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.

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Jerry Grit’s Year in Albums #11: October

“Rocktober”? More like “You-bought-too-many-damn-albums-again-Eric-Jerry-tober.”

Here we go, in no particular order…

  • Lambchop – OH (ohio)I’m sure there are states less deserving of a Lambchop album associated with them, but you could probably count them on your fingers. I can’t imagine this unsurprisingly excellent collection of mellow and interesting orchestrations supporting wry and wise observational lyrics will get much play in Canton or Lorain. But then again, this band—one of the best and underrated in existence—also did an album called Nixon, who is perhaps the Ohio of U.S. Presidents. You embrace your inspirations from wherever they spring. And as mundane and ridiculous and depressing as this state, this album is just as worthwhile.
  • Lambchop – What Another Man Spills OH (ohio) reminded me how much I love Lambchop. I have their last 5. Why not their 6? And again, it’s awesome. They potentially have the most solid back catalogue eva, although apparently I have 5 more to go in order to make this claim true. Same mellow “countrypolitan” or whatever you call the sound they invented. Some funk experimentation here, which I’ll allow but I’m happy they they no longer indulge.
  • Blitzen Trapper – Furr [Before the show…] I don’t think I like these guys. They seem to combine bad parts of the Beatles and Wilco, which really aren’t that bad, on the great scale of badness. But then there’s this touch of Tom Petty and that Skynard-southern-rock-thing, which tips the scales. And I think there’s a line about a “midget waiting for a midnight train” and “playing air guitar.” “Black River Killer” is further proof to my longheld thesis that indie bands should steer clear of murder ballads. I like the opener, though, and “Furr.” I like parts of half the songs here. Girl Talk could turn this into a wicked 3-song EP. [After the show…] Okay, fine. This is pretty awesome. The album is synergistic to their live performance, which isn’t as normal as it should be. That midget song still stinks, though.
  • Bound Stems – The Family Afloat Competent indie pop from Chicago. I think one of the guys went to my school, so any clear-eyed assessment is mired by a mix of alumni jingoism and envy. But I think some of the lyrics get a little too earnest.
  • Brightblack Morning Light – Motion To Rejoin Bluesy, slow, gospel-y. Kinda hippy-dippy, but to be expected from these tent-dwellers. Won’t set the world on fire, but sets a nice mood.
  • Clem Snide – End Of Love Last (?) album from Eef Barzelay’s great band. It’s good, but not as good as previous albums and the solo stuff he’s put out since. Seems like a good decision he made to move on.
  • Colleen – Les Ondes Silencieuses A few albums I buy a month are devoted to the purely functional purpose of drowning out my college-era neighbors with interesting but unintrusive sounds…I now understand why old people sit on their porches with shotguns. These cello-centered modernist (?) compositions do a nice job. Don’t know too much about this field to have a real opinion, though. Sounds good to me…on my rocking chair…with my shotgun. Damn kids. 
  • Damien Jurado – Caught In The Trees Lyrically, it doesn’t stray too far from Damien’s usual cheery themes of murder, failure, betrayal, shooting betrayers, etc. However, the sound is much more upbeat. With the drums, female vocal help, and some other instruments, he has created my favorite Damien Jurado album, all while doing songs that convey a deep suspicion or about doing songs. A lot of standouts here.  Canon-bound.
  • Department of Eagles – In Ear Park The Grizzly Bear guy does it again. Not as complex as Grizzly Bear, and I think it’s to the album’s benefit.
  • Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords I don’t think this stands so well without reference to the show. That said, if you know the show, it’s pretty great to have “Bowie” or “Inner City Pressure” come up in one’s shuffle as a way to recall the dead-on spoof videos from the show.
  • High Places – High Places More sing-songy fragments. Her drowned-out vocals are nicely complemented by his sharp rhythms. No conventional songs, exactly, to ever really get excited/pumped/moved by. Can’t imagine how you would experience this live. Your hands probably spend most of the time in your pockets. There’s no crowd-surfing at the High Places stage. 
