An ongoing series in which we chronicle what we’ve been spinning (and attempt, in vain, to keep pace with Eric Bescak).
Bevin Beers. Seriously, go listen.
Calexico, Carried to Dust. You may know Calexico from their collaboration with Iron & Wine on In The Reins, or as the backing band on much of the I’m Not There soundtrack. Their music feels especially cinematic, and Carried to Dust is no exception. It is also one of their finest. “Slowness” gets our vote for the prettiest song you’ll hear all year. Buy. This. Album. Now.
Ben Folds, Way To Normal. What was so winning about Ben Folds’ last album, Songs For Silverman, was how adult it was. Folds was no less the cheeky prankster, but the songs had real weight and were unabashedly sentimental. The snarky punk kid was now embracing fatherhood in “Gracie,” a love letter to his daughter, or paying tribute to Elliot Smith in “Late.” Way To Normal is a return to earlier, cursier Folds, which you’ll either welcome or think is a step backward. We are in the latter camp. Where you fall depends on what you think of this sample lyric: “The bitch went nuts/She stabbed my basketball and the speakers to my stereo.” (This is usually how fights start in the Vore household.) Still, we’re not denying the pleasure of car-singing your lungs out to an Elton John send-up like “Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)” or the fuzz rock of “Dr. Yang.”
Page France, Page France and the Family Telephone. These guys sound like Sufjan Stevens’ kooky, glockenspiel-lovin’ cousin. Basically they just make us happy. But they’re no longer together. Which makes us sad.
Aimee Mann, Magnolia soundtrack. Matthew Leathers made us pull this one off the shelf. We challenge him to a “feel-off” listening to “Deathly” to see who’s really the more sensitive, soulful blog.
Ra Ra Riot, The Rhumb Line. A friend described Ra Ra Riot as “Vampire Weekend meets Arcade Fire,” and that about nails it. If you love those bands, you’ll love the atmospheric chamber pop of The Rhumb Line. If, however, you think Vampire Weekend is “the most offensive appropriation of a heritage (they’re the hipster Jar Jar Binks),” then you’ll ridicule us for liking them or anyone who remotely sounds like them, especially intelligent, successful, good-looking twentysomethings who pay tribute to the death of their drummer with a elegiac but life-affirming album. (See Ra Ra Riot at the Southgate House on December 9.)
Stereolab, Chemical Chords. Who wants to buy this album off us? The bidding starts at a dime. Then you too can enjoy the first twenty-eight seconds and “Self Portrait With ‘Electric Brain'” and nothing else.
(Seriously, why wasn’t this album more fun? Are we turning into old fuddy-duddies? That will be our next poll question.)
Thao, We Brave Bee Stings And All. Eric Bescak steers us right (again). A couple times, actually. Shortly after purchasing the album, we noted that “these guys sound great, like a funky, jacked-up bluegrass outfit,” to which Beez made it known that “these guys” were in fact a lady. A funky Asian lady who sings like a long-lost member of Jane’s Addiction. Erin has had it playing in her car nonstop for two months straight. She’s unafraid of singing out loud at the YMCA while she enthusiastically bobs up and down on the stair-climber. Buy. This. Album. Nower.
Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and Essence. These were to get us in the mood for Little Honey (next Voreplay). Car Wheels is, indisputably, a classic. But we have a soft spot for the admittedly uneven Essence, especially the sad-sack, crackle-voiced “Blue.” Go find a jukebox and see what a quarter will do.
Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary. We hadn’t listened to this one in a while (it was on our stolen iPod), plus we need to gear up for Wolf Parade’s Southgate show on November 12. How could At Mount Zoomer have been such a clunker after this near-perfect debut? We promise you that listening to Apologies while you run will decrease your split times. There are no two ways about this.