Friday, May 28, 2010
Sticky Fingers: 4.5
Time Out of Mind: 4.6
Dylan gets my vote.
Sticky Fingers is a darn good album (although I actually do prefer EOMS, despite all the recent Death Match poo-pooing of it. Whatever, people.) However, TOOM is my personal favorite Dylan album. I know it's not his most important or influential or wank, wank, wank, but it is world-weary and bluesy in the best possible ways. It came out at just the right time in my life. And, yes, I like the atmosphere that Lanois helped create here. I just love the song-writing... These are lyrics that resonate with me much more fully than a lot of Bob's older stuff. (The only quasi-clunker here is "Make You Feel My Love" IMHO). This album was on my Top 30 list for a reason, yo.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
chicago released it's full schedule of free shows at millenium park. See attached. shows are at 6:30pm on Mondays usually, in a great outdoor setting.
This year includes Hum, She & Him, Great Lake Swimmers, The Books, Caribou among others.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
It’s like corrupt bluegrass.
The first two tracks were good, but nothing really grabbed me.
Hold On is great. Should be sappy but he pulls it off.
No other singer I know who injects so much showmanship into his voice and music.
Really digging Cold Water. It sounds like something kids would sing in Sunday School.
I have complained about spoken word in a couple of reviews, but man do I like What’s He Building. Super creepy.
Obviously, Tom Waits is a lyrical gangsta, which makes this hard to compare to Winter Hymn. There is less improvisation musically, but that’s not to say that the album isn’t very rich in its own way.
Some songs drag the album down (I’m looking at you Black Market Baby & Eyeball Kid) but overall it’s a masterful, intriguing album.
As much as I’d love to move the Do May’s on, I gotta bow to the man.
Mule Variations stands.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I love it when an album (or song) begins and you spend a couple of seconds wondering, ‘has it started?’ ‘am I hearing something?’
1:46 song begins proper
Hi-hat a little too staccato
Awesome sounds at 4:30
5:15 wicked – that part should have gone on for at least 3 minutes longer
Reminds me of explosions in the sky
I love it when a song (or an album) begins and you spend a couple of seconds wondering, ‘has it started?’ ‘am I hearing something?’
Oh wait, that was the whole thing
Was really enjoying the song, less sure about the change at 3:43
Kind of meh until about four minutes in
That stretch at 5:03 could have lasted longer
Good, but not as good as a sprawling 10 minute opus should be
Dig the horns
Just really nice
Bonus points for the title
Reminds me of GUH, not a bad thing
Like the funky at 4:00
Nice, understated use of the horns
Had they dissolved fully into noise, then drug it out for a looooong time, to the point where my wife asks ‘why are you listening to this?’ you would have earned an automatic pass. Too bad.
Snapping, clapping, strings
I thought my internet connection was cutting out at the end of the song. Turns out it was just the music. Then I felt old.
Same joke as earlier
The organ sound takes to the next level what was already a good tune
Love all the layers by the 4:00 mark
Just keeps getting better
All said, an A- effort. A couple of the ideas I felt like could have been explored a little more, and a couple of tracks were interesting, but not really full songs, which is a problem on an album that is only 9 songs long to begin with.
I kept finding myself writing ‘I dug this’ or ‘I’m really diggin’ the …’ What is wrong with me?
By the way, zwartitude, if you haven’t sold these on amazon yet, add $6 to the tab, and I’ll take both
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Polyphonic Spree - Together We're Heavy vs. Blood on the Tracks
Funeral vs. Exile on Main Street
Tom Waits vs. Do Make Say Think
I think I should do Funeral vs. Exile on Main Street because, even though I already judged Funeral, I didn't pick either of these and both of the other two matchups include my picks (Blood on the Tracks and Do Make Say Think).
Andrew? May I?
Monday, May 17, 2010
The Band - The Band
+++ kermitty vocals
+ tap the foot when it swings, slap the knee when it's straight
+ despite 60s-70s roots, politics not overtly annoying
- probably because they're canadians
++ omg i just noticed that opening riff from Up On Cripple Creak sounds like a wireless green song -- did everyone already know that but me? what, boca raton?
