Jerry Grit’s Year In Albums #13: December (The End!)

A significant shuffle of priorities has long delayed me from finishing my project to document every single album I bought in 2008 (for example, real life and things on cats). But always the completist, I will bring this to a close…a quarter of the way through 2009.

  • Andrew Daly – Nine Sweaters There was a funny comedian on Mad TV. Too bad he wasn’t allowed to be funny. Freed from that show’s painful banality, Andrew gets his laughs solo with longform occasionally subtle (and mostly obscene) character routines inspired by wearing 1 of 9 distinctive sweaters. Although you can’t see the sweaters (it being a recording and all) the characterizations are rich enough to imagine the sweaters. DO NOT listen to it with grandma. Or do, pervert.
  • Blue Giant – Target Heart EP A kinda pacific northwest supergroup: the Viva Voce couple with help from members of the Decemberists, Circus Lupus, Swords Project, Sleater-Kinney and Bradford Cox. But mostly, its Viva Voce on an alt-country kick. Which is awesome. The distinctive vocals and swaying guitar, filled out with the pedal steel, organ and fiddle. Also, stars in the Blue Giant phase are middle-aged massive stars in a transitionary period prior to becoming either a planet nebula or a supergiant.
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today I haven’t yet learned to fully appreciate Byrne or Eno*, supergiants in a music universe I mostly like. And I don’t think I’m helping myself by starting with this album. It’s fine and there are some nice weird parts. But overall it’s a little too adult contemporary for me to be comfortable about it. That could be just because I’m uncomfortable being adult now.
  • Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life I freaking love it. Takes me back to the smart hardcore or Fugazi or Negative Approach. And still, they manage melodies and some neat uses of not-hardcore instruments. (Is that a flute in the beginning?). Father Damien’s vocals come in like the earth is opening up. Takes me back to high school, driving nowhere in small messy cars and watching other people smoke.
  • Dr. Dog – Fate It’s alright. They’re the Band, at an impressionable age, teleported to our time and embracing modern weirdness. Nonetheless, a step up from the last album.
  • Grouper – Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill For those who can’t keep up with Beach House, Grouper might be the perfect porridge for you. Reverbed drenched vocals moving at a somnolent snail’s pace…like actually dragging a dead deer up a hill. I have yet been able to listen all the way through without a dose. So also perfect for insomniacs.
  • Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair I’ve made a significant investment in my attempt to appreciate Antony Hegarty. I’m not there yet. It’s always overkill with that ridiculous vibrato. And yet I have 7 albums of this. The disco beats here breaks it up a bit. 
  • Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue I don’t think I like this. Loved the Rabbit Fur Coat, and I can even defend that last Rilo Kiley album. But this one’s annoying. Is it a joke? That “Where’s Fernando?” song puts me through the roof. Along with “Bad Man’s World,” “The Next Messiah” (8 and half minutes and it has Elvis Costello) and “Jack Killed Mom”…yech. A lot of stinkers here. I’m still onboard with Jenny, but slowly shuffling exitward.
  • Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak I’m sorry, it’s awesome. A part from the irony of his critique of consumerism turned into a product (unlike Tim Fite and his excellent Over the Counterculture, Kanye’s not giving it away).
  • Love Is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night Oh, it’s fun. But it’s not for the ages. And I do not need to have fun.
  • Marching Band – Sparks Large It’s just so nice. I bet these guys wear sweater V-necks and drop people off at airports. I like it because I think they’re nice. But not enough to give them a ride to the airport.
  • Richard Swift – Ground Trouble Jaw EP Indie do-wop? Who knew?
  • Rodriguez – Cold Fact Supposedly buried treasure from the 70’s and I’m not one to appreciate buried treasures from the seventies. But this one’s alight.
  • School Of Seven Bells – Alpinisms It sounds like the brother from the Secret Machines hooks up with Au Revoir Simone. And half of that’s true. Also, this album compels and bores the same ways of the Secret Machines and Au Revoir Simone.
  • The Faint – Fascination Not as great as Danse Macabre or even Wet from Birth. Nonetheless all the elements are same and it still does what a Faint album is supposed to do. Which are good things.
  • The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound If Plato was ever to try to identify the ideal Jersey Band, I think the Gaslight Anthem are pretty much it. Other Jersey bands are only Jersey bands insofar as they share characteristics with this Jersey Band. Epic blue collar anthems from shore trash. Love it.
  • The Mae Shi – Hlllyh More ecstatic high-energy youth ranting. Does not suit my rocking chair at all. I won’t be seeking any of these tracks in the ever-accumulating clutter of my digital music library. But if one happens to come up in the shuffle, I won’t skip it. Unless I’m in my rocking chair.
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns Sounds a little too much like Neutral Milk Hotel. So much so it feels more like theft than homage.
  • Why? – Alopecia This is awesome. Cool beats. Smart rhymes. Self-deprecating white boys being inventive.
  • Women – Women I like the weird catchiness of the album. I even like the experimental parts. And I really like how the entire album hangs together. It’s one of those strange small albums I cherish, like the Ruby Suns’ Sea Lion I got earlier this year.
  • Camera Obscura – Underachievers Please Try Harder From a few years ago. I realized I hadn’t bought a Comera Obscura in a while. So buying an old one will do. No surprise. It’s great.
  • Isobel Campbell – Sunday At Devil Dirt The 3rd Mark Lanegan album I managed to buy in this year alone. But once you get past his cheesy growl, you appreciate that its more about Isobell Campbell. And it’s to its tremendous benefit.
  • The Delgados – The Great Eastern An old album from a band I don’t know I was compelled to buy for no other reason than I thought it might be good. Actually, it happens to be the second back catalogue album from a Scottish band I bought this month (see Camera Obscura). Seems to be a good strategy.
  • Starling Electric – Clouded Staircase Sound like Guided by Voices, but with longer songs. I like it.

There it is. All the albums I bought in 2008. All 176, give or take (but mostly give). Did I learn anything? Do I appreciate more? Maybe, but I’m not consuming less. So far I’ve already long surpassed my 2008 number and it’s only early April (but I’m doing much less buying…I’ve discovered the library, much to the librarians’ chagrin).

The more I have the more I want. Alas, it seems I’m like everyone else.

*This was written 3 months ago. I have since come to appreciate Eno and Byrne in their individual distinctive greatness. Buy Here Come the Warm Jets and Another Green World and Remain in Light.

Excuses, Stuff on Cats

So yes, I’ve been delayed in completing my 2008 project to document every album I got that year. 3 reasons:

1. As expected, December was a doozey in terms of CD purchases. I think it’s at 26, but I think I’m intentionally ignoring a few. Did I really buy “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today”…uhg. Yes, I did. 27. And what am I doing with yet another Mark Lanegan album? Arg! He got me again. 28!

2. I am treading the uncertain waters of these economic times. I know: BORING. But at least I have 28 more CDs to sell. What is that, like 28 cents? 

3. I discovered a website and its two books devoted to the foundation-shaking equation: stuff+cats=awesome. Stuff like…

20090222_yoda…really unfortunate glasses…

 

20090224_mrpidzington3…really unfortunate holiday outfits…

…and the best stuff of all…

 

20090211_jarvis_martha…another kitty!

Ah! I can’t take it. I am going to scream.

We’ve spent the last month devoted to our own attempts freighted feline photography (which, btw, is not easy). We humbly submit…  

img_200411Stuff On My Cat as stuff on my cat!

 

It’s totally meta. 

Don’t try this at home. We all have graduate degrees. And we’re probably infected.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #12: November

I only bought 15 albums this month. It is the calm before the storm that will rain down recorded music on me. In December, I know will succumb to the suggestive powers of numerous Best of the Year lists. I will ask for and receive a lot of music. I will have to account for every CD I bought this year that I haven’t yet mentioned yet for various good reasons.

But before I face that monster, here’s what happened this month. I seemed to go for the freewheeling ladies this time, with some degree of success.

