Archive for July 2011

Various Artists “Music That Changes the World”

July 31, 2011

This is from the David Lynch Foundation. You know him as the Twin Peaks guy. Most of these names are already familiar to you, so I’m not going to waste your time. Here are the ones that stood out to me, however.
The Jakob Dylan/Daryl Hannah duet, “Won’t You Stay,” sounds exactly as you would expect it to. It sounds as if they really enjoyed recording this one. Maybe someday he’ll invite her up on stage to improvisationally perform it.
If you ever wondered what happened to Arrested Development, well, at least for five minutes they recorded “Let It Go” for this comp. It sounds like any other R&B song, but good on them for still putting it together.
Peter Gabriel is timeless. Here is a good excuse to listen to a different song of his. It’s “Curtains,” I tells ya. The Heather Nova track is a live recording of “Doubled Up.”
The Tom Waits submission, “Briar & the Rose,” is recorded live and pretty good. Maybe he’s doing a Bruce Springsteen impression. Maybe that’s what Waits sounds like. Maybe it’s a Springsteen cover. I won’t pretend to know, and I won’t look on the Internet. I want you to see how ignorant I am.
Slightly Stoopid give you the obligatory reggae track, “Wiseman.” The Neon Trees song is “Animal.” Even I know that song.
Au Revoir Simone pick up the rear with “The Boys of Summer.” Remember Bryan Adams? Is it a cover? Oh yes.

Oh Mercy “Privileged Woes”

July 31, 2011

A mature pop outfit in the vein of Tegan and Sara, Oh Mercy make liberal use of piano on tracks such as “Lay Everything on Me.” However, if you’re interested in a song about someone who met a comic book price guide, then “Met a Wizard” will disappoint you. Otherwise, it’s a breezy song with awesome guitar. Guitar and piano rule this album and make it even more better than it was.
“By the Collar” is also fine. It uses organ and isn’t sleepy despite being a ballad. I really like “Broken Ears.” It’s a complete song yet very relaxed throughout. The whole album is this unassuming for the most part. Easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl.
The tracks do all start to run together as the record plays through. You can do a lot of things with this many vocal options, but they don’t really explore this in as great a detail as they could. “Can’t Fight It” is fine on its own but could have been personalized to stand out better.
The last track is “What Good Is That.” There’s nothing new to add about it. This would have been better as an EP. I hope they can diversift a bit, because they have all the parts, but they keep assembling them the same way every time, just like a Gobot.

The Book of Knots “Garden of Fainting Stars”

July 31, 2011

It’s a rock band that occasionally focuses on the Alanis Morissette-style vocals of Carla Kihlstedt. I like this band because the guitarist is named Joel. “Microgravity” has mid-’90s music and early-’90s sampling. A bit of Garbage and “Mexican Radio”-style Wall of Voodoo rounds it out.
“Moondust Must” features special guest John Vanderslice, a man that I don’t see what the big deal is about him, but I do adore that last name. At any rate, there is some David Bowie inspiration in this, but he was Stardust, not Moondust. Still, I imagine this is not a coincidence.
“Garden of Fainting Stars” is OK but somewhat forgettable. “Yeager’s Approach” has nothing to do with handling a pitching staff. It does feature Mike Watt, and it’s got some spoken word stuff with the dude in the band, all laid out over some semi-psychedelic music. It’s fun in a trippy way, but whether the discombobulation is intentional is beyond me.
The whole record gets trippier as it wears on. “Nebula Rasa” is very dark and makes me want to head to the inner city with a $20 bill.

Metal Mother “Bonfire Diaries”

July 31, 2011

It’s a gothic sound, but the vocals need better mixing. The high end is fine, but on the low end it gets a little bumpy. It’s not just cute to say “Shake” is shaky in this regard.
“In the Bones” has nothing to do with the TV show but has better balance regardless. The flatter melody and focus on the music during the chorus, especially the booming drums, showcase Metal Mother’s strengths.
“Vices” sounds like Le Tigre when they were on Atlantic. And while that sucked then, because the expectations for Le Tigre were so high, it’s super here. Good track, this. It would be funny if “‘W'” were about Bush 43. I doubt it because the chorus has the word “irresistible” in it.
Lost Story is done in a Kate Bush style and is quite beautiful. “Willow” is a good one for headphones, perhaps while walking through Willow Glen. Try it and get back to me.

Victoria George “Lately I”

July 31, 2011

It’s an EP. It’s folky. Victoria George has a voice that reminds me of a younger Liz Phair crossed with Jenny Lewis, but the lyrics are not controversial at all, something those two ladies have no clue about (and hey that’s fine dammit). “Forever” is pop fun, and she is as light as Colbie Caillat. She probably bounds around the stage at live performances while other musicians provide the accompaniment.
The title track is second and has more of a country feel — not an alt country Neko Case way but more of a poppy Taylor Swift way. “Two of Us” has a bit of organ and sounds like Lynn Bobby or Indigo Girls. This EP is great if you’re over 35.
“Lost My Way” is some sort of ode. If Belinda Carlisle were a country singer, it would sound like this. The chorus is particularly radio friendly.
The last track is “Someone You Used to Know.” The standard EP-ending ballad has the same organ that the Wallflowers would use. This whole record is worth a listen, even if you typically only tolerate country as I do. It’s very accessible to diverse groups of people.