++ sing for the workin man (there ain't but one workin man)
++ vocal harmony
- jemima surrender. what? so forgettable i can't remember if it was offensive.
- questionable, obscure, perhaps shroom-influenced metonymy/metaphor on "jawbone"
+ sweet time signature, riffs, key changes, and high vocal harmony on "jawbone"
-- lack of subtlety on King Harvest
The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
+ much more manly than you'd expect from one of andrew's picks
++ humor (/satire/irony/homage)
++ i'm more likely to want to listen to it than The Band cuz it's new
+ stevie nix, very suprising
- Not Actually Singing
+ Not Actually Singing
+ big guitar
--- the "Garden State" complaint: topics seem targeted to ppl younger than me
+ lyrical flourishes are pleasing anyway
The Band: +13 -5 = 8
The Hold Steady: +10 -4 = 6
+ either way i vote, one of andrew's top picks gets advanced, and andrew is my friend, so i am happy for him
- either way i vote, one of andrew's top picks gets advanced, but andrew is my enemy ever since he pulled down my pants on stage
+ band names start with "the"
Let's check back with The Hold Steady in a few years and see how they're doing. Until then, The Band wins based on kermitty vocals.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Mezzanine is Massive attack's move away from trip hop, and I like their first two albums better.
Exile, I'm rooting for you to win it all at this point.
I think I've please Andrew on two accounts, moving his pick on, and eliminating Massive Attack for him. You can thank me later
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Since I am late, and Andrew is probably crying by now, I'll keep this short.
In this case, the old stuff needs to be replaced... sure it may be good, like my Commodore 64 is a classic, but why would I surf the interwebs on my C64, when I can do it on my 386SX... ...and my 386 sucked. Big Time.
The same thing goes for the stones... yeah, great, blah blah, but I'd rather listen to something else.
In this case, that something else is Do Make Say Think. I'm not so sure that this is a top 10 album, but that's good, because the likelihood of hearing it over and over and over again is slim. yay for that.
So there you have it, DMST moves on.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I love Nick Cave, but this is not the album I would have picked for the Death Match. I would have chosen Tender Prey or Henry's Dream, and your guess is as good as mine why I didn't nominate either of these albums. As for Murder Ballads, it does contain all the best elements of Mr. Cave's craft- literate lyrics, manic energy and a consistently compelling pathos, a little gallows humor, and the backing of the Bad Seeds. However, I must admit that the subject matter here is a little too relentlessly gruesome and grim, even by Nick Cave standards.
On the other hand, I should point out that the onslaught of blood and guts and homicide on this album do not bother me as much as a lot of "gangsta rap"...Perhaps it is because Mr. Cave's stories often sound legendary or mythical ("Stagger Lee", "Henry Lee", "Where the Wild Roses Grow", "Crow Jane"), cartoonish and ridiculously obscene ("The Curse of Millhaven", "O'Malley's Bar"), or like the plot of a good thriller/ murder mystery movie ("Song of Joy", "The Kindness of Strangers"). Unlike "gangsta" music, they do not sound like stories of his own experience or portraits of the violent environment from which he has emerged. The violence often depicted in rap sounds more "real" and therefore much more disturbing to me. Does that make sense?
My favorite song on the album is definitely "Stagger Lee"...I saw Nick and the boys perform this live in downtown Detroit several years ago...It was showmanship at its finest: Nick sauntering fiendishly about the stage, the Seeds locking into that ominous groove, Blixa Bargeld shrieking in that blood-curdling way only German artists can do appropriately, and an additional verse added in which the devil himself pops up to challenge Stagger only to be shot dead by the annoyed Mr. Lee. Now that, my friends, is rock and roll.
Overall Album Rating: 4.2
Ease Down the Road
I like Will Oldham, enough to own this album even, although I probably would not have nominated it for the Death Match. If I had to choose a favorite of his, I would probably pick BPB Sings Greatest Palace Music because it's good to hear those old lo-fi Palace songs shined up a bit Nashville-style and because I found it on CD for $1.99 at a Media Play going out of business in Connecticut (I love a good music bargain).
