Thursday, December 04, 2003

New music for today:

* The Go-Betweens, Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express
* The Decemberists, Her Majesty

The G-Bs album is smart and rather taut, stretched between the relative austerity of the previous album, Spring Hill Fair, and the lushness of the next two, the disappointing Tallulah and the brilliant 16 Lovers Lane. Lyrically, it's as sharp as ever. I'm going to have to let it sink in before going further in this analysis, though.

I picked up the Decemberists album because of the incessant comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel. The comparison is somewhat accurate, but the Decemberists are more oriented to pop songs (and have a Kinks influence) than NMH. The lyrics, although quite literate, can't manage the giddy freeform pleasures of NMH, and the music is almost painfully formal at times. NMH cast a long shadow, though. If my major influence were an artist as iconoclast as Jeff Mangum, I'd probably hide under the bed instead of releasing music, so the Decemberists deserve credit for courage. It will take a while to hear them for their own merits, though.


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