An occasional series of insane and pat critical assessments on what we’ve been spinning lately.
First, if you haven’t already introduced yourself to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, may we recommend doing so now?
Secondly, we ended the previous Voreplay by implying that Regina Spektor’s Far might possibly be a better album than St. Vincent’s Actor. We were huffing glue when we wrote that. Please disregard that statement.
Thirdly, Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel tied the knot this weekend.
Ben’s brother Dan is still in mourning.
On to business:
The Antlers, Hospice. Get it! “Kettering” is a spooky hospital bedside lament, while “Sylvia” is an operatic blast culminating with horns and guitar distortion. We repeat: Get it!
Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul. Like Derek Webb’s Stockholm Syndrome, this is an album that won the disapproval of the record label powers that be, those being in this case EMI, which threatened to sue Danger Mouse if he released it. In a nifty little stick-it-to-the-man move, Danger Mouse sold (through a website) a limited edition book of David Lynch photography with a blank CD-R labeled, “For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”
While Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous) helped produce, he sings on just one of the tracks ( “Daddy’s Gone,”), sharing vocal duties with, among others, Suzanne Vega, James Mercer, Jason Lytle, The Flaming Lips, Vic Chesnutt and (less successfully) Iggy Pop. Lynch himself sings on two of the songs, the best of which is the creepy closer which shares the album’s name. It sounds like Portishead getting mugged in a dark alley, or The Jigsaw Killer trying to write a love song. This may not seem like a recommendation, but it is.
Mason Jennings, Blood of Man. Jury’s still out on this one. Ben is going on record as saying he’s disappointed. Erin may revoke that opinion in the next installment.
Jay Reatard, Watch Me Fall. We’ll bypass the psychological issues that would first convince someone to a) change his last name to “Reatard,” and b) pose like this for his latest album, and simply say that you should buy this. “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” and “Before I Was Caught” are great running tracks. “I’m Watching You” and “There Is No Sun” are not necessarily great tracks to run to, but they’re still great tracks. And as “Me #2” suggests in an iTunes review, “Headbang to ‘Faking It’ on loop till your neck breaks.” If that’s your thing and all.
Mindy Smith, Stupid Love. Erin remembers when Smith was just one of the open mic artists during “Twelve @ 12th” back in the day. Stupid Love, her fourth album, rounds up several guest artists including such notable Nashvillians as Kate York and Daniel Tashian (not to mention husband-and-wife duo Vince Gill and Amy Grant). Good, solid female singing-songwriting with a few up-tempo rockers to boot. Cincinnatians, you can get a firsthand look on October 22 at The Southgate House.
Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs. Yo La Tengo can do no wrong in Ben’s book, but even he would admit this is an uneven effort. On the plus side of the ledger: the fantastic three-minute rocker “Nothing to Hide” (with its echoes of “Cherry Chapstick”) and the sunny duet, “If It’s True.” It’s worth noting that those are the two shortest songs on the album. While “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven” is exactly the kind of nine-minute slow burn of whispered vocals and warm guitar sprawl that Yo La Tengo has perfected, the eleven minute “The Fireside” and fifteen minute “And The Glitter Is Gone” — both sans vocals — are instant skippers. (Except, Erin would note, when you’re listening to them live and can’t leave the room.) Coming after I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, this is a disappointment. But kudos to any band that begins a song with the lyrics, “Never read Proust/Sounds a little too long/Never used a hammer/Without somehow using it wrong.”
We did not get to Reigning Sound’s Love and Curses this time around, but we’ll let Jerry Grit sing its praises in the comments. In the meantime, pull out 2002’s Time Bomb High School and give it another listen. It’s nutz!
Upcoming albums we’re psyched about: Monsters of Folk; Built to Spill’s There Is No Enemy; Embryonic by The Flaming Lips; the New Moon soundtrack (we are not joking); and anything with accordion music in it. We take recommendations!