Thursday, September 25, 2008

Music Library Post: Beat Happening Plus Catch-Up: Able Tasmans, Air, Alec Bathgate, Archers of Loaf, Ariel Pink, Avengers, Band, Bats, Battles

Some more delving into my music library for your mildest pleasure.

Beat Happening (Crashing Through box set):
  • Beat Happening: Pretty rough going at times, but there's some great stand-out songs. Reminds me a bit of Daniel Johnston albums.
  • Jamboree: Where Beat Happening hit their stride. "Indian Summer" in particular is so great that this album could be forgiven for anything.
  • Black Candy: Beat Happening tries to be the Cramps with mixed results. "Cast A Shadow" is sublime.
  • Dreamy: This one has a bunch of fantastic songs and blends the innocence of Jamboree with the darkness of Black Candy to an amazing result.
  • You Turn Me On: The perfect Beat Happening album. They would have been a great band without it, but with it, they are one of the all-time best-ever bands.
  • Music To Climb The Apple Tree By: B-sides and EPs. Fun for fans, but not essential by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Crashing Through 7: Audio + Video: Four live tracks and the videos. The videos are fun, but the audio is only okay.
Catch-up: lotsa kiwi-pop plus a few extras.

Able Tasmans - A Cuppa Tea And A Lie Down, Somebody Ate My Planet, and Store In A Cool Place. If the NZ guitar-pop universe is one in which the Feelies were like unto the Rolling Stones' influence on UK and US post-punk, the Able Tasmans are the Speed The Plough of the universe. By which I mean that they're lighter and more willing to engage in woodwind-heavy twee-ness. That's okay by me, but might need to be culled down for a non-fan.

Air - The Virgin Suicides soundtrack. I always thought of Air being on the bleep-and-bloop electronica side of things and didn't realize they were so T. Rex-ish.

Alec Bathgate - Gold Lamé. The Tall Dwarf who is not Chris Knox. Strange that it should come up first of all of their albums. Anyway, this solo album shows that Bathgate has songwriting chops of his own.

Archers of Loaf - Icky Mettle. I like this a lot, but it makes me wonder: did anyone ever feel that Archers of Loaf was their favorite band? I mean, their influences are so clear and, for the most part, were contemporaries of the band. Why would someone love the AoL over, say, Sonic Youth?

Ariel Pink - "Everybody." Blah. A cover of a Madonna song, I think. But it's awful. I have a few other tracks by Ariel Pink on collections, but I can't really think of what they sound like offhand. I know some people love the hell out of him, but this song doesn't make a good case for the guy. Deleted.

The Avengers - 4 Song 12" EP. I'm surprised that this is the only Avengers I have. I like them, but apparently only on compilations. This one's different than the 3 Song 7" EP, by the way. Starts with "The American In Me". Awesome.

The Band - a handful of tracks plus The Last Waltz. Those tracks include a few favorites from post-Stage Fright albums, such as "Ophelia," "It Makes No Difference," and their cover of "Don't Do It." It's The Band. The Last Waltz actually wears on me somewhat, as most live albums do, but I love the source movie and The Band, and I forgive it when it tips into tedium, especially when accommodating boring guest vocalists (ahem, Van Morrison).

The Bats - 4 Song EP, Compiletely Bats, Silverbeet. Man, I love The Bats. Even when they're not at their best, which they rarely are on any of these, they're wonderful. The Compiletely Bats album collects a bunch of early EPs. I have two early EPs and there's no overlap. So I dunno what's going on.

Battles - EP C. The last EP from this math-rock band that I didn't have. Yay!

UP NEXT: The Beatles. Man, for someone who's sorta tepid about the Beatles, I sure have a lot of their music.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Music Library: Beach House, Beastie Boys, Beasts of Bourbon, Ayler, Aereogramme, Always August, Angst, April March, Au

Plus some supersexy Catch-Up at the end!

Beach House - s/t. Breezy and slight. No dynamics at all. These songs make a nice, whispery interlude when they crop up in the shuffle, but as an album, they're dull as hell.

Beastie Boys:

  • Licensed To Ill. I haven't owned copy of this in a long, long time. A friend gave me a burn of it, but it's been edited for Wal-Mart or something. There's lots of odd gaps where the Beastie Boys are saying dirty words. Thanks, Wal-Mart, for protecting my virgin ears! Unfortunately, it's unlistenable now. Small price to pay to avoid hearing adult language.

  • Paul's Boutique. Now that's more like it.

  • Check Your Head. Always a great time. Sounds like the early 90s to these ears.

  • The In Sound From Way Out! All-instrumental Beasties. S'alright. Not great. Best if mixed in a shuffle rather than listening to it all at once. In fact, I started getting bored with the very first song.

