Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Music Roundup - Late Winter/Early Spring Edition

Is it winter? Is it spring? Depends on the day.

!!! - Myth Takes

I was all prepared to hate this album. It's actually pretty good. They're still a poor man's Liars in my opinion, but whatever. It's good, aggressive dance-punk with a brain. Well, the music has a brain. The lyrics are pretty shitty and uber-ironic nonsense. A few of the songs drop the act, though, and these guys actually make some pretty decent music when they want to.
Best tracks: All My Heroes Are Weirdoes, A New Name, Yadnus, Bend Over Beethoven

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

HOLY CRAP!! Get this album as soon as you can. I have admitted many times that I have a soft spot for girl group music, but this album transcends any of the trappings of that genre. It's pure, lustful soul music sung by a woman with outstanding pipes. The songs here have an incredible amount of attitude, and Winehouse sings them with all the verve and panache of Janis Joplin. And she sounds like Lauryn Hill, and in my book that's a definite plus.
Best tracks: Rehab, You Know I'm No Good, Back to Black, Some Unholy War

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Thank God. I completely expected this album to suck. They are a little more jaded, a little more ambitious, a little more everything. Funeral was so good that I hesitate to say that this album is going to surpass it eventually, but in my mind it's got a pretty damn good shot. They kept their best and most endearing quality: their sense of urgency, their sense that things are seriously going to get fucked up if they don't make their music. They don't try to hide their passion at all. They are almost as good at that as Broken Social Scene.
Best tracks: Keep the Car Running, Intervention, (Antichrist Television Blues), Windowstill

Bear Colony - We Came Here To Die

I love shoegaze. There, I said it. Waves and waves of guitars (sometimes distorted), mumbled lyrics, etc. Direct precursor to emo. Bear Colony does it really well. They even color outside the lines a bit and mix in some electronic trappings. Ben Gibbard would be proud. Although it makes them a bit too Postal Service for their own good sometimes.
Best tracks: Hospital Room Aren't For Lovers, (At) Breakfast Speeds, Sinking Ships, Aeroplanes and Cocoons

Jesse Malin - Glitter in the Gutter

I keep waiting for Jesse Malin to get some cynicism. For three albums now he has paired couplets like "A new generation and the whole world's shakin', we were born in flames, made our names, suburban homes, make your bones, bite your lip, take the fifth, know your rights, it's you life." Really? It's suburban fist-pumping all the way, stuff high schoolers yell out their car windows in the summer. And God help me, I love it. It sometimes gives me chills it's so cheesy. But I keep coming back for more. He's not a very dynamic or adventurous songwriter, but he knows his way around the scale and can write some nice rock songs. And he gets Bruce Springsteen to contribute vocals to "Broken Radio." How freakin' cool is that??
Best tracks: Don't Let Them Bring You Down, Broken Radio, Prisoners of Paradise, Love Streams

Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm

I recommend this album only to the most adventurous listeners. It is dense, tough, discordant, and at points unrewarding. It's also the best album I've heard in 2007. Energy and skill burst out of my speakers every time I put it on. Ms. Stern can shred with the best guitar players alive today. Normally I think that excessive guitar virtuosity hinders songwriting ability, but she uses her jaw-dropping talent to enhance her songs, which are absolutely fantastic as well. This album makes me want to scream, cry, and laugh all at the same time. It's incredible. Get it if you dare.
Best tracks: Vibrational Match, Logical Volume, Absorb Those Numbers, This American Life

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

Don't let the first track fool you. You really can tell that Johnny Marr joined the band. But just like he did in that other band he was in, his playing does not overpower the songs. I used to think that this meant that he wasn't a very good guitarist and that Moz had all the talent. But hearing him on this record makes me think that he's actually pretty brilliant. Isaac Brock's songs are pretty jagged little things sometimes. Marr sews them up, threads his licks through those edges until the songs are, if not tidy, then at least passably upbeat. WWDBTSES is, at first listen, one of the strongest set of songs that Brock and Co. have ever offered up. They explore the more mainstream tendencies that they let us glimpse on Good News For People Who Love Bad News with sometimes spectacular results. Give it a spin (in the car if you can).
Best tracks: Fire It Up, Florida, Missed the Boat, People as Places as People

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Probably my #2 record of the year thus far behind Marnie Stern. Wild, exhuberant, and earnestly joyous. And this guy comes from suburban Maryland? Really? Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) is a member of Animal Collective, and you can really hear that influence on this album. It's all over the place in a good way, in the way that leads to musical discovery and creation. The songs never get weighed down by their length or by their ambition. Listen to it. I dare you not to smile.
Best tracks: Comfy in Nautica, Bros, Good Girl/Carrots

That's all I got for now. I just got my hands on a copy of the forthcoming Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, and all I can say right now is YAWN. But I have resolved to give it a more dedicated listen before judgey judge judging it. Till then, be beautiful to one another.


Anonymous Brad said...

I refuse to believe this. I agree with you on practically everything you've mentioned in this post (at least for all the music I've heard).

I do have to disagree with you on Arcade Fire, not on principle but I don't think you went far enough. I listened to the two back to back the other day, and Neon Bible is VASTLY superior (and, yes, I did like Funeral very much).

Oh, and get the album "Cover Your Tracks" by Writer. Fucking great.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Ayasha said...

I got Amy Winehouse's single "You Know I'm No Good" by chance from iTunes single of the week and I love it.

11:16 AM  

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