Monday, November 30, 2009

End of U


Of all the goddamned times to lose my internet. At least we're moving in a month, assuming we can find a place that will accept our dog. I don't know what the deal is, and why people think big dogs will cause more damage than little ones, I figure it would be the other way around. You know, the little yippy dog keeping you up at night to the point where you'd enlist Kramer and Newman to dognap it and set it loose in the country. Blah blah blah.

IWent to the 50 cent sale at the Love Garden Blowout Location this weekend and got some gnarly shit. Here is a list:
Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight (a promo copy, but I wanted to own a real version of this because it's so fucking good. I've decided to keep this one in the car stereo for a week or two)
The Plastic Constellations – Crusades (This is a record I liked in freshman year and haven't listened to since. It's ok, will probably sell)
Ballboy – Club Anthems (Jenny has this one on CD already, but fuck, 50 cents for one of my favorite records of the decade? Hell yes!)
Norfolk & Western – Dusk in Cold Parlours (I'm pretty sure this is the copy I sold to Love Garden a while back. They've gone downhill since this one, but it's still a gem)
The Aisler's Set – How I Learned to Write Backwards (freshman year flashback!)
Castanets – First Light's Freeze
Saves the Day – Stay What You Are (because this record is fucking great, and while it doesn't hit me like it did when I was in high school, I still know a lot of the words)
Boyracer – In Full Colour (BOYFUCKINGRACER! Listened to this one when I was ripping these CDs at Aimee's yesterday and it was way good)
Call and Response – Winds Take No Shape (Ft. members of Rubies, who I've recently grown fond of)
Jim Guthrie – Now More Than Ever (One of my favorite records of all time)
Let's Wrestle – In Loving Memory Of (Excellent EP from an excellent band that should be a lot bigger based on how fucking amazing "I Won't Lie to You" is. I got to see them (and Pete & the Pirates) at the Stolen Records showcase at SXSW this year and they were quite excellent, despite my feet falling off)
Blinker the Star – August Everywhere (Cameron Hawk recommended these guys to me when I was looking for summer jams)
Blinker the Star – Bourgeoise Kitten (And this one never finished downloading! It's at 99.7% finished and now I have it!)
Arab Strap – Philophobia
Bear in Heaven – Tunes Next Door to Songs
Danielson – Ships (I remember a few jams from this one! Excited to revisit it!)
Jawbox – My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents (Somehow, Jawbox shows up a lot in my life. I worked with their original drummer Adam Wade in LA when I was out there and Rooftop Vigilantes just recorded their new record with J Robbins, which is random as all hell but perfectly fitting)
Chad Vangaalen – Soft Airplane
The Spinanes – Arches and Aisles
Marine Research – Sounds From the Gulf Stream (Amelia Fletcher's post-Heavenly band)
Go Back Snowball – Calling Zero (Bob from GBV and Mac from Superchunk!)
The Creature Comforts – The Politics of Pop (classic local music!)
Versus – Two Cents Plus Tax (The Stars are Insane is coming up in my collection, haven't heard this one)
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Etiquette (promo w/ art)
Arab Strap – The Week Never Starts Round Here ("The one with 'The First Big Weekend' on it")
Airport 5 – Tower in the Fountain of Sparks (Bob Pollard and Tobin Sprout! Some excellent tunes here!)
Bows – Blush (Cover looked cool and was on Too Pure records)

Buying shit at the blowout location has made me feel better about the running totals I've been posting. How foolish, squandering so much money on records! Although, there are worse things I could have been spending it on, and at least it's a local business. I've since eased my temptation but now that I have a sort of steady stream of income, I'm afraid I might relapse. I think I need to call my sponsor.

Coming soon! I've got a best of the decade list that I've been working on since like, 2006 when I realized what the best record of the decade was and that I wanted to devote a whole list to it because listmaking is one of my favorite things in the world. I haven't decided what kind of illustrations will accompany my year end list this year, though. I'm pretty sure last year I didn't have one, but the year before I drew my top 5 albums as famous paintings and the year before that I drew my top 5 as famous movie posters. I'm toying with the notion of doing famous album covers a la the Shins "New Slang" video but that seems like a pain in the ass.

Unrest - Imperial f.f.r.r.

Unrest – Imperial f.f.r.r.
Teenbeat, 1992
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $15

There's a history to DC's Unrest and frontman Mark Robinson that I should really investigate, but haven't. Honestly, I picked this one up based on word of mouth and to savor that all important feeling you get from buying something you haven't heard (and subsequently thinking it is excellent). It's rare these days, but I don't think I had heard this when I impulsively bought it. I knew that the two people whose tastes I respected the most thought it was one of the greatest records of all time, and I snatched it up. I have a hard time describing the particular jangle of the guitars on this record, because the only bands that have that sound seem to be bands that come after Unrest (see: Uncle Wiggly, who were on Unrest's own Teen Beat label!). There's something almost avant-garde about these guitars, despite the fact that this is an incredible pop record. Catchy, upbeat and with a fresh coat of C-86 run through the ringer. It's where the colors start to blend together. It's strange how post-hardcore and post-punk out of DC involves incredibly intricate guitars. There's a precision in that scene that's absent from a lot of the rest. For instance, last night I noted that local dudes Muscle Worship have a lot of DC influence and now I'm realizing that bands I cited as influences (Dismemberment Plan, Q and Not U) have some stake in Unrest.

Despite all this avant-garde leaning shit, my favorite track on the record is the simple, gorgeous ballad “Isabel.” It starts of side two, and gets me every time. Something about the melody that just makes me melt a little bit and automatically note that I should put it on a mix at some point. Though I prefer tunes like “Cath Carroll” and “Make Out Club,” as an album this is just outstanding. This is a record that serves as a fuck you to people who think indie-pop can't be artful and as profoundly good as “more serious” music. Fuck those fuckers, this is the motherfucking jam.

Here's the video for "Make Out Club," not because it's on this record, just because it's fucking great:

And here's the standout, "I Do Believe You Are Blushing":

Uncle Wiggly - Jump Back, Baby

Uncle Wiggly – Jump Back, Baby
Teenbeat, 1996
Acquired: Love Garden Shotgun Room, Used, 2007
Price: $1

I don't know how this ended up in the shotgun room, given that it's on the excellent Teen Beat records, whose artists all have names beginning with U and V, as you will see in the next run of records. This is a fucking excellent jangle-pop record with Built to Spill guitars and that perfect 90s alt-rock sound. On top of that there's a heavy kiwi-pop sound a la Flying Nun Records and a little Superchunk-esque bratty straight up indie rock thrown in. All the songs are pretty short, which pleases me and they do a good job at keeping things interesting over 16 songs.

