Lots of great listening poured through the player this month, so I’ll not bandy words with an introduction. This month’s playlist is also expanded due to a roadtrip to Denton - maybe its a bit TOO long. Set it up in the background and give it a listen some afternoon.
Tomahawk – Anonymous: A very interesting 2007 album with Mike Patton and John Stanier from Battles based on guitarist Duane Denison’s research on American Indian music. I think we need to talk about this one.
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee pt 2: Beastie Boys albums almost always pay off in the long term because of their attention to detail. This new release seems really genuine and, I think, ranks among their best.
Chemical Brothers - Hannah Soundtrack: It’s been many years since I checked out a Chemical Brothers album. I’d like to reserve final judgement on this one until I see the movie, but it is a good listen.
Ben Butler and Mousepad/Zorch - Early/Worm/Demo: Three EPs on one disc by two drum and keyboard duos. I think I like Early the best, but I still think Zorch’s Demo is a bit of a gem itself.
Dead Kenny G's - Operation Long Leash: This somehow seems a bit tamer than last year’s Bewildered Herd, but maybe I’m just more accustomed to their approach. Still, if you like one, the other hardly disappoints.
The Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues: This album has layers and layers, not the least of which is its lyric component. A brilliantly reflective meditation on, well, pretty much everything.
Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs: I read a review that gave this album three stars, and that is pretty muc h where I would put it. Pretty good, but not astounding, and certainly not offendingly bad (like Dredg’s Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, which I uncharacteristically sold back).
Battles - Gloss Drop: I had high expectations for this one, and, unfortunately, in some regards I think it disappoints. I do like it, though, so we’ll see how it plays out in the long run.
Field Music – Measure: In addition to writing great, accessible tunes, Field Music’s instrumental aspect is incredibly strong. By far, the best power-pop album that I have bought in quite awhile.
Hooray for Earth - True Loves: This one is a grower, and has a couple of really excellent tunes on it, so synth-pop fans should rejoice! The track in the playlist is my favorite from the album.
Other Lives - Tamer Animals: Tamer Animals is, in short, an unbelievably beautiful album. I am already concerned about how they could possibly follow up such a pristine, moving release.
Yamaguchi Goro - A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky: This album sounds so much different to me since I first began playing shakuhachi. It’s a mesmerizing release by a true master of the instrument.
Mouse on the Keys - An Anxious Object: A bit more straightforwardly jazz-fusion than the Sezzions EP. Aesthetically, though, it still plays with ostinato textures and composition more often than clearly improvised melody, so I’m not sure it fully crosses over.
Yes – Keystudio: A rather unfocused but generally convincing glimpse of what the “classic” Yes lineup from the 70s was doing in the late 90s. Let's hope it’s not better than Fly from Here
And from the road to Denton:
And from the road to Denton:
Coldplay – X&Y: Blame Javier Conlon’s performance of Fix You from The Voice for this one. The majority of this album doesn’t hold my attention, but it comes alive from time to time.
Trombone Shorty – Backatown: What would happen if Lenny Kravitz grew up in New Orleans? Backatown is funky like a brass band, rocks like late period Fishbone, but doesn’t quite commit to one or the other.
Yes – Talk: Another Yes indulgence to provide context for the upcoming new release next month. Although it has a couple of short lulls, Talk is the most identifiably Yes-like album from the “Owner of a Lonely Heart” lineup.
Fountains of Wayne – Utopia Parkway: The very definition of slick, formulaic power pop. It is difficult not to at least appreciate the way that Fountains of Wayne juggle cliché with cleverness.
The Sound of Siam – Leftfield Luk Thung Jazz & Molam in Thailaind 1964-1975: Brought back this one from January, and it has some really interesting stuff on it. Microtonality or no, however, I have a hard time justifying poorly tuned bass guitar in an obviously tonal format – it just sounds poorly tuned.
Graceland McCollough Tigers – Heaven: Trombone choir – why, yes; Gospel choir – check; Trombone gospel choir – do they even make those? Yes – and it’s a tasty combo, indeed.
The Beatles – HELP!: I know that many people are ambivalent about The Beatles, but I don’t think that most of us have the context to really understand their genius and impact. They were to popular music what Star Wars was to movies.
Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys: I am really big fan of Elbow, but I’m not sure if this album is not the place to start. It seems like soothing snoozy background music to afternoon tea that wakes up periodically.
The xx: This is a great, great album that made last year’s top 10. Its distinctive aesthetic has allowed it to stay fresh – still a favorite.
The Cars - Greatest Hits: Normally, I don’t go for greatest hits compilations, but I experienced The Cars in terms of the presence of their MTV singles, so that somehow makes it OK. There are lots of great melodic details in the Cars music if you listen closely.