Over the years I've been reluctant to get rid of music that isn't good enough to enjoy repeatedly, but not bad enough to outright dismiss. But now that I've acquired close to 30,000 songs it's time to make some decisions, and while hard drive space may be unlimited my patience is not. So in the Yea or Nay series I'll give an album one final chance to prove its worth and avoid being jettisoned into the cold, black expanse of my Recycle Bin. I've observed over the past several years that few groups of music fans are as fickle as frequenters of indie music blogs. They seem to judge music by some set of unwritten, yet ever-changing rules. The slightest transgression - a change in sound, label, or look, for instance - is enough to turn album reviews into obituaries. Such seemed to be th
Dear reader, in my travels to bring you reports of local performances by various musical acts, I have encountered some strange people. But over the weekend I encountered one of the strangest yet - the Brooklyn Hipster. For those not from the New York area, it's important to note that Brooklyn is to Hipsters as Mecca is to Muslims or Wal-Mart is to rednecks. It's the source of their strength and identity, which in this case means lots of bad haircuts, wool caps, and faux vintage clothing. They're harmless for the most part, but damn are they annoying in large groups. (more…)
I think it's fair to say that I was spoiled musically by growing up in the '80s, the tail end of a long period where bands usually released albums no more than 1-2 years apart. So when great newer acts like Manchester's Doves come along and take longer than that I get impatient. It's been more a little more than four years since the group's excellent third record, Some Cities, and after reading about so many delays with their newest I was starting to lose hope. But now Kingdom of Rust is here, and all is well. My overall impression of Rust is that it represents a nice synthesis of the sounds and styles the band explored on their first three albums, but is by no means an artistic retread. The bulk of the record leans more toward the dense and atmospheric tendencies displayed on Lost
One of the true bright spots of last year's bummer of a musical 2008, The Week That Was (the current solo project of Field Music's Peter Brewis) is in the midst of a brief jaunt across the Pond. In fact, the show was billed as "Field Music Presents The Week That Was". Last night brought them (and a trio of openers) to the rather intimate Mercury Lounge in New York City's Lower East Side. It's the first time a Field Music-related project has hit the States since School of Language was here early last year, so I jumped at the chance to see them. But first, let's talk opening acts. There were three of them, although I missed the first one (Monuments). The second, Philadelphia's own Arc in Round, put on a decent performance that was unfortunately partly sunk by lousy vocal acoustics.
A few months into this year I couldn't shake the feeling that 2008 just wasn't going to be the great year for new music that 2007 was. And so here I am, about a week away from 2009, and I still feel the same way. It wasn't a total wash mind you, as there was definitely some quality to be enjoyed. So here's my take on the 2008 music year - good, bad, and ugly. The Best of the Best (Albums) Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (Sub Pop) Yeah, this seems like an obvious choice, but it's also a damn good one. I'm always up for listening to good vocal harmonies, and this band has them in spades. The music is gorgeous to boot, and is a highly engaging blend of folk titans like CSNY, America, and early '70s Fleetwood Mac. The vocal round of "White Winter Hymnal" is worth the price of admission
A pair of new albums from both sides of the Atlantic have found their way into my rotation this week. From the good ol' U.S. of A comes Backyard Tire Fire's The Places We Lived (Hyena Records), the followup to last year's excellent Vagabonds and Hooligans. Stylistically, this album shares many traits with its predecessor but is definitely not a rehash. Checking in at just over the half-hour mark, frontman and guitarist Ed Anderson and company (brother Matt on bass, Tim Kramp on drums) get right down to business with the deceptively simple title track. It didn't make a strong impression on me when I first listened to it, but days later the main guitar riff was still rattling around my head, a tribute to Anderson's songwriting. The integration of synths and chimes (not to mention a br
From Idolator via the AV Club comes a pretty cool music meme - compile a list of your favorite albums, with one for each year you've been alive. Sounds easy enough, but some years are positively stacked with music I love. Forcing me to choose among my musical children is just so...cruel. For me the most bountiful years were 1975-1978, 1980, 1982-1984, 1990, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2006, and 2007. 1975 - Kiss, Alive! 1976 - Led Zeppelin, Presence 1977 - Rush, A Farewell to Kings 1978 - Ace Frehley/Kiss, Ace Frehley 1979 - Pink Floyd, The Wall 1980 - Genesis, Duke 1981 - Rush, Moving Pictures 1982 - Rush, Signals 1983 - Iron Maiden, Piece of Mind 1984 - Iron Maiden, Powerslave 1985 - Kiss, Asylum 1986 - Queensrÿche, Rage for Order 1987 - Anthrax, Among the Living 1988 - Queensr
This month saw the release of a 25th Anniversary edition of Michael Jackson's seminal album Thriller (even though it originally came out in November '82). I owned the album on vinyl back in the day, and loved it to death before I officially renounced All Things Not Metal around '84/'85. My palette is considerably broader than it used to be, so I gave the album another listen today. Removing any historical context from Thriller (which is difficult), it is still a very good album; I just can't say that it's deserving of its near universal acclaim and ridiculous sales figures (more than 104 million sold!). There are some rather clunky production flourishes added by Quincy Jones (the title track in particular sounds pretty goofy now), and a lot of it does sound rather dated. That said, ...