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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Yay, Nay, Egh: My Hideout Block Party Concert Review

My ladyfriend and I traveled to Chicago for my 5th consecutive attendance to the Hideout Block Party in Chicago. The Hideout is the coolest bar/musical community behind a Home Depot. I didn’t get to see everything and had to leave early. I am only a man.

SATURDAY

  • Giant Sand (Yay)He’s much jazzier and Billy Bob Thortonlike than expected. Unfortunately, the set was a little ramshackle and there were none of the great female vocalists he recorded with on the recent and great Provisions. (C’mon, Neko Case.) Still, it was my first time seeing a guy I’ve been listening to for a decade. Novelty prevails.
  • Little Cow (Egh) I guess they did what they could for shirtless Hungarians.
  • Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip (Yay) Pretty decent British rapping, I shrug. But here’s what puts it over the top as a live experience. Pip devotes intersong banter to reaming their Pitchfork reviewer for giving their last album a 0.2 (which is like a really low pitched “Nay,” given my primitive rating schema). He reams by reading that same reviewer’s celebratory assessments of Coldplay and Sean Combs.  Get that guy, Scroobius.
  • Plastic People of the Universe (Egh) I half-read an article about this group being legendary and everyone should be really excited.  I half-listened and wasn’t convinced of the former, so didn’t become the later.
  • Monotonix (Yay) I’m not too sure what they were playing or that I would ever listen to it again. But they won me and many over for keeping it sort-of together while the singer crowd surfed in a garbage can, the drummer crowd surfed on his drums, and the guitarist sat on an elephant. Again, novelty prevails.
  • Neil Hamburger’s Drunken Spelling Bee (n/a) I was definitely interested in doing this. But you had to sign a release and apparently there were to be shots after every spelling bee round. And it was inside, during Black Mountain’s set. If anyone can share, please do. 
  • Black Mountain (Yay)Long freaking setup time. But in retrospect, I think it had something to do with Monotomixabbreviated set (abbreviated by some kind of destruction, I think). Still, it was nice to see Vancouver psyche-rockin the sunshine, however cloaked in a manufactured fog.
  • Vieux Farka Toure (Egh) A little too jammy. Not on my wavelength. They should play by an egg-timer. One of the guys sat on a gourd.
  • Neko Case (Yay) I thought Neko was on her way out as far as my positive assessment goes. I thought OD’d on her and the rest would be diminishing returns. But the lady’s still got it. Looked like she could use a nap, though. Maybe a few z’s were more important than showing up for Giant Sand.   

SUNDAY

  • The Jon Rauhouse Sestet (Yay) Pedal steel driven instrumentals. Listened from afar, as I drank my beer and read through old New Yorkers.
  • Honey Boy Edwards & Devil in a Woodpile (Obligatory Yay)It’s blues in the Sunday sun, so it’s kind of boring. Both Honey Boy Edwards and Devil in a Woodpile are best heard on weekday nights. But Honey Boy Edwards is billed as the “oldest living bluesman,” a description that renders any critique mean. And Devil in a Woodpile are essential to the Hideout, so it seems wrong to say anything remotely critical. 
  • The Uglysuit (Egh) Oklahoma group with each band member managing to have their own personal and equally dire hair issue. The new album is alright, but they need to grow up. And get some buzz cuts.
  • Tim Fite (Egh) Kind of bummed that Tim rhymes/sings to backing tracks. But he ends Gallagher-like by throwing watermelons into the crowd.
  • Mucca Pazza (Yay) The marching band shtick is still pretty fun.
  • Dark Meat (Nay) Wow. These guys were terrible. No idea how they ended up with such a prime time slot. C’mon, Hideout staff. You can do better.
  • Robbie Fulks (Yay) Robbie finds a way to finally get the masses excited about him, by doing a Michael Jackson-only set with the great Nora O’Conner. Their are costume changes, lamely funny to impenetrably bizarre pantomimes, the obvious jokes, but it’s pretty fun. Novelty prevails and conquers.
  • Rhymefest (An Averaged “Egh”)Rhymefest starts out a strong “Yay,” but unravels to a “Nay”. Perhaps overshadowed (or tripped up?) by the Robbie Fulks-Michael Jackson extravaganza that just preceeded him (and ended with a stage full of hipster zombies doing the “Thriller” thing), he seems at first charged by the build-up, starting with a few tracks off his free Michael Jackson tribute album.  After a few flubbed raps, he wrongheadedly goes off-script with his spoken word peice about being close to life, death, hope, etc. After a minor flub of this, he gets heckled. He then goes in a defensive crouch behind the DJ and tries again with the solid “Brand New” from his great album, Blue Collar. But he’s obviously rattled. He flubs this and just walks off, completing only like 20 minutes of an hour set. The DJ tries to cover for him by leading the crowd into a chant. DJ understands that there’s little he can do sans MC and flees after El Che.  You don’t often get to see a set implode like that. And it’s surprising to see it happening to Rhymefest, who fronts a hardworking, professional entertainer ethic. Perhaps he was angling for his own Kanye West-like Bonnaroo meltdown
  • The New Pornographers, Ratatat, Hercules and Love Affair DJ set (n/a) Have to work. Can’t flee the stage of my life. Damn, dude.