.

The last two tunes kill it pretty well, but on the whole, I won’t be going back to this. There’s better disjointed sloppy rock out there. MC5 for instance if you want to keep it in the same city.

Listening to Lambchop directly after this is like switching from a 300 thread count bed sheet to a 600 thread count bed sheet. You can sleep on both and do pretty well, but once you’ve felt the difference in a 600 thread count, you don’t ever want to go back. Now, that may be just because I am listening to these back to back. I think I do like this Lambchop record a lot. The instrumentation is quite sweet. I love the guitar and piano on the new cobweb summer. I like this dude’s voice too. A bit like Smog…and I like Smog better, but this is great too. Good Hammond B3 organ throughout. Okay, I’m listening more and I take back the Smog thing. I’m really liking the subtlety of this record.

Okay, I’m still listening and some of it’s kind of corny. Autumn’s Vicar is making me want to kick my dog because she’s about as cute as this song. Don’t worry, I won’t do it, but that’s how gross I think this song is. It’s like something I wrote it’s that bad. Okay, 45 seconds have passed and holy shit. What the hell is this? Who put this on their favorite list? The next tune better blow my freaking mind or else I’m going to give someone the frowning of a lifetime.

Caterpillar is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time. Here is a good place to compare the mixes on both albums. The acoustic guitar on this tune is panned pretty much to the left, the clean electric is panned right. The vocals are nicely centered. The atmospheric stuff shifts from right to left. It creates a nice full sound that doesn’t detract from the subtle tone of the song. It just seems like they really meant what they were doing. Not that the Stooges didn’t mean what they were doing. But the Lambchops seem to be intentionally creative with the mixes rather than arbitrarily different.

All in all, these two records couldn’t be more different. I think, at least. I didn’t pay a ton of attention to lyrical content. But the Stooges are dirty Detroit rock and roll. From start to finish, there is no guessing. They are what they are. Lambchop is at first polite, but as I listen, it is apparent that there exists some angst and it is surprising and more effective than the Stooges.

But Lambchoppers gets deducted huge for that Autumn’s Vicar garbage.

Here’s the deal, I can’t bash the Stooges for who they are. There’s a certain purity to their approach. But I just don’t like it very much…objectively or subjectively.

Lambchop on the other hand was a very nice surprise. The mix is fantastic. The dude’s voice is good…and even though Iggy sounds great on the Stooges record, I don’t like it as much as Lam Chip. That’s his name right? I didn’t do my research.

So, on a scale of 1-10, I give the Stooges a B-

On the same scale, I give Lambchop a smiley face sticker and a “keep up the good work” thumbs up.

Lambchop wins.


Friday, April 9, 2010

lie down in the light of the man who needs a maid and a blow j.

dadgummit...at this point i don't care if I ever listen to either of these two albums again...i've already heard harvest a million effing times and i know it's good and stuff, but there are a couple straight up clunkers (are you ready to for the country, alabama) that are precursors to other bad neil young (let's roll, this note's for you, etc.) and some classics that are ingrained inside of me so much that i don't even have to put the album on to hear them (heart of gold, old man, needle and the damage done, harvest, out on the weekend). words' has cool time signature changes and there's a world has good lyrics but at this point the only cut that get's to me is a man needs a maid...

as i mentioned a few match ups ago, i bailed on bonnie prince billy after ease on down the road or whatever...bruce and sarah were kind enough to give me some mp3's of his more recent stuff, lie down in the light included...this is a good album ...i listened to this four separate times while jogging...my favorites are "you want that picture", "what's missing is" and "so everyone"...the great thing about bonnie billy imho has always been the strange world he creates with his songs...i think this album continues that while also making it more accessible...the lyrics kinda make sense...i also like ashley webber

so what should I do...harvest has never been my favorite neil young album...i really like tonight's the night, after the gold rush, on the beach or even sleeps with angels...i like his darker stuff more...what i found myself thinking about most in this matchup is where is the point when an artist can be considered "classic" or part of the "canon"...neil young is definitely there...will oldham i think is actually almost there...he's never had the commercial success of neil young, but he has the body of work, and i think in recent decades the body of work is clearly the most important, because everything has been to broken down by genres and it's possible to have a long career without anything even close to a hit single/album...

i always find myself siding with the classic...i don't feel guilty about this...i think the 40 year old album that people still love listening to is usually better than the 5 year old album that people still love listening to...it doesn't mean that is how it will shake out the world ends and all these albums are called up to heaven to be judged by god and zwartitude...but we can only live in the now...

end result...neil can't lose twice to bonnie billy...harvest wins

ps. this really is a trade off...if spruce forrest picked everybody knows...i probably would gone the other way...sue me

Some do it slow, some do it fast

We're kind of all over the place right now in terms of who's choosing what. I blame me and you slow people. In any case, I've typically given the people who get their picks in fastest more picks, but now that Kevin finally got his in, I can update everyone. So here is a list of either what you've already been given, or what you're just getting now:

Also, we only have four choices left before we're on to the entire next round. So whoever gets me their choices first, gets to choose those.