  • Amanda Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer? Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls appeals to the 15-year-old goth girl in all of us. Or maybe just the one in me. You don’t have Yes, Virginia… by now, whatever. That said, Amanda’s solo album is not the place to start. There’s something definitely worthwhile in “Astronaut” and “Guitar Hero,” but only because they should be Dresden Doll songs. The weaknesses seem to be when she goes beyond what I’m expecting…which could just be me and my 15-year-old’s problem.
  • Ane Brun – Changing Of The Seasons “Treehouse Song” is probably my song of the month. Ane Brun is a Nordic Dolly Parton, which is actually pretty awesome. It can be a touch adult contemporary though and I did not havethe fortitude to listen to her (or anyone’s) cover of “True Colors.” Still, “Treehouse Song” is an awesome song. Did I say that you should probably hear “Treehouse Song”? Please listen to the “Treehouse Song.” (I don’t really stand behind the video)
  • Deerhunter – Microcastle I was not a huge fan of their last effort, Cryptograms. I definitely liked parts. I liked fewer parts of the solo Bradford Cox effort Atlas Sounds. But now, it’s liked they took whatever made those best parts and madean entire album. And after seeing their excellent live show, I now stand fully within the Deerhunter camp. I am ready for a T-shirt.
  • TV on the Radio – Dear Science, For my money, they don’t hit it out of the park this time. But it’s no whiff either. No “Wolf Like Me” on here. Nonetheless, the Vores like it enough to collectively hop into the proverbial bed with TVOTR. I think they’re moving a little fast and that they should be thinking about their reputation, but they could do—and have done—much, much worse.
  • Parts & Labor – Receivers P&L got a lot better. Kinda felt ripped off by the last album, even with all the critical praise. This new almost makes up for it. I half recall reading/hearing the duo expanded by two. And I can say they became twice as good. Actual melodies this time. They went from No Age-type noise to Secret Machines-esque anthems. I would recommend it to all my dudefriends. Probably not for the ladies. Even freewheelers.
  • Lou Reed – Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse Lou Reed is like a freewheeling lady. And I don’t really know what to make of this thing. It’s a live performance of a concept album that I never heard. There’s an awful sax (hah hah! as if there’s any other kind!) and gratuitous gospel backup. And Antony is mooning on it, which is never a good sign. Still, where these elements would doom a download to digital oblivion, I’m still listening, and I kinda like it. That has more to do with Lou than with any change of heart regarding Antony, the saxophone, or rock songs with gospel backup singers. Those are treacherous rocks and Lou steers the ship clear. But I should probably know more about it.
  • Frida Hyvonen – Silence is Wild I kind of wish I was one of Frida’s ex-boyfriends. That’s probably why my ladyfriend hates her (but she says it’s the grating off-tune voice and mundane literal lyrics). Nonetheless, Frida’s expressions of nostalgia are excruciating in the frustrating funny-sad-important way that makes you want to be implicated in them. I loved her last album, Until Death Comes, as a perfect small singer-songwriter album. This one has greater ambitions, and it may not be perfect, it’s better for those ambitions. I hate songs about cities (or maybe just about New York City…and Memphis), but “London!” is an ass kicker.
  • Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love Cut Copy’s release earlier this year, In Ghost Colorshas been fungally growing on me and my freewheeling ladyfriend (gets no mention in Paste’s top 25, of course). But of course all the supercoolindiekids say it’s not as good as this album (oh, supercoolindiekids…your nostalgic attachments belie your avant garde pose). And this album is good. But I—the true avant garde—like the new one better. I may be burned out on eighties retro this month from repeated listens to Ladyhawke.
  • Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke Ladyhawke is freewheeling it back to the eighties. And yeah it’s a little gimmichy , but we’ve been hearing the eighties retro for years now (probably since we left the eighties), so it shouldn’t surprise or yield novel enthusiasm. Even though some of us may have lived through it, we need to dispassionately accept it as a valid idiom for expression. Once you get past the gimmicky synths, there are some pretty great songs here. Again, I hate songs about cities, but “Paris is Burning” is a new running song.
  • Joyce – Hard Bossa Brazilian lady recommended by Mac McCaughan on his superb dozen. Mac doesn’t let me down (Get Back Snowball, aside…which was probably more Bob Pollard’s fault, anyways). Lady’s singing gibberish (or Portuguese). I’m pretty sure there’s some pan flute on here. Nonetheless, it keeps pretty close to the bossa nova thing. So it’s “hard” insofar as it’s real bossa, not that it’s like metal bossa (which doesn’t make sense, but I was still a little disappointed). I like “Garota de Ipanema” like anyone else and this will keep me warm as the Wisconsin freeze begins. Plus, she sounds a little like a Brazilian Joni Mitchell, which is alright.

 

600x600

  • Desolation Wilderness – White Light Strobing Straight up. I bought it on the strength of the album artwork alone and that they may sound a little like Deerhunter. A little, but it’s Deerhunter-lite. Deerhunter is expanding their sound while these guys are comfortably ensconced within hazy reverb and indecipherable lyrics. Palatable enough, but it won’t make any lists. Not that it should. They’re a new band and they’re on the right path.
  • Deerhunter – Weird Era Cont. This one seemed to be made with more of the parts I didn’t like from Cryptograms. That said, it’s still pretty great and better than Cryptograms. And, from the story I heard, it was released in anger because Microcastle was leaked early. An amazing feat that Bradford Cox can pull off two pretty great albums. He’s like Axl Rose, but completely opposite. Get him a Dr. Pepper.
  • Mates Of State – Re-arrange Us I am a little embarrassed I own this. And I wouldn’t otherwise admit it if it was not the case that full disclosure is essential to the integrity of this project to document every album I buy this year. I was moved to buy it for its mention on the Paste best of list for 2008. Oh “Best of the Year” lists, I am weak to your suggestive powers, even when I know you’re terrible (to my credit, Re-Arrange ranks pretty low on that terrible list, which to my mind, meant that it should rank pretty high on mine. I’m not sure it will.) BTW, this album’s alright!
  • The Whispertown 2000 – Swim The lead vocal is a little precious, in that lazy-cute-drunk way. I’ll still listen, but I need to follow them up with a chaser of Marnie Stern, or drill sounds. And they may be under the guidance of Gillian Welch, which can only mean good things. Good for Sunday mornings.
  • Marnie Stern – This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He When Angus Young finally quits AC/DC to join Deerhoof, they’ll be surprised to find their intended terrain well trod by Marnie Stern. She’s got the wicked licks (especially on “Transformer”…which I keep thinking is “Thunderstruck” creeping out from the darker less-visited corners of my digital music library) and she can appealingly grate like Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzakie. Definitely not for Sunday mornings. But there’s a whole week to get through.

Bring it, December.

Paste has become a terrible magazine

Over my 3 year subscription to Paste Magazine, this year I’ve watched it fall from its status of an enlightened Entertainment Weekly  to becoming as vapid as Entertainment Weekly, but without the topicality or access. They also now take about 8 minutes to read cover-to-cover.

First, there was the layout change. If used to be staid, at least it made sense. Now it looks like the half-assed product of a coked-up student-run high school newspaper that hasn’t yet learned exactly to use its new layout program.

Second, there’s what they said about Cormac McCarthy.

Nihilism is now so universally confused with profundity that even the serious literary establishment can’t see that Cormac McCarthy is really just Stephen King without the entertainment value.

What!?! This is more wrongheaded than calling Marcel Proust just a scribomanic shut-in or Moby Dick just an unfocused travelogue.

And now, its annual top 25 list. Strike 3, I’m done.

My Mourning Jacket’s Evil Urges at 16? Of Montreal’s Skeletal Lamping at 12! Hold Steady’s Stay Positive at 11!?! Okkervil River’s The Stand Ins at 5???

These are all great bands and decent albums, but these are not their best efforts. And compared to best efforts that don’t even rank (Frightened Rabbit! The Kills! Thao! King Kahn! Wolf Parade! The Ruby Suns! Vivian Girls! Lambchop! Black Mountain! The Dodos! Mount Eerie!) makes it all the more apparent the Paste staff got lazy and gave out some easy passes to these typical end-of-the-year listmakers.