Here's a video for "Rat's Rabbits" in glorious 90s video!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

End of T


36 LPs to go! If I can keep up the pace, I will hopefully have them finished before we're forced out of this place at the end of December. Also, have you heard the latest Sunset Rubdown record, Dragonslayer? I kind of accidentally wrote it off for not living up to Random Spirit Lover but I was dead wrong. It's just as good! If I had money, I would run out and buy it right away. Man, money. While I'm glad to finally be gainfully employed (at a minimum wage job, but a fun one at least), I've discovered that finding a house that is not only affordable but will allow our dog is next to impossible. Actually, that's a lie. We saw our dream house yesterday and realized that it's so fucking perfect and so fucking cheap that there is absolutely no way we are going to get it, basically because the soonest we could cobble enough money together for rent and deposit and all that would be the middle of December and shit, this place ain't gonna wait that long. Hence, we soldier on. SO, I bid of you. If you have any houses (preferably ones with back yards) in your neighborhood with for rent signs or your parents are landlords or something let me know, because I do not want to move back in with my parents.

Tuesday - Freewheelin

Tuesday – Freewheelin
Asian Man Records, 1997
Acquired: Asian Man Records Mailorder, New, 2002
Price: $1 (came in a box of myriad vinyl for $25)

Tuesday was Dan Adriano's band before Alkaline Trio and after Slapstick. I should also say that this comes before his project with Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms, The Falcon, whom I have only recently discovered to be totally fucking legit. Which is great, because Alkaline Trio has gone to shit over the past couple of years and honestly, the only new Alk 3 songs I can tolerate anymore are Dan's. But, remembering the good old days of Alk 3, I always loved his additions to the records. Yes, Matt Skiba made Alkaline Trio great, but the wistfulness of Dan's song contrasted perfectly with the bitterness of Matt's. Though his songs were much more reserved than Skiba's, he exercised a great deal of stylistic diversity. Take darker songs like “Crawl,” “Smoke,” or “Maybe I'll Catch Fire” and pair them with the hopeful and pop-jam qualities of “You've Got So Far to Go” and “Blue Carolina.” Anyway, the point is, Dan Adriano is an often overlooked songwriter which is a crying shame. This is his first batch of songs and the promise is evident. His voice is a lot lower than most of the singers he's affiliated with, and it gives a certain warmth to these songs. It's in line with legit old school emo and that was always my favorite part about Dan's songs and maybe what led to the emocore tag getting firmly affixed to Alkaline Trio when From Here to Infirmary came out. Most of these songs range from pretty good to really good, and it's a pretty excellent debut LP. The best songs are saved for last, in particular the monster jam “So Awake,” which is ultimately what led to my getting into this record in the early 00s. It's a perfect mixtape song, one you sneak in for a girl you like. “It's 4am but I'm not sleeping/ My mind keeps running back to you/ I just left you and I already miss you/ Do I keep you up to?” I listened to that one numerous times for a few different girls. None of those relationships panned out, but fortunately this record is still around and getting some much needed love right now.

Somebody put tracks from this record up on youtube! Lovely! Here's "So Awake," complete with the cool groovy little jammy build up!

Traveling Wilburys - Volume One

Traveling Wilburys – Volume One
Warner Bros, 1988
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Price: $14

So funny this should come up the day I discovered George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. I randomly put it on at work today and was completely floored and felt foolish that I'd never listened to it, given that I always assumed George would be my favorite Beatle if I'd ever bothered to pay attention to the Beatles, or much less George. But yeah, that is relevant because Traveling Wilburys are the ultimate supergroup. It looks like someone's fantasy football sheet or something. The best of the best from a particular era (with the exception of Orbison, who is just 100% all of the time). George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty. Amazingly, Traveling Wilburys still seem like an under the radar band. Shit, the only reason I know about them is because Jenny Lewis covered their hit “Handle With Care” on her album Rabbit Fur Coat, casting indie luminaries Ben Gibbard, M. Ward, and Conor Oberst as Orbison, Petty and Dylan. The cover is almost as good as the original specifically because it captures the same sense of joy and absolute fun that these guys had making this record. I mean, I'm sure it's documented, but Traveling Wilburys basically seems like four friends getting together in someone's garage and writing a bunch of songs without thinking about anything but having a good time together. It's not exactly the deepest record, but it's a really goddamned good listen. The guys take turns with the lead vocals, and Orbison's “Not Alone Anymore” is one of my favorite tracks on the record just because fuck, it's Roy Orbison and no one else on earth sings like that. There's almost something corny about his voice but it's so perfect, emotive, and sounds like fucking butter. Honestly, everyone gets a chance to shine. The tracks where Dylan takes lead are a little hit or miss. “Congratulations” is one to skip and “Margarita” is just fucking weird, but “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” is surprisingly good, given that this was recorded in the midst of what are typically regarded as Dylan's two worst records, Knocked Out Loaded and Down in the Groove. “Monkey Man” seems to illustrate the eventual upswing that would come in '89 when he released the excellent return to form Oh, Mercy. That song is also apparently a parody of Bruce Springsteen songs in a way, which is pretty funny. I am taking extra special notice of Jeff Lynne's spectacular “Heading for the Light,” which comes off as a rootsier ELO jam with angelic harmonies and a bitching corny 80s sax solo (how so many artists thought this was a good idea is beyond me, although I'm sure there's something about music today that's gonna sound really stupid in ten years). The only time Petty really gets to shine is on the closer “End of the Line,” but it's worth it, as it's one of the best songs on the record. Shit, this is a real good record.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mia Doi Todd - Manzanita

Mia Doi Todd – Manzanita
Plug Research, 2005
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $5

This is a nice follow up to Erin Tobey, as I get to pair Tobey's modest lo-fi bedroom pop to Doi Todd's newfound lushly arranged baroque pop. Ironically, on all of Doi Todd's records before this one she had much more in common with Tobey, as most of those featured just her voice and a guitar. Opening track “The Way” is apparently a collaboration with stoner-rock-psych-weirdos Dead Meadow, which would be undeniably cool if it didn't feel like it was missing something. It's too safe. Despite the fair amount of stylistic diversity, the record always seems to fall a little flat. Even when she tries to spice things up, as on the reggae inflected “Casa Nova,” the melodies all seem to flatline. They're pretty and nice and hardly memorable. I was going to sell this the last time I sold records, but I thought it might be good. After all, I must have had a reason for buying it when I did. It's been in my collection since it first started taking shape around 2005-2006, so I feel like there's some sentimental value here or something but mostly it sounds like a Portishead record or something. I don't know. It's bland. In a nutshell, I thought I was listening to side two just now and only at that “Casa Nova” did I realize that I'd relistened to side one again.