That being said, I have a bit of an uneasy relationship with Mr. Oldham. While I really do enjoy most of his music, especially under the BPB moniker, I always feel like I never quite "get" him. (He reminds me of a weird aging hippie cousin, who can be fun at a family reunion and has some great stories to tell, but who also likes to toy with people and has trouble holding down a steady relationship perhaps in part because he has tried sex things I don't want to hear about. )
My favorite song on this album is "A King at Night" and my least favorite is "The Lion Lair". Nothing here offers the chills nor the thrills of Nick Cave. It is far more soft-spoken and pleasant sounding, if not a little bizarre at times. I think it is a perfect album to listen to while falling asleep for an afternoon nap. And that is not necessarily a bad thing to be.
Overall Album Rating: 3.9
Another close one, but Murder Ballads moves on.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
this is vomit about music...
you know what i like about dylan...i'm still entertained by his mystique...he could say "my favorite color is green and like to eat chinese food" and people would be like, "what does he mean?"...a few years ago there were some pictures of dylan in a convenience store reading "baseball weekly" and i actually thought, "wow, dylan knows what baseball is"...that's how much i drank the kool aid...i mean why the hell wouldn't an american man know what baseball is...also, the music...i'm still impressed by the variety of not just his musical styles, but his lyrical styles...the fact that he wrote "masters of war" and "like a rolling stone" and "visions of johanna" and "lay lady lay" and "the man in me" (see intro to big lebowski) and "isis" and "pressing on" and "blind willie mctell"...i could go on an on...but i won't...i think it's easy for someone of dylan's means to say: "ok, i'll hire a bunch of people and we'll play country songs or gospel songs"...but he didn't just do that...he completely change the style of lyrics that he wrote...this is impressive to me...the gospel stuff in particular...
blood on the tracks...
i've always been sort of passively impressed by this album...some of it i really love (especially idiot wind, tangled up in blue, and shelter from the storm) and some of it i just love (you're a big girl now, if you see her say hello, and lily, rosemary, and the jack of hearts)...these are all supposedly inspired by the breakup of his marriage...i think he gets his shit across pretty good with respect to his feelings...this album feels real...the biographical details of the split not withstanding...jakob dylan said once that this album is his parents talking...too bad for the kids...if you're interested, my favorite dylan breakup song is "dirge" from planet waves, the studio album prior to blood on the tracks...
you are free...
one of the things that sucks about the death match is that i've found myself being way overly critical of music that i otherwise like just fine...you are free is like that...i bought this when it came out and listened to it a bunch and then put it back in it's respective slot...a while back i remember talking w/sarah about this album and she told me she really liked it...i listened to it again and thought it was better...there's a pretty consistent emotional tone which is important to me when judging a complete album...my criticisms lie more in the double track vocals...it just obscures the lyrics, i love lyrics (unlike some people, snark)...some of the songs are too long and make me want to kick puppies...some of the songs aren't as good as the greatest songs of all time...for example, "names" is great but it can't hold a candle to "goodbye yellow brick road"...
winner: blood on the tracks
(i am, in fact, enjoying the death match by the way...i love reading everybody's reviews and comments)
Also, this matchup makes me nervous because it is a specific instance of a conversation that has probably happened a zillion times between all kinds of people: Beatles or Stones?
These are two really great bands and both albums are undeniably great, whether you like them or not.
I chose Goats Head Soup as my Stones album and after listening to Sticky Fingers once for this matchup I had to go back to see if I really like Goats Head Soup better, or if I was just being snobby. I do like Goats Head Soup better. It's a more coherent album, the sound is more interesting to me, and it has a weariness I love. Plus, the cover is (only slightly) more fun to stare at. That said, Sticky Fingers has some of the best individual Stones songs ever. Some of the best songs of anybody ever. Dead Flowers is probably my favorite, but that plus Moonlight Mile plus Wild Horses on one album=wow. I find Brown Sugar and Bitch a bit offensive, but life's a bit offensive, so... In the continuing Bruce-was-a-dork-musically-early-on series, I first heard You Gotta Move performed by CCM supergroup The Lost Dogs, then found out it was written by a "real" blues musician (s - Wikipedia says Fred McDowell and Reverend Gary Davis), then found out it was made famous by the Stones.
