Listening (Easy)

My monthly download binge has brought me six new albums, two of which have the potential to be serious keepers: Inside the Human Body by Boston’s Ezra Furman and the Harpoons and Forfeit/Fortune by Crooked Fingers, who feature North Carolina-bred Eric Bachmann, formerly of the late, great Archers of Loaf. Furman and his Harpoons sort of sound like early Gordon Gano and Violent Femmes, all squeaky-voiced intensity and powerful acoustic-anchored riff-rockery, supporting fantastic semi-stream-of-unconsciousness lyrics about all sorts of stupid/sublime stuff. Crooked Fingers offer a duelling male/female vocal ethos atop an odd and interesting musical ethos anchored in carnival music and odd found sounds, with a great tension between the offputting and inviting elements.

In the “jury’s still out” department, I’ve got Moonwink by The Spinto Band, who sound somewhat like Crooked Fingers, oddly enough, with a similar calliope/carnival vibe and borderline annoying nasal lyrics, with just a little bit less of the experimentation that makes Crooked Fingers work for me. Likewise, Cold War KidsLoyalty to Loyalty grabbed me immediately with the insinuating and urgent “Against Privacy” and “Mexican Dogs,” but the rest of the album has yet to live up to those two great openers. I’m also trying hard to get into In Ear Park by Department of Eagles, whose debut album, The Cold Nose, is one of my alltime favorite records, hands down. The new one, unfortunately, dismisses with many of the quirky elements that made the prior record so excellent, and sounds a lot like singing Eagle Daniel Rossen’s other band, Grizzly Bear, who I don’t really like. Still, there is worth in this album, and I am still keeping my mind open to it.

The only disc that’s been removed from circulation already is The Orion Songbook by Frontier Ruckus. I liked their creaky Americana at first, but somehow after a couple of listens, it began to sound forced and irritating. And no one needs that, do they?

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