Sunday, February 6, 2011

McAllen Roadtrip Roundup

I took a road trip to McAllen this weekend to visit family, which is a bit of a drive. In no small part due to the open-mindedness of my wife, the usual modus operandi for music on a road trip is as follows: I pick out a handful of CDs that she selects from on the road, with the unspoken understanding that I leave the more self-indulgent and noisy stuff out of the mix. Usually, this works in my favor (although I am not sure if she has forgiven me for sneaking that KTU disc in on the trip to Dallas last month).

Anyway, I got a chance to listen to some stuff that I have not listened to in awhile, and this quick post is a “shotgun review” roundup of what we listened to on the road.

Jade Warrior: “Floating World” – Very eclectic instrumental recording from 1974 with a strong “world music” and jazz fusion vibe. A wide dynamic range makes this a difficult listen on the road: quiets are very quiet, louds blow the speakers up.

The Flower Kings: “Space Revolver” – One of the more successful 90s progressive rock bands, and one of their better recordings. The Flower Kings are usually pretty good, but some of their albums could do with just a little self-editing.

The Shins: “Oh, Inverted World” – I never think that I want to listen to this recording, and I always enjoy it when I do. It has a strummy 60s pop vibe, dark, abstract lyrics, and a tendency to be heard in weird places (“New Slang” came on the speakers during dinner at House Wine).

Ratatat: “LP3” – A favorite from last year that will eventually be part of a Ratatat post, once I figure out how I can describe what they are doing. Currently, I am rolling with “rave music you aren’t supposed to dance to.”

Astra: “The Weirding” – Unapologetic 70s retro-prog that I got into towards the end of last year. Sounds like Rick Wakeman playing for “Echoes”-era Pink Floyd with a young Ozzy singing.

Yeasayer: “Odd Blood” – Still a little unsure on this one, but the late-period Oingo Boingo-isms keep me in a holding pattern. Some good live footage of Yeasayer is out there.

Talking Heads: “Remain in Light” – Before they burned down the house, the Talking Heads were doing some relatively innovative stuff. The influence of Fela Kuti is palpable on parts of this one.

Bjork: “Medulla” – Her “mostly vocal” album, and an artistic high point in her ouvere. Bjork has an amazing ear for sounds, but sometimes I get the impression that she is not sure what to do with them.

Fleet Foxes – Described by one reviewer as “the Beach Boys of Winter.” I really can’t top that.

Japhlet Bire Attias: “JBA” – My favorite Chapman Stick album, I think – if for no other reason than the beautiful bass clarinet duet “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?”  The novelty of the instrument takes a back seat to the strength of Attias’ musical concept.

These roundups give me a chance to spit out some stuff that may interest some of you, but that may get lost in the shuffle (so to speak). They’ll probably show up from time to time. I’ll be back to regular listening next week. Some people have already offered suggestions for further listening, too, and for that I thank you.

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