I have been saying for the past 15 years, "I should really get into the Beatles sometime," and listened to a few albums here and there, but never really managed to get into them. The first time I was aware of the Beatles was in eight grade when we sang Penny Lane in choir. It was kind of confusing to me. In my ears and in my eyes? Metaphor was just too much. But that song stuck in my head and now I really like it. And the other side of that single, Strawberry Fields Forever, might be my favorite Beatles song.
Revolver is interesting to me because it sounds like it's kind of the bridge album between:
1. the formal, stuffy, tight, string-quartet stuff before it, as heard in songs like Eleanor Rigby and the earliest "hey girl, you're groovy and I want to get with you" type stuff like Got to Get You into My Life and:
2. Maharishi hippie psych out acid trip stuff like Yellow Submarine and Love You Too andTomorrow Never Knows. Wow, Tomorrow Never Knows is a really wonderful song. I just turned it up. There's really a lot here. It's well-anchored by that tight, soft bass that repeats like a funk song. Love You Too is pretty great, too. Yeah, so I prefer later, more messed up, tape loop, psychedelic Beatles to the earlier stuff. Yes, their harmonies in the earlier stuff are amazing and they know how to write a good pop song, but it's too proper or something. It is interesting hearing the mix of all these things in one album, though.
The problem with both of these bands is that it's hard to listen to the music without thinking of the huge commodity they both have become. The Beatles have a bit more mystique for not existing any more instead of playing the Super Bowl half time show, but the fact that it's impossible to listen to Beatles music without either buying or stealing it speaks to their continuing market power. And I have these little snippets of interviews with them in my head where they give these snobby vague answers to the press. On the other hand, it's probably really annoying to be more popular than Jesus. And this should be about the music.
I started writing this convinced that I was going for the Stones, despite the fact that there are too many of their albums left here in the Death Match. Then I listened Tomorrow Never Knows four times in a row. Here's what I'm going to do: List the songs and give them each a yes or no, as in my first reaction (after already listening to everything several times and being fairly critical) is like or don't like:
Taxman - no
Eleanor Rigby - yes
I'm Only Sleeping - no
Love You to - yes
Here, There and Everywhere - no
Yellow Submarine - yes
She Said She Said - yes
Good Day Sunshine - no
For No One - yes
I Want To Tell You - no
Doctor Robert - no
Got to Get You Into My Life - yes
And Your Bird Can Sing - no
Tomorrow Never Knows - yes
Brown Sugar - no
Sway - yes
Wild Horses - yes
Can't You Hear Me Knockin' - no
You Gotta Move - yes
Bitch - no
I Got the Blues - yes
Sister Morphine - no
Dead Flowers - yes
Moonlight Mile - yes
Percentage of songs on album with a yes:
Revolver - 14 songs, 7 no, 7 yes = 50%
Sticky Fingers - 10 songs, 4 no, 6 yes = 60%
And the winner is: Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
I realize there's not really anything objective going on here, but I think I was pretty honest in recording my initial thoughts. Now that I've decided, I think I really can stand behind Sticky Fingers, even if there are too many Stones albums left.
Monday, May 3, 2010
I have some baggage with this album, I’ll admit it. I loved The Bends, and was one of the few people I knew who was championing Radiohead when it came out. Then OK Computer came out, and everyone loved Radiohead and acted like they had loved them forever. And then a ‘friend’ who had promised me a ticket to the Radiohead show gave it to someone else because I was going more to see Spiritualized open than I was for Radiohead (which was partly true, but still a sucky thing to do). Plus I really can’t stand Thom Yorke. I have trouble with the tension of a band who rails against the system, but enjoys all the benefits it has to offer. And, let us be honest, they participate in it fully. Thom Yorke has a carefully sculpted image so that at all times he looks like he:
a) just woke up
b) just showed up to a party
c) wasn’t aware of the party
d) doesn’t understand why everyone is fussing over him
e) couldn’t care less anyway
It was like when the guy from Coldplay said he doesn’t consider himself a rockstar because he doesn’t wear the right pants. Then puts on huge stadium shows with outfits which were obviously picked out by a costume designer.
