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,
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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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