Music Catchup

I’ve been woefully remiss in documenting my listening lately, which then becomes burdensome because as an ex-music critic, I feel like I need to provide in-depth analysis of the things on the stereo here at Chateau Obsessive, but when I’ve been through a dozen or more albums since the last time I made a music post, that just ain’t gonna happen. So here’s the highlights . . .

Last time I posted about music, I mentioned that I had just gotten The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit. After a couple of months of regular listening, both me and the co-pilot are of the opinion that this one’s a masterpiece, certainly album of the year for 2008 half-way through. It’s a darn, darn good album, with brilliant arrangements, lyrics and performances. Recommended if you like melancholy Scots with guitars. The other record that’s been dominating the commute has been Alopecia by Why?, who sound like They Might Be Giants rapping over Beck tracks. It’s brilliant, seriously.

I also finally acquired my imported copy of Imperial Wax Solvent by The Fall, and it’s a corker as well, a really strange and weird album from a gruppe not known for its predictability. There’s something vaguely wrong about the way that most of the songs sound and are mixed, but it makes for a fascinating trainwreck effect, and when things do click tightly into place, they really wallop you upside the head. Big props to bassist Dave “The Eagle” Spurr, who does amazing furry things with his low-end axe, despite the fact that when you watch him play, he looks like he’s laying down funky porno riffs, not gut-punching monster riffs that drive the best songs on the album to places that The Fall haven’t often gone in the past few years. Worth the wait, and a pleasant surprise from an incarnation of the gruppe that most serious fanboys (me included) didn’t think was particularly worthy or likely to excel. More fool us.

I have a long-time critical relationship with Mindless Self Indulgence, having been an early convert and devotee due to an Albany connection with their management/production guru, who got me to (willingly) review the now rare and pricey Tight EP way, way, way before MSI become darlings of the Hot Topic set. (If your tweenager comes home with any of MSI’s albums, pop ’em open and look at the acknowledgements, and you’ll see me thanked in most of them). The group’s last album, You’ll Rebel to Anything, was an absolute masterpiece, perhaps the pinnacle of the cyberpunk fare in which the group specialize. Their new album, If, is a winner too, although it pales slightly in comparison with its masterful predecessor. About 75% of the album’s songs meet the quality of Rebel‘s best bits, but the ones that miss tend to miss fairly widely, especially one that I just have to skip every time it comes on due to its Columbine name drop. As a (very open-minded) parent, some things can never become acceptable fodder for rebellious teen music themes, and that’s certainly one of them. Having the band’s fans collaborate on a lyric via the Internet was a miscue, too, since singer Jimmy Urine is far more capable of being cleverly repulsive than the kids who listen to him are. A solid effort, and if it had followed any of their albums other than Rebel, I’d probably be singing its praised without qualification. Except for that Columbine bit.

Other new things that have passed enjoyably across the stereo, or are earning their way into rotation are:

Directions to See A Ghost by The Black Angels (fuzzed up stoner rock with organ recommended to Grand Funk, Lyres and Doors fans).

Maybe It’s Reno by Maybe It’s Reno (A sort of reunion of indie darlings Unrest).

Wolves and Wishes by Dosh (Percussion based grooves by a collaborator of the slightly better-known Andrew Bird).

Into the Trees by Sybris (I’m very excited about this one after first listen, kind of a spazzy post-rock vibe with great female vocals. Extremely promising, so far).

Little Death by Pete and the Pirates (fun power pop without the annoyance factor that most power pop causes me to feel, in large part because they aren’t pretending that they’re punk).

Okey-doke. That catches me up. Self-imposed guilt assuaged. Out.

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