And Girl Talk at 7!!! Is some kind of statement? Do these people even like music?

Even though I hate it, I’m expecting high rankings for the Jar Jar Binks of Indie Rock. So no surprise they show up at 3. Whatever.

Then, She and Him…the album of the year?!!? Sure, it’s easily likeable, so maybe it was easy to build consensus. But they’re the Alan Thicke of Indie Rock: blandly handsome. Try not getting bored after 4 spins. Compare with Bon Iver (#4) or Deerhunter (#10) and it’s not even in the same league. And shouldn’t Zooey Deschanel pay for the The Happening?

Plus, the Reigning Sound may still put out an album this year. No accounting for that possibility whatsoever.

I throw up my hands, Paste. If I can still name my price for a subscription, I want all my exclamation points back.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #10: September

Simply, this is getting ridiculous. I’ve been dreading the September edition of my self-imposed project to account for every album I buy this year because it gets me all that closer to the October post. We’re not even half-through and yet I’ve already amassed 22 albums. Isn’t there an economic collapse going somewhere?  

Oh wait, that’s everywhere. Perhaps I’ll spend an impoverished 2009 reassessing my accumulated purchases and frittered wealth. 

Only 17 albums for this entire month. And there’s kind of a theme or three to my purchases: back catalogues and wordlessness (or at least English wordlessness).  And also Bill Callahan-like sounding front(wo)men. And I liked most of it!

  • Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar – Go Marko Go! A great Serbian brass band (Caveat: I’m not confident I could tell a great from a good Serbian brass band) and this is a great album. Passionate and funky folk jazz. They got kind of dampered by rain at this year’s Pitchfork, but rumors of their raucous rowdy live show abound. A bonus: Serbian words can kind of sound like English, which leads to fun mishearings. Like on the outro for “Bubamara , Ne kuni me , Kalasnijikov” sounds like they’re passionately and repeatedly intoning that “Carl likes people.” He may very well, but not as much as I like this.
  • Breathe Owl Breathe – climb in I liked the Ghost Glacier EP so much, I felt obligated by that discovery to buy more of this guy. This is his last full album that came out a few years ago (2005). Just as great as the EP. A little more Bill Callahan this time. But like a camping and high Bill Callahan.
  • Chicha Libre – Sonido Amazonico I don’t anything about these guys, but I know they’re based in Brooklyn. Any band based in Brooklyn makes me suspicious. But they do a competent, nay…exciting…job of jazzy folk latin. It was also recently touted by Sound Opinions’ Greg Kot on their “buried treasure” show.
  • Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People Apropos of nothing (or was it the Brendan Canning album…alas, purchases beget purchases), I realized I didn’t have enough Broken Social Scene. So I went back to their so-called “breakthrough” album. It’s great and is exactly what is to be expected. It’s so much easier buying thoroughly vetted albums from 2002.
  • Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Knives Don’t Have Your Back Part of the campaign to fill my Broken Social Scene bucket. And now I’ll probably have to fill me up a Metric bucket. Emily’s in both bands. And she has this excellent solo album. I need to blog less. Unlike BSS, you can understand the lyrics here. They’re pretty saucy and pessimistic with wry deadpan humor (the Bill Callahan of chix?). Not a whole lot of romance here, unless you consider romanticizing nihilism romantic. Still, it’s great. Wouldn’t buy it for a depressive, though.  
  • Giant Sand – Provisions It’s the Southwest version of Bill Callahan, but I think this guy precedes Bill. So maybe Bill’s the Pacific Northwest version of Giant Sand. Either way, both are worthwhile. Great collaborations here, too. Isobell Campbell, Neko Case, and a great PJ Harvey cover to boot.
  • Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Gentleness of Nothing EP I’m onboard with Jesse, so this EP works as the other ones do. Does not sound very much like Bill Callahan.
  • Justice – ? (Cross) Apparently, “D.A.N.C.E.” was one of the most overplayed anthems of this summer. I haven’t heard it once before downloading it this month. I’m not “dialed in” anymore I guess.  Nonetheless, great to run to. Hey fatboys, before mocking my belated electronica purchase, do 50 squats. I could squish you.
  • Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too Chill electronica/house long compositions to drowned out the returned student horde. Cheesy in parts, but very worthwhile for having only 3 tracks.
  • Mates Of State – Bring It Back Not sure why I was moved to buy this one. I know most of these songs and have seen them twice live. I already know what they have to offer and it’s okay.
  • Mitch Hedberg – Do You Believe In Gosh? Not as polished a performance as on the other 2 comedy albums, but the guy’s dead. It’s still funny as hell and worth repeated listens. Like the other albums, the jokes are only alright. Ridiculous observations and reductions to the absurd (“Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or a really cool potamus?”). But clearly the key to Mitch is his delivery. This manic burnout jumping from one-liner to one-liner. I could probably listen to this guy talk about anything.
  • Okkervil River – Down the River of Golden Dreams Occaisioned by the release of the new album, went back and got this nifty set of tunes. Not as solid as the more recent releases. Nonetheless, worthwhile nuggets abound.
  • Okkervil River – The Stand Ins Will Sheff makes me feel extraneous. It seems like he’s doing everything I would do if I were in a indie band. I guess that’s a little self-aggrandizing of me to say.  Pardon me. I’ve been at this for 2 hours. The defense against my inflated self-assessment is wearing down.
  • Rhymefest – Mark Ronson presents Rhymefest: MAN IN THE MIRROR It’s available for free so I don’t feel obligated to write much about it. Just know that it’s worth the download effort. Despite his implosion at the  Hideout Block Party.
  • The Cool Kids – The Bake Sale I was turn on to them by an article in the NYTimes, which is about as cool as checking out what your mom listens to. So I’m kinda behind the trend. I like the idea of it. Nostalgic low-fi hip hop. But I’m not sure I’m completely sold on this one example yet. 
  • The Uglysuit – The Uglysuit The band I saw at the Hideout Block Party, who’s performance was only remarkable for the fact that each band member seemed to be wrestling with their own unique hair issue. The album’s alright. Kinda like an earnest Flaming Lips?
  • Clinic – Do It! I’ve been buying Black Angelsalbums so I wouldn’t have to buy Clinic albums. But I broke down, as I always do, and here we are. Can’t say I was that far off on my earlier assessment. Both are garage rock psychedelia.  But you can tell Clinic songs apart. So both bands aren’t that alike. And there’s something still appealing to the saminess to the Black Angels. Clinic may be reaching too much. And they probably have better albums,

Dearest Skynard Fan,

Comment from “SKYNYRD FAN” to Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #9: August (Part 2) [Censored on behalf of my more delicate readers]

HEY YOU [expletive] MORON.

WHAT KIND OF [racial epithet] MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?

WHY DID YOU BUY THE CD, SCUMBAG, IF ALL YOU’RE GONNA DO IS BASH IT?

YOU STUPID [different expletive] YOU.

AND LEARN TO SPELL LYNYRD SKYNYRD, [more different expletive].

YOU WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITH A BULLET IN YOUR [expletive, same as the first] HEAD

Dearest Skynard Fan,

I was very excited to receive your comment. I treasure deeply that you sought out my posting, read it, and have let your voice be heard, however loud and monotone your voice seems to be.

Nonetheless, I can sense from you comment’s tone that you are not fully onboard with my assessment of how listening to Lynard Skynard is like hearing “beer bellies…Rows and rows of swaying, dirty beer bellies.”

But criticize you did and respond I should.

SKYNYRD FAN: HEY YOU [expletive] MORON.

Me: “Hey” to you, my friend. Your good-natured but obscene badinage has gotten my attention. You may proceed. 

SKYNYRD FAN: WHAT KIND OF [racial epithet] MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?

Me: Thank you for asking. Although, I’m not familiar with music genre of which you speak, much less of any of its sub-genres. Your interests are obviously as varied as they are deep. I appreciate your interest in my listening preferences, however.

SKYNYRD FAN: WHY DID YOU BUY THE CD, SCUMBAG, IF ALL YOU’RE GONNA DO IS BASH IT?