Erin Tobey - Erin Tobey

Erin Tobey – Erin Tobey
Bakery Outlet Records, 2005
Acquired: Show at Solidarity, New, 2008
Price: $10

Despite playing in the total fun punk band Pink Razors (and also Abe Froman!), Erin Tobey is at her best when she's attempting to one-up Rose Melberg & the Softies for the throne of dreamy indie-pop played by girls with sweet and wounded voices and reverbed electric guitars. It's an Annie record, one she was obsessed with that seeped into my collection and I bought it at a show we attended during our nebulous break-up period. It was one of the sweeter moments of that period, actually. I got really excited that they had this on vinyl, because I'd really fallen in love with it over the previous months. It's just as I've described it above, but I will elaborate by saying it's like the Softies but less sad. “Come Pick Me Up” is the best song on the record, or the one I'd play for someone to get them to love Erin Tobey. Actually, shit, the whole first half of the record is amazing. And the whole second half is really great too. Like, the guitar work on “Wedding March” isn't as sophisticated as Kaki King or anything like that but it's so perfectly good, played with so much heart that I feel this tugging inside my chest. And once she starts singing! Ok, this song is pretty sad. Maybe it's just that the sound is brighter than the Softies. GOD! That melody on “Wedding March!” How could I have forgotten! That's the trick though, if you've got a decent voice (i.e. a voice that sounds real to me) and can write a beautiful melody and pen lyrics that are not lame, then I will love you. Oh, and did I mention that this motherfucker is on PURPLE VINYL! Indeed, it is. Somehow things just sound better, sweeter even, on purple vinyl.

Here are a couple of MP3s.
MP3>>>Erin Tobey - "Nebula Song"
MP3>>>Erin Tobey - "I Grow Like a Plant"
And here is where you should buy this record on glorious purple vinyl.

Here is a video of the aforementioned "Come Pick Me Up."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Titus Andronicus - The Innocents Abroad: Live in London

Titus Andronicus – The Innocents Abroad: Live in London
Merok, 2009
Acquired: KJHK Music Staff, New, 2009
Price: $0

This came in after Alison became music director, and since we got two copies she hooked me up with one. It was recorded a couple weeks after I saw them at the Bottleneck, and it's pretty much the same set with two covers that WEREN'T Spider Bags “Waking Up Drunk” and a new one I don't think I'd heard. They get the new ones out of the way right off the bat, and the one that I think is called “The Enemy is Everywhere” is a short, fast, loud blistering punk jam with four part shouty harmonies with a little surf influence thrown in (they also cover “Wipeout” by the Surfaris directly after that). It's a pretty excellent document of their live show complete with Patrick Stickles' excellent stage banter. When I saw him he went on this big rant about how it sucks when you're on tour and you have to have your dad send your anti-anxiety meds through the mail.

Actually, listening to this I realize they played more songs at the Bottleneck show. Side two merely consists of “No Future Part 1 & 2” lumped together as one massive dirge and a stellar, unhinged version of the Modern Lovers' “Road Runner.” Despite the rather short track listing (7 songs), it's a prime example of what this band is like live: completely insane and a total fucking blast to watch and hear. This vinyl was limited to 300 copies and hopefully Titus Andronicus will get wicked famous so I can sell it for top dollar if I need the money or keep it as a little treasure of my record collection. Ultimately, I want these guys to be the next Pixies. Based on their debut LP, The Airing of Grievances, I think it's entirely possible after a few more stellar records. That is, Pixies with a little bit of a New Jersey (i.e. Springsteen) vibe.

Here's a video of "Titus Andronicus" the song, which I wish was on this record:

Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances

Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances
XL, 2009 (Reissue)
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2009
Price: $15

I had a change to buy the original Troubleman Unlimited issue at Titus Andronicus' show with Los Campesinos! This February and for some dumbshit reason I didn't. It was actually cheaper than the reissue, and you know what? I went out and bought it the next day when I decided they were one of my favorite new bands. This record is insanely good, and I really didn't see what all the fuss was about when it dropped in 2008. Otherwise it would have appeared high up on my year end list. I think I thought singer Patrick Stickles sounded too much like Conor Oberst. When I returned to it when it was sent to KJHK, I realized the wonderful subtlties of Stickles' drunken warble and that he was one of the best songwriters I'd encountered in such a long time. I think it's his sense of humor, and how he injects it into songs to keep himself from sounding too serious. Like the triumphant final lines of the epic “No Future Part 1,” where he sings “If I could say only one thing with the whole world listening it would be/ “Leave me the fuck alone” or “Welcome to the Terrordome.”

The lyrics sheet is cut up like a play (which I guess makes sense given their namesake is of Shakespeare), and the record is constructed as such. “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ” is a perfect prologue, a defining opening statement which has the band yelling “FUCK YOU” in unison after Stickles has rambled on in the background for a minute and a half. The “guitar assault” as I would refer to it, is another thing that makes Titus Andronicus and extraordinary band. There seems to be little thought going to where ideas are coming from. No one is actively believing they are influenced by so and so, so the influences end up coming from all over the place. There's punk rock in the speed at which chords are being hammered out and there's classic rock in the epic guitar solos which never seem out of place or cheesy, only badass and right fucking on.

I notice that I'm gushing, and really, I might still be in the honeymoon phase for this one. I felt so stupid for overlooking it when it first came out, and I feel like I'm still repenting. I've ended up seeing the band twice in one day at SXSW this year because, well, how often am I going to get to see one of my favorite bands play live? They played pretty much the same set both times and both times it was exactly where I needed to be. In a world where everyone and their sister is in a buzz band, Titus Andronicus are the only ones that seem not to give a fuck at all. Their next record could get trashed in the press but lord knows it would be the record they wanted to put out. The Airing of Grievances could be seen as a fluke forever, but goddamnit if it wouldn't be a mighty fluke. But I should say, any band named after a Shakespeare play that makes an album referencing “Seinfeld,” Public Enemy, and Albert Camus on one record is alright by me!

Don't know why it took me this long to break stuff up into paragraphs. Anyway, here's the video for "Upon Viewing Bruegal's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,'" which initially made me geek out because I'd just learned about that painting in art history class and become quite fond of it shortly before hearing this record:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak

Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Mercury, 1976
Acquired: Love Garden Shotgun Room, Used, 2007
Price: $2

