August 12, 2008

Catching up with the Popular Stuff

Here are some more notes about the records charting regularly on US indie music store lists.

What I have listened to lately:

Beck - Modern Guilt

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Black Kids - Partie Traumatic

MIA - Kala

U2 - War / Boy / October (my least favorite record of the three) deluxe versions

CSS - Donkey

She & Him - Volume 1

Jean Grea - Jeanius

Adele -19

Tea Leaf Green - Raise Up the Tent

Metro Station - S/T

Beck - Modern Guilt sounds like the direction I wished Air had moved towards over the years. I found myself shrugging my shoulders every time I saw this CD out in the bin at record stores but this one took me by surprise. I really liked it - enough to at the very least play it a few more times to decide if I want to own it. Danger Mouse has done Beck good. Darn good.

The Hold Steady - Never got this band (the non singer aspect doesn't curdle my cream), all their songs sound the same to me and each new record just makes me imagine how their crazed fans will behave when they tour next. It will be a sea of dudes in baseball hats and khaki shorts raising their plastic cups of beers every time the band mentions beer or booze...which is often. Now, even more often.

Black Kids - somewhere a dogs ear are perked up wondering where that whining dying animal sound is coming from. The keyboard scream on this record like nails on a chalkboard- it is absolute overkill on the wacky synth lines. Its like Bis ten years later and that didn't need to happen.

MIA - Kala - Some records just don't work in my home. The sounds booms out of the speakers and then plays dead on the floor. MIA sounds wild and makes me want to shimmy when I hear it out somewhere but in my living room I feel like I am throwing a party that nobody came to.

U2 - This band was a big part of my grade school and high school years. I liked them. No I think if you had asked me when I had a failed perm and a training bra on I would have said I loved them deeply. I can't remember the last time I played a U2 record - maybe 10 years ago when the Sunny Day guys were telling me how influenced they were by them and I wanted to hear it for myself. I think the first thing that strikes me as I play these deluxe / remastered version is how weird it is that I still know all the words and I can't help but sing along or even worse, mouth along like I really mean it and am feeling every single syllable, line, verse, and chorus. I literally can't control myself, its like I am possessed by Bono which is a little creepy. Thank God I work alone and I pray that my husband won't come home from work early and catch me. The CDs production wise sound great and the songs have really held up over the years. I wasn't sure how I would feel about them after all these year but all I am really thinking is shame on me for waiting this long to give them another spin. These are easily as good as the old Echo and the Bunnymen early records (which I play quite often) so I don't know what the problem was here. Whatever it is I am on the path to fixing it.

CSS- This sounds like a fiesta I am not sure I want to go to. There is nothing more awkward than a good time band treading in semi-serious rock territory. I however do like this more than the new Breeders record. Now there was a bummer of a record I was sure I was going to worship. CSS in the now is reminding me of some other stuff too, Bis...again - too weird I know, Pretty Girls, Ladytron, Le Tigre...I think you see where I am going with this.

She & Him - Can't we just stick with the fact that Zooey Deschanel is cute and can act. Really, does she need to make a record too. Wasn't her glorious singing in the shower scene in Elf enough? We certainly didn't need a record from Scarlett Johansson but on the other hand she is the kind of eye candy that a bad Tom Waits ode doesn't cancel her sex appeal to me. I don't like the ladies in, you know, that way, but I am not blind. The girl is easy on the eyes. Anyhow, back to She& Him. The music is spectacular as one can expect from M. Ward but after listening to Zooey as a singer...which in fairness, she is fairly good at, her voice doesn't make your arm hair stand up. She lacks passion and energy. Sorry, this is a novelty record to me. Her voice is on key enough for something like a commercials on TV or radio but this record doesn't make me look forward to a Volume 2.

Jean Grae - Why oh why does every MC have to build such a crowded house? Every inch of this record is covered in verse and carefully rhymed which makes this a tedious listen BUT there aren't as many lady MCs out there so I will take what I can get. I appreciate hearing a woman's voice in a very male dominated genre. 9th Wonder is her production partner here and I am a little surprised at how mild the beats are. The dynamic spirit of the record lacks any serious highs and lows. It falls somewhere in the middle making it a smooth ride but not exactly an exciting one.

Adele - At last, a woman with some curves to distract the UK press from dwelling on Beth from the Gossip. She has been hyped to be a more mellow Amy Winehouse / Duffy / Kate Nash but all that really means is the girl is British and has a smokey classic 60s influenced jazz voice. As her title suggests Adele is 19 and while the press can beat her up all the want for falling short of all the vocal powerhouses in the spotlight as of late, this girl has a hell of a voice. The record carries a mix of styles but I like her best when it is just her and light instrumentation. She gets lost in the numbers with big production but until she finds the right mix, which I am sure in time she will find, this makes her debut what is should be. 19 is the solid ground floor to an artist going up.

Tea Leaf Green- Eeeeek - a favorite opening band for Phish. File under Jam band and never to played in my home again.

Metro Station - Sweet Jesus. Miley Cyrus is taking over the fucking world. This band features her 1/2 brother which is icky enough but then imagine The Faint dry humping Fall Out Boy. Unless you are a disturbed and emotionally unstable adult with a tweener fetish I would beg you to avoid this record. In fact maybe we should do everyone a favor and take the record from store shelves and hide it in places kids won't find them. We need to make sure this doesn't make it into the hands of impressionable youth. There is enough crap out there already.

The only records I will listen to again:

Beck + U2's War + Boy


  1. Anonymous 8/13/08, 5:16 PM

    I am glad you are not the only one who does not understand the Hold Steady. I can conceptually understand why people like them, but i derive no pleasure from them at all. Its not even dislike, just a shoulder shrug.

  2. All I can say is that Super Mario plays keyboards for the Hold Steady that doesn't do it for me either. I can't say I understand them.

  3. I FUCKING DESPISE THE HOLD STEADY! Now that's only because I've been forced to hear them multiple times at work by a teen and a guy in his 30's who has been told by numerous people that he has the musical taste of a 12 year old boy. Their Springsteen + Costello + Run Westy Run formula = My unbridled rage. Those lyrics and that voice! When I had to endure them earlier this week I had to shout "That's embarrassing!" at a line. They were on Letterman a couple nights ago and, even though I had the TV muted, when Brie came into the room she exclaimed in disgust "Who is that band?" She's never even heard them and the mere appearance of them made her furious.

    Ah, I feel better now.

  4. "MIA - Kala - Some records just don't work in my home. The sounds booms out of the speakers and then plays dead on the floor. MIA sounds wild and makes me want to shimmy when I hear it out somewhere but in my living room I feel like I am throwing a party that nobody came to."

    Brilliant!.........MIA is the biggest farce perpetrated on music since Good Charlotte.......pure unadulterated crap for Indie / Urban wannabees!