Me: Again, your curiosity is so refreshing. But don’t be mistaken. I didn’t buy it to bash it. I bought it to enjoy it. And you must admit, that’s nearly impossible. Also, bashing is not ALL I’m going to do to it. The disc functions nicely as a coaster/cat toy/bad mirror. And I needed to stash my copy of “Truth or Dare” somewhere no one would ever look. One would be would hard-pressed to find a place more bereft and derelict than the inside of a Lynard Skynard CD case.  

SKYNYRD FAN: YOU STUPID [different expletive] YOU.

Me: Your criticism is bracing, but cleansing. Like the arctic winds.

SKYNYRD FAN: AND LEARN TO SPELL LYNYRD SKYNYRD, [more different expletive]

Me: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

SKYNYRD FAN: YOU WOULD BE BETTER OFF WITH A BULLET IN YOUR [expletive, same as the first] HEAD

Me: Thank you for the suggestion. However, I am going to have to take you at your word. For I notice a flaw in your advice. It doesn’t seem like I would be living with such an accoutrement so placed. Thus, I wouldn’t “be” at all, much less “be better.”

Oh, wait. I get it.

Sir, you have unmanned me.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #9: August (Part 2)

Hole mole, I’ve been hiatused. There’s the garden variety laziness that can be blamed. And I have other priorities, I guess. But blog-wise, I’m also confronted by the twin challenges of satisfyingly bringing my biking adventure to a close and saying something…anything…about that Lynard Skynard greatest hits album I was for sure I had to own.  And so weeks have passed and nary a word (ug…that just came out…I’ll punish myself by leaving that horrifyingly hackneyed phrase).  But I’ve taken to making headbands part of my casualwear. And a headband does something for one’s work ethic.

First, on biking to work…guess what? It’s not that tough and I haven’t really stopped. I’m not doing 75 miles a week anymore. But I’m definitely getting over 50. Take that, carbon footprint. It’s more like a carbon kitten paw print. Aw…my adorable minimized share of environmental damage. And about Skynard…

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – All-Time Greatest HitsNo idea what I was thinking when I got this one. I think the onset of fall has me thinking back to the gaps in my catalogue. But I don’t know why I should fixate on Skynard. I’ve always sided with the Canadian in the great Neil Young-Skynard debate. But “Sweet Home Alabama” doesn’t make this collection, not that I need to have it. But still “Simple Man” kind of bothers me, in my infinite complexity. “Curtis Lowe” is stupid. Nothing really surprises me here. I just hear beer bellies on this album. Rows and rows of swaying, dirty beer bellies. 
  • CocoRosie – The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn This is more like it. Still, an older album but only by a year. They’re like a rapping Joanna Newsom.  So unapologetically weird. Take that Skynard! You do a werewolf rap song, Ronnie Van Zant. The southern man definitely does not need these sisters around anyhow. A vast improvement from the last album. Which I liked, but threw my hands up afterwhile. I could be going back to this one a few more times.
  • Inara George – An Invitation It’s so classy. I feel like I should be wearing a vest when spinning this. The Bird and the Bee lady does a nice Sunday morning album. And the arrangements sound so ridiculously complicated that I feel I have no qualifications to say anything about them other than “good job”.

 

I’ve finally closed out August. That wasn’t too bad. September will be a doozy, however. I’ll need to wear 2 headbands.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #8: August (Part 1)

I’m rushing this entry if only for my excitement for the new Walkmen album, which has surprised the hell out of me. I have a few more August buys to write about (the Best of Lynard Skynard, anyone?), but those can wait. 

  • Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul Okay, this was a legacy buy. But seriously, is there an any more transcendent moment in music than the moment Isaac goes “By the time I get to Phoenix/She’ll be rising”? I am serious, or it’s just my caffeine-induced earnestness.
  • The French Kicks – Swimming These guys are like the Dirty on Purpose in 2006, a once-overhyped Brooklyn band that has put out an okey-dokey album, dejected by their press not really turning out. They also sound exactly the same, I think. But I don’t care enough to dig up that Dirty On Purpose album. Nonetheless, I like “Sex Tourists” pretty good. It’s a background album with a short shelf-life.
  • Bowerbirds – Hymns For A Dark Horse Andrew Bird with some friends at summer camp, sticking to acoustic instruments, and maybe after hanging out with Devendra Banhart too much. Worth my while.
  • The Walkmen – You & Me What the hell happened? These guys where heading to the dust heap.  I reviewed their show awhile back and liked it okay. But I wasn’t thinking these guys were still producing. Going from their last couple albums, it seemed like they were content with their respectable output and would just resign themselves to riding their remaining career out, doing some weird things here and there. But no!…with the first line “Back to the battle today…” and holy shit, I’m actually surprised they are going back to the battle.  It’s not a departure from their remarkable sound (which I think they were too eager to escape with A Thousand Miles Off), but a relaxing into it, and maybe finding new places within it…ug, blaw, that sounds like a line from an undergrad English paper. In any case, it also seems they spent some time with The National’s Boxer . These guys are still relevant when CD stores are like fruit stands with their disposable produce. I’m saying, this cd is a bolder among over-ripe kiwis.
  •  Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst  I keep getting snookered on the press that this guy is my generation’s spokesman or something. But I’m not hearing me in these albums, maybe because I don’t like to travel and have like 2 friends.  And perhaps that’s pretty impossible hype to live up to, anyways. No matter what lame critics who make up barf words like “Dylanesque” say, I’m not hearing the storytelling thing Bobby Dee does. It’s the frustrated fragility of youth that made him exciting to me, and maybe that’s a schtick he can no longer sell. Or at least sell to me. He can go the way of Ryan Adams and I’m sure that’ll still make a lot of people happy. If he’s going to keep doing this, I’m not sticking around. That said, can I braid your hair like a sister?
  • Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning – Something for All of Us I wasn’t expecting this to be good. Bought it out of obligation, it felt. To keep my Broken Social Scene collection together (reminded me of my comic-collecting days while  attempting to keep track of every lame Avengers spin-off). Actually, it seems like I bought quite a few albums this month that I didn’t think would be good. Oh my low expectations, good thing you don’t affect my decision-making. Kevin Drew is not the only worthy hero of the BSS. I’m now excited for who suits up next. Except for Justin Peroff. Actually, that makes me curious. If you make it Justin, I’ll get it.
  • David Bowie – Low Hey, this guy was pretty good, even before he bulged in his Labyrinth leotard. And he does a pretty decent job covering that Sea & Cake song, “Sound and Vision.” But he’s only singing on half the album. What was he doing while Brian Eno was programming his IBM PS1 (or whatever they had back in 77) to finish the rest of the album’s…can’t say it…but I must…so tired…fine, lazy…soundscapes (blah). Was he making Radio Shack floppy disc runs? Nonetheless, I might get more of these.
  • Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple It seems like Gnarls Barkley made the album everyone wanted from Portishead and not from Gnarls Barkley. But it’s not that much of a departure. The last album was pretty dark. This one pretty much luxuriates in it.

Done. Now I can spend the rest of the week trying to figure out what to say about “Gimme Back My Bullets”

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #7: April-July (Part 5)

So I pretty much blew my self-imposed deadline to document all the albums I have bought through July by the end of July. Maybe that had a little something to do with getting the band ready to open for freaking Eef Barzelay this past Thursday, which turned out to be totally awesome…but for my tuner going out mid-gig (a moment that will haunt me probably forever).

