Saturday, February 27, 2010

Don't Look Back #2: John Cale - Paris 1919

John Cale is perhaps one of modern music's most humble and versatile contributers.  Despite boosting an markedly comprehensive professional career resumé that includes producing The Stooges debut, Nico's best album, and taking part in the formation of some group called The Velvet Underground,  Cale's solo endeavors have often been met with a lukewarm reception due to the fact that in his case, the apple did fall very far from the tree and those expecting another reading of "The Gift" might be disappointed.

Paris 1919 doesn't dwell upon the lurid and secluded corners of the urban landscape like his former band mates did so well, but is rather a bright and classical affair with shameless references to Shakespeare and the Welsh countryside.  This indulgence in lush production is skillfully countered with Cale's softly sung and insightful lyrics which veer from gushing sentimentality to brash irony and criticism.  This somber record dynamically exhibits the work of a genuine artist exploring his creative spectrum while divulging into the themes that he openly prizes.

John Cale - Hanky Panky Nohow

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Morning Benders - Excuses

These Berkley kids have been blowing up the blogsphere with crafty blend of 60s pop and ballroom ecstasy.  This nostalgic number brings back memories of a childhood summer where everyday seemed to mix into the next and one could get lost in endless daydreaming.

The Morning Benders - Excuses

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday!

Capybara is back on the menu.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Primavera Preview #4: Condo Fucks

Those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing Yo La Tengo live in concert are often surprised how a band that is relatively low-key on record can suddenly turn into a noisy garage act on stage.  Where does this aggression come from and how come it never makes the cut onto their dreamy albums?  The answer to that is Condo Fucks.  While effortlessly shredding through covers of bands like The Small Faces and The Troggs, their work is refreshingly versatile in that you can share the enjoyment of an old playing their favorite rock staples.  It only seems fitting that a band that has already built a reputation for including numerous covers on their albums would create a completely different entity to reflect their diverse musical tastes.  Expect a short and rambunctious set, full of psychedelic nuggets.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Caribou - Odessa

Imagine you're in the middle of a dark and dense Canadian forest.  You might have taken a combination of chemicals that leave you feeling a bit vulnerable and that give your surroundings an almost mythical quality.  Your curiosity turns into introspection and the realization strikes you that there are million of possibilities that you haven't even considered yet.  You don't know where this trip is going to take you but you're sure as hell going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.  Now, imagine this experience condensed into a song and you've got the latest offering from Daniel Victor Snaith aka Caribou.    His new album is set to drop on April 19 and let's hope it can live up to the superbness of this new single.

Caribou - Odessa

Monday, February 8, 2010

Primavera Preview #3: Built to Spill

Last week's addition of Built to Spill was a shot of steroids into this year to this year's already strong line-up.  This is a band that has been consistently releasing quality albums for almost two decades while still managing to stay relevant with whatever sea change of aestheticism might hit them.  Though they may have released more accessible work since then, the best demonstration of their musical prowling and depth has been their major label debut album Perfect From Now On.  From the existential petitioning on opener "Randy Described Eternity" to the malicious bombast of "Stop the Show",  the record continually explores the limits of demolishing and then rebuilding using traditional rock instrumentation.  If music is a form of communication, then frontman Doug Martsch has developed his own language through his malleable and robust guitar texturing.  It's a record that doesn't ever sound tired or presumptuous while still coming from a place of exploration and profound doubt.  

Built to Spill - I Would Hurt a Fly

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Running with Scissors

We all like to imagine that our families have a slant of being a bit idiosyncratic or even dysfunctional which makes them distinct from everyone else's.  But somehow when we are exposed to the harsh reality of this chaotic lifestyle, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable place and we appreciate the fact that our own childhood could have been much worse.  Running with Scissors somehow manages to minimize the harrowing experience of a child being thoughtlessly neglected by a non-existent father and a mentally unstable mother.  Rather than only focusing on these disturbing circumstances, Auguesten Burroughs captures the spirit of adventure and survival through the eyes of a wandering adolescent that tirelessly tries to find humor in the most unreal of situations.  True character development is eclipsed by the author's desire to create an easy to read memoir that is at points both chilling but more often comical.  Though I was not particularly astounded by the in-elaborate prose, it would be incorrect to describe it as disappointing. This brief plunge into a turbulent family life provides more than enough grins to justify the effort. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Look Back #1: The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs

The idea of sitting through a record with sixty-nine songs all about love may seem like some sort of cruel joke or even worse, a poorly thought out concept but The Magnetic Fields have always had a gift for surprising us with their eclectic dabbling into different genres.  The music is lush and extravagant while still maintaining a wittingly dry sense of humor.  This makes the album seem like less of a chore but rather an entertaining showcase of the sixty-nine different meanings a love song could have.  A new box-set to be released this April gives this massive work the makeover it truly deserves.

The Magnetic Fields - The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side