Beach House – Teen Dream

30 06 2011

Listened: Tuesday June 7

Coachella 2010 motivated me to study up on Beach House. Teen Dream is a very beautiful, cohesive album and I’m glad I checked it out.

I’ve seen some reviews comparing singer¬†Victoria Legrand’s voice to Nico; I’m not sure I see that. She reminds me of Erika Wennerstrom if she decided to sing more gently and less bluesy. The sound of the album is very 70s-pop-hits, in the best possible way. It could go back in time and no one hearing it then would be tripped out by it a la Back-to-the-Future-Johnny-Be-Goode.

I’ve only just learned this is actually their third album. Clearly, the older albums warrant checking out.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Tatay

30 06 2011

Listened: Tuesday June 6

After having reviewed so many GZM albums, I’m running out of things to say. As usual though, they have completely badass psychedelic cover art.

Unlike Patio, on Tatay, the band’s second album, they seem to have acquired better instruments and mixers and such, so it sounds much less like a band playing in a garage. There are obvious references to Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground here, so they’re a bit past noodling and onto emulating their heroes.

After hearing all the older albums, I have new appreciation for how well Introducing… collected all the gems together!

Air – Talkie Walkie

30 06 2011

Listened: Tuesday June 7

Talkie Walkie is when I started to like Air again. I loved Moon Safari, but then 10,000 Hz Legend was a bit of a letdown, being quite different. With Talkie Walkie, they got their mojo back.

I particularly love Alone in Kyoto, which I’ve heard used as background music in a great many online videos of beautiful landscape photos and the like. It’s relatively simple, but very evocative and alive. I also love the weird beats in Universal Traveler. I can sing the oddly enunciated lyrics for hours.

Despite loving this album, I’ve been remiss at purchasing their later releases. I need to catch up!

Sigur Ros – Takk

28 06 2011

Listened: Wednesday June 7

I love Sigur Ros. I’ll always remember them as one of the important bands of my twenties. That said, I just can’t deal with their music at work. There are very few bands I like who fall into this category. It’s just too emotionally stirring, in an ambiguous way. I have to think too hard about what I want/need/should feel when I’m hearing it, and that distracts me from my work.

That said, Jonsi‘s singing is wonderful, and the soft touches of piano are stirring. I have great memories of hearing the songs from Takk in concert over the years. They bring up so many visual memories for me – the band playing them, the lovely environments I heard them in (The Fillmore, The Warfield, The Paramount, The Greek, The Fox, Coachella), and the visuals at their shows (which are always incredibly well done). I hope Jonsi going solo doesn’t mean they won’t do any more shows!

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Take Them On, On Your Own

28 06 2011

Listened: Monday June 6

Take Them On is more fabulous bluesy rock from BRMC. After their Jesus and Mary Chain-like debut, Take Them On drills farther into a more bluesy sound. I can even hear traces of the more folky gospel sound of the followup, Howl (particularly in And I’m Aching). Howl’s style seemed like a shock at the time, but really, the sound¬† it embraced is hiding in the shadows of Take Them On.

Both when the album was released in 2003 and now during the project, I’ve found myself singing lyrics like “I don’t feel at home in this generation” and “You’re gonna suffer, you’re gonna make it” like my life depends upon it. BRMC really knows how to end their albums with an exclamation mark as well – Heart + Soul isn’t as good as Salvation, but it closes the album like a slamming door.

Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

28 06 2011

Listened: Monday June 6

Explosions in the Sky keep improving with every album. Take Care soars with guitars singing praises to my ears. Especially here, it feels like the guitars are almost vocal. I want to sing along to songs like Postcard From 1952.

Woody and I saw Explosions live recently at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. The show was amazing and transporting. Oddly, we saw a bunch of people pass out at the show. Maybe Explosions in the Sky is too much for some people. Or it could be the drugs. Maybe.