  • The Kills – Midnight Boom This is this year’s awesome-cool driving record of the summer. It makes me and my ’96 Camry feel really unworthy. This album should come with white rim sunglasses.
  • Shearwater – Rook He’s got a great voice, but sometimes it can come across a little snooty. This one’s not for the hard hats.  Not really catchy, but it’s not aiming for that. It’s ponderous, slow, and pretty. A lot of birds, too. They should get with Jason Molina and open aviary. Write birdsongs all the day long.
  • Eef Barzelay – Lose Big This is very much an Eef Barzelay record. It’s got the wry sensibility, the great catchy refrains, the offbeat conceits, the quirky earnestness. “Girls Don’t Care” may become my new songwriting guide. But I could be biased. Did you hear that my band opened for him in Madison? Nonetheless, it’s excellent. But don’t take my word for it.
  • Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing Ecstatic rickety stuff from these West coasters. A lot of stuff on fishing. Grandpa would like that, if Grandpa is 28. At their live show, they hand out pots and pans for the audience to beat along to “Woke Up Today”, which is about right.
  • The Black Angels – Directions To See A Ghost The Black Angels are becoming to me equated with The Sea and Cake. Whereas The Sea and Cake put out samey but excellent suave loungy rock, The Black Angels are putting out samey but excellent tripped out psychedelia. I may not be able to differentiate the albums, but I’ll get every single one. Nonetheless, “Mission District” stands out for its killer opening.  
  • Jay-Z – American Gangster This purchase belongs properly to the January-February area. But since I kind of forgot about it and that it has spent the last 6 months under my car seat, I will speak of it now. “Roc Boys” is pretty good. And there are some pretty excellent beats with “Brooklyn” (not that I’m a connoisseur). But I find it hard to care about Zed’s problems. I know he’s rich and can kill me, but I don’t care. And I maybe cynical, listening to Beyonce pray makes me giggle.
  • Portishead – Third Also bought this one a while ago and I keep forgetting I have it. So it doesn’t make a grand impression like the hype surrounding it promised. Still, it’s worthwhile enough. I love how it refuses to be what anyone wants it to be. Not the grand return everyone wanted.  Song #5 sounds like a washing machine is off balanced. So I keep getting up to check even though I know I don’t have washing machine anywhere nearby. So that’s a little frustrating. Maybe that’s why I don’t listen too much.
  • Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs I could imagine these guys on commercial radio. They have many of the elements that would put them there (catchy, guitar heavy, seriousness) but it’s their sophistication in all these areas that saves them from radio airplay. And is that the Blonde Redhead lady on backup?
  • The Eternals – Heavy International This is the album you might here if you walk into the coolest comic book shop in the world. It’s very hip, but also not afraid to be a little goofy and a lot strange.
  • Bodies Of Water – A Certain Feeling I have a certain feeling that one day, the Bodies of Water may sit around and ask themselves “So what are we doing exactly?” The band may not survive that question. Not too sure why I think this particular thought about this band, when I’m sure it is widely applicable. Maybe because I think they’re special and worthwhile in ways they may not realize. The new album is a vast improvement on their debut, which was no stinker. The dude singer is sounding more like Bowie, I think (my Bowie knowledge is limited to Labyrinth and TV guest appearances).

Well there it is. I’m a little behind schedule but about halfway through the year. And already, it’s piling up for August. Plants and Animals, the Bowerbirds, Brendan Canning and I can’t believe I got the new Conor Oberst. Why am I doing this?

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #6: April-July (Part 4)

I’m so near the halfway point in my documentation of every album I buy this year. Appropriate time as any to rechristen this project the “Year in Albums”, since I’m finding a hard time limiting myself to download purchases. I’m still buying CDs, can you believe?

  • Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea Somewhere along the way, I get it in my head that Cassie Berman was destined to be the Linda McCartney of this band that I like. It may have been an off night or bad sound, but at one show I saw she came across as pretty but also as the band’s tuneless weak link. After one listen of the new album, I know either I was way wrong or she got way better. She is now the absolute highlight. There’s the usual tossed-off witty Berman wordplay (“Romance is the douche of the bourgeoisie/Was the very first thing she imparted to me”; “Things get kind of squirrely when you’re sleeping in the park”; “We could be looking for the same thing, if you’re looking for someone,” etc). But her vocals bring the emotive that nicely contrasts with Dave’s deadpan on “Suffering Jukebox” and others, which actually saves the album from cleverness (a fatal opponent in Silver Jews discography).
  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Underground Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Underground” is like an A-Team episode, but instead of the A-Team stuck in the garage, it’s Stephen Merritt stuck in a half-functioning 70’s-era studio. And the plan that comes together isn’t a souped-up beater with a bunch crap welded to it, but an album of catchy oddball pop songs but made from the beat-up crap you’d find in said studio. It borders unlistenable, but it’s still fun.
  • The Dodos – Visitor I like it, but I have a heard time coming up with anything to say about it. I think because I’m trying the same thing they’re doing, so as their choices are awesome, they’re also self-evident to me. There are great vocals, stripped down instrument-wise to guitar and assorted rhythm toys. A great summer album.
  • Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes What a bunch of softies. I kind of want to get these boys into a gym or arm-wrestle them or something. The interplay of voices is awesome and pretty, but I haven’t ever wanted to listen to old Rollins Band albums until I sat through these guys. It’s great for Grandmas and people actually living in Cincinnatti.
  • Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer My socks are still securely on after listening to this, and I can’t say they were after listening to their first one. But still, I like it. But that “California Dreamer” song is terrible. What the hell are California dreams?
  • Cursive – The Ugly Organ This is an older album and I bought after seeing Cursive live. I don’t know why I stayed away from Cursive for so long. I really liked “Happy Hollow” and I think Tim Kasher’s sadder side-project The Good Life has put out two top notch albums. I kept them from the full embrace they deserved after they got coded “emo” in my head. I have been so brave this month overcoming my wrong impressions. This album is a freaking indictment of the “emo” bs (“I want to entertain/but they want pain” or something like that). Get ready for the full Grity embrace, buddies.
  • Sarabeth Tucek – Sarabeth Tucek I’m a sucker for this longing pretty lady shtick. The Heather Novas and the Cat Powers will get me. Sarabeth is in their league. May have too much of a resemblance to be remembered though. It may take some time to hear some nuances.
  • The Ruby Suns – Sea Lion I love albums like these. Listenable, but strange. Like a Caribbean Yo La Tengo, but way more emphasis on rhythm. Not that this would mean anything to you, but I had a perfect moment with this album driving out of Chicago at dusk into a pink urban sky

Holy mole. I might be done for these past 3 months. I think. Oh wait. Got the new Pinback album. Crap…and The Kills and The Eternals (that’s a funny pair). And Portishead. And for some reason, Jay-Z. And I’m sure some other less noteworthies.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #5: April-July (Part 3)

I swear to freaking god I will get this multi-part posting done before the end of July. But oh my tribulations continue! Brand new iPod #5 will not be recognized by my aged Mac. Planned obsolescence, my ass. It’s more like obligatory obsolescence. Anyone have a grand so I can get my $200 iPod to work? In 2 words, boowl sheett. This obviously complicates the ongoing project to document every album I buy this year. But continued however daunted I will.