Of music that could be called “classic rock,” this is effectively my favorite classic rock record. Why? Because unlike most classic rock, it still sounds totally fresh. If I had been 15 when this came out, this would have been my jam. “Hey you, good lookin' female, c'mere.” AWESOME. I'm having a hard time writing this because I haven't heard it all the way through since the first trip to SXSW in 08 and I'm marvelling at how fucking good it is. Twin guitar assault at its finest! There's a new band that I'm really in love with called Free Energy, and listening to this I know why I'm so fond of them: Their first leaked track, “Dream City,” borrows the guitar pattern of “Running Back,” which itself is a fucking amazing, mid-tempo jam that finds Phil Lynott (perhaps the only black irish dude to front a rock band) inflecting a Sam Cooke croon on the record's most perfectly restrained tune. I'm still trying to figure out where this fits in the history of music that is just astoundingly good. It's not quite classic rock, though “The Boys are Back in Town” has become a staple of every “guys on the town” movie or TV show (surely “Entourage” has copped it) and is a massive hit that everyone knows, I think most people have no clue who recorded the song, and that the album it comes from has a handful of songs that are just a great. It's just amazing how underrated this record is, or underappreciated might be the better term. Lynott's got a sort of endless charisma that he manages to convey through these recorded songs, and dual lead guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson alternate between intense shredding and single chord strums with great success. I mean, seriously, can you argue against “The Boys are Back in Town”? No, you can't. It's the balance between hard rock/heavy metal and pop that makes Thin Lizzy great. Yes, they seem like total badasses but their songs are catchy as all hell. Where a lot of heavy bands suck at “bringing it down” for the midtempo jams or ballads, Thin Lizzy seem to have no problem. Lynott's voice is versatile enough that he can convey that sensitive lothario with soul on tunes like “Fight or Fall” and “Running Back” and that working class badboy thing on the singles. Mostly, right now I'm just sad that Thin Lizzy aren't as famous as KISS. There are some similarities, but goddamnit Thin Lizzy is just so much better than most of the shit that passed for popular music in the 70s. How was this not the coolest record on the planet?

The Thermals - Fuckin' A

The Thermals – Fuckin' A
Sub Pop, 2004
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $5

Another straight-up batch of dirty garage punk jams from Portland's the Thermals. The production is a bit cleaner this time around, but they're still brash and bratty and fun as fuck. Just check out the goddamned anthem opener “Our Trip.” “We're taking grip/ We're talking shit/ Our slate is clean/ Say What You Mean/ It's our trip/ We're not listening,” sings Hutch Harris. Overall, I think it's their weakest album, but calling it their weakest album isn't right. It's more like my 4th favorite, or maybe 3rd, I need to see how their latest continues to grow. Honestly, the only reason it's 4th favorite is because I can count my favorite jams on one hand. Three fingers. “Our Trip,” “Remember Today,” “Let Your Earthquake, Baby,” “A Stare Like Yours,” “Top of the Earth.” These are amongst the Thermals most almighty jams. “Remember Today” just came on and I just threw my rating system out the window, because this song is so fucking perfect. The “oh fuck yes!” songs. Something about the way Hutch sings from the back of his throat to create that perfectly desperate, urgent howl. These are songs come on and you all of a sudden find your fist in the air. Or like me, where my hand is balled up at shoulder level moving like I'm hitting an invisible high-hat.

Video for "How We Know," which I somehow left off my list of album faves!

The Thermals - More Parts Per Million

The Thermals – More Parts Per Million
Sub Pop, 2003
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $6

Easily one of the best debut LPs of the 00s, and of all the bands who thought they've been saving punk rock over the past five years or so, the Thermals are the only ones actually doing it. This is mostly because they don't claim to be saving shit. There's no artifice, no 77 stylebook, and they just seem to be having a shit ton of fun. This is apparent once you've seen the band live. I saw them a couple times at SXSW just because. Sure there was probably some other band I could have gone see, but only if I wanted to have a miserable time. Them and the Hold Steady (whom I passed up Grizzly Bear for because c'mon, live it's gotta be more like Grizzly BORE). I should also note that the first three songs are perfect and follows all the rules of sequencing a great record. “It's Trivia” is a great song, one of the best on the record, and they bring it down with “Brace and Break” which is there to set up “No Culture Icons,” which is fucking amazing. It's raw and primal and honest. The production is perfectly lo-fi and when this song hits, it's like a goddamned revelation every time. When “Can't fucking stop thinking about you” falls out of Hutch Harris' mouth at the end of the song and the whole thing unravels, I am stunned. I'm always stunned. For some reason this band never seems to get as much credit as they are due and they aren't nearly as popular as they should be. Not only is this album great, but the three they released after it are also fucking great, each one improving on the last. They've grown, but they're still the best punk rock band out there right now. Maybe I'm biased, because their songs are catchy as fuck and I specifically model my songs for Caribbean Isles after the Hutch Harris method, but goddamn you just don't find this kind of energy in music today. It's rare. Everyone seems so caught up on looking cool or being the next big thing that finding a band that's doing what they do for the hell of it with fandom as a byproduct is astoundingly cool. There are just so many jams here. “Goddamn the Light,” “I Know the Pattern,” “Overgrown, Overblown!,” “Back to Gray,” oof. This is everything I love about music.

"No Culture Icons" video. Kathy Foster dressed as Eazy E FTW!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving - Welcome Nowhere

Thanksgiving – Welcome Nowhere
P.W. Elverum & Sun, LTD., 2004
Acquired: Love Garden Blowout Location, New, 2009
Price: $5 (originally $20)

I was in line to check out when I realized how cheap this record was. It's not that I am particularly gaga about Thanksgiving like say, Phil Elverum (I assume because imitation is the highest form of flattery), but I figured I'd give it another shot, and since it was originally very expensive and had was a nice weighty double disc (on marble grey vinyl!) and beautiful cover art, I figured there was little harm. And really, their wasn't, this is a nice record. It just sounds so so so so so much like Mount Eerie/The Microphones. And yes, Phil Elverum produced it, and that's a big reason. It adds that delicious Phil Elverum production sound, but stylistically Adrian Orange (aka Thanksgiving) writes in much the same pattern as Mr. Elverum. Coke Machine Glow's review cites the Elverum comparisons as “annoying and belittling,” which makes it sound like they desperately wanted to like this record that they would essentially call those who compare it to the Microphones a bunch of idiots. Which is stupid, given how much this sounds exactly like the quietest, most rambling Mount Eerie songs. Ultimately, this sounds like Elverum blindly trying to create his protege. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, because Elverum can do this kind of production in his sleep and has been doing it for more than a decade. What he sees in Thanksgiving that's so special is beyond me, though. Honestly, the only element of this album that separates Orange from Elverum is the occasional kettle drum. Great, you have a kettle drum, good for you. Elverum harmonizes on “Get Married” which only further proves that this record is superfluous. As Kasey just put it, “it's nice music to ignore.” It's one of the most boring records I own in one of the most beautiful packages.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tender Trap - Film Molecules

Tender Trap – Film Molecules
K, 2002
Acquired: Love Garden Blowout Location, New, 2009
Price: $3.50