  • Horse Feathers – House With No Home More subtle acoustic thoughtful cello-laden fun. Better than their great first album. For the sensitive Nick Drake-loving types. Who you should all be.
  • Juana Molina – Un Dia Don’t know what she’s doing, where she’s coming from, but I like it. Is this Brazilian? I need to expand my horizons a little more, it seems. Or just move to Brazil. All I know about Brazil is from City of God, so I imagine I’ll end up getting shot by a 5-year-old.
  • Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson This song “Buriefied” I had off a sampler kept catching me. I also don’t know anything about this guy either (it was a month of rolling the dice!), but it sounds like he’s coming out of his skin. It’s unhinged acoustic folksy rock, but some interesting production gives it a strangeness that differentiates it from the million others of its ilk.
  • Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron, Fred Squire – Lost Wisdom  Really great. Julie Dorion’s vocals make this a pretty special album. And there’s a brilliant use of a Bjork refrain, which comes out of nowhere on this otherwise folky gothic acoustic album. This Microphones/Mount Eerie guy’s kinda hit-or-miss, and he really hits one here. It’s a short and moving album. This one’s heading to the canon.
  • Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping Holy mole, what the hell is this? I’m not ready to throw it under the bus. But it’s no surprise to say it’s no Hissing Fauna. Pardon the glib psychoanalysis, but I imagine it must have been a little traumatic to have been so autobiographical about a break-up with your wife that you reunite with a year or so later. Trying to make amends with the same person you’re singing that you want to pay some other girl to hit must have led to complications. No wonder Mr. Barnes would retreat behind a swinging mystical transsexual persona. However exhaustively bizarre, still a standout for inventiveness. A mix of Prince and Fiery Furnaces.
  • Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual Again, what the hell is this? Unhinged lady just scream-skatting hyped dueling guitar rock. I have no idea when I’m supposed to play this. It’s too obnoxious to be appropriate for anything that I do while listening to music. Maybe if I got into coke-binges or knife-fighting, this might be the go-to soundtrack.
  • Portastatic – Bright Ideas Another album from Mac McCaughan’s post-Superchunk band. It’s from 2005. I’m still trying to catch up on all these albums I missed because I though Mac was too busy running Merge to do any more music. But, no. This guy runs a great record label and still puts out the good stuff on his own. This one makes me nostalgic for the Superchunk and some of the songs (“I Wanna Know Girls” especially) ranks with his former band’s best stuff.
  • Ratatat – LP3 Functional guitar/electronica instrumental background music. Part of the “soundtrack” genre. Which again, I know nothing about.
  • Stereolab – Chemical Chords If you’re from Southern Ohio or Central Pennsylvania, or any other part of Real America, then Stereolab is probably way above your Lynard Skynard-loving head. Stalwarts of post-rock from the Continent, they create chill odd lounge-y tunes for Chardonnay swilling at East Coast art openings or for planning terrorist attacks. It’s not much a departure from the last album, but still worthwhile if you’re into this sort of thing.
  • the castanets – City of Refuge Not for everyone, but I’m down with this guy. I would like to write more about this but I am so burnt out from this post. I, too, want to run to a city of refuge. What the heck…you should buy this, though.
  • Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls I listen to this album very early in the morning and it’s been one of my more favorite things this month. They take me back to the early days of Kim and Kelly Deal. By 10am though, my jaded sensibilities take over and I’m bored.

In full disclosure, these were not all the albums I bought this month. I have the new TV on the Radio and Deerhunter just waiting for me to play. But I am so done writing this post. It’s my little birthday gift to myself: a little slack on my self-imposed year-long project. Still feel a little guilty. If only I were so driven about recording albums and starting record labels, I could be like Mac. But no. I blog irregularly. A major reassessment of priorities will take place for 2009.

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 #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 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.

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