  • The Hold Steady – Stay Positive  Like their live performance, this album gets me despite myself. Maybe it’s just that they’re filling the void left by the Afghan Whigs of making references to Roman Catholic ritual in inappropriate situations. But I don’t embrace it completely. The subject material seems to be pandering to brats, as usual. And then there’s that creepy-ass gravely back-up vocal that pops up unexpected and unwelcomed throughout the album. Who the hell is that and who thought that was a good idea? But these are nitpicks. I bought it, I’ll love it.  BTW…is it just me or is Craig Finn sounding more and more like Will Farrell’s Harry Carey impersonation?
  • My Brightest Diamond – A Thousand Shark’s Teeth  It’s been harder to get into this one, unlike the now canonical Bring Me the Workhorse. I’ll blame myself. It doesn’t assert it self like last one. The songs have their own logic it seems and maybe I need to “learn how to listen” or something. I’ll keep listening, and maybe learning. Shana Worden (my dream aunt) and operatic flourishes are worthy teachers.
  • Spiritualized – Songs In A&E  I was not to jazzed by his live show at Pitchfork, but I do love this album. It’s like a blissed-out Blur or a sad-but-willing-to-please Pink Floyd.
  • King Khan And The Shrines – The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines  Definitely canon-bound. To be sure, this band need to be experienced live. But this album captures the vibe pretty sufficiently. It has the proper grubby sound that makes the soul-punk-funk thing work. Too often, the tendency is to clean up the sound when you have so many great musicians and instruments. Not here. The thrill is preseved as it comes across as some washed up gem from a raucous 50’s Memphis garage band (Think Reigning Sound with a horn section).
  • Extra Golden – Hera Ma NonoIt sounds nice enough. The songs run a little long with little more purpose than to groove. But it’s nice to have some Kenyan grooves break up the whiney whiteys I am habitually drawn to…Crap, I already wrote about this one. Ah, I’m losing track.
  • Joan As Police Woman – To Survive  I like this a lot. I like it even more than the last one if only because Antony is not moaning all over it. There are also better collaborations, including a great one with Rufus. Even though these are some complex-sounding compositions, it kind of sounds like a throwback to Sade at times, and I never got into Sade. That antiseptic sexy is a lie (sexy is germy). So sometimes listening to this I get that awful feeling I get when I’m trapped listening to “cool rock” radio stations. But it’s only momentary. I forgive her these moments because “To Be Lonely” is about the best ever.
  • The War On Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues I love this one so far and it’s definitely canon-bound. It’s overflowing with great lyrics and catchy times. I hate to think of who they remind me of, because that list will have some real monsters on it (like James or Ryan Adams).
  • Puerto Muerto – I Was A Swallow I want to like this more than I do simply because I like the idea of Puerto Muerto so much. The husband-wife doing gothic themed tunes. But I hate the say it, because I’m sure they heard it a 1,000 times, but the Handsome Family does it better. But where as the Family are more like backwoods gothic, the Muertos sound a little more worldly. Like pirate gothic to the Family’s American gothic. And her vocals are much more powerful. So it’s a mixed bag. And that is a lot like life. You’re welcome!
  • Mahjongg – KontpabI have no idea what I should be listening for here. Fragmented electronica with distorted vocals. It’s got great grooves but not the dancing kind. It’s great background as I make my soups. Maybe if I threw a party I might put this on. Perfect to drink wine and talk about art or whatever you do with wine at parties. I need to get out. Someone invite me to a party, okay? 

I’m not done yet. But the end is near. Like 12 more to go and I will have accounted for every album I bought in the last 3 months. But need to practice the banjo now. The band has a show coming at the Gallery Cabaret in Chicago next Saturday. Very exciting. If you come, I’ll put you in the canon.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #4: April-July (Part 2)

No question vast and ambiguous forces conspire against me today.  Not only have the unrepentant thieves at another “blog” stolen my project and format, but ipod #5 is giving me that mocking “you’re fucked” sad face when i try to start it. Bullets are flying but I am not going down. I’m like the invincible malcontent Clive Owen in “Shoot’Em Up”.  They’re coming at me from left and the right, from up and down, and I’m taking them out with a sneer and carrots. But unlike “Shoot’Em Up”, I am not terrible. So with my cold burnt coffee, music coming from the dinky 12-year old computers speakers (now the only way to access my vast and impressively organized library…my cutting-edge soundsystem now so much a useless objet d’art in the wake of ipod #5 demise), I trudge on bravely. For from those dinky speakers, I hear…

  • Earlimart – Hymn and Her I just got this on the morning of this awful Sunday, but it just may redeem it. Haven’t even listened to it thought it completely. I’m on “Before It Gets Better” and I think I’ve found July 13th’s soundtrack. Poppy, but soft with a melancholy touch. But it might be forgettable. Still, canon-bound.
  • Lou Reed – Transformer Lou is one of the few gaps in my collection I’m endeavoring to fill. And I think I did pretty well by starting here. Not all the tunes have aged. “New York Telephone Conversation” is like some kind of joke that may have been kind of funny 30 years ago. I don’t recall Lou being know for his wit, anyways. Nonetheless, “Vicious” and “Perfect Day” are awesome. And they all hang together nicely.  Who knew? The MST3K spaceship is named after track #7. Very near canonical.
  • Au – Verbs Weird. Chanting, unexpected changes. Fractured song structures, if there are any. Nice choice for your neighborhood opium den.
  • Boris – Smile There’s a time and a place for progressive Japanese metal. Unfortunately, they are not now and here. However, I do recall being at work at 8:15am and having “KA RE HA TE TA SA KI-No One Grieve” move me to pump my fist with gritted teeth.
  • Santogold – Santogold I’m not too well plugged into the popular music scene, but I think she’s becoming pretty mainstream. Believe it or not highschool friends, I can enjoy mainstream things. (Dreamgirls is my favorite movie…U2 and Coldplay are pretty awesome…and can’t get enough of “Friends”…Oh, sorry. I’m lying.) I also hear a lot of MIA references. I hear MIA, but more I hear Cyndi Lauper. But a lot cooler. “Lights Out” is a summer fav.
  • My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges Everybody needs to calm down. I refuse to ride the bus that has thrown MMJ under it. I may be the only unfilthy not-high person who actually likes “Highly Suspicious”. It’s not that bad. Admittedly some misfires. Not too sure I’m ready to revisit UB40 and the Fine Young Cannibals. But like Rilo Kiley’s equally disparaged Under the Black Light, there are some standouts. Try denying “I’m amazed”. This is a great band trying something different.

 

Ack. Now my laptop is crapping out and I have 47 albums to go. Great. Another crappy chapter in this crappy day has begun. Screw it. I’m going for a run. And I will get hit by a bus. Probably the same one filled with all the MMJ haters distracted by making fun of “Librarian” (which is pretty ridiculous, but an easy target). C’mon haters, watch where you’re going.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #3: April-July (Part 1)

Holy guacamole, it’s been a long time since I’ve done this. And the longer I delay, the worse it becomes. My music consumption has not dissipated one bit. I’ve accumulated at least 50 albums since the last entry. But I refuse to give up. If I finish this list, I’ll be halfway through the freaking year. Here goes, nose a la grindstone.

  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lay Down in the Light  Someone’s been on a roll lately. It’s a shambling and shimmering sound. Perfect summer album for this guy. Beardy continues the very nice formula of dueting with a quirky indie female vocalist (Faun Fables lady on “Let Me Go” and Meg Baird on “Ask Forgiveness”). But this time it’s my personal fav Amber Webber (of Black Mountain and the canonical Lightening Dust) with a set of pleasant–even cheerful–songs.  And did I hear a jazzy clarinet? The public fellatio tune aside, of course. 
  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Ask Forgiveness  I’m a sucker for cover albums, and still for Will Oldham albums, so this one had me on the Tuesday it came out. Meg Baird of the great freaky-deaky Espers and her own efforts (who I think I would really like) joins Beardy this time. So this should be much more awesome than it is. I don’t think Bill is good at covers. That Tortoise cover album was terrible. This one’s not as bad, but you can hear it’s lost potential more clearly. It seems like Meg’s parts were kind of tacked on. She doesn’t even get to do the duet on the lamey version of the best Bjork song ever. Instead, Bill sings both the Bjork and Thom York parts on “I’ve Seen It All”. What does that make the song about? And btw, that song title is an appropriate response to the R. Kelly cover. Did you know he played a cop in one of those gross “In the Closet” episodes?  
  • Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)  Another ecstatic ensemble celebrating life as it is, I think. Still, it’s pretty great. They live in a commune.
  • Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles  “Crimewave” to me represents the best of electronica or whatever this genre is. Repetitive, incomprehensible, and vaguely robo-erotic. I’m down, but this makes feel old.
  • Crystal Stilts – Crystal Stilts  This one hits me just right. Nothing groundbreaking. Sounds like I should have been listening to this with my The Clean album.
  • Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours  I don’t think I would have got this if they weren’t going to be at the Pitchfork Festival. It’s kind of cheesy. But it’s playing on that newly discovered love of 80s synth pop exploited better by Glass Candy in March. I never liked New Order or any of that in their heyday, but now I’m digging the imitators. Maybe they’re better dressed.
  • Darondo – Let My People Go  I think Darondo is/was actually a pimp, I’m told. So was Al Green, of which he sounds like a cracked-out version. And I’m no hebrew scholar or nothing, but Moses kind of seemed like a pimp. So it makes sense.
  • Extra Golden – Hera Ma Nona  I swear to you on my life that I only long for Extra Golden to punk the hell out of Vampire Weekend at this year’s Pitchfork Festival. I don’t care how they do it. Maybe by washing the Vampire cardigans in hot water. Or midway through Weekend’s set of the most offensive appropriation of a heritage (they’re the hipster Jar Jar Binks), they could like throw blood on their loafers. Or they could just completely blow them out of the water with their sound so superior to the VDub’s Gap Ad-version. And they do the “Obama” song.
  • No Age – Nouns  Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that these guys were a garage band. Maybe it was the picture of  garage (or is it a storefront?) on their album cover. Whatever. My expectations were defied and I refused to listen further. But they kept creeping back in my zune shuffle (oh wise Shuffle) and forced a reconsideration.  This one is better from the pretty good “Weirdo Rippers.” And their’s something to be said about the packaging (I actually bought the CD old school), which is pretty worthwhile. “Teen Creeps” is my summer anthem.
  • Jay Reatard – Blood Visions  I love it. 2 years old, but still kicks ass. Like my son*. Appropriately on the same label as the morekickassing Reigning Sound. That should be enough. Cover’s a little gross, though. 

