Friday, July 31, 2009

Depends on the band, the sound, and the song of course, but I would posit that there are very few examples in pop music of bands who don't evolve (or change radically) over the mid-long term and still maintain their popularity or relevance - no comment on integrity mind you. Hey sounds like a blog question. Thanks for the porn Mike, that may be an all-time low clip.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I must take issue with the recent bout of criticisms that center around the sameness of a band's sound. If a band releases an album full of great songs, I do not believe that they must then change their sound in some fundamental way. Another album full of great songs that are consistent with the previous batch suits me fine. The important question is whether the songs are as strong or not. For example, CCR put out album after album of songs that did not range too far stylistically with consistently high quality songwriting. I don't see that as a problem.

I've never been a huge Wilco fan (I don't dislike them, but neither do I understand the level of critical acclaim that they have achieved), but I would suggest that the quality of the songwriting and performance on the recent album is a much more relevant question than the degree of departure from the previous albums.

And now for the porn link - this being a music blog, it's actually a porn music link. Enjoy!

Another topic for deep discussion: Is this band name more obnoxious than the use of an umlaut in heavy metal nomenclature? Saw it listed for sale on emusic and thought some of the clips intriguing in a just-watched-Blowup-again-recently-so-hankering-for-60s-psychedelia-kind of way but the spelling struck me as uber pretentious (irony intended).
There's a little more going on, instrumentally, on Lost Channels. The guitars are now approaching an uptempo Skydiggers meets America sound. The track you mentioned, Pulling on a Line, sets it aside from some earlier stuff. Definitely more rockin'. But the harmonies are identical to earlier work and tracks like "New Light" and "Rivers Edge" could have easier been on Ongiara or the first disc. Probably a little more to separate it from previous work than Hayden or Wilco but not by much, though enough, I guess to make me own it and to have listened to it in full a few times, something I can't and likely won't be able to say for the other two. So take that. Or you're right. Sorry, this fence hurts from all the straddling. And where are all those porn links?
Would agree with Wilco (also from a couple of quick samples) and Hayden, but not Great Lake Swimmers. I think this time around they've taken their typical dreamy sound (which I've often found listless rather than ethereal) and added some oomph with poppier, tighter arrangements, which for me completely brought them to life (for old fans, I can hear the cries of "sell out"). They've always relied on the singer's unique voice, and for the first time I would say the songs justify it. I would put "Pulling on a Line" and "She Comes to Me in Dreams" among my favourite tracks of the year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Also liked "One Day in Your Life"....listened to some more of the recent stuff via youtube and I'm not quite sold on it, I'm afraid. Were they to put out an album this year, I'm not certain it would make Spin magazine's 20 Best Albums of 2009 so far.

Seem like an odd thing to write? Not if you're trying to segue into linking to Spin magazine's 20 Best Albums of 2009 so far.

Not sure I'd agree with all the selections but there are a few there that I have been digging a lot this year. Notice that Wilco appears, perhaps obligatorily, on the list. Has anyone listened to their latest? I heard a few tracks and wasn't all that impressed. Kind of the same response I had when I sampled some of the latest Hayden disc on emusic....very little to distinguish this music from previous releases. In some cases, this is a good thing. In Neko Cases (groan), for example, where her latest sounds very much like her last two but that's kind of okay with me. In the forementioned Hayden or Great Lakes Swimmers discs, it's a little bit monotonous.

Do you have any formerly cherished artists whose non-varied output causes you to stop listening to any new material? Do you like/hate with the intensity of a thousand burning suns/not give a shit about the Spin list? Will Stuart ever make an appearance here or will his bullshit excuse of a broken collar bone keep him off these boards for another few weeks? Discuss. Speculate. Post links to porn, etc.
Nice...I quite like that song, but am also surprised that 54 40 was still a thing in the 00's (and still is a thing). I liked them in the 80's for a while - the other big single I think of from the good old days is "Baby Ran" - and they had some Canadian hits in the guitar-crazed 90's (Nice to Love You e.g.). So I have their first couple of records, though they're never quite as good when I put them on as I think they will be. Note: I'm concerned that sounded Derek-like in its lack of enthusiasm.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not sure why 54.40 never quite got their due. The Hootie cover was, of course, a travesty but the original 'I Go Blind' was definitely among my faves from the 80s; i remember first hearing it on poorly recorded cassette on a portable ghetto blaster at the back of the school bus in high school, and just loving it.