The Bewitched Hands “Birds & Drums”

July 31, 2011

Some synths and lush harmonies make this a standard indie rock record. “Happy With You” is as good an example as any on here. It sounds as if one of the backing vocalists is female, so you get all of that going on, as well. Although not empty, it’s not the most fulfilling either. It feels like one of those fiber bars with fibber in it instead.
“Hard to Cry” is fun stuff. It has to sound even greater live. There’s just no reason for it not to. Nothing but pure chicory root extract here. This is going to be one of my favorite songs of the year.
Female vocals take the lead in “Staying Around,” and you can tell the slowdown and melodic ballad is meant to be a showcase, but her pipes can’t support it. And if you know me, you know it pains me to say it. It’s not bad, but you really want it to be better. The guitar really helps keep this one going.
A perfect balance is achieved with “Sea.” The power-pop sound works perfectly on this one. This record is so inconsistent it drives me crazy, because some of the tracks are fabby-dabby-doo, while others should have been relegated to B-side status.

Radiohead “The King of Limbs”

July 31, 2011

When experienced bands go off in a new direction, they don’t tend to pick the flavor of the month. More often they find another style of music that came of age at the same time they did. Such seems to be the case on The King of Limbs. “Bloom” is the first track, and it reminds me of the same thing Beck did in the late ’90s — that is, go after psychedelic dance music. Some kids called it “trip hop,” but this is too fast to be considered that. It just has a driving dance beat with changing tempo and eerie synths. And it’s not like Radiohead didn’t already make you want to drop acid anyway.
“Little by Little” has a melody that is distinctly Radiohead while still experimenting with this mind-altering phase they’re going through. It’s very light and crisp, like a lemon-lime soda. Also good is “Lotus Flower.”
If you want something a little slower and with pretty backing vocals, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than “Give Up the Ghost.” I think Radiohead really enjoyed putting this record together. Sometimes it’s a small aspect of your sound that helps you make it, and then you’re stuck with performing to that standard for the rest of your successful career. Good for them.

KallocaiN “Between Two States”

July 31, 2011

They do the Death Cab for Cutie thing, especially on leadoff track “Firecracker.” Subdued synths and meek guitar create a void that only powerful vocals can fill, but the vocals are just regular strength. So it feels a bit restrained.
“Genesis” has nothing to do with the band. Actually it sounds more like Better Than Ezra but admittedly not as good. “I Fear Us All” moves along in fits and starts. They just need to let it all hang out, even if that’s what their parents would say. Sometimes, they’re accidentally right, and that’s OK.
“I Don’t Know Where We Are” is much smoother, with the guitar towing the song to the finish line. It’s not overly complex, but it works a lot better than most of the tracks on here. I’m also a fan of “The Way to Lose Everything You Own.”

Here We Go Magic “The January EP”

July 31, 2011

What a difference a comma makes. If there were one, this could be a record about an NBA team from Orlando reaching the midpoint of the regular season. But there isn’t, and it’s not.
“Tulip” is the first track and has straight-forward jangly guitar, with organ underneath and male falsettos. The female vocals come in on the chorus and sound like something Bono would do with U2 if he weren’t so insecure with his selling out.
If you wanted Duncan Sheik with Steve Miller synths, “Hands in the Sky” thinks about it. “Song in Three” is the third track, natch, and sounds a lot like “Hands in the Sky.”
The title of “Hollywood” has the same melody as “Christmas Time Is Here,” by Vince Guaraldi. He’s the Peanuts guy if you don’t remember. The song itself is slow and meandering, but it is instantly likable if you have a positive association with A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s also only two minutes long.
If nothing, it serves as more of a contrast to the next track, “Backwards Time.” This is one of the fastest songs on the EP, and the synths and percussion dominate this ’80s-inspired track.
“Mirror Me” is the last track, as well as the best one. A lot of times when you have male and female vocals the challenge is finding the proper balance, not just a Fox News Channel fair and balanced. Well, they get it right on this one.

Joel’s Hit Show, Episode 117, 20 July 2011 Playlist

July 20, 2011

The Rich Collective, Living Out Our Dreams
Chop Chop, The Shapeshifter Deception
Strange Holiday, The Eagle Has Landed
Molly Picture Club, Bleed on It
Amor de Dias, Late Mornings
Givers, Saw You First
Gaby Moreno, Intento
The Shivers, Kisses
The Coathangers, Johnny
Marissa Nadler, Daisy, Where Did You Go?
Lemuria, Chautauqua County
The Luyas, Too Beautiful to Work
Esben and the Witch, Chorea
Leftover Cuties, Places to Go
Belle Brigade, Belt of Orion
Care Bears on Fire, Boy Song #1
Neko Case, Margaret vs. Pauline
Catatonia, Sweet Catatonia
Cat Power, Satisfaction
Carissa’s Wierd, September Come Take This Heart Away
Chairlift, Garbage
Cibo Matto, Spoon
Margaret Cho, I’m Sorry
Cinnamon, Springtime of My Life
Jenny Choi, Driving
Club 8, Shape Up!
CocoRosie, Bloody Twins
Coco, Supercool
Cocteau Twins, Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops
Cocktail Sippers – Anything You Want
Black Lips – Modern Art
Oops – On the Lift
Police Teeth – Digital Snakes
Leftover Cuties – Places to Go
Art Brut – Lost Weekend
Screeching Weasel – I Wanna Be Naked
Runs – Creepshow
Touch My Rash – Single By Choice
Soviettes – Bottom’s Up
INFM – Hannah
Rise Against – Blood Red, White & Blue
46 Short – Left and Right
White Lung – Loose Heels
Unseen – False Hope
Social Distortion – Sweet & Lowdown
Jonny Manak & the Depressives – I Had a Friend
Gov’t Issue – Time to Escape
Fabulous Disaster – Gia
Lagwagon – Automatic
Jello Biafra – Invasion of the Mind Snatchers
Burning of Rome – Death By Discotheque