And listen I did. And it is a really great album. It is incredibly well textured. Airbag sounds a little more like the bends than I had remembered, but then Paranoid Android switches things up. I’d say nicely, but I’ve never been a huge fan of this song. We get some good stuff until Karma Police, which is the best song on the album for my money. Then track 7 sucks and makes me hate the album, but then Electioneering makes me forget how annoying track 7 was. And it’s tight the rest of the way through. No Surprises in particular. It’s a great album, no doubt about it.
Speaking of douchebags, Jack White is at least as insufferable as Thom Yorke. From on article on ‘It Might Get Loud’: What happens when you put three of the most revered guitarists of the past 40 years in a room together? "Probably a fistfight," cracks Jack White.
In the last several years my interest in new music has waxed and waned. It usually needs something to jumpstart it during the lulls, a great new band, a great live show, something. It was during a period of waning that I discovered Elephant. I hadn’t heard any White Stripes before, but I had put it on my Amazon wishlist because it seemed to be making the rounds. And I loved it. There are only two tracks on this album that I am not that fond of (Ball & Biscuit, and Hypnotize). The guitar sounds are great, the drumming is raw, everything clicks. ‘The Air Near My Fingers’ is my favourite on the album, but there are several others close behind.
So why do I care so much about the people making the music? Shouldn’t it just be about the music itself? No, and shut up. Because these aren’t just albums. At their best they are art, but at their worst they are product. Again, it strikes me as ironic that Radiohead put out such a carefully produced item that complains about our lack of connection due to our over-reliance on carefully packaged items. The biggest difference between these albums is that one leaves the mistakes and dissonance in intentionally, and one puts the mistakes and dissonance in intentionally.
In one of my earlier reviews I think I said something about liking boring rock music. It stands to reason that I would like awesome rock music even more.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
If only I had bumped The Boatman’s Call further up on my list. Or if only Andy had chosen that Nick Cave album instead. Then I’d be spouting about what I like best about Cave (stinging religious and romantic incredulism, disarming disappointment, wryness to the max) instead of trying to form words about Murder Ballads, which leaves me conflicted. I mean, it’s a fascinating project, but not one I want to revisit start to finish any old day. I might even call it a carefully constructed novelty.
It may be the subject matter: I’d rather hang with the frustrated living than the wrongful dead and criminally insane.
Tracks or tales that grab me include “Stagger Lee,” “Henry Lee,” “The Kindness of Strangers,” and “The Curse of Millhaven.” Tracks I tire of include at least “Lovely Creature” and “O’Malley’s Bar.” I get what they’re up to, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy their company. Also, the final track, the Dylan cover “Death is Not the End,” seems a questionable statement in this context, if not an ironic one. Maybe this is what Cave was going for, but after the album rattles listeners through and through, it would be some small consolation to trust the sincerity of this song’s inclusion. Oh, and does anyone else find the sub-verbals (screaming, crying) and sound effects (bullets) on this album overly theatrical? Really, Mr. Cave, the stories and their delivery are plenty scary already. Finally, I wonder if Murder Ballads is of a time, like a murder trend, and if this Po Mo reanimation of the infamous bloody dead shocked and rocked most in the couple of years after its release.
In contrast, The Killers’ Hot Fuss just digs its hooks in and stays pretty darn catchy throughout. There’s no song that fully irritates me, and there’s no song that fully engages me. I enjoyed listening to this album, or I enjoyed it as long as I didn’t take it too seriously on too many levels. Once I started taking these albums more seriously, though, I realized that Hot Fuss is not the album that preoccupies me or makes me want to pick it apart.
So: Even if I’m seldom inclined to take in Murder Ballads cover to cover, it turns out I was wrong about at least one of my complaints in the first paragraph. I like forming words about this album. Just not enough to stay indoors toying with the macabre on an 80+ degree day.