Can't believe I was able to wait til everything was 75% off to snag this really wonderful record. Tender Trap is Amelia Fletcher's post Heavenly project, and though it lacks the shambolic spark that Heavenly did, her voice and songwriting style are always a joy to listen to. The music is generally tighter, and there are synthesizers dotting the landscape, but yeah, this is a really nice indiepop record! I wish the hooks were a little hotter, but I'm not gonna complain. I can't really pick any choice jams at the moment, but I have no problems listening to this record. It's things that I like presented on vinyl and as far as music goes, it does not annoy me. Sure, I wish I had some Heavenly records on vinyl, but that's ok. This is good too. And I should mention that Amelia Fletcher formed Marine Research before Tender Trap, and that band was good too. I think I'm just biased. When it comes to female vocalists/songwriters/people who can write amazing pop songs, you really don't get better than Amelia Fletcher.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tender Forever - Wider

Tender Forever – Wider
K, 2007
Acquired: K Records Mail Order, New, 2008
Price: $10

This is by far the record in my collection that has racked up the most play. For a whole semester I put this on every night before bed. I don't exactly know why I chose this record, but I think it might be the calming quality Melanie Valera has on me. I don't know why I love this record, not exactly. I do love it with a fierceness reserved only for classics, and I feel like this is one of those records I will take with me forever. It's really, really inventive pop music. Every move is perfectly played, and the arrangements are just wonderful, full of interesting sounding synthesizers and electronics mixed with an excellent combination of live instruments. The drums, in particular, are awesome. The arrangements are intricate, while the lyrics are intimate. SO intimate. It's a love story, and it's a story about getting your heartbroken (see: the excellent “Heartbroken Forever,” where Valera REALLY lets her voice stretch out). “Tiny Heart and Clever Hand” is a perfect encapsulation of everything the album is, and is a brilliant track one. Really, I don't know why I'm so drawn to this. If I were a lesbian in a rocky relationship, maybe. Or even a rocky relationship in general, and maybe that's why I started listening to it when I did. But it still stands up as one of my favorite records in my collection and one that I feel was overlooked upon its release and hope that someday people appreciate it. It's just a rewarding record that you get more out of upon each listen. Heartfelt and sexy, sonically adventurous but feels like home. I know for a lot of people this won't be their cup of tea, but honestly, if you're a popkid and don't have this one you're missing out! GET THIS RECORD IT IS SO GOOD! I HAVE LISTENED TO IT AT LEAST ONE HUNDRED TIMES!

Here's Tender Forever covering Justin Timberlake's "My Love" and making me feel dreamy:

Video for "So We Could Deal"

"Every Monday" Takeaway Show

Music video for "How Many"

Watching this live video of "Heartbroken Forever" I realize that I would typically think this would be something I hate. But no, now I'm like "This is so great I love this I want to crawl inside of this song and just live curled up in the fetal position."

Telepathe - Dance Mother

Telepathe – Dance Mother
Iamsound, 2008
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2009
Price: $1 (originally $14)

Behold! Another reinvention of the girl group. This time from blah Brooklyn and with lots of synthesizers! But at $1, I realized that this is worth having, for a while at least. I first heard these guys (or girls, I should say), on the excellent Living Bridge compilation put out by Rare Book Room records. “Who IS this band?” I asked myself, as if I were a record executive, the giant cigar falling onto my guts, the ashes staining my pants held up by suspenders. If Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais didn't have such girlish vocals, I would probably hate that, but there's something endearing about the way they sing. Sometimes it comes off as a couple of high school girls doing a cover of an MIA song for Youtube (like the single, “Chrome's On It”). Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio produces, and you can tell (in a good way). In fact, his production makes this pretty listenable. Granted, I have grown fairly tired of Brooklyn, the epicenter of what has become the most annoying thing about music: fashion-tronica. Angular hair cuts, glitchy beats, PERFECT clothes, loft parties. Maybe I'm just jealous or maybe I think the excess tends to get in the way of music. Not to say Brooklyn hasn't churned out some decent bands, and then there's the Hold Steady and the national, yet though they operate out of there, they're both from the midwest. There is some shit that I just don't understand. It just seems too cool for me to listen to, to disaffected and cold and it sounds boring to me, which means that I'm surely out of the loop, right? This record has some moments, like opener “So Fine,” but mostly it feels tossed off. Have I mentioned that it's boring? Like, listen to “In Your Line,” a song in which absolutely nothing happens and once it's over you've completely forgotten what you've just heard. Most of the record is like that. Just repetitive, half-baked melodies repeated over yawning beats and synth swells.

Talulah Gosh - Backwash

Talulah Gosh – Backwash
K, 1996
Acquired: K Records Mail Order, New, 2008
Price: $12

Good thing I got this when I did, because it's apparently gone out of print. And I got it for a steal too! $12 for 25 glorious twee pop songs (pretty much their complete discography) spread over two slabs of wax. Fronted by the amazing, wonderful, beautiful, incredible Amelia Fletcher, who went on to front one of my favorite bands, Heavenly, which also featured Talulah Gosh members Peter Momtchilloff and her brother, the late Matthew Fletcher, Talulah Gosh was everything that was good about music. They had fun and they didn't take it too seriously, a trait that tends to lead to some seriously good records. While “Beatnik Boy,” “Girl with the Strawberry Hair,” and “Do You Remember” are the most widely heard Talulah Gosh jams, my absolutely favorite is “Don't Go Away.” Backwash had been on my computer forever, and when it came time to do my indie-pop show for KJ, I started mining all the stuff I'd been collecting. Chris C. alerted me to the genius of “Don't Go Away,” and listening to it on the way to class for a month. It's perfect. It's a perfect fucking song. Just the TONE of that guitar at the beginning, and the way it provides the undercurrent of sad in the most upbeat song on the record is cause for loving alone. In its essence, it's punk rock for pussies, and I mean that in the most flattering way, because it's punk fucking rock. It's short, fast, and loud, but Fletcher also injects this bittersweetness to it and understand the classic structure of a pop song is to sing something sad and desperate but to trick everybody by making it incredibly upbeat and catchy. Of every song I've ever heard, I think “Don't Go Away” bears the most repeat value. It's the one I'm most prone to hit the back button on after it's over. It's the blend of these upbeat perfect pop songs and the more maudlin numbers that make Backwash an incredible twee pop document. It's the best of the genre with one band. God, there are just so many hits on this record. Or songs that should have been hits, if girly pop bands from the 80s ever had their day. “I Can't Get No Satisfaction (Thank God),” aside from having one of the best song titles ever AND being covered by fellow K-ompatriots the Softies, is fucking genius. The guitar solo in there is so fucking perfect, and I've never noticed it til now. I've always been distracted by the call and response of the verse. And “My World's Ending,” how could I have forgotten about that song! My second favorite song on the record. Much like “Don't Go Away” it's a quick blast of “Please don't leave me,” which is often what inspires the best twee pop. Honestly, I think this is what I wanted the Kite Tails to be like, but Danny and Jen didn't want to play this fast. We had the sweet riffs and everything, but it was all kind of half speed. So I'll dream of having an upbeat twee pop band with sick riffs and someday, if I ever put my mind to it, I will be able to PLAY those riffs instead of farming them out to people with actual talent. This record is a gem, and one of those forgotten classics that will hopefully have some sort of resurgence very soon because GODDAMNIT THESE SONGS ARE SO FUCKING GOOD!