I think they did have a bit of following, at least in the late 80s and 1987's 'Show Me' stands out as their best, imo, but I didn't realize they were still putting out stuff in the late 90s, early 00s. Indeed, a glance at allmusic shows that they've put out 4 records this decade. Egads! Will have to get reacquainted with a few of these. Thanks for adding this vid.

Unrelated to the best of the 00s but related to recent discussions about the decline of the album, rise of the single, it seems that the record labels are hoping to re-energize the format via new technology. I like the idea of an interactive album...certainly would make for a more enjoyable cd club sharing session than printouts/ipod route we've adopted in the last few years (about which I'm not complaining...think i may have advocated it in the first place....just that having liner notes to peruse while listening to the music is a bit of a lost pleasure). Thoughts?
I've figured out a way to get my songs from 20xx into a list that I can manipulate. It was a bit tedious, but it worked. One of the first things that jumped out at me was the song "Unbend" by 54-40 (who appear at the top of the alphabetical list). I had thought that was from the '90s, but a quick check with AMG shows that it was, in fact, 2000. I really like that song. I admit that I don't have the whole "Casual Viewin'" album, but I see that it is only rated 2 1/2 stars on AMG and it doesn't even have a description. I know that Hootie and the Blowfish covered their song "I Go Blind", but apart from that bit of recognition, they don't seem to get a lot of respect. Any thoughts on why that is?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sadly, a manual process, Mike but one that I add to from time to time. Following your lead, I'm now about 80% on digitizing my music collection. Within Itunes, I setup some smart playlists organized by decade, and I've been scrolling through to uncover hidden/forgotten gems buried in the midst of entire albums worth of mediocrity. I'm sure there are other tools I could be using, particularly ones that would allow me to share with friends or publish to countless social networking sites but for now, I'm content to kick it 90s style with my spreadsheet.

I'd heard and liked some of the Finn Brothers album back in 2004 when it was released but am not all the familiar with Todd Snider, though a quick browse in wikipedia reveals a fairly prolific output this decade so likely some goodies from which to choose.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I've started thinking about my favorites from the decade, but I'm having a tough time getting the information into a format that's easy to work with. You referenced a spreadsheet, Kyle - is that something you're maintaining manually, or do you have some nifty little piece of software that derives lists of songs from folders full of files? In the meantime, here are a couple of songs that are bound to find a spot on my list:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yeah, looking at my growing spreadsheet of song and album selections for the 2000s, there are a number of shoegazer-ish (post-shoegazer?) entries, including:

"Drain Cosmetics" - Serena Maneesh (2006)


"Runs Into Flowers" - M83 (2003)

You guessed correctly, Bri, when you noted that most of us were keeping some of our top selections hidden until later in the year. In fact, Stuart has been so hush hush that he's avoiding posting altogether. But this last M83 song will likely figure close to, if not in, my top 10. 'Soaring' is one adjective I'd use for it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hey Kyle, meant to say earlier that "Fallen Angel" is one of my favourite songs of the decade. Sort of a cool update on shoegazer with added bombast and melody. Just an awesome song.

Derek, I would appluad some of your choices too if you weren't so darn mean.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brian, stop posting stuff that doesn't speak to Derek!

As for where we all agree, will third Badly Drawn, which will likely be in my top 10 as well. The soundtrack for About a Boy had some moments but the rest hasn't done much for me at all.

Here's another goodie from that disc.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pretty funny Brian. You keep picking discs of bands that I own and have yet (maybe never) to find a place anywhere close to albums that have a meaningful place in my life. First the Microphones and now New Buffalo. You hedged your bet with respect to which album of hers you would choose but having owned her first album I never felt the need to own another. Feist-lite if you will.

