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Old 09-07-2014, 07:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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And mine is definitely not one, but it'll be a fun little exercise for me.

I absolutely love MusicBanter. Really. It's a great forum with a great community, and I've gotten turned on to so much great music since I've started hanging around here. But the thought that started to sink in approximately two minutes after I made my account was, "Wow... these people know so much more than I do." (You all have much broader taste, too.) I don't love being comparatively less nerdy, but (1) it's really great to see so many people talk about albums I wouldn't hear about otherwise but turn out loving - I listened to Snowman today because bob. mentioned them, and they are incredible, but I wouldn't have heard about them otherwise; (2) I'm fourteen, so I have an excuse for not knowing quite as much; (3) it's a nice change of atmosphere from my school, where there's nobody with taste like mine (not to sound snobby or to attack the taste of my classmates - we just don't have a ton in common musically).

So I guess here is where I'll post random stuff. I'll post about albums I've just been listening to, albums I'm revisiting, music I've loved for a while, any concept that's interesting to me. Maybe some top ten lists by year or something? Those are fun. Anyway, the thing that'll be sort of interesting about this is that I'm still at an age where my music taste still has room to, and probably will, grow and evolve, so this'll hopefully be a really cool document of that.

I'll start out, I guess, but talking about some albums I've been getting into recently, with mini-reviews:



Angels of Light: New Mother (1999) and How I Loved You (2001): I'd never listened to Angels of Light before, because I've never been able to get into Swans and I figured they probably wouldn't be of much interest to me because of that. But here's the thing: I really like dark country-folk. New Mother sounds a little like Wovenhand, and I love Wovenhand. How I Loved You is more singular - it's really a monolithic work of darkness (Jesus that sounded pretentious). I like it better also because I think New Mother falls off a little after "The Man With the Silver Tongue", but I'll definitely be listening to both a lot. 3.5/5, 4/5



Queens of the Stone Age: Rated R (2000) and Songs for the Deaf (2002): I'm against guilty pleasures. I think the concept implies that music taste is in any way objective, instead of being all about subjectivity - projecting your own onto others, projecting others' onto yourself, whatever - and I think we should like what we like and not be ashamed, unless the lyrics are offensive or something. But if I had guilty pleasures, QOTSA would be one. They're a commercial mainstream rock band. I'm a hipster snob, or so say my friends (haha, friends). I'm not supposed to like them, am I? But you know what? These are both really great albums, and these guys definitely have more range than I was giving them credit for. Dave Grohl is a more than capable drummer, and even if I'm not a Mark Lanegan or Screaming Trees fan, he's got a great voice. But I really think the beginning of Songs for the Deaf shows off what's great about the band - we get Oliveri's screaming "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire" transitioning seamlessly into the taut Homme riffing of "No One Knows". I haven't listened to any of the post-Oliveri albums, and even if I do it won't be with very high expectations, because I think it's how they play off each other that makes these two albums so awesome. Will be great pump-up music for debate tournaments also. 3.5/5, 4/5



The Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas (2002): I'm not going to pretend that you don't know what the Mountain Goats sound like, but I somehow slipped over this one and it's really good, one of their/his best. Gotta love singer-songwriter bedroom folk about hailing Satan, right? But seriously, we live in a time when there are more earnest white guys with acoustic guitars than ever before, and John Darnielle keeps us from forgetting the important lesson that people in that style can actually be good. 3.5/5



Sunset Rubdown: Shut Up I Am Dreaming (2006) and Random Spirit Lover (2007): Spencer Krug stops sounding like Isaac Brock and starts sounding like David Bowie!... is how I would put this if I were being stupid and reductive. The trouble with Bowie comparisons is that those who invite them - James Murphy, Jarvis Cocker, Krug's Swan Lake collaborator Dan Bejar - are, like the great man himself, too unique too be put in a box like that. You know Krug as the better, less conventional half of Wolf Parade even if you haven't heard his Sunset Rubdown stuff. But seriously, listen to his Sunset Rubdown stuff. It's got a sort of glammy chamber-pop feel to it, and it fits him even better than the rock-band-with-occasional-theremin Wolf Parade stuff. I think I like the first one a little better, but the second one grew on me as I listened. I'm going to say 3.5/5, 4/5.



Snowman: The Horse, the Rat, and the Swan (2008): When I listen to, say, the Pop Group's Y, or Nick Cave's From Her to Eternity, I know the historical context. And when I listen to Snowman, I also know the historical context. This album is great, but what I really have to credit it with is showing me that this kind of sort of funky post-punk is cutting-edge and challenging even now. The album is well-paced, opening with frenzied tribalistic drumming and shouty vocals, but increasing the frequency of quieter, just-as-hypnotic songs. If you're into more out-there post-punk like the stuff I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, this album really should be a must. Definitely check it out (and once again thanks to bob. for mentioning another one of their albums in the 1001 albums thread - that one is on my list, and I have high hopes based on its predecessor). 4.5/5



Tyondai Braxton: Central Market (2009): So Braxton's pedigree, obviously, is impeccable - Anthony Braxton's son, member of Battles, general Cool Person - but I'd never heard any of his solo stuff before. I'm glad I changed that. This is a sort of neoclassical album, another well-paced one. In this case, it's sort of a progression from the more conventional stuff into more envelope-pushing material. While this seems like a tough trick, Central Market completely pulls it off. If I have to pick one song that exemplifies that transition, it's the centerpiece, "Platinum Rows", where the most epic string swells on the album alternate with kazoo solos - and this seems totally natural. The album has to be listened to as a whole, and it's really cool hearing how we get from the cheerful horns of "Opening Bell" to the Krautrock chug of "J. City" and the ragged ending of "Dead Strings". It's just a really excellent album. 4/5

Starting tomorrow (maybe - I'll be more active on weekends because school), you'll see a lot more range in my ratings, because I'll be talking about a lot of what I listen to, not just what I really like. I really hope this gets approved, and (if it does) thanks for reading!

Last edited by Josef K; 11-29-2014 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Said Frog Eyes instead of Swan Lake - fixed!
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Wow, this was approved fast. Thank you based mods.

(Kill me.)
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Looking forward to reading this!
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Old 09-07-2014, 09:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I like what I see so far (hadn't heard that Snowman album, excellent stuff). I'll be keeping an eye on this journal.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey, you don't need to be old or anything to be a good writer! Just look at Pet_Sounds and... *ahem* me.
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Old 09-08-2014, 06:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Holy crap! You're fourteen? You write like a professional! Such insight and great usage of the language, and I don't see any spelling mistakes (not that I'm implying those younger than me ---- everyone's younger than me! --- have automatically bad spelling, but you know, texting and Facebook etc has not exactly made this the golden age of spelling or grammar, so you're carrying the standard very well) What an incredible start, and such an honest intro too. Be watching this; should be one of the journals of the year maybe. Very well done, and welcome!
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Old 09-08-2014, 09:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Looking forward to reading this!
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I like what I see so far (hadn't heard that Snowman album, excellent stuff). I'll be keeping an eye on this journal.
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Holy crap! You're fourteen? You write like a professional! Such insight and great usage of the language, and I don't see any spelling mistakes (not that I'm implying those younger than me ---- everyone's younger than me! --- have automatically bad spelling, but you know, texting and Facebook etc has not exactly made this the golden age of spelling or grammar, so you're carrying the standard very well) What an incredible start, and such an honest intro too. Be watching this; should be one of the journals of the year maybe. Very well done, and welcome!
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Hey, you don't need to be old or anything to be a good writer! Just look at Pet_Sounds and... *ahem* me.
Yeah, and if I remember correctly English isn't your first language (I think?), so I have no excuse.

Alright, just one album today.



Oneida: Rated O (2009): This is an ambitious triple album from Oneida, a band whom I vaguely feel like I enjoy despite not being able to name any songs of theirs. I don't know that I've ever listened to a full album of theirs before. Anyway, we get some glitchy, hypnotic electronic grooves on what was released as the first LP (tracks 1-5), with "Story of O" taking a more guitar-based approach and "The Human Factor" building up from just a drum kit to the most experimental track yet. It's sort of jarring to hear these two, especially the latter, ramp up the intensity with more abrasive sounds and (in the case of "The Human Factor") screamed vocals.

The second disk pushes them into straighter Krauty psych-rock territory, but luckily, they're a good band and can handle it. At times (like "The Life You Preferred") they sound sort of like a less dancy Les Savy Fav, which is to say that there are some really great angular guitars going on but the focus is on the rhythm (given that I described them as "Krautrocky", what did you expect?), which anchors the whole thing. The third LP is quieter but using more rock instrumentation, sort of splitting the difference between the two preceding it. It only has three songs, two of which are over ten minutes. This is the quieter trippy side, but it does some unpredictable cool stuff - gotta love the sitar on "O", which they manage to sell as not just a gimmick.

I've heard that some criticize this album for being too long, but I think that misses the point. It's a demanding listen, sure, but it's a really solid, consistent album (although the second disk wears a little during "Saturday" and "It Was a Wall"), and it's interesting to hear how the band make what are essentially three distinct albums fit together naturally. It's not really a "rock" album - the instrumentation is there, and some songs even have verse-chorus-verse structures and so on, but I'm not going to put this on to sing along to. If I listen, I'm going to do it in one of two ways - to pay my undivided attention to, or to have on in the background, especially if the part of the album I'm listening to is the first three tracks, with their subtly morphing soundscapes. This album lets you choose whether you want it to be an ambient album or an intensely complicated hands-on listening experience, and I think that's really cool. But, although I can see myself loving a couple of these songs, and I like most of them, the middle third in particular is inconsistent despite having a couple of the most immediately appealing songs on the entire thing, and a lot of the album is only pretty good, so I'll go with 7.5. For whatever it's worth, if I were rating each of the thirds individually, I'd say 7.5/6.5/7, and it gets the extra .5 for how unexpectedly cohesive it is.
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yeah, and if I remember correctly English isn't your first language (I think?), so I have no excuse.
That's right, I'm Norwegian.

I'll be keeping an eye on this, you're a good writer.
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Old 09-09-2014, 07:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Pissed Jeans: King of Jeans (2009): This is a pretty fantastic album. I didn't love their first one - as much as I liked the gimmick of lyrics about ice cream and scrapbooking over almost comically aggressive music, it was sort of too messy for me and was a little uneven in places. King of Jeans doesn't have that problem. The lyrics are still about everyday concerns, but frontman Matt Korvette switches from absurdity to average-middle-aged-guy problems, and does it pretty well. But it's a hardcore punk album - it's easy to ignore exactly what Korvette is saying. So rest assured that musically, this also kills. I think the best reference point is Black Flag circa My War, especially on the sludgier tracks ("Spent", the first half of "Request for Masseuse"), but the band are able to call up the memories of other great bands: Black Sabbath, the Jesus Lizard, the Birthday Party (especially on "Half Idiot"), and the Germs. But overall, you don't have to buy all these influences - what matters is that it's a vital, fantastic heavy punk album. If you haven't before, do check it out. 4/5



Sunset Rubdown: Dragonslayer (2009): Yep, more Sunset Rubdown. This album was their third great one in a row, sporting a more streamlined sound, with only eight songs. It takes the chamber pop leanings of Random Spirit Lover and scales them back, making an album that's just as instrumentally extravagant but that sounds more controlled. I came into the Sunset Rubdown discography looking for Wolf Parade, basically, and Spencer Krug hasn't written another "Grounds for Divorce" or "I'll Believe in Anything", but that's fine. If anything, it's more useful to see Wolf Parade as his straightforward-indie-rock side project. Both these bands speak to Krug's versatility and his greatness at songwriting - and on this album, the songs take front-and-center more than any overarching narrative. We've got the smooth "Silver Moons" to start us out, and then the less smooth "Idiot Heart" and "Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!", which trips over itself in the way Krug's best songs do, to tide us over until one of the highlights, "Black Swan". Feedback-filled, unhinged, and almost klezmer-like in parts (Jew pride!), it's definitely one of the best songs he's ever written. Honestly though, even naming "highlights" seems redundant. They're all highlights. This is a lean, composed masterpiece, and much as I love the two before it, Dragonslayer is the culmination of Krug's career. 9.5/10 (11/30 edit: I would give this a much lower score now - 3.5/5 or so. I like it but I think Random Spirit Lover is his best.)

Last edited by Josef K; 11-29-2014 at 11:39 PM.
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