crumb – Romance is a Slowdance

23 02 2011

Listened: Wednesday January 26

Listening to crumb took me back to high school. I saw them at least twice, once at Cubberly Community Center in Palo Alto (which seemed like a really long trip to make to see a show as a high schooler) and once at BFD 3 when they played the small local band stage. I still have the drumstick I caught at the end of their set. I learned later that friends I didn’t know then but know now were at the Cubberly show, and there were probably only 50-75 people there. Clearly we were meant to meet again.

This album is a little 90s, but I’ve listened to it multiple times now and it’s even better than I remember it. There’s headbangy righteousness and well-crafted screaming.  It’s the perfect album for high school music nerds and maybe also for nostalgic 32 year old music nerds!


Rodrigo y Gabriela – Rodrigo y Gabriela

23 02 2011

Listened: Wednesday January 26

Rodrigo and Gabriela are some of the few rightful badasses in music today. They tour like crazy, and they wail metal and hard rock licks on acoustic guitars. I think their cover of Stairway to Heaven is one of the best that has ever been done.

This album reminds me of listening to my dad’s Ottmar Liebert tape when I was a kid. It’s got a similar vibe, but somehow I don’t think Ottmar was raised on metal!

Kings of Convenience – Riot on an Empty Street

17 02 2011

Listened: Tuesday January 25

It was an incredibly long wait for the followup to Quiet Is The New Loud, an album that was huge in my life. Finally after three years, KOC released Riot on an Empty Street. I have to admit it’s not as life changing as QITNL, but it’s still a beautiful album, especially the male-female duets. All the songs are perfectly paced and crafted.

When I saw KOC at the Great American Music Hall they turned I’d Rather Dance With You into a huge dance party, with Erlend jumping in and joining the crowd. That was a truly great show, one I’ll always remember. I went alone,  but I’m so glad I did because it was worth it!

Super Furry Animals – Rings Around The World

16 02 2011

Listened: Thursday January 20

Super Furry Animals come from the same 90s Welsh origins as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and can even be explained in a similar terms (“psychedelic, experimental, sometimes involving Welsh-language lyrics”) but the two bands sound almost nothing alike.

Where GZM can be very folkie and druggie, SFA are in general much more like a less posh, Welsh Blur on their straighter songs. There are some samples, a psychedelic undercurrent to their music, and a few tripped out tracks that sound more like Gorillaz or The Flaming Lips, but they’re in general a rock band who could succeed in the charts. I love GZM, but even in their later, tighter years, I wouldn’t say they could ever be broadly popular.

I’m also impressed that on this 2 disc version of the album, I never get bored. All 20 tracks keep me engaged and I never want to skip ahead. That’s hard to do!

Along with Desmond Dekkar and Gorillaz, SFA remind me very much of my trip to England and Wales. Juxtaposed With U was in heavy rotation on Radio 1 at the time, so it always takes me back.

The Beatles – Revolver

16 02 2011

Listened: Friday January 14

Revolver is probably my favorite Beatles album. This week.

Seriously, I remember Revolver being the first album to make me think beyond “Wow all these songs are so fun and catchy” and realize how far they were pushing the envelope musically.

Eleanor Rigby is fabulous – such an engaging, melancholy story. I admit that I love all the sitar on Love You To; for some reason a lot of Beatles fans hate the sitar songs, but I don’t understand why. They’re so cool! And of course Yellow Submarine – who doesn’t become entranced by Yellow Submarine?

Tomorrow Never Knows is my one of my favorite Beatles songs. Anyone who works with samples in modern times owes a debt to it. I shudder to think how long it took them to do all that backmasking and sound processing work back in the pre-computer days. It must have been like stop motion animation in music form!