Morrissey – Swords

24 06 2011

Listened: Monday June 6

Swords is a collection of B-sides from Moz’s recent “comeback” albums’ singles. While I wouldn’t say they’re up to the standard of the straightforwardly released songs, there are still some gems here – Don’t Make Fun of Daddy’s Voice, The Never-Played Symphonies, Ganglord, Christian Dior, Friday Mourning (Who doesn’t love a Morrissey song that starts “Friday, mourning, and I’m dressed in black”?).

I know all along Morrissey has dropped a lot of hints about liking the company of men, all the way back to Hand In Glove. But I love that he’s a bit less covert these days (though still reasonably poetic mind you, not vulgar). I mean, “Swords”? He might as well have named it “Penises”. Don’t Make Fun of Daddy’s Voice makes this extra clear by saying “Don’t make fun of Daddy’s voice, when he was a teenage boy, something got stuck in his throat.” As I’ve said in previous album reviews, Morrissey is funny, which many people seem to miss.

Swim – Caribou

23 06 2011

Listened: Monday June 6

Caribou’s Swim is difficult to describe. It’s electronica, clearly, but also decently pop-structured and almost 70s rock-like. The soundscapes are very unique yet flow together well enough that they aren’t a listener’s only focus.

The influences vary wildly – sometimes I think of it like a less bizarre Sparks (Odessa), other times it’s very chillout jazzy (Sun, Kaili). I think Bowls uses the same “flourish” sample as Writer’s Block by Just Jack (unless it’s a sample of a well-known song I’m not usually able to pick out samples, so it was surprising I noticed this). I’m addicted to the flute sample in Leave House; I think I could listen to it for a long time. Hannibal sounds like a lost Underworld song.

Yet despite all these experiments, the production and organization is very clean. Girl Talk, this ain’t.

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

23 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 9

Surrealistic Pillow is part of the genesis of my musical interests. I believe it was the first record I put on when my dad fixed the record player (I recall him saying, “Wow, it’s been so many years since I’ve heard this”). I chose it for this honor because I had heard of it, it was pretty, and the people on the front cover looked cool. Pretty much immediately I was hooked, and dubbed a tape, with Sounds of Silence on the B side. That tape was a fixture of my car’s tape deck for the rest of high school, and spurred many discoveries of 60s music to come.

It also started my love affair with bands that have many male and female voices singing at once (see Fleetwood Mac, Arcade Fire, The Mamas and The Papas, etc). Grace Slick is another person who doesn’t seem like she’d be easy to get along with socially (see Lily Allen, Lady Sov), but she can belt it out and is willing to ego-duel with the best of them, which is respectable. Let the record show that I believe without Plastic Fantastic Lover, there would have been no Beck. I also love the extra tracks on the remastered version. They’re great songs that could have fit in perfectly on the original album.

I wish I knew what this sounded like in 1967. By which I mean, did it sound crazy and groundbreaking contemporarily? After Bathing at Baxter’s, the followup to SP, clearly sounds drug-fueled and experimental, even now. Both albums were released in 1967, but the things that took place between the creation of each album (The Summer of Love) made all the difference. Which leads me back to how Surrealistic Pillow might have sounded then. To me now, it sounds quite like a pop record with classic 60s guitar sound, while ABAB sounds much more surreal. The subtext in Surrealistic Pillow (“Feed Your Head” and lyrics about buying “nicotine” that’s obvious marijuana, not cigarettes) is maybe just less sub in ABAB.

Supreme Beings of Leisure – Supreme Beings of Leisure

22 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 9

Supreme Beings of Leisure often make me think of James Bond music. The vocalist could fit right in with Shirley Bassey. I don’t remember why I picked up this CD (I think it was back in college) except maybe I’d heard it was a good album. It does sound very turn of the century with its trip-hop/chillout leanings. It’s a product of its time.

The songs are catchy, but unfortunately I didn’t end up falling in love with it, then or now.