Thursday, April 17, 2008

Music Library: Amy Rigby, Amy Winehouse, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Andrew Bird

More music library stuff. I think I'll be doing this off & on until 2011.

Amy Rigby - Middlescence. I mentioned her wit and exuberance when I wrote about her first album. Those still stand. This one isn't as good as the first one, but it has some great songs on it, "The Summer of My Wasted Youth," foremost.

Amy Rigby - The Sugar Tree. Same as above. The standout tracks (for me) are the clever "Cynically Yours" and the sweet "Sleeping With The Moon." I used to like the song "Balls" a lot, but the punchline ("Wish I could grow a pair") has diminished with time, alas.

Amy Rigby - "Keep It To Yourself" - 18 Again: An Anthology. My wife & I liked this song when we heard it live. For a while, it was only available as a free download on Rigby's site, which is what this mp3 actually is, I think. She released it with the anthology of her first three albums, which was, I presume, an attempt at growing her audience.

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black. Retro R&B. Some pretty good songs. Is there anything else one can say about Amy Winehouse?

...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Worlds Apart. 'Sokay, I guess. Too much bombast, really. Sounds like a lot of other bands, too. Maybe it's not so okay.

Andrew Bird's Bowl Of Fire - The Swimming Hour. This is the earliest Andrew Bird recording I have, but it's clearly a work with one foot in the past and one in the future. I knew Bird's name from his work with the retro-swing enthusiasts Squirrel Nut Zippers (in fact, I recall seeing them with a wild violinist back in the late 90s, and now I wonder if that man was Bird). Bird was about to start creating some truly startling indie-rock, and this album sounds equal parts retro-jazz and future-indie.

Andrew Bird - Weather Systems. Bird apparently moved to rural Illinois to work on this album, and it sounds like an intense leap forward in creativity from The Swimming Hour. Using loops, whistles, minimalist arrangement, and songwriting that is both unique and well-informed by the past, Weather Systems sounds like the demo for all of Bird's future music.

Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Utterly brilliant. Bird fractured those same blues, jazz, and avant-garde sources that make Tom Waits' music so vital, and rebuilt them all into little indie-rock symphonies. Each album Bird makes is another way of pushing the now into the future.

I have one more Bird album, so next time: the future is now!


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