To be continued…

*Artistic license…I really want to use this simile, but I don’t have any children, nor do I know any two-year-olds that can kick ass with any particular skill. I assume mine would, though.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #2: March

This would have been up earlier, had I not erased the first version. Oh blog posts…easy come, easy go, not so easy coming back. And don’t get me started on WordPress’ new formatting limitations. So here’s a shorter, less funny and image-restricted version.

This month was an even more insane for music accumulation than both January and February combined. The mere prospect of documenting every album I now have gives me a stomach ache. So I’m limiting this post to albums I had a chance to think about. Even though it only represents about like 10%. I still have this glut problem. But I still appreciate all of it. Unless it stinks. 

Michael Showalter – Sandwiches and Cats This should have been funnier. I was just as disappointed with the Michael Ian Black CD. What happened to these guys? They are so stand-up-comedy-ish. The “clean penis” bit is great, but nothing of the genius of the State. It’s still old school observational comedy. But I may be overestimating the State from the 3 episodes I kind of watched.

Dengue Fever – Venus on Earth Chhom Nimol’s voice is the seller here. Their whole kitschy Cambodian pop shtick has been getting a lot of hype lately (Fresh Air?), and it’ll be too bad if her voice gets overlooked when the balloon bursts. She’s had to have been with better bands. If you can recommend a better album, I’m all ears.

Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash God bless Stephen Malkmus. He’s been a seminal influence, he always impresses live, but the fear is his solo output has diminishing returns. He’s like the George Lucas of indie pop, where Pavement are like the solid original trilogy and all the solo stuff are the treacly goofy prequel mess…okay, that’s unfair. But still, I think he needs a band, he needs someone to prevent him from indulging every eccentricity. Would it be so bad if he just joined the Jicks? It doesn’t matter, I guess. I’ll still buy it. “Wicked Wanda” is pretty good.

Thao – We Brave Bee Stings and All “Beat” is my new running song. And I feel good about running to it. It earns its driving force, without programmed beats or gimmicky loudness, but with a catchy and rhythmic hook. I feel like hitting myself at points. So it’s been weird. I’m happy, I’m running, I’m hitting myself.

Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See I need more soft noises to drown out the dumb sounds of a college town. And this one does the job nicely. Not a memorable tune in the bunch, though. But I put it on to forget it, so no surprise that I don’t remember anything.

The Gutter Twin – Saturnalia Much better than I thought. The terrible band name for the Greg Dulli-Mark Lanegan collaboration was bested (or “worsted”) by an even more awful album name. Who wants to think of these fogeys engaging in an orgy, ritual-based or not. But still they’re backed by a great band and they continue and build upon with cool shady guy reps. No real standouts, but this is an old fashioned album. Good for night listening. If you buy into either of their vibes, like I do, you’ll be happy with it. But it’s not canon-bound.

Betty Davis – They Say I’m Different Wow. This was made 34 years ago? It’s like a coked up Erikyah Badu got in a time machine and crashed into Sly and the Family Stone’s garage (Overblown Time Machine Simile #1). I’m not a funk fan. It’s faux cool bothers me. But she keeps it pretty weird. “He was a big freak/I whipped with him tourquoise chain”…What?

Destroyer – Trouble in Dreams Another Dan Behar album. I’m onboard with the schtick, but it’s not for everyone. And it’s not as great as This Night or Streethawk—which have moments where you might actually identify with Dan. Nope, you gotta set sail here. I haven’t listened to it that much. Too busy playing the Destroyer Drinking Game

She & Him – Volume One I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this good. It’s like M. Ward got in a time machine, picked up Carly Simon on a lonely day, and hung out at Phil Spector’s studio during its gaveyard shift (Overblown Time Machine Simile #2). Still, it may be offering up its pleasures too easily.

John Cale – Paris 1918 I still don’t know who he is, but this is of course excellent, elegant and well-crafted. It feels like I should already have this, like I’ve lost $15 while simultaneously finding an old cd.

Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster I like it, but I’m a little skeptical of the let’s-get-ecstatic-by-the-beauty-we-create thing. Or that means I’m bitter.

The Everybodyfields – Nothing Is Okay My family makes fun of me for loving unapologetically sad albums like this. Screw them. They ache and wrench beautifully. Canon bound

Tift Merritt – Another Country The song I love the best is the one my father taught to me. “The kindness of a stranger is dust from an unseen wing. But an old friend at my table is by far the finest thing this tired mile could give to me.” The colors of the man I love are deepest blue and green and it isn’t very often that I say just what I mean, ’cause the feeling seems to scatter and these words fall in between. For what I miss, I’ll just tell you this. It’s something to me.

Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #1: January-February

I buy a godawful way-beyond-my-budget amount of music. It’s becoming a problem. I’m on a 90-track monthly subscription to eMusic*, but even that does little to satiate this hunger for sound. I’ve already bought over 200 songs this year, and they were like so many cocktail weenies down a well**. I need to  appreciate more, unless my hyper-consumption strip my capacity to appreciate. So this year, I will take account of every album I acquire.

Little Amber Bottles by BlancheBlanche, Little Amber Bottles

I got duped by an NPR show. It lead me right for A Sunny Day in Glasgow, but they dropped the ball on this one. They’re like a polished version of the Handsome Family, who aren’t in need of any polishing. So you get this mundane glossy americana gothic sound. Glossy goth is not good market-wise (too gothic sounding for contemporary country scene, too glossy for the americana goths…they wear chaps AND fishnets). 

Basia Bulat, Oh My Darling

I like that she’s bringing back the autoharp. And she can sound like Tonya Donnelly, which appeals to this dark place in me. The album doesn’t hang together, but there are some real nice moments.

Ra Ra Riot,  Ra Ra Riot

Some tunes can sound like tossed off Police B-sides, like right when Sting started discovering his world music lameness. But still most of the tunes got an optimistic hop to them. I’m digging it.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Scribble Mural Comic Journal

I read a lot, so I need noise to drown out the everlasting bong convention in the apartment next door. This one does the job nicely so far.

Mark Lanegan, Bubblegum

I downloaded this one by accident. (It was only a matter of time…I’ve been visiting the page for a daily for updates since I heard about the upcoming Mark Lanegan-Greg Dulli collaboration “the Gutter Twins“…which I have a sneaking feeling will be terrible…these guys have like the combined age of 158 and they want to be called “twins”?) I was surprised to discover PJ Harvey on 2 tracks,  but I think this gets cancelled out by 2 choads from Velvet Revolver on 1 track. That leaves Lanegan’s gruff coolness that can sound a little manufactured to these authentically cool gruff ears. But still, I don’t mind that I have these.

