Thursday, May 29, 2008

Night at the Hip Hopera

Apropos of nothing except the fact that it rules, here's an awesome Kleptones song. Enjoy.

Q: Are We Not Men?

Sorry for my lack of quality posting lately. Things have been swamped. But to make up for it, I pose to you fine folk an honest question:

DEVO: Ahead of their time geniuses or silly gimmick?

Surely the answer will be somewhere in between, but I have a very hard time pinning down exactly where. Once you move past “Whip It” (which is one of those 80s songs so entrenched in my head and wrapped up with nostalgia that I can’t even begin to objectively figure out if it’s good or not) and move into their cannon you’ve got some really great stuff. “Beautiful World” is fantastic (despite being a bit ruined by excessive use in commercials) as are their covers of “Satisfaction” and (to a lesser extent) “Working in a Coal Mine”. But the real gem to me is “Girl U Want”, a fantastic, driving song with a typically bizarre video clip to accompany it:

Come on, that rules.

But there’s also stuff that I just can’t get behind as being brilliant. I could post some late period stuff here but that’s hardly fair – to evaluate them we really should focus on their prime. But that prime includes “Jocko Homo”, which, I think, kind of sucks:

Of course, watching that you realize that, music aside, there’s something pretty amazing going on here. I mean, it may not always work, but clearly these guys are going for something. This is only reinforced by the fact that this is from 1978, which is way early for music like this. But all that doesn’t change that I just plain don’t like listening to that song.

So I don’t know. They’re a band I *want* to love, but sometimes the quality of music gets in the way of that love. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Oh, and in closing, I present the Devo Corporate Anthem, an oddly sublime little piece for your enjoyment:

Our Famous Classmate

I wanted to know how many people have heard the She & Him record by Allison Hall's own Zooey Deschanel. Since my only prior experience with her and music was watching her in the chorus of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" directed by Jen Bender, I was somewhat skeptical of the whole deal.

I've since listened to the album and downloaded it from eMusic, and I have to say I really do like it. First of all, Zooey is a legitimately great vocalist. There are traces of Neko Case there, which would already be enough to sign me up. But beyond this, there are some really good tracks on there. Whether it's an issue of her being a master chanteuse or M. Ward being a master enabler, it doesn't really matter. This is some good listening.

I guess the obvious reference point sound-wise would be 70's California country-rock, a la The Flying Burrito Brothers, meeting Linda Ronstadt or someone like that. A lot of the vibe sounds like other M. Ward stuff, but Zooey is listed as the sole songwriter on most tracks. Also, there are a few covers tossed in, which are probably the only weak links on the album.

Anyway, this has been a pleasant surprise. Would be interested to know what others think.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lie Down in the Light

I'm pleased to say that I'm really loving the new Bonnie "Prince" Billy album, Lie Down in the Light. I counted myself a pretty big fan of his awhile back (especially back when I was still that guy having religious experiences at Jay Farrar concerts), but in recent years I'd started to grow pretty bored with the predictability and dourness of all his soft, pretty, sad songs. But in some ways this new album is a striking turn away from many of his old patterns: for one thing, it's the rare Will Oldham (the man behind the Billy moniker) album that I could describe overall as "not at all a downer". It's still soft and pretty, and still benefits from many repeat listenings, but it's also shockingly happy. I might even define a couple of the themes of this album as "contentment" and possibly "joy".

And of course, it's joy with a few bizarre Will Oldham style twists thrown in. So far I've been especially fascinated by "So Everybody", which is a song that somehow makes an act of public oral sex sound like the highest expression of love and spiritual contentment. I'm not kidding, give it a listen. It won't stream (hasn't everyone been having problems with that recently?) but here's a download link.
So Everyone

Monday, May 26, 2008

"The eyes are the windows of your face."

This guy's ability to elevate mediocre writing to the level of genius is... well... genius, I guess.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

You Are Not Needed Now

Just felt like it was time I did a quick Townes Van Zandt post. There was a time when this guy was one of my biggest artistic heroes, and even if he's too depressing for me to take most of the time these days (he outdid even Elliott Smith in terms of writing terminally sad songs) he was an incredibly talented, and criminally under appreciated songwriter. As Steve Earle famously quipped: "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in America, and I will stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."

Here's a song from High Low and In Between, one of a series of stellar albums he did in the 70's, before he really got around to the serious business of drinking himself to death and destroying his voice.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Dosh = Pretty Great

I've been a little hard on Andrew Bird's recent collaborator Martin Dosh, mostly due to my preference for the drumming of Kevin O'Donnell, but I have to admit I'm enjoying the new Dosh album, Wolves and Wishes. A HUGE step forward from the only other album of his I've heard, Pure Trash.

For some reason I can't get it to stream, but here's a download of the first track:

Don't Wait For The Needle To Drop

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You should never need an excuse to play Big Star

Just because it's a blessedly low-key Sunday afternoon, and these guys kick ass.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Principal's Office

It recently came to my attention that Q has not heard this track. I believe the conversation that tipped me off went as follows:
me: "'Lip Gloss' is the 'Principal's Office' for the new generation"
Q: "What's 'Principal's Office'?"
me: too shocked to speak

Download it here

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rising Down update: Rising Up

I just wanted to state for the record that, despite the questionable taste of the video I posted here a few weeks back, the new Roots album is very very good.