Thursday, April 16, 2009

Patsy Cline - Greatest Hits

Patsy Cline – Greatest Hits

MCA, 1973

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007

Price: $5

Patsy Cline is the greatest singer of all time. I wrote an article for the KJHK zine about being raised by her Heartaches compilation, which was constantly playing in my parents’ car in my formative years and how Patsy Cline pretty much shaped the person I am today. Or at least the kind of music I like. There’s no way I would love Neko Case as much as I do now had I not been raised on Patsy. And I stick by that greatest singer remark because no one else can make me fall apart so completely. Listen to “I Fall to Pieces” and think about the last break-up you went through. Even though she didn’t write that song you know she’s been through that and you know what she is singing is true. This Greatest Hits comp is pretty amazing, which is why I bought it I think. It’s got the jams I grew up on, or at least the key jams. The ones I hear at Harbour Lights and stop what I am doing to mournfully sing along. “Walking After Midnight,” “Crazy” (which I recently found out was written by Willie Nelson), “I Fall to Pieces,” and “She’s Got You.” I was less familiar with the other tunes but they’re all jams. Everything Patsy Cline does, that I’ve heard at least, has been a jam and this is the record I put on during the sad times when I am lying alone in my dark room wanting to die. And though these songs will mirror my misery, they somehow make me want to die a little less. These are the saddest songs you’ve ever heard.

The Clientele - Strange Geometry

The Clientele – Strange Geometry

Merge, 2005

Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2008

Price: $14

This is one of those records that I really liked but bought on vinyl because it had beautiful cover art. I have a habit of buying records with amazing cover art because well, it’s just so wonderful to pull it off the shelf and admire it. At KJ we get hundreds of CDs with really awful cover art with awful fonts and I almost immediately toss them aside because really, if you’re not going to put effort into making your cover art great, why should I believe that you put that much effort into your music? Anyway, that aside, I love the cover art for this record and I knew it was one of those records I’d get really, really into if I bought it. And I did, it’s a fantastic record. It sounds like a modern classic, something people will still be listening to fifteen years from now or something. Nothing that’s going to be like, life changing, but a great gem to dust off after the years that people will be selling on GEMM for high, high prices. Or at least that’s how I see it in my head. It deserves it though. The single and opening track “Since K Got Over Me” is a mope-pop jam that I haven’t grown sick of in the three or so years I’ve known this record. The whole record has this sort of great, upbeat yet maudlin tone that I’m a sucker for. It’s a dreamy record that sounds like a city at night. Actually, it sounds like the beautiful painting they used on the cover. It has this wonderful string section that runs through the background of the songs and not only does it sound great, beautiful, and unique (yet still referential, in the sense that it sounds so familiar), but it’s packed with great lines, or at least lyrics that make sense and sound meaningful. “Leaving came to us just like a song/ A dull geometry of lawns,” sticks out. The Arab Strap-esque spoken “Losing Haringey” is one of those songs that only British/Scottish/Welsh bands can pull off and it’s a nice little penultimate track. I can’t shake the feeling that these guys would probably be incredibly rude if I actually met them (I remember someone telling me that when they opened for Spoon a few years ago the guy made some crack about how their name was pronounced “The CLEE-entel” and was snide about American audiences or something), but who cares? Really, a great record is a great record.

Beulah - The Coast is Never Clear

Beulah – The Coast is Never Clear

Velocette, 2001

Acquired: SXSW Record Sale, Used, 2009

Price: $10

This isn’t my favorite Beulah record (that would be When Your Heartstrings Break), but the cover art was so pretty and I just couldn’t resist. Plus it has “Popular Mechanics for Lovers” and “A Good Man is Easy to Kill” on it, which makes it totally worth it. That and I have a sort of undying love for Elephant 6. Granted, aren’t my favorite E6 band, but their records are always enjoyable enough and the documentary about them, A Good Band is Easy to Kill is really funny and features scenes of John Vanderslice acting REALLY weird and funny. “I heard he wrote you a song, so what/Some guy wrote 69” is the kind of reference that makes me love a band based solely on the fact that they referenced one of my favorite bands. The A-side pretty much unabashedly rules, yet the B-side is kind of lame sometimes, like the opener “Gravity’s Bringing Us Down,” which is the longest and worst song on the record. The hooks just don’t work there. But overall, enjoyable record for the most part!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bedhead - Beheaded

Bedhead – Beheaded

Trance Syndicate/Touch and Go, 1996

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2009

Price: $5

While sounding like they were in the pocket of Galaxie 500, Bedhead are still one of my favorite bands to sleep to. I mean, c’mon, if you’re going to pioneer a movement called “Slowcore” then you’ve got to expect that. So that’s what I did last night, I put this on when I went to sleep and it was wonderful. I could hear all of the influences swirling around. The 90s post-rock stuff like a less dark, creepy Slint and doing a more epic sounding slowcore than Low. A quiet epic sound, that’s what it is sometimes. I don’t know, it’s “slowcore,” whatever that means. Why is it core? I thought adding core to the end of a something meant it was kind of aggro. Slowcore sounds like an oxymoron. But whatever, this record is still really great. “Losing Memories” is the jam, that just played as the record wound down and I was pretty much blown away.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Asobi Seksu - Hush

Asobi Seksu – Hush

Polyvinyl, 2009

Acquired: Music Staff mail, New, 2009

Price: $0

Oh, the perks of being music director at a college radio station! You see, sometimes to get you to chart an album higher labels will send you free shit. Usually it’s just posters or something, but occasionally you’ll get the record you’re playing on the air on vinyl! This is what I love, and something that every music director should enjoy as a fringe benefit of the job. Granted, getting vinyl in the mail (or, vinyl that you want) is rare, when it does show up it’s pretty exciting, no matter what it is. So, when I saw that Polyvinyl sent me a copy of the latest Asobi Seksu record as a sort of thank you/please chart our album higher gift (note: it is immoral to tweak your charts based on gifts, so just let them send you the free stuff and then you know, be honest), though I hadn’t listened to the record or had any attachment to it beyond the few tracks I heard (and liked) at music staff, I was still excited. And I’m listening to it and I must say, when they say music sounds better on vinyl, music sounds even better on vinyl you got for free. Oh, and this record is really, really pretty. It’s not anything I would ever buy with like, real money, and I doubt I’d waste ratio downloading it on a torrent site. But for a really beautifully packaged (though the cover does look like a poster for a j-horror film) record on heavy 180 gram vinyl, for free, sitting in my collection for me to randomly stumble across someday, this isn’t bad at all. Although, it is what Blonde Redhead would sound like if they were totally boring. It’s also completely disjointed, as the ultra-serious sounding “Gliss” is immediately followed by the really upbeat indie-pop jam “Transparence.” “Transparance” is the best song on the record, and has earned this record’s keep in my collection.