While my brother waits for kegs to be delivered, I go on periodic music binges. I can confess this without guilt because I know that it is the first step towards healing. I get frustrated with my music library or irrationally exuberant about something I have heard and then I just start downloading. It is the internet I blame—before iTunes I used to troll through Amazon buying CDs with the justification that the used ones were cheaper. Now, even though I know the quality isn’t what it should be, sometimes I just can’t contain myself.
When I was young(er), before the internet turned us all into more efficient and obsessive consumers, to buy an album was an event, a pilgrimage along back-country roads without shoulders and to one of the few places where new CDs could be purchased. It was momentous, as well, because it also seemed like an investment: I earned $4.25 an hour in my first job making pizza at Little Caesar’s. CDs, irrationally, cost between $12 and $18.00.
So, more often than not it would take me twice the amount of time to earn an album as it often took to listen to it. Yet, this calculation belies the ease of acquiring music from friends or music clubs (while explaining the need for both).
So, rather than wait until the end of the year, here are some recent purchases from my iTunes account. I’ll keep the commentary brief.
Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse
I still haven’t figured out how to write about this band. I love some of the songs so much I can’t stop listening to them. This album is not as simple as some of the earlier work while it is still focused more on saying something.
But I think it is going to grow on me. Check out this track—it represents the band and the album well.
The Last Bison, Inheritance
“Inheritance”, the opening and title track is exciting and dynamic, but it only lasts a minute or so. Is great fast sex better than no sex at all? Is there even a debate?
I got really excited about the EP from this band (from when they were just called Bison). I got excited enough that I downloaded it the first day I heard about the band and then even trumped up a reason to talk about them some more by imagining a death match with another new band, the antigrammatic Mowgli’s.
This album has some forgettable songs. In fact, most of the memorable songs were on the EP. There are a few gems in addition to the great “Switzerland”. This track, to start the album, is a good example of the blend of vocals and instrumentation that makes this band worth thinking about. Since the album was a bit of a rushed re-release of earlier work, I have hopes (perhaps unfounded) that the next album could be something special.
How’s that for speculation?
Little Green Cars, Absolute Zero
I caught the advanced single from this album, “The John Wayne”, on the “Adult Alternative” station from my television’s digital music service. I loved it almost immediately. My college roommate, Another J, told me over email that this full album is a disappointment. It does fail to replicate the sound and success of that single, but I can’t quite agree that I am disappointed.
This is another album I think might grow on me if I give it the time. This song (“My Love took me down to the River”), for instance, makes me think of something gospel-influenced lodged between Rogue Wave and The Red House Painters. Not a bad place to be.
We Are the Augustines, Rise Ye Sunken Ships
I will be honest. I liked a song The Only D told me about and downloaded this album. I have been thinking about listening to it but I haven’t yet. I have no explanation for this.
Tegan and Sara’s The Heartthrob
Hearthrob, the title track from this album, has a rhythm but not always a beat. That’s an example of a sentence that sounds nice but is essentially meaningless.
I will not lie about my disappointment in this album. As I have confessed openly, I love this band. But this album goes somewhere in the direction of 80’s synth-pop that I cannot really follow. Gone are the tight guitar phrases and the short but pithy lyrical designs that I love. The overlapping harmonies are still there, but the sisters’ voices just seem too small for the magnitude of the sounds thrown together on this album.
The title track is fun, but the collection as a whole doesn’t have the spit and vigor of the first few albums.
Macklemore, The Heist
Someone actually asked if I would review this album. I downloaded it accordingly and have listened to it. A review is coming soon. Really.
Ed’S Redeeming Qualities, Ed’s Kitchen
This is a collection of alt-folk music from nearly a generation ago. It is recorded mostly in a lo-fi way and exemplifies more of what Mike Doughty called ‘small rock’ rather than folk. This album made me really excited about this topic (‘small-rock’) and I need to find the time to write about Mountain Goats and Mike Doughty and the DIY aesthetic they share with micro-meta-pop like Tullycraft. And I will.
This is a cover.
But for now, consider this song about the name Bob. I find it hysterical and sweet. I don’t know enough about this group, but the songs (with a variety of instruments and vocalists) exemplify some of what I love most about live music and small venues. These people have fun with their music yet mean it so earnestly too.
Here’s another track:
What do you think, brother? Hear anything you like?