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.

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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.

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