Talking Heads - Naked

Talking Heads – Naked
Sire, 1988
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
Price: $6

The final Talking Heads record, and the most often derided. For good reason, too. Though the record contains the excellent “(Nothing But) Flowers,” one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, the album gets off to a terrible song with the faux-soul of “Blind” which sounds like David Byrne putting on blackface for its first half, with really corny horn blasts here and there and gah, bongos. I will say though, I really hate the horns on this record. They're corny, like Talking Heads are some kind of mariachi band. Whenever they drop out, the songs tend to be excellent. I should also say, any song Johnny Marr plays on is excellent. There's a tropical, laid back vibe to the songs with a really snarky undercurrent. That is today, there are environmentalist threads in “Totally Nude” and “(Nothing But) Flowers” that are totally great and kind of fun opposed to being overbearing, which tends to happen when bands try to push an agenda too hard. Actually, after getting past “Blind” and “Mr. Jones,” the first half of the record is pretty decent. And once again, I need to mention how fantastic “(Nothing But) Flowers” is. Wikipedia describes it as “the opposite of Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi,'” in which the world has been overrun by nature and the protagonist longs for strip malls and factories. Hence, it's subtler than Mitchell's number, and is more effective. Mostly, it's a really hit or miss record. There are some really excellent jams, but then there are big misses like the industrial sounding “The Facts of Life,” which sucks all fun out and makes for a really heavy handed smack on the head. Once he hits that awful falsetto in the middle, fuggitaboutit! Even though there are some super stellar jams here, I'm kind of glad the band dissolved after this because I would have hated to hear what they sounded like in the 90s. David Byrne did alright on his own, but anymore Talking Heads after this might have destroyed him.

Talking Heads - Little Creatures

Talking Heads – Little Creatures
Sire, 1985
Acquired: Lawrence Antique Mall, Used, 2007
Price: $3

I think this is typically seen as Talking Heads weakest record, but it's never really classified as a bad record. Or maybe it's Naked, or maybe I'm wrong, I don't know, I think it's pretty good despite the really cheesy 80s back cover art. The front cover art is fun. It's their poppiest album, and though it's not nearly as adventurous as previous releases, I like it a lot because well, the songs are good. They're catchy. Even Jenny likes this record, in particular “And She Was.” “This is their hit, or something, isn't it,” she asked or said. There's some country inflection here too, as on “Creatures of Love.” Although, I will say, that song is a bit slight. “Road to Nowhere” is pretty good though, although that little accordion thing in the background is kind of slightly annoying. Overall though, the song's a winner. And the album isn't bad, it's not not nearly as memorable as their others. And that's why it's the Talking Heads record I always see at used record stores.

Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues

Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
Sire, 1983
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Price: $6

Ok, I lied when I said “Once in a Lifetime” was the most famous Talking Heads song. There is no doubt that it is actually “Burning Down the House.” Though that song isn't as out there or as overwhelmingly good as “Once in a Lifetime,” it succeeds as being an ultra-fun pop song. The whole first side of this record is incredible. Though not as adventurous as their previous outings, the songs tend to be poppier which really appeals to me. I will take pop over experimentation any day, and if you can give me both at the same time I'll love you forever. This is also the record that has “This Must Be the Place (na├»ve Melody),” which struck me early on in college and led to my getting into Talking Heads. I think it was the Arcade Fire who covered it and made me aware of the song's existence. Fuck, this record just makes me want to watch Stop Making Sense. Apparently the film was made while the band was touring in support of this record, and um, yeah, goddamnit I forgot how good all these songs are. Literally, the whole A-side is the jam despite my usual loathing for soulful back-up singers in 80s music. Despite initially thinking that the chanty aye-aye-aye chorus of “Swamp” sounded Nazi-esque...well, it still sounds Nazi-esque, but I like that song more now. The second side isn't as much of a jam as the first, but this record is pretty goddamned listenable. Though not nearly as dense as Remain in Light, as a pop record this is above and beyond most of the dreck that was inhabiting radios in the early to mid 80s. And it's groovy as hell!That, and nothing can really beat “This Must Be the Place,” one of the ultimate mixtape staples. “Love me til my heart stops/ Love me til I'm dead.” Doesn't get more romantic than that.

The Big Suit Interview ("The better the singer's voice, the harder it is to believe what they're saying," truer words have never been spoken):

And here's Arcade Fire's (The Name of the Band is Arcade Fire. Funny story, in music critic class Kevin Whitehead made a big deal about the band's name being TALKING HEADS not THE TALKING HEADS, because they released a record called The Name of the Band is Talking Heads yet for some reason people still add the THE and that pissed him off) version of "This Must Be The Place." It's really suited for their style, excellent cover choice! Love those kettle drums!

Talking Heads - Remain in Light

Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Sire, 1980
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Price: $6

I just realize I have never heard Fear of Music. I have heard every Talking Heads record BUT that one, and I find that strange. I thought I owned it too, but I do not. Remain in Light is great though. Really great. I like it a lot, that is. I listened to it a couple times while writing up my Dirty Projectors concert review because the whole opening paragraph was comparing Dave Longstreth to David Byrne. I even got to slip the big suit video on! Ultimately, I deduced (at least in my head, I can't remember if I put it in my review or not), that David Byrne is timeless and anyone who imitates him will never succeed quite as much as he did. That is, Byrne will always seem legit and never pretentious. Maybe other people find him pretentious but he always seemed very real to me, and a big factor in his being real is his sense of humor which never seems to be trying to be weird or offbeat, he just seems naturally funny. But I might be wrong, I know little about Talking Heads. Though Paul Simon is often to blame for the recent rash of African inspired white music (Dirt Projectors included!), I can see that it's Talking Heads who really went after this. At least it's not a direct rip off of afro-pop like Vampire Weekend (who, don't get me wrong, I think are great), but it sounds like they borrowed stylistic elements and created a sound entirely their own. I'm pretty sure those African polyrhythms came from Byrne's collaboration with producer Brian Eno, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which was recorded around the same period. “Once in a Lifetime” might be the band's biggest hit, or at least the song everyone has heard and the one used in many, many mainstream films, yet though widely appealing is still incredibly fucking good and out there. It's one of the most perfect songs for an existential crisis. “Crosseyed and Painless” is my favorite track off the record, but mostly because it serves as the triumphant finale to Stop Making Sense, you know, the part where they show people dancing in the audience. I really need to watch that again, and make Jenny watch it but after some disparaging remarks against the heads she made last night, I might just keep it on the shelf. That movie changed my life though, or at least the way I thought about music and film, and how perfectly they can be tied together sometimes. This was apparently their effort to change with the times, to up the ante and stave off mediocrity and I think their method worked. What we have is a funky, inventive record that still sounds better than a lot of the music people are tossing off today. It makes me long for simpler times when music could be good and popular at the same time, where a band like Talking Heads could make a really out there record combining funk, post-punk and New Wave into something incredibly engaging. Honestly, my only beef with this record is that closing track “The Overload” sounds exactly like a Joy Division track, but if that's my only quibble, then I guess this record's pretty goddamned good.

Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food
Sire, 1978
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2005
Price: $7

The classic sophomore record that has come to be my favorite Talking heads record. And really, what could you ask for? It's got two certain to be college rock jams “Thank You For Sending Me an Angel” and “Found a Job,” which cause me to giggle with glee anytime I hear them on KJHK. It also has the classic “Take Me to the River” which I often hear in grocery stores. It's weird, how often I hear Talking Heads in the grocery store. Just today I heard some song I wasn't familiar with, but knew for certain it was them. Oh yeah, and this record is produced by Brian Eno, so yeah, you really can't go wrong. It's funky and punky, and people seem to love that. To lose their shit over that.

Gut Feeling: Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy

Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy
Matador, 2009

I really wanted to own this on vinyl. I love the cover art and the record has quickly become one of my favorites of 2009. However, when I saw that the vinyl copy doesn't have the last two songs on the CD (although “He's Alright” was released as a 7”), coupled with the insane $17 price tag I had to refuse. It was actually elemental in my decision to quit buying records. They are just too motherfucking expensive. On top of that, Vile makes reference to people who spend all their cash on records and things that just sit around, and how he's not one of those people. Not that I'm looking up to him, but he has a point, and no, you're right, I shouldn't buy your record Kurt! Even though I really want to because it's great and I feel I've listened to it enough times to warrant owning it.

As music director, my assistant Alison would constantly rave about Mr. Vile and I never really got past “Freeway.” His records have all felt a little scattered to me. There are some great songs spread across them, I've found, but on a whole they feel inconsistent. Except this one, which feels like a fucking grand statement. He's reworked “Hunchback” for the 800th time or so and finally found the most compelling way to do it. It kills, it's one of the moodiest jams of the year and I specifically put it on when I was driving over to First Management to get canned. It put me in the mood to give them a piece of my mind. My favorite song is “Monkey,” which is the poppiest song Vile has produced since “Freeway.” I started by listening for just one line: “The other night you were away I missed you so bad/ I found me doing something desperate I was so sad/ I swear I held my own hand pretending it was yours.” It kills me, and it's the most focused Vile has been as a songwriter. Usually he relies on utter weirdness and sounds like he is just randomly making shit up off the top of his head, and while that's great (“I got a trumpet/ I know where to dump it” from “Freeway” is a pretty awesome line), but “Monkey” feels really focused without sacrificing any of his um, offbeat lyricisms. Lots of wordplay, as usual. “I see you saw me in the mirror/ In half.” Love it.

The production is gritty but steers clear of the shitgaze pile I was afraid he was going to fall into. Over the past year, shitgaze has gone from the next big best thing ever to a slog of a bunch of bands that all sound alike. It's that tied with the neo-garage thing that I liked at first and now can't stand. Vile sounds like he honed his sound in a garage, but it's doused with enough reverb and intricate guitar work that it separates it from the rest. The quieter jams on this record are just as important as the big, rock n' roll ones. While not as immediately satisfying, tunes like “Blackberry Song” and “Heart Attack” grow on you, especially when the CD hasn't left your car and you're driving around on a cool fall day. They really showcase Vile's gifts as a guitarist, which is nice. Relaxing even, and perhaps it's this jumping between downplayed acoustic based numbers and upbeat classic-rock inspired fist pumpers that makes this such a compelling record.

Honestly, the only real problem I have with the record is that I usually think “Freak Train” is about a minute and a half too long and I get just a LITTLE bored with it. But there's that part around the five minute mark where Vile just screams the word “SHIT!” in an awesomely bile fueled manner. It's a driving track though, easy to get caught up in and earns its length with a pseudo-free jazz freakout in the latter part of the song. It's exciting, but never cluttered unless intentionally so.

Though “Overnite Religion” cops part of the melody from “Freeway,” this makes sense for Kurt Vile, as he is someone who is constantly reworking ideas over and over again and finding the best outlet for them. It's sort of like sausage factory recording, in which his last three albums are a chance to see how he write his songs and processes information. Childish Prodigy feels like the finished product, but who knows, maybe another version of “Hunchback” will show up again and again until he quits making records, which will probably be when he dies as he's someone I could see making records well into his 90s. Obscure weird folk records, surely, for the later century.

MP3>>>Kurt Vile - "Hunchback"

Friday, November 13, 2009

End of S


God I think I'm gonna be sick. That is so much money. Granted, there's about $15 worth of records from the dollar sale at Love Garden but still, S is the biggest chunk in my collection. I'm glad I got through it. I also think I made two separate trips to LG to sell off records during this period. Anyway, I'm approaching the end of the LP collection and am quite excited to move on to the 7"s. Only about a foot to go and after T it's pretty much home free until I hit the compilations and then yeah! Done!

To break up the monotony of the S section I created a couple of new features for the site. The first was dreamed up in the wee hours after finishing a show review of the Dirty Projectors gig, wee hours meaning 8-10 AM when Jenny was at work and I could not sleep. These tend to be drawn from words I typically use to describe records, and have used for years and years. I may even break my own rule and make a 6.5 and a 7.5, but only those two, as Pretty Fuckin' Good seems necessary.

I've also added a new feature called "Gut Feeling," which will be made up of whatever leaked records I'm devouring at the moment, or records that I have recently become obsessed with that I'd like to share because, goddamn, there have been some really great records that have come out in the past couple of months and I'm really sad that I can't afford to buy them. Labels have finally been hit by the recession, and now if I wanna buy a record it's gonna cost me no less than $17. A shame! A goddamned shame. Sometimes I just go into Love Garden to peruse like a poor man going into a bakery for the smells. I look through the new arrivals and think of the better, more student loan-laden times when I would say "Well, it's only $8." When I had a job and could devote at least $40 for records every couple of weeks. Now I stagger out of Love Garden after selling records like a crippled man. I tabulate how much money I lost from so much frivolous spending. It's good though, because it keeps me on track and shows me the joys of being flat broke and jobless. Now I spend my money on nothing but rent, cheap food (ask me for my pork chop recipe, a whole meal for about five dollars! Delicious!), and utilities. It's a wonderful thing.

