Sunday, October 15, 2006

SOME NEW SOUNDS

I love the music of Interpol, Joy Division, and very early U2. Editors are a nice combination of all three. Lots of good reverb, nice guitar textures, and hooky choruses. They are from the same part of England Joy Divison was from (Manchester), I believe. The singer tends to sound like Interpol's Paul Banks, and sometimes like Joy Division's late Ian Curtis, and the guitarwork brings to mind the work of U2's The Edge. Lots of dark energy here! I give it 4.5 out of 5 possible stars.


TV On The Radio's "Return to Cookie Mountain" is another one with lots of dark energy. The group has several multi-instrumentalists, most of the vocals are more than one band member singing unison, including one guy who sings in falsetto here and there... The music is dense and swirling, the drumming is incredibly good. I think the lyrics are a bit obtuse and overwrought... This is interesting stuff, not sure I have totally embraced it yet. I would still give it a 3.5 out of 5, in large part because it sounds unlike just about anything I have heard before, and in an interesting way.


I've been waiting a long time for Yo La Tengo's return to rockin' styles. The name of their new disc, "I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass", suggests they are on the road to recovery from their last couple of albums, which were great but somewhat somnambulent. This time around, they have three songs that clock in at around nine minutes or more, lots of good guitar feedback, and some good meditational drone jams like they used to do more of. I think this is their best album since "I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One". Welcome back to rock and roll, YLT! This one is a 4.5 out of 5 for me.
The Dears' "Gang of Losers" is simply a GREAT record. Singer Murray Lightburn, who has tended to sound somewhat like a Morrisey imitator on past releases, doesn't so much this time around. The guy sings with a lot of heart and soul, and the band is in good form. There is a cut on this one called "The Ballad of Human Kindness" that I could listen to over and over... I got this one a few days ago and have listened to it three times already. Great pop/rock with interesting songwriting, with lyrics that portray a feeling of humanity's need to practice peace, love and forgiveness. It tends to be a bit dark, yet there is an upbeat feeling about it. I'd recommend you go out and get this one. I give this one 5 out of 5.
I love the Lemony Snicket "Unfortunate Events" series about the Beaudelaire Orphans, and this CD is a collection of songs done by STephen Merritt (aka The Gothic Archies) that appear on the audiobook versions of the book series. The Gothic Archies' music doesn't really sound "goth" or gothic, but it's lots of creative, melodic fun. The lyrics are sly, cynical, and often funny, and Merritt's voice is a bit reminiscent of the basso profundo-voiced guy from Crash Test Dummies. If you have read the books, this music is a near-perfect fit. If you haven't read any of Snicket's stuff, this music could inspire you to do so! For me, this is a 4 out of 5. Would you find a band frustrating if the vocalist sounded eerily like Thom Yorke of Radiohead, and if some of the music had similar chord progressions and structures to that of Radiohead... but the band wasn't Radiohead? On the other hand, are a Radiohead fan who loved their first three albums but has since been frustrated by their departure from the mainstream into the realm of spaced-out cathartic noodling? I can answer yes to both questions, and Muse's "Black Holes and Other Revelations" represents a musical possibility of what Radiohead might have sounded like or become had they not gotten onto the offbeat track after "The Bends". The music is often bombastic, and has echoes of Queen in the vocal choruses and arrangements. Despite sounding highly derivative at times, Muse still manages to sound creative and powerful. I'd give this one a 4 out of 5.

It's good to get some newer CDs by newer artists. For a long time, I've been mostly just filling in "holes" in my CD collection, getting long lost albums by favorite artists, picking up copies of "classics", etc.

There are a couple more recent acquisitions, which Blogger wouldn't let me post the cover photo of, for whatever reason.

First, I have been a big Guided By Voices fan for at least the last 10 years, and I was anxious to hear the now-defunct band's former frontman Robert Pollard's new one, "Normal Happiness". I wasn't disappointed by it, except for the fact that the 16 songs only take up about what seems like 30 minutes. He usually produces quality material, which seems impossible at times givven how prolific he is (he puts out quite a few CDs). For "Normal Happiness", Pollard did all the singing, songwriting and some guitar-playing like he usually does, and Todd Tobias did all the rest. Pollard's best cut this time around is "Supernatural Car Lover". He's known for his funky song titles... he usually thinks of the song title first, then writes the song! I think his best title this time is "Pegasus Glue Factory". People who aren't hardcore GbV/Pollard fans might not "get" Pollard's stuff, but being the fan I am, I give this effort a solid 4 out of 5!

