Thursday, June 25, 2009

Music Library: Deerhunter, Delfonics, Dengue Fever, Dennis Wilson, Department of Eagles, Derek & the Dominos, Descendents, Desmond Dekker

Deerhunter - Cryptograms, Fluorescent Gray EP, Microcastle, and Weird Era Cont. I sure liked this band when I first hear them, but too much in a row gets mighty tedious. Here's the deal: Deerhunter sounds a lot like their influences: My Bloody Valentine, Wire, The Fall, Can, all of which are among my favorites. So, yes, good influences. And they're not bad at mining those influences, but they rarely rise above them. So I think I'm grading them on a sliding scale, giving them a little extra credit because I like what they're trying to do moreso than I like what they're doing. Cryptograms manages to work up a full head of steam while only occasionally providing tracks that are identifiable as songs. But the atmospheric tracks work pretty well, and it still mostly works for me. The EP has a handful of actual, honest-to-goodness songs on it, and that's not a bad thing at all. Microcastle, which received a lot of acclaim on its release last year, pushes further into real songs - pop songs, even - but unlike ever other music critic alive, I don't really love the album. I like it fine, but I don't think that it really has much that distinguishes it from a whole lot of other indie pop. It and its odd-duck twin Weird Era Cont made my year-end best-of list, but I probably rated them too highly with the aforementioned extra credit. This is a good indie album, but not a great one, but the great tracks stand far above the so-so ones. Weird Era Cont is the full-length bonus album that dropped at the same time as Microcastle, and it is more of a atmospheric album like Cryptograms. And it's pretty good, although, again, it fails to move me like my favorite music does.

The Delfonics - La La Means I Love You: The Definitive Collection. Ah, yes. A little Philly soul to ease my worried mind. Thanks, Jackie Brown!

Dengue Fever - Escape From Dragon House. A band for whom the phrase "East Meets West" was coined, Dengue Fever is an LA-based band that plays music apparently based on those Cambodian garage compilations that came out a few years back fronted by an honest-to-goodness Cambodian singer. Excellent.

Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue. Poor Dennis looks so sad in the photo on the front. In his past: the heyday of the Beach Boys, Two-Lane Blacktop, a friendship with Charlie Manson and deep sense of guilt and regret over the Tate/LaBianca murders. In his future: a tumultuous relationship with Christine McVie, a quickie marriage to his cousin Mike Love's daughter, a whole lot of drugs, and death within five years. This is a beautiful album, though. You'd never realize that Dennis was considered to be the least-talented Wilson brother.

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park. One of the guys in Grizzly Bear was 1/2 of the duo that makes up this band before joining Grizzly Bear. For this album, he brought 2 of the other 3 guys from Grizzly Bear into the studio with them. And this sounds almost exactly like a Grizzly Bear album. Which leads me to wonder why this isn't a Grizzly Bear album.

Derek & The Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Ha, yes. I've written in the past about how much I can't stand Eric Clapton, but here I am listening to Derek & The Dominos. Duane Allman's presence carries a lot of water for me. But it could be a shorter album, definitely, without losing anything vital.

The Descendents - Milo Goes To College, "Weinerschnitzel" from Liveage, and Somery. I loved the hell out of the Descendents when I was in high school. Thought a bit about buying a few more of the albums I'd like to hear again before reviewing them here, but I figured that the chance was that I'd only listen to, say, All, only about as much as I listen to any of these, which is to say, rarely verging on never. Which isn't to say anything negative about the Descendents, one of the mightiest and most fun hardcore band of the original hardcore scene, but about me, an aging guy who doesn't get the same thrill from this band that I used to get. But I remember the thrill, which makes me nostalgic/happy and a little wistful/sad at the same time.

Desmond Dekker - The Original Rude Boy. A major figure from the ska and rocksteady period of Jamaican music, Dekker recorded such massive tracks as "007 (Shanty Town)" and "Israelites," which are among the best reggae songs. This is a career best-of, and man, does it cook. Recommended for people who like music.


Chana 12:38 PM, June 26, 2009  

The Desmond Dekker best-of is one of my favorite collections ever. It's amazing.

Hayden Childs 1:03 PM, June 26, 2009  

True! And I think I got my copy from you, as well.

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