Swan Lake - Beast Moans

Swan Lake – Beast Moans
Jagjaguar, 2006
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008
Price: $8

Dan Bejar + Carey Mercer + Spencer Krug = Swan Lake. Equals one of the most ingenious collaborations of our time, three of Canada's best bringing their own distinctive styles to the table and making a beautiful mess of things. I'm noticing new things this time around. There's something hypnotic about Bejar repeating “a venue called Rubella” over and over at the end of the song of the same name. Krug's “All Fires” is one of my favorite songs he's ever written, perhaps coming in second to “The Mending of the Gown.” It's one of the most straightforward songs on the record, and it really showcases Krug's gift as a lyricist, yet the influence of the other guys is palpable. They add harmonies and that bass line just KILLS. The song becomes more and more crowded as it builds and feels like a pot of water coming to a boil. Krug's “Are You Swimming in Their Pools” is also straightforward, and also succeeds at being one of the most memorable songs on the record. The record occasionally gets bogged down, however, by the overall weirdness of the songwriters. Mercer's songs tend to test my limits a little, but often they're just as good as the latest Frog Eyes stuff which has pushed towards accessibility (See: Tears of the Valedictorian). “The Partisan He's Got to Know,” for example, harnesses this weirdness via bombast, as does “City Calls,” though I always feel weird when he gets to the “Fuck the police” part and I don't know why. Bejar's opener “Widow's Walk” is full of trademark la-di-das, while “The Freedom” is more like a Destroyer b-side and a poor man's “All Fires.” The epic, massive “Shooting Rockets” tends to be a slog. It's no wonder he reworked it (with great success) on Trouble in Dreams. Here, “Shooting Rockets” is a cacophonous mess of wailing, guitars, and what have you. Mostly it just sounds like they've thrown everything on this album into an echo chamber and THEN thrown that echo chamber into one of those huge blenders used to make dough for bread. And then they baked it...or they got baked, I'm not sure. Ultimately this is an incredibly interesting document with about three absolutely jawdropping songs, yet all of them are pretty much worth listening to.

For fun, consider my favorite song effectively ruined (not really, but this is real bad!)

Superchunk - Come Pick Me Up

Superchunk – Come Pick Me Up
Merge, 1999
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
Price: $8

This is the record Jenny always makes me put on. She has been complaining about the stuff I play when we're making dinner and such and insists I put on Superchunk (or sometimes Portastatic). So this record has been getting a lot of play lately. Though not as raw and immediate as their earlier records, Mac really hasn't made anything less than pretty good. In fact, I'd venture to say this is a great record, full of the awesome pop hooks he's been crafting to carve out a name for himself over the last couple of decades. If you're ever at the KJHK shack, you can check out my review for the “Hello Hawk” single, which is just two panels and pretty much exactly what you would expect. That song blew me away when I first heard it. “1000 Pounds” is amazing too, one of their best evah. Maybe it's Jim O'Rourke's production work that partially makes up how good this record is, but mostly it's just Mac and co following their track of never making a bad record. They just don't. Their latest pair of jams, “Learned to Surf” from the Leaves in the Gutter EP and “Crossed Wires” continue in this vein, which is to say they're perfect, rock out with the windows down college rock pop jams. And this record makes me wonder why I haven't put Superchunk on a pedestal yet like I have with other bands, because everything they do is everything I like about music.

For the win:

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover

Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Jagjaguar, 2007
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2007
Price: $15

This was my favorite record of 2007, and though it wasn't released until October of that year, the leaked copy never left the CD player in my car for months. It was my summer jam. There were some pretty heavy contenders that year, too. And though it may not be as timeless as The National's Boxer (which came in at number two that year), it will always remind me of 2007. It's not dated, but overall it is the record I most associate with 2007, particularly the end of 2007 which was a pretty miserable time. This got me through it, driving around town listening to it over and over again. Opening track “The Mending of the Gown” was also my #1 song of the year, and while I feel Sunset Rubdown can only go up, I think that's going to be their all time best song. This record is a lot weirder and more adventurous than their proper debut Shut Up I Am Dreaming. That's a fantastic record, but Spencer Krug hadn't yet completely separated himself from Wolf Parade. Here, he's composed his finest record to date under any moniker, one of the more cohesive records in the last ten years sadly broken up over two discs. I love the seamlessness of the transitions on the CD, and hate that they get fucked with on the LP. But alas, I had to own it. I was obsessed with this record. I've been revisiting it since falling in love with their latest, Dragonslayer, which might be just as good, or almost just as good. It took a lot longer to grow on me though, opposed to Random Spirit Lover which I loved from that opening guitar riff on “The Mending of the Gown.” Grated, certain songs took their time to grow on me (“Magic vs Midas,” “Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot!”), but there are four absolutely A+ jams here which is more than most records have. Maybe that's how records should be graded, like this is school. If that were so, this record would get straight As. Every song works to aid the others, nothing seems out of place. Even returning to it with fresh ears outside of my obsessiveness, it still sounds like that. And the way the MONSTER jams are spread out is so tactful. It's almost an every other song sort of thing, and when it's not the preceding song works to set up the grandeur of what comes next. For instance, that transition from “For the Pier( and Dead Shimmering” to that fucking killer drum beat at the beginning of “The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life” gets me every time. Gets me in the mood to rock out, that is. “Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days” is still insanely good. “I'm the one that sat at your capture/ And let the snow fall on this whispering rapture/ And you're the one who's kissing your captor's hands.” It makes sense that Krug is in a band with Dan Bejar and Carey Mercer (see: Swan Lake, who are coming up two records from now). They are probably the best three Canadian songwriters (sorry, Bryan Adams) that aren't Leonard Cohen or Neil Young, and definitely the best of right now. They all have a wonderful weirdness to them. Mercer tends to be the weirdest and Krug tends to be the one most rooted in reality, whereas Bejar is somewhere in the middle. Krug's accessibility might not even come from his lyrics, and though he wrote one of the greatest love songs of the 00s (Wolf Parade's “I”ll Believe in Anything”), here he's really weird. Really really weird. Songs of courtesans and stallions, actors and child heart losers. I guess a big reason for my loving this record is its synesthetic quality. Every time I hear it I imagine it as grand theatre. I have a music video for “The Mending of the Gown” because the song is so descriptive, but it's all like some Japanese Kabuki play and at the end the curtain falls on everyone. Anyway, though I wasn't yet a Krug disciple, when the album's title was announced I knew I would love it. A gut feeling. A record called Random Spirit Lover has to be good, and it was even better than I expected. The guitars are motherfucking perfect, the piano lines are the kind that make me bang on the dashboard when I'm driving while listening, and the moments when they slow it down a bit, like “Winged/Wicked Things” just bring the goddamned house down. Though Krug seems to be under the impression that this record was too labored over according to interviews about the sound of Dragonslayer, which was recorded live and away from the studio (and the trickery that comes with it), I still think it's a masterpiece. Spencer Krug's masterpiece, and it's one of those records that's so good I'm actively looking forward to him topping it.

You really can't fuck with this: