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”

Concert Reviews–The Walkmen, White Rabbits, Ra Ra Riot, The Virgins, National Beekeepers’ Society, Basia Bulat, Pale Young Gentlemen

In addition to starting a blog, I’ve begun writing concert reviews for Madison’s Isthmus under a new whacky pseudonym.

I’ll pay you a dollar if you leave an agreeable comment.

Here they are:

Basia Bulat plays the autoharp.
 Basia plays the autoharp. Photo credit: Brooke Jackson