  • Jimmy James single. A few b-sides ranging from merely-ok to godawful.

  • So What'cha Want single. Much the same as above. The different versions of the title song are okay, I guess.

  • Ill Communication. I was 22 when this came out. Is it possible that someone my age doesn't love it? I think not. Maybe it's a little long, maybe a notch too self-indulgent. I don't care.

  • Root Down EP. Ugh. That's it. All of these singles suck. They're gone tonight.

  • Hello Nasty. Not up to the high-highs of the best stuff nor the low-lows of the singles, but, y'know, it's the Beastie Boys. It's pretty good.

  • The Mix-Up. More funk instrumentals. More interesting the The In Sound, but a little wearying all at once.
Beasts of Bourbon - "Psycho." A cover of the great Leon Payne song by an Aussie alt-country band.

Plus catch-up albums! Some SST and other acquisitions. I have a few new catch-up albums to cover, mostly from two music blogs: one dedicated to never-released stateside indie rock albums from New Zealand, and one dedicated to out-of-print albums from SST. Others are from eMusic or friends. I haven't quit gotten to the kiwi-pop contingency yet, but I'll get to them before the next post.

Albert Ayler - Live In Greenwich Village: The Complete Impulse Recordings. After reading that I didn't have the whole album, a friend was kind enough to hook me up with it. Thanks! Ayler kicks all kinds of ass.

Aereogramme - Sleep and Release. I searched out a copy of this because I like the In The Fishtank album they made with Isis. It's strongly influenced by the Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins, the former a favorite and the latter very much not. There's also a distinct post-rock feel that's somewhere between Sigur Ros and Mogwai, which again: the former is a favorite and the latter very much not. Anyway, I haven't given it as much time as I should because it sometimes sounds brilliant and messy and sometimes it sounds contrived and annoying, and I don't know which way I lean on it.

Always August - Largeness With (W)holes. An SST band that also has its ups and downs. Sometimes they sound like indie rockers emulating Rahsaan Roland Kirk (an obvious inspiration) and sometimes they sound like Widespread Panic working a couple of chords into an early grave. My friend and former housemate Mike bought this - as he bought many things on the SST label back in the day - and I remember thinking how out of character this album seemed at the time. Now, they remind me a bit of contemporary fake-jazzers like Mushroom and Cul De Sac, but I definitely prefer those over this.

Angst - Lite Life, Mending Wall, and Mystery Spot. It's hard to believe that this SST band has been so overlooked. They're quite the little gem of post-punk creativity, reminiscent of the Meat Puppets but with a guitar player a bit less of a genius than Curt Kirkwood. Still, they have solid songwriting chops, a healthy mix of silliness and profundity, and a great sense of pop melodicism filtered through post-punk skronk.

April March - "Cet Air-La". Apparently a cover of a classic French pop song. I like it okay, but I like the cheesecake photo of Ms. March on the cover of her album quite a bit more.

Au - Verbs. The most half-lidded hypnogogic psychedelia outside of Animal Collective.

Monday, September 15, 2008

LA recap

So, I've been meaning to recap my trip to LA for a while. I put up a post about the reading at the Shoot Out The Lights blog.

So, the Tom Waits bus tour was great fun. That's the way to see LA: riding on a tour bus while knowledgable people tell you about the city and take you to some of its landmarks, especially those landmarks related to Tom Waits. My hosts-Gary, Kathy, and Penelope-were both delightful and game for far too many late-night scotch-driven conversations. I got to meet in person a number of wonderful people I knew only through the Internet: Dana K, Paul & Heather H, Shauna M, David Smay, Kim Cooper, Sean K, Robin F. I also had the pleasure of meeting a number of likewise wonderful people for the first time. I spent too much scratch at Amoeba. I gawked at some of the large houses, which I assume were full of swimming pools and movie stars. I ate some expensive-and-delicious food. In short: hooray for LA.

A Dairy Queen on another planet...

I dreamt last night that a friend of mine (Tom Block, if you're curious) was explaining to a group of us how Blazing Saddles was the most relevant movie to the American political landscape of 2008. I woke thinking: hey, maybe he's right. The townfolk were terrified of the competent sheriff because of his race. He converted the washup gunshooter into a formidable sidekick. The other side is more problematic. Is McCain the equivalent to the governor and Palin the Snidely Whiplash character? Or is McCain the Whiplash and Palin the guy played by Slim Pickens? And who's Lili Von Schtupp in all of this? Or Mongo? I should have questioned dream-Tom about this better. And real-Tom is, I'm sure, mortified that I attributed this dreck to him. Sorry, man!

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