The other one is "Continuum" by John Mayer. I never thought I would own a CD by this guy. When he was starting out, he reminded me of some frat boy trying to be like Dave Matthews and trying to play music designed to get women into bed. His last album was kind of an R & B thing, done in a trio... he displayed some good guitar chops, and his voice actually showed signs that he has testosterone in his body. That album is called "Try", and I was impressed enough by it that I got a copy of his latest. I was pissed off after the first four cuts from "Continuum" because those cuts sound like more of the bedwetter stuff he started out doing a few years ago... but then about halfway through the disc things begin to click a little. There are a few outstanding cuts, especially "Slow Dancing In a Burning Room" and "Stop This Train". This disc does contain some pretty weak pablum, but Mayer gradually shows signs that he is beginning to mature as an artist. I give "Continuum" a 3.5 out of 5, mostly for effort.




9 Comments:

Blogger GTX said...

Radiohead and Muse I know a little but not the others, but I can trust on your evaluation.
I was introduced the "OK Computer" of Radiohead as a great album and I really liked, it's perfect to me.
Muse, I feel they spin around the same material but without been fastidious or boring, they're great.
As I like Blur a lot too. And Sound Garden and Mission and Nick Cave & Bad Seeds.
Music is very good. Thanks for the information, I need it.

I recomend "Manu Chao" and "Gabriel o Pensador" and "Tom Zé".

6:02 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

GTX, I also like "OK Computer" a lot. It is a kind of offbeat album, but I consider it a modern classic, and it ranks as a favorite album of mine! I also like their stuff from "Kid A" on, just not as much as the earlier material. I think "The Bends" is my favorite Radiohead album, but I also like "OK Computer"... which one I like best probably depends on the day of the week!

I am also a Nick Cave fan. I would find it difficult to choose a favorite Cave/Seeds album, but it might be their 3-disc B-sides and rarities set. My favorite song of theirs is "Mercy Seat", anyway.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Howard Davis said...

Snave - I love that new Yo La Tengo and TV On the Radio. It sounds like you might like some of the stuff on my podcast. Check it out here: http://thedarkstuff.podomatic.com/

It's only the first one.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Elvez73 said...

I heard part of that Editors record and I think I will get it, you are right about it reminding the listener to joy division with some early U2 edge style guitars. Good dark stuff.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

You listen to such good music. If it's okay, I'd like to crawl inside of your head and live there. Don't worry, I'll sign a lease and everything, I'm a very low-maintenance tenant. Are pets allowed?

4:28 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Thanks, Matt! Pets are definitely allowed in my house, as long as they don't salivate, vomit, urinate or defecate anywhere near my CD collection. As for in my mind, I dunno... my head could be full of enough spoor as it is. You are welcome to occupy my mind for a while, if you dare.

elvez23, I'm pretty sure you'll like the Editors disc. It's one of the better things I've heard from a young band in some time.

Howard, I may just have to check out your cast! I love the new YLT too. Still learning to embrace the TVOTR, but it's a good listen just because it has a unique sound.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

Radiohead is one of my favorite bands, too.

Thanks for the reviews, Snave. I'll have to check them out.

2:45 PM  
Blogger GTX said...

Dears is the definition to what I like (Ticket to Immortality)
Yo La Tengo – gratefully sonic raw
TV On The Radio – Unsuspected good sound, but I was expecting some more “color”
Lemony Snicket (the elf?) not enough demanding search.

Can’t resist, Snave
Blasted Mechanism - “Blasted Empire (Feat. DJ Nell Assassin )”
Clannad - The Hunter

(youtubeables)

7:02 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Wow, that's a lot of albums. :-) The Austin Lounge Lizards have finally put out their album with all the political songs they have been doing lately. I have downloaded half the songs off the internet already, but I ordered it anyway. :-)

1:25 AM  

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