Kings of Convenience – Versus

25 02 2012

Listened: Tuesday January 10

Versus is an unlikely mixture of Kings of Convenience, Erlend Oye‘s solo work, and Royksopp. Such beautiful acoustic music seems odd to remix, but a wonderful new vibe is added by several different artists.

Like Unrest, Versus makes me groove and relax all at once. I love the album cover too!

The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious

25 02 2012

Listened: Monday January 9

I think one of the most jarring transitions of the project comes between Veneer and Veni Vidi Vicious. The slamming, loud guitars following such mellow meditative music is a bit much. I have to be in the right mood for The Hives.

I’d never imagine such messy, loud garage rock coming from Sweden. But I guess I should, since Sweden is also one of the black metal hotspots, which is more disturbing music.

This is early 20s music for me, and it probably stayed there – I can see the appeal, but I don’t think I’ll be feeling the urge to bust this out to listen to any time soon.

Jose Gonzalez – Veneer

25 02 2012

Listened: Friday January 6

Jose Gonzalez’s music is like very pleasant meditation. I like Veneer even more than In Our Nature.

My first Jose Gonzalez experience was hearing Heartbeats as a soundtrack to a video about Throwies (temporary LED light graffiti). I was captured by it immediately, and impressed with how well it suited the video. The video is also probably one of the first handful of videos I watched on YouTube as well; it was quite a while ago. Now whenever I hear it, visions of beautiful slow-motion Throwies being applied flow through my head.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

15 02 2012

Listened: Thursday January 5

Animal Collective have been indie darlings for a couple of years, but I’ve never been able to get into them; their psychedelica is a little too experimental for me. When I heard Grizzly Bear mentioned in similar context, I wasn’t expecting to like them. However, while psychedelic elements are there, I would describe them as a more funky Fleet Foxes – a little less folky, and a little more psychedelic in sound.

I hear similar threads through this album, vocals that remind me of John Vanderslice (About Face), instrumentation that reminds me of Beach House (All We Ask), harmonies that sound Crosby-Stills-Nash-esque (Fine for Now) and a general feeling that Grizzly Bear are borrowing from everyone and spinning it out in their own unique way. I’m pleased to have found them.

Morrissey – Vauxhall & I

11 02 2012

Listened: Thursday December 1

Vauxhall and I is the first Morrissey album I can recall being released, back when I was in high school. The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get was in heavy rotation on Live 105 at the time. However, until a friend and I went to his shows back in 2002 (just before his modern comeback), I hadn’t bought any of his solo stuff and was reasonably unfamiliar with it. Those 2002 shows changed all that. This album was my first Morrissey.

Vauxhall highlights Morrissey’s talent for telling tales that could be told by gay or straight people alike. However, when I hear “I am hated for loving” or “Now my heart is full, and I just can’t explain so I won’t even try to” or “Used to be a sweet boy… Something went wrong and I know I can’t be to blame” or Spring-Heeled Jim or Billy Budd I can’t help but hear the gay voice more than the straight one, even though there’s nothing overt about it. I don’t think anyone makes this happen better than Morrissey does.

I also get the idea on this album that Morrissey was getting quite sick of the music industry and journalists (but not his fans). “Some men here have a special interest in your career, they wanna help you to grow and then siphon all your dough” and “All of the rumors keeping me grounded, I never said that they were completely unfounded and all those lies, written lies, twisted lies” sort of give me that idea. But he still loves us: “I’ve always been true to you, in my own strange way, I’ve always been true to you, in my own sick way, I’ll always stay true to you.” Aw, thanks Moz.


Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

10 02 2012

Listened: Thursday December 1

When I first heard Vampire Weekend, I assumed Paul Simon was one of their musical influences, due to the African-sounding rhythms flowing through this debut. Then I read in Spin that they claimed to have never heard a Paul Simon record. Bullshit!

At least they couldn’t deny the Peter Gabriel angle, since he’s name-checked in the lyrics (see this link for one of the most perfectly appropriate covers songs ever). Also incredibly ballsy of them to bring back the harpsichord to pop music. It’s been gone quite a while.

I didn’t want to like Vampire Weekend when I heard their unabashedly hipster elitist lyrics about New York, Cape Cod, the Ivy League, Oxford Commas, Mansard Roofs, Dharamsala, passports, and  Buddhas. But then came the occasional nod to things like the inherent truthfulness of Lil Jon. They forced me to like them against my will.

I’ve always wondered about Blake’s Got a New Face. I’ve assumed this was referring to a new girlfriend (the slangy “Face” in question), but I can’t quite tell from the lyrics. I’m curious to hear if you have another interpretation.