Oldies:

Sarah, you're still working on Flaming Lips vs. Mr. Cash. Any day now would be fine.

Andy, you've got that BPB-Neil Young match-up. I know it's a toughy, but I have faith in you.

Eric, you're usually so prompt. I like Yo La Tengo as much as anyone else, but we both know you need to pick Exile and just move on.

Bruce, how's that Massive Attack vs. Nirvana coming?

Jane, let's listen to some Neko Case this weekend, then do some Doing, Saying, Making, and Thinking (if you know what I mean)

Jeff, you're on Cat Power vs. Stones. Be fair.

Newbies:

Karl, I've been impressed with your speediness as of late. See if you can do it again with (15) Tom Waits - Mule Variations vs. (2) Passion Pit - Chunk of Change

Mark, I'm still sorry about Zeppelin. Will you ever forgive me? In the meantime, have fun with (10) U2 - Joshua Tree vs. (26) Cut Copy - Neon Love

Steve, Dominion! You get to start the fourth division with (24) Lambchop - Is a Woman vs. (25) Stooges - Fun House

Kevin, you handsome devil you, you're stuck listening to (5) White Stripes - Elephant and (12) Bjork - Homogenic

Me, (20) GUH - We are Sunburning vs. (4) Radiohead - OK Computer

Brian, I think you'll really like (30) The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun; however, I don't know if you will like it more than (19) Beck - Odelay

Have fun y'all

Dummy Fingers

Portishead's Dummy vs the Stones' Sticky Fingers

Both of these albums are great. Which one is greater? I don't know.
Both are influential and classic.

Sticky Fingers come in the middle of one of the greatest streaks of outstanding albums ever. Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street. I have a hard time picking a favorite album from that group. Four amazing albums in five years....just imagine what they could have made if Keith Richards wasn't passed out 90% of the time.
Even an average Stones album usually has some killer tracks, and Sticky Fingers is no average Stones album. Stylistically, it's a little all over the map. But I like that. I like their attempt at a country song (Wild Horses). I like their attempt at blues (I Got the Blues). Moonlight Mile is one of their best album closers. I love the extended jam in Can't You Hear Me Knocking.

Dummy still sounds brilliant. As I mentioned in my last post, I listened to too much "trip-hop" in the past. I listened to Mo Wax artists way too much during my first two years in med school while studying...always in the background. I just re-listened to some Mo Wax compilations recently and some of the stuff sounds pretty dated. Dummy doesn't sound dated. Beth Gibbons voice can still send shivers up my spine. The music is chilling, spooky, ominous...but all in a good way.

I'm having trouble deciding between these two. I guess I need some better way to determine a seemingly tied battle. Probably the best way to determine this is which album sounds most like Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy, since he seems to be the early favorite of this group.

Which artist is the most mysterious?
Definitely not the Rolling Stones...especially now. I love the Stones, but they definitely love money now. I'm going with Portishead on this one.

Which artist changes band names so frequently that it consistently frustrates anyone who is anal about organizing music (not that this applies to me)?
Neither.

Which artist is known also for their acting skills?
While Portishead makes cinematic music, Jagger has been in films, and Pirates of the Caribbean was based on Keith Richards.

On second thought, I saw Performance, starring Jagger, I'm taking that point away.

Most importantly, who sings about oral sex?
Brown Sugar may or may not be about oral sex (?and the slave trade as well?). Reluctantly, I'm giving the point to the Stones.

Winner, barely, the Stones

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One freakin tough decision

Day #1:

I like Zeppelin, but Marvin Gaye is totally gonna win.

Listened to Zeppelin. This album is better than I thought it would be. I thought it was going to be cocky blues posturing, but there’s some other cool stuff on here.

Yeah, but Marvin Gaye.

Day #2: Listened to What’s Going On. All fine tunes, but “Save the Children” is kind of awful. Am I awful for thinking that? Maybe Zeppelin will win.

Day #3: Listened to Zeppelin again. First time I was pleasantly surprised by tracks like “Good Times Bad Times” and “You’re Time is Gonna Come.” This time, I’m reminded that I don’t like tracks like You Shook Me” and “Dazed and Confused.” I’m so glad “Dazed and Confused” is only like six minutes.