Bon Iver,  For Emma, Forever Ago

I’ve been looking forward to this one. With the anticipation that usually leaves me feeling tricked. But not here. It sounds like TVOTR’sTunde Adebimpe, but like stuck with Iron & Wine’s touring band. I am very excited. Canon-bound.

Some Racing, Some Stopping, Headlights

It’s not going to blow any minds, but it may tap some feet. I like it better than their last album, which I liked alright. Maybe they’re a Death Cab for Cutie-type that I’m not embarrassed to listen to.

High Places, 03/07 – 09/07

More fractured soundscapes for reading. But a little more upbeat.

Beach House, Devotion

I could only get 8 of these tracks, and it’s driving me nuts. I loved their last album, and I’m thinking this one is a step up. The composition is a little more complex, without sacrificing the sparse ambiance of their first tracks. There’s even a cool Daniel Johnson cover. Instant canonization.

Puerto Muerto, Songs Of Muerto County

Their performance 2 years ago left an indelible impression on me. The wife stentorian, banging on a tom while the husband is all snakey on guitar. It’s taken me that long to finally buy something, but it was worthwhile. This one also appeals to my weakness for concept albums. It has something to do with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I have now idea how, and what a terrible movie, but I’m glad I was suckered. “Josephine” alone has made this one Canon-bound.

Black Mountain, In The Future

PASTE Magazine kind of panned this album, which is making me reconsider my subscription. No wonder they give them out free. This album is excellent. Amber Webber is more prevalent, which is a great thing (check out her excellent project, Lightning Dust). The songs can get a little jammy and he can sound too much like Mudhoney, but it’s still pretty great. Canon-bound

Breathe Owl Breathe, Ghost Glacier EP

Of course I love this. It’s like it’s been custom designed for me. But now I need to buy this guy’s entire oeuvre. Oh the obligation of discovery.

Evangelicals, The Evening Descends

I really like this. It’s a like spooky Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There’s a moment in “Skeleton Man” (you’ll know it when you hear it) that has failed to not give me chills.

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon by Devendra BanhartDevendra Banhart,  Smokey Rolls Do…

I’m not a really big fan of this guy, but I still manage to have every album. How did this happen. I’ve never listened to Television, I’m not too sure who John Cale is, and yet I have over a hundred songs by this unwashed Lindsey Lohan ex. Still, this one’s better than the rest.

He Poos CloudsFinal Fantasy, He Poos Clouds

To be honest, it was the title. And I got what I paid for. I’m sure what to make of it. It sounds pretty complex and strange, but I’m not sure it’s good. I might have to be patient with this one.

 Glass Candy, Beat Box

This could be a little too trendy, or I could be going through some sort of phase (a breathy-vocals-over-chintzy-beats phase), but I’m loving it now.

Disco RomanceSally Shapiro, Disco Romance

Another by-product of my breathy-vocals-over-chintzy-beats phase, but not as satisfying as Glass Candy. I think I just want more Glass Candy. Still, it’s cute.

JukeboxCat Power, Jukebox

Not as good as her last cover album. Holy mole this is becoming a long post.

Every Joke Is Half the TruthScary Mansion, Every Joke Is Half the Truth

I think I got this one only because I was disappointed by “Jukebox” so much. Scary’s being marketed as (or described like) early Cat Power. So that may be influencing my expectations overmuch. I need to just buy more old Cat Power and come back to this when I can listen to it one its own terms.

Little HappynessThe Aluminum Group, Little Happyness

Eyah. Even though it comes from Chicago, it’s still lame euro disco pop. But I’m still listening to it. And it nauseates me a little. The electronica binge stops now.

Times New Viking, Rip It Off

I’m very excited to see these guys and gal live, but the rough recording makes it kind of hard to find the song through the mess. I know it’s intentional, but I can’t help but feel a little, yes, ripped off. But what I’ve found, I’ve liked so much.
 Tiny VipersTiny Vipers, Tiny Vipers

I blew it here. This is some kind of live album, and it’s not playing to her strengths. She has some fine buzz, but this recording is not a very good introduction. But I think I just want the Bats for Lashes album. But it’s not on eMusic. I’ll have to buy the CD. Must…resist…the…compulsion.

*I am not a shill for eMusic. I am a fan, however. There is a diff.

**Pardon the mixed metaphor.

Jerry Grit’s Canon: 2007 Canonizations

Here they are, most of the albums that were officially inducted* into Jerry Grit’s set of sacred recordings in 2007**. 

Soft Pow’r by Little Wings

What if Will Oldham did a sexmedown album and it actually turned out well? It would be like this. It’s a rare album that gets instant canonization, but here you go.

Rock, Rot & Rule by Scharpling & Wurster

Without a doubt. I downloaded this thinking it was what its title purported it to be–some sort of critical music commentary. How angry, and then gleeful, I was to discover it was not at all. This track introduced me to the world of Tom Scharpling (host of The Best Show and so much more) and John Wurster (Superchunk drummer and so much more). For those of you who have not yet discovered it, I am going to give you a gift. Ready? Here you go, http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/BS. You’re welcome.

The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse by The Besnard Lakes

And like instantly so. They’re like Low, but with a sense of humor and more instruments and without the Mormon weirdness. Live, they’re even better. I’m beginning to fear too much of my money is going north.

The Modern Tribe by The Celebration

Beach House riding the rails playing a rave. I hate raves, but I’d be pretty happy here. A few collaborations with the TV on the Radio guy got them some press. But further attention is demanded. This is a great album.

Analphabetapolothology by Cap’n Jazz 

On first listen, I wanted nothing to do with these guys. It all sounded tossed off and awful. But after almost 5 years of these songs surprising me on my zune, I began hearing the neat patterns that first came off as chaos. It waged a long battle, but I concede to love it.   

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon

I’ve been listening to Spoon for a spell, but never got hot for a single album. There seemed to be a coldness. Now, I burn. I burn bright, hot and clean like most of these tracks.

The Stage Names by Okkervil River

They did it again. But, I feel like I am in the center of their target demographic, i.e. an unraveling melody loving concept album sucker. They’ll get me everytime. 

Cold & Kind by The 1900’s

They sound so soft, but I keep coming back. I guess if I lived in the 70s listening to punk, I might feel the same way for digging Fleetwood Mac. Which I totally do not. 

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? by Of Montreal

They’re like the much better egghead version of the Scissor Sisters. It’s nice to get pumped by a song that references Georges Bataille.

Boxer by The National

This album hangs together so well, sustaining a mood without getting repetitive. It’s all velvet and red wine.

This Fool Can Die Now by Scout Niblett

Scout’s been UNDER CONSIDERATION before, but this one is it. And not just for the Will Oldham duets (they do help, though). “Kiss” alone could make this Canon worthy. It sounds like what would happen if Cat Power ever woke up and cared about something. 

Living With The Living by Ted Leo

Nice guy finishes first. The songs are smart and easily likeable, while still kicking the asses. 

A really imperfect attempt at a comprehensive list of Jerry Grit’s Canon is available on his eMusic page. Although it is limited by eMusic’s offerings and Jerry’s impatience, it also lists albums UNDER CONSIDERATION for canonization–which means they are currently undergoing the requisite trial period of “deep listening.” He’s pretty sure they have a pretty good chance of making it in, but he wants to make really sure. More than once he has been self-duped by nascent enthusiasm. Like he was really into Triplefastaction for one regretful month in ’95.

Despite appearances, he is not a shill for eMusic. However, if you want 50 free tracks and you’re not a member, let him know.

*The qualifications for canonization are complex and evolving. Needless to say, Jerry Grit’s Canon is of course totally subjective insofar as what is canonical has touched Jerry Grit at a particular time in his life and resonated so completely with his being that they now constitute a part his essence. Nonetheless, an argument can be made–by way of the Emersonian “oversoul” path–that at the lower frequencies, Jerry Grit is listening for you.

**It does not mean they were released in 2007, or that they had anything to do with 2007. It just means that in 2007, Jerry realized their deserving place in his Canon.

  • Calendar

    • July 2020
      M T W T F S S
       12345
      6789101112
      13141516171819
      20212223242526
      2728293031  
  • Search