M83 Saturdays=Youth I'm happily eating crow with a mint chutney and sweet potato fries. I hate (read: hate) previous M83 releases, but I'm kablooey for this ventriloqiusm (me being the dummy) of good 80s euro-pop. Who cares about the (are they?) songs - he gets the tones right, from small touches like electric piano pinched from Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls, synths lifted from the Psychedelic Furs first album, or a female vocalist channeling Elizabeth Fraser. Imagine a basketball net above my five foot self: now slow dance with me and later let me take your underwear into the boys' room.
Studio Yearbook 2 Same as the above, but less so.
Paul Westerberg 49 Available via Amazon for the cent-total of its title (also Westerberg's age --he says) 49 marks PW's first non-manure solo album under his own name, and the best (but not better) since the near-Mats' reunion Mono by his Grandpaboy moniker. And like on Mono, I think I hear Tommy Stinson, here, from time to time. Most of us know 49 is mostly just PW's home masturbation with the latest pro tools, but the inclusion of demo-like mistakes and lo-fi nonchalance (snippets of songs leaking into other songs, or oddly multi-tracked singing) works well for him. Like GBV, he wouldn't die if he wrote short songs in the basement forever. Best song comes at minute 29 (if you haven't chopped it up,) might be called "Be My Darling."Bonus: kooky covers medley at the end.Buy it twice, and he almost makes a buck.
Lucky Dragons Dream Island Laughing Language Isn't that also the title of a Joan Armatrading album?
Beck - Modern Guilt Sue me: Beck is overrated. Ever find yourself humming a Beck song from Sea Changes (aka, the most boring record with the highest sales)? Didn't think so. As a songwriter, no one would ever make the mistake of ranking Beck with Tom Waits, Stephin Merrit, etc. But he's sometimes ranked there. Sure, his folk records sport a few novelty hits. But without the Dust Brothers' aural rape of Them records, he's really nowhere. Extended rant: if you were a much better MC than a singer, as Beck is, would you mostly ditch rapping for singing? If you did, why? For legitimacy? VH-1 domination? Is there something less lasting, to you, about hip hop, Mr. H?
So - Modern Guilt. I like it. Danger Mouse has made a man out of Beck, although I suspect I'm enjoying Danger more than Beck. Then again, that's how it was for me on Odelay. Memo to Danger Mouse - Nice lift from Ultravox's "Slow Motion" ("Profanity Prayers"). Some good noises on those early Ultravox platters. Best Track: "Gamma Ray."Note: wrote this before I saw that Jay Reatard would be covering "Gamma Ray." Commence typing "Reatard Gamma" into Hype Machine now.
Hot Chip Made in the Dark Another full-length proving Hot Chip's only real worth will arrive someday with a greatest hits collection.
Walkmen You & Me With all respect to Hamilton Leithouser, who's done a passable and even excellent job, I'm perpertually unable to eliminate the thought that he's the Walkmen's singer because heroin is a terrible drug. This is a decent, and sometimes very good, Walkmen album; but I can't help imagining that Stewart Lupton wouldn't have made it more interesting.
Jay Reatard Singles 06-07 He covers the Go-Betweens. What more can I say?
Abe Vigoda Skeletons I'm not 25 anymore.
Crystal Stilts S/T I wouldn't be surprised if this is all they ever do. I hear some Cramps. If they were playing live down my street and I didn't have two kids under the age of four, I'd waste time seeing them for ten bucks or less.
Crystal Antlers S/T EP Stilts, Antlers, who gives a shit?
Old 97s Blame it on Gravity My sweet tooth. Custom-made for NPR intros and music beds, but man you can never say the songs are dump.
This is Ivy league s/t Inside this Belle&Sebastien cesspool, there's an excellent guitar player. Rinse, and repeat.
Bonnie Prince Billy Lie Down in the Light Solidy in my top five of the year and probably staying there. If Oldham died tomorrow, he'd walk tall into the tomb.
Girl Talk Feed the Animals It's getting a little stale, and I thing GT knows it. Welcome to the DJs' glass ceiling.
James Blackshaw Litany of Echoes You're no John Fahey, and I knew John Fahey. Ok, I'm lying, but you're no John Fahey. I hope and bet you know this. I also suspect you can one day give me a reason to not keep listening to my vinyl copy of Fahey live in Tasmania.
Eef Barzelay Lose Big See the demos instead.
Ponytail Ice Cream Spiritual I'm down.There's a significant joy in catching their guitarist's quick quoting of other songs by other bands. Like Pylon, Ponytail's singer cares little for sounding like a human being, instead screaming and chirping and retching, which is ok by me because like Pylon, the other three members know their shit.
Sigur Rós Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust I can't tell you what I think because I keep falling asleep by song four. Still love their first two, though.Neophytes:Think Pink Floyd at their spaciest fronted by a 6 year-old elf singing gibberish.
Circle Prospekt Good house cleaning music by Finnish people unfairly compared to US progrock pap like Tortoise. This is the viking shit.
Deerhunter Microcastle Completely useless.
Quiet Village Silent Movie Barry Adamson needs to start a class and fail some people.
Jeremy Jay A Place Where We Can Go Repetitive over the course of the album, I nevertheless think Jay might be the Real Deal. He's a true kook, for sure, peopling his odd universe with fake movies and obsessive weirdness while using simple basement (drums, acoustic, maybe no bass) arrangements a la Jonathan Richman. In pseudo-Phil Spectorproduction.
Sloan Parallel Play Best track: "All I Am Is All You're Not." It's better than most songs on anyone else's rock records, including the other 12 songs on this album. And you can say that about the last five Sloan albums. Did I mention I'm a fan?
Pete and the Pirates Little Death They remind me of the Mekons or the Stranglers in that Englishpub-rock way they write careless but coercive guitar riffs and shout odd, short lyrics that might be funny only to them. An album title referring to orgasm in the manner of the English romatic poets is always good.
The Wedding Present El Rey I have two great Wedding Present albums (Seamonsters and the less greater but great Watusi) and this is not one of them. Big Dipper Supercluster Anthology I envy anyone not yet introduced to Big Dipper. Wicked and great pop songs spit from a group welded from equal parts of the Embarrassment and the Vocalno Suns. It's as good as that sounds it would probably be. The Anthology covers all albums but the crapola Slam but adds loads of singles, heretofore uncollected by the band (but partially by me also over the years), that made my 2008.
Melvins Nude with Boots I love the Melvins. Unfortunately, the best thing about this album is the title (if that's your thing and you happen to be so lucky).
Calexico Carried to Dust If this doesn't get raves, electronic music has won.