Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Music Library: Through The Sparks, Throwing Muses, Thurston Moore, Tift Merritt, Tim Buckley, Tim Maia, The Time, Tindersticks, Titus Andronicus, TK Webb, Tobin Sprout, Tokyo Police Club, Tom Paxton

Through The Sparks - Worm Moon Waning (2010) and Alamalibu EP (2012). Quite good folky, chamber-poppy indie rock from Alabama that hearkens to the good-time Laurel Canyon pop of the late-70s without losing the southern-rock angle that gives it its individual weirdness. The Alamalibu EP is especially fun.

Throwing Muses - The Real Ramona (1991). Is this the epitome of early 90s indie rock? Led by stepsisters Kristen Hersch and Tonya Donnelly with an idiosyncratic but easily recognizable sound and songs with pop hearts but very individual subject matter, this is rock as a facet of the leaders' personalities, trying to reach people but uninterested in being too mainstream. Hell, I don't know what I'm trying to say here. I like it, that's all.

Thurston Moore - Psychic Hearts (1995), "Fourth Day Of July" (with Mike Watt, 2003), Trees Outside The Academy (2007). Stepping out from behind Sonic Youth lets Moore be slightly more garage-y on Psychic Hearts (but not that much, really), more drone-y around Watt's bubbly bass on "Fourth Day," and more acoustic-y, folk-oriented, and heartfelt than usual on Trees. All of these are excellent albums, but Trees may be my favorite because it is so much of a departure for the guy while still clearly within the continuum of his songwriting.

Tift Merritt & The Carbines - various demos and live tracks, 1998-2000. I don't have a Tift Merritt album, but I seem to have a bunch of tracks from her early period when she was a local talent in the Triangle area of NC. This is probably the work of my lovely and talented wife. Tift Merritt has a lovely voice, but the songs are very run-of-the-mill.

Tim Buckley - Starsailor (1973). This is Jeff Buckley's dad, the jazz-folk-groovy-rock dude who also died while very young. I don't really like this album, though. Even though the vocals seems very passionate, the instrumentation is so very busy that it barrels around obnoxiously calling attention to itself.

Tim Maia - Racional (1975). This one is fun! Maia is basically the Curtis Mayfield of Brazilian music, but for a while in the 70s, he was involved with a cult. This is the record (or maybe records? I'm not sure) he made to celebrate the awesomeness of this cult. Some of it is in English, but most in Portuguese, and it is as awesome as a 70s funk-disco-samba celebration of a bizarre cult could be. I mean, check this clip out.

The Time - What Time Is It? EP (1982). Minneapolis funk from Morris Day & co., the antagonists who are neither very purple or related to the Purple One from Purple Rain. Unsurprisingly, this sounds like an album of Prince outtakes. Funky Prince outtakes.

Tindersticks - No More Affairs EP (1995). Considering how wantonly they are plumbing the depths of some of my iconoclastic 60s faves like Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, and even Serge Gainsbourg, I should have picked up more of these guys' albums.

Titus Andronicus - The Airing Of Grievances (2008) and The Monitor (2010). Of all the New Sincerity (aka "We Love Springsteen") bands that sprang onto the national stage after the success of Arcade Fire, these guys may be the best. They are smart, marrying witty lyrics to excellent metaphors, passionate about their work, and they rock. The Monitor is especially vital, with an overall theme of using the Civil War as a metaphor for one's struggle against mediocrity.

T.K. Webb - Phantom Parade (2006). Bluesy rock. What will they think of next?

Tobin Sprout - Carnival Boy (1996) and Moonflower Plastic (1997). Bob Pollard's Keef Richards in the early days of GBV, Sprout wrote some of the more poppy GBV songs (my favorite of his: "A Good Flying Bird") before leaving in 1997 (he was also part of the GBV Classic tour in 2010). These were his first two solo albums, made while he was still in the band. Moonflower is the better of the two, but they do put forth a fairly cogent argument that Sprout is at his best when working with Pollard as a foil.

Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson In Crime (2007) and Elephant Shell (2008). Why I have not just one but two of these guys' albums is a mystery to me. I mean, they're good-but-not-great indie rock, but me feeling unoffended if uninspired by a rock band is not exactly a ringing endorsement, right?

Tom Paxton - "The Last Thing On My Mind" and "Fred". I only have two tracks from this folkie who has written dozens of stone-cold classics that seem impossibly timeless to have been written by a guy still alive.


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