Interjection – Short History of me and Led Zeppelin: MVB spent a lot of time in high-school trying to convince me that they were way better than The Cure. He never managed this (I sort of figured it out later by myself), but he did get me to appreciate them. We went on a ski-trip, and he put a tape of Houses of the Holy on repeat while I slept. You can call that brainwashing if you want, but it worked. I frickin love that album now. What didn’t help his cause at all was subjecting me to 40 minute versions of “Dazed and Confused.” I look back now and think, “Andrew, you were a pretty good friend for going with Mark while he tracked down those bootlegs and then listening to them later.” But, Mark could say the same things about me trying to find the perfect bootleg version of “A Forest”. Since then, I’ve come to really like III. I picked up IV, but that too left me bored—too much mumbo jumbo mystical shit.

Maybe Marvin Gaye will win after all.

Yeah, but “Save the Children”.

Day #4
Listened to What’s Going On again. Again, good tunes, but on this listen, it struck me how the whole album feels like one long slow jam. That’s not necessarily bad, but is this album over-hyped?

Interjection – Short History of me and Marvin Gaye: Back in college, I bought some Marvin Gaye CD’s. I really liked them.

Who will win?

Day #5
“Communication Break Down” and “How Many More Times” might be mockable, but they are also totally rockable. Their riffs are bigger than my junk (sorry for that everyone). Zeppelin is leading by a hair.

Day #6
Okay, but what about “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me,” “Wholy Holy”? So good. Not sure even the best tracks on Zeppelin touch these.

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Day #7
Question: You know what What’s Going On lacks?

Answer: “Let’s Get It On”
Answer: “Can I Get A Witness?”

The truth is that I’d rather listen to other albums by both these artists. If Houses of the Holy were up, that would win hands down. If a collection of Marvin Gaye’s singles was up, ditto. Shit, shit, shit. Still not sure.

Day #8
Okay it comes down to this: which album am I more likely to listen to the most often? And I think the answer is Marvin’s.

Mark: I really liked the Zeppelin quite a bit. This was tough. At several points, I honestly thought Zeppelin was going to win. Maybe they should.

Okay, Zeppelin wins.

No wait, What’s Going On does.

Overtime decision:
Listened to both again. What’s Going On wins. Or does it? Yeah, it does.

Sigh.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

60's vs. 80's

Bob Dylan-Highway 61 Revisited vs. The Stone Roses-The Stone Roses

It's hard to go against #4 on the Rolling Stones top 500 albums of all time list, especially when the other album isn't even on the top 500, at least that I saw.

But I think it comes down to the fact that I am a child of the 80's, not the 60's. I prefer short corduroy OP's to bell bottoms. And I prefer The Stone Roses to Highway 61 Revisited.

I listened to both albums a couple of times in my car, and I just wanted to keep listening to The Stone Roses. It's 80's music the way it should be done, and I think it also paved the way for so many of the indie bands I ended up listening to in the 90's and 00's. They also throw in some good funk on a number of the later songs.

Although I did also appreciate Highway 61, it definitely isn't my favorite Dylan album. Of course "Like a Rolling Stone" is an amazing song, and I love the epic "Desolation Row." Maybe it's vintage early Dylan, but much it just sounds the same to me, and it's not the Dylan stuff I like best. I much prefer Blood on the Tracks.

I have to admit, I didn't evaluate the lyrics this time, I just listened to the albums and chose which one I liked listening to more. Although I have been giving way to the significance of the artist and album in terms of all-time greatness, I think that there are other Dylan albums still alive that are better than Highway 61. And I personally liked The Stone Roses more than Highway 61, so it moves on.




Monday, April 5, 2010

Arcade Fire - Funeral vs. Postal Service - Give Up

These two albums are ranked 8th and 9th, and I thought they were just as close together after listening to them.

While listening to Give Up, I did think of giving them the nod since the guy's voice sounded like that other singer from some band that I've heard, and I figured that that other band was newer than postal service, so PS was the innovator. Of course, when I looked up PS on the wikinets, things became much clearer as to the similarity.

Arcade Fire was pretty sweet. But I can't really remember why... that's not a negative, I just can't remember. I knew I should have written the review after the last listen, but I had a netflix movie I wanted to get in the mail this morning.

These two albums were really close, and either both deserve to go on, or both deserve to end their run here. I say they should both continue, even though, if they were matched up against, oh I don't know, let's say Nick Harper, they would wither away.

So who wins?

Arcade Fire. Here's why. They are Canadian, and at the hockey game this weekend, the Canadian Anthem was once again butchered. You have to verify the lyrics people.

Sorry Postal Service. If it makes you feel any better, you're on my listen again list.