Sunday, May 29, 2011

Getting Through the Month of May - Plus!

My apologies for the inconsistent postings in May, but this has been a rough, rough month.  In addition to being incredibly busy at work with end-of-year concerts and field trips, we moved.  Having time to sit down and write something, anything at all, has been difficult, and even more so due to lack of regular internet connection during the move.  The move, however, marks the end of the “Far West Years.”

Its interesting, because as that chapter closes, I can almost immediately look back on it and see the music that defined that time.  I will reveal these as they come, but what this post should cover is the actual soundtrack to the move.  Many of these albums I have posted on already, but as time passes, these quick catch-ups give me the opportunity to express how my relationship with each album has evolved, as well as introducing new or returning players.

Radiohead – The King of Limbs: Quite simply put, a serious contender for album of the year.  Its been playing for nearly two months straight and I am not close to tired of it – but I am taking it out by force to preserve it.

The Foo Fighters – Wasting Light: As much as I have listened to it, I am afraid that by the time the media is done with it, I will be sick of it.  It’s a great album that may get drug through the mud, but will also continue to firm up the Foo Fighter’s status as contemporary rock gods.

The Beastie Boys – The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2: It’s been since “Hello, Nasty” since I have gotten into a Beastie Boys album, and I think that The Hot Sauce Committee beats it out.  It has a distinctively retro ambience, but it also comes across as cutting edge – historically, the Boys are good at juggling this dichotomy.

Ben Butler and Mousepad – Formed for Fantasy: The full album by the band I discovered in February at the coldest show ever keeps ending back up in the player.  I don’t think it is perfect, but there is a whole lot about it I like.

Toe – An Idle Plot about a Vague Anxiety: Out of all of the instrumental Japanese music I was listening to earlier this year, this one deserved a revisit.  Its moody and intricate dual guitar textures conceal an emotional side that slowly reveals itself upon repeated listening.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues:  More intricate than their first while retaining its unique ambience, as if Simon and Garfunkel had joined Yes.  I had a really good discussion with a reader about the social context that subtly circumscribes this album.

Dredg – Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy:  Last year I was kind of into El Cielo, one of their earlier albums, but this new release has failed to impress me.  One thing you can do to turn me off is write a song in which the main melody just doubles the bass line – that shows up here a couple of times. 

TV on the Radio: Nine Types of Light:  This band is usually incomprehensible to me at first, simply because they are pretty unique.  I finally decided that I liked this album this week, after listening to it for almost a month straight. 

Gogol Bordello – Super Taranta:  The lyrics on this album address globalization issues in a first-hand narrative, delivered in an energetic blend of punk and Gypsy styles.  Its also quite a bit of tounge-in-cheek fun.

The Dead Kenny G’s – Operation Long Leash:  It seems like this uniquely adventurous jazz-punk project has become somewhat of a phenomenon in certain circles.  John Zorn meets Frank Zappa in a world-music setting – with just three players!

And as a bonus:
When I began adding playlists to the roundup posts, I got a lot of positive feedback.  A couple of people have even said that they sometimes play them in the background during the day, so to beef up this roundup, I have a bonus.  We just got back from a roadtrip to Denton, so I am combining that roundup with the monthly May post.

OK Go – The Blue Colour of the Sky: Dear OK Go, Prince called, and he wants his sound back.  This is wildly inconsistent recording whose high points make the low points almost unbearable.

Fleetwood Mac – Rumors:   I spontaneously purchased this album during the move.  I have never heard it in its entirety, and I think it probably deserves its classic status. 

E.T. Mensah & The Tempos – All for You:  A fascinating compilation of 1950s West African highlife.  If I were still teaching High School jazz, I’d be transcribing these tunes to widen the band’s “ethnic” palette.

Transatlantic – The Whirlwind:  This supergroup deserves their own post.  I think that this album, however, is their most consistent and impressive effort.

MuteMath – Armistice:  In a sense, their second album captures a lot of what was good about the first.  A bit of the magic is missing, though – like they are somehow constrained by their previous success.

Mouse on the Keys – An Anxious Object:  Their full release veers a little more clearly into atmospheric jazz realms than the Sezzions EP.  As a result, I’m not sure its quite as distinctive, but time may change that opinion. 

The Waxwings – Low to the Ground:  A good, consistent power pop album that has been sitting on the shelf for awhile.  It sounded particularly good on the road with the windows up (hot afternoon, what can I say – It’s Texas!).

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