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Danger Mouse – The Grey Album

28 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday July 14

Danger Mouse had the most genius moment in music anyone has had in a long time when he came up with mixing music from the White Album under Jay-Z’s raps from the Black album. It flows together so well I don’t know why no one else thought of it first.

The particular standouts are Public Service Announcement over Long, Long, Long, December 4 over Mother Nature’s Son, and 99 Problems over Helter Skelter. It amazes me how well the very gentle songs are mixed so well with the rapping; it’s not something I’d expect to work.

As I’ve said before, I can’t listen to a lot of rap because the production is so bad or sonically confrontational that I can’t listen to the words. After this album, I can finally give Jay-Z the props and then some – dude is a poet and storyteller on par with anyone you can name. Though I have to note that his performance at Coachella 2010 was so. damn. loud. I couldn’t hear the lyrics or enjoy it. Yet another roadblock thrown in my path when I’ve tried to give a rapper a chance!

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Babybird – The Greatest Hits

28 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday July 14

Unlike a lot of albums that are coming up, I was not looking forward to reviewing Babybird’s Greatest Hits. This is another album I bought very cheaply (it may have even been free) because it’s a relatively obscure British band I had heard of at some point or another. But I’ve never been able to get past the first song, which starts out normal-sounding enough, but soon you hear “Fuck you, Father Christmas”. Which intrigued me, but it wasn’t a sentiment I could ever seem to get behind enough to continue listening to the rest of the songs.

The rest of the early songs are hit and miss. They sound purposely “difficult” which usually is irritating, since it’s too self-conscious and immature a pose to affect well. The sound could be described as Badly Drawn Boy or Super Furry Animals with a confrontational, darker, dirtier edge. I had to do a lot of research before I could come up with an appropriate comparison – they didn’t make it easy for me.

Then, all of a sudden, the clouds part and the last 5 songs on the album creep out – catchy, relaxed, pure Britpop songs with 60s and electronic flavors. Sha Na Na and Aluminum Beach are particularly good. Maybe they grew up a bit after a couple of albums.





Ben Lee – Grandpaw Would

28 07 2010

Listened: Tuesday July 13

Grandpaw Would is an oldie but goodie. The main point of note is that Ben was only 16 when he recorded this, but he had been making music for years by that point. I’m nearly the same age as Ben, so when I discovered his music, it was shocking to realize how much someone of my age was accomplishing already.

I think these are the kind of simple songs only really young people could write; it reminds me of the Everly Brothers or songs Simon & Garfunkel wrote as Tom and Jerry before they were folkies. Especially impressive is Ben’s versatility; he can rock out, tell stories, and sing ballads authentically.

Listeners let you get away with a lot when you’re young too – singing off-key, the occasional weird lyric, etc. All those things make this album that much more endearing. However, while Ben has matured a bit, it’s clear he can’t get away with as much these days. Like much of life, sometimes one’s ideal ruling time at certain activities comes and goes, and I’m sorry to say it, but I think his best time in music has passed. But maybe he will drastically reinvent himself when he’s 50 or something.





Jeff Buckley – Grace

28 07 2010

Listened: Tuesday July 13

Being somewhat clued in to “hip” music for so long, I have noticed that mention of Grace comes up a lot. But until recently I had never heard it. Thanks to Woody, I am now a fan.

Jeff’s version of Hallelujah is timeless and transcendent. Jeff’s version, as well as seeing this performance on PBS made me want to explore Leonard Cohen more.

Like Geneva, “choirboy” comes to mind when describing Jeff’s voice (see Corpus Christi Carol), though he can rock it out quite well too (Eternal Life). I can also hear exactly where Fran Healy got his singing style – the influence is obvious.

This is another frustrating case of someone dying way too young and not fully reaching the potential he so obviously had.