Saturday, January 29, 2011

January Listening

In the past, we could all be bound together by the music we listened to through the radio or, in my day, MTV.  Now we have more latitude and independence in our listening habits, which comes with a price.  Potentially, our personal playlists remain personal, and the shared musical experiences of the past seem to be more isolated.  On the other hand, I could just be getting old and out-of-step with what is really happening in the music world.

Regardless, there are probably more like me who want to find something new to listen to, and this blog is mainly for them.  I don't want to pontificate too much right off.  There's plenty of time for that later.  Instead, I'll get down to business.  I got a lot of new stuff for Christmas, and as January draws to a close, I want to sum up my listening so far this month.  For the uninitiated, I try to make these "shotgun reviews" no more than two sentences (this sometimes takes some creative grammar: get over it).

Here goes:

Daft Punk: "TRON Legacy Soundtrack" -  Daft Punk's foray into a more orchestral approach is compelling.  It does not totally stand on its own, so It won't exactly unseat John Williams or Danny Elfman, but for the soundtrack to a TRON movie its the right mix of majestic and clever.

Miike Snow - A very slow-cooking repeat from last year that for some reason has really turned on for me recently.  Electronica and songwriting collide full-force on this one, although keep in mind they are a production-driven project: live clips of them are sometimes inconsistent.

"The Sound of Siam - Leftfield Luk Thum, Jazz, and Molam in Thailand, 1964-1975" - I have a soft spot for listening back to the places where Western popular music met local traditions for the first time.  This has some very excellent stuff on it, but a few dogs, too.

The Psychedelic Aliens: "Psycho African Beat" - See above, except in an African context.  Not the most compelling collection of African Psychedelia I have heard (check out World Psychedelic Classics Vol. #3: Love is a Real Thing for that), but the influence of Santana and Jimi Hendrix is definitely noticeable.

KTU: "8 Armed Monkey" -  Warr guitar, accordian, drums, and samples.  You can't deny the chops or the energy of this King Crimson offshoot, but the line between intensity and loudness is sometimes uncomfortably toed, especially when the microtonal caterwauling cranks up. 

J. Paul Slavens: "Alphabet Girls Vol. 1" -  This is a holdover from last year's top ten that is just too good to take out of the player.  If you remember a band called Ten Hands from yesteryear, Slavens was the lead singer- he's developed a bit of a Elvis Costelloesque cleverness in the interim.

GiGI w/Material: "Mesagna Ethiopia" - Considering I was a fan of Material in the 90's and am a recent fan of Ethiopian pop music, this should have been a no-brainer.  I was a little disappointed with it, though.

The Sword: "Warp Riders" -  If you'd like to hear what Sabbath would have sounded like if they had today's production, you should definitely check this one out.  If you are not a diehard fan of the style, however, The Sword can get a little dull (pun intended).
Philip Selway: "Familial" - A surprisingly textured acoustic guitar album from Radiohead's drummer.  That should be enough to pique interest, right?

The Black Keys: "Brothers" -  Another holdover from last year that would have made a top twenty list, but not the top ten.  Sometimes a band lives up to their hype.

Dengue Fever: "Escape from Dragon House" - a Cambodian singer meets up with and LA funk-groove band, and they produce the soundtrack for all the lost cold-war era James Bond movies (y'know, 'cuz so many are lost).  Has some real highlights, as well as a couple of yawners. 
I also plopped the 2003 album "Frengers" by Mew in the player somewhat carelessly last week, and I have fully decided that it belongs on my top-10-stranded-on-a-desert-island-for-reallz list of albums.  I think, however, that this deduction may deserve its own blog post.  For now, do your own YouTube searches and whatnot and get acquainted.  There will be a quiz.  

 In my post-birthday musical landscape, I got Sean Lennon's "Friendly Fire," The Budos Band "III," and "Deerhoof vs. Evil" coming up.  I'll sew it up for now, though.  I know better than to ramble too much online, and I'm thinking the Indian Buffet nearby sounds dang good for dinner. 


  1. Mmmm...Indian Buffet...aaaaaahhhh

  2. Amos Lee's "Mission Bell" - Blues