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ballboy – Guide For the Daylight Hours

29 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday July 14

We can all learn from ballboy; they give good advice.

“You can’t spend your whole life hanging ’round with arseholes.”

“All the records on the radio are shite.”

“Nobody really knows anything.”

“The girl who works in the record shop, she says that I am not avant-garde enough. But, so what, she only works in a record shop and I don’t give a fuck what she says or she thinks about me.”

That is all.

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Black Uhuru – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

29 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday July 14

When I hear Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner I go right back to my very first job ever – Great Harvest Bread in San Carlos, a store which sadly is no more.

The store had a really old multi-cd changer (the kind that had the CDs balanced on their side in a side-loading tray) that didn’t work all that well. But it was stocked with a bunch of good music. I remember bobbing my head to Shine Eye Gal as I cleaned up the sandwich components or shelved loaves of bread. I also discovered Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Elvis, and the dub remixes of The Clash (“Daddy was a bank robba, but he never hurt nobody… hip… hip…”) during my time there. For a first job, you really couldn’t ask for much better.





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!





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.





Brassy – Got it Made

27 07 2010

Listened: Tuesday July 13

Brassy is one of the few bands I’ve been introduced to at a show and was intrigued enough to buy their album later. Which I kind of feel bad about since I’ve been to so many shows – am I just super picky? Though to be fair a lot of the time I’ve heard of the opening bands before going to the show, so it’s not apples to apples.

In Brassy’s case, Muffin Spencer (yes, I think that is her real name) had such great charisma and powerful attitude that she immediately got my attention. It also helped their cause that they followed one of the worst opening bands I have ever seen – Pancake Circus. Brassy coming on was a breath of fresh air.

As I  noted earlier, Brassy is well-described as twisted cheerleader rap. I can’t put my finger on why I like Brassy when I usually am annoyed by groups of a similar style. Maybe Brassy tread the sassy/annoyingly-in-your-face line just right for me. They also know how to be catchy without being incredibly repetitive. Unsurprisingly, with all those attributes, this album is great for work-listening.