As for Badly Drawn Boy let me be the first to reveal my hand and say without reservation that this is on my top 10 list. An album that no matter how often I go back to and how long it's been since the last listen still finds new ways to ingratiate itself with me. Brilliant album, almost a better show at the Opera House and never approached since in his subsequent output.
I'm much enjoying this preview process, though I suspect there are cards being held close to chests in terms of top tens. Which is the way it should be. To continue therefore:

Among my favourite of the veritable cornucopia of hushed female popsters that have emerged in the decade (like, can you say CBC Radio 2 morning show?), and within one dimension at least have defined the sound of the "noughts", my favourite is I think New Buffalo, a one-woman band - Sally Seltmann - with a difficult-to-pin-down mix of acoustic and synthetic instruments/arrangements, beautiful melodies and wonderful lyrics. I haven't decided which of her two albums I like better. This cut is off of Somewhere Anywhere, her second.

A far less obscure choice, and I'm comfortable saying will likely be on other long lists - if not top tens - is Badly Drawn Boy, Damon Gough's nom de plume for his chamber pop band whose first record, the Hour of Bewilderbeast, was a stunner, and whose subsequent output hasn't measured up nearly as well. We all (I think) know the music well, so feel free to imagine your favourite track instead of this one (though it's a goody).

Monday, July 06, 2009

I bet Mike and Stuart's kids would feel a whole lot more responsive if they could see the pics that you tried to upload, Derek. Hopefully, it wasn't a shot of Michael Jackson.

As for your picks, I think both the Beck and Flaming Lips albums you mentioned will be on my list, likely in the top 30 or 20, and interesting that you should put these two together as their double-bill concert was one that I enjoyed a few years back when they came to Massey Hall. The only disappointment was that 4 songs in, the Flaming Lips, who were opening, had some technical/sound problems that ended up cutting their set short. They did a few accapella versions of some songs but didn't get to 'Are You a Hypnotist', which wouldn't have really translated well without the complete production. Still think I prefer their 1999 (read: ineligible for nomination for this decade) disc "The Soft Bulletin" but "Yoshimi" has some pretty great moments as well, as you've duly noted.

Also dig the Microphones disc, which I only discovered last year and will likely include on my list. As for your omission of Arcade Fire, Bri, I was going to file this under 'deliberately provocative on an unconscious level, despite implied sincerity' but then recalled that you never were on board this particular train. Both discs will likely hit the top of my list so I'll have to either have to make a compelling case for its greatness when the complete list is unveiled or simply make a derisive comment on your artistic sensibility (likely the easier route but we'll see what my time is like around December).

For now, two more additions:

Madvillain - Madvillainy (2004)

Madvillian is less a group than a collaboration between producer Madlib (the music) and MF Doom (the lyrics and vocals). Though the tracks sometimes come to an abrupt end just as they're getting interesting, the clever word play, rhymes, use of music samples and what sounds like mid-20th century radio programs, make this an engaging listen from start to finish. For those not sold on the more commercial sound of someone like a Kanye or Common, this might be a good foray into the genre.

Elbow - Cast of Thousands (2003)

Really beautiful English atmospheric pop, with nods to Radiohead and Catherine Wheel. This album ranges emotionally and lyrically between being caustic and soothing, hopeful and deeply cynical. Some songs build into soaring, anthemic choruses, at times accompanied by full choir, while others use little more than a piano and quiet, pained vocals to sad yet beautiful effect. What I would have hoped Coldplay's future releases would have sounded like after 'Don't Panic' and 'Yellow'.

Video here as they've disabled embedding.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Side 2 gems from the last two albums I mentioned in my previous post, Beck's "Sunday Sun" (track #10) and the Flaming Lips' "Are You a Hypnotist" (track #7). Obviously something to be said for still listening to a record in its entirety. We're probably a dying breed but if an artist gives us 50 plus minutes of music shouldn't we feel obligated to listen to the whole thing? Mike and Stuart how do your kids feel about this?
Wow, Stuart nailed that. Looks like Brian sounds like Spoon. Pretty good song although I'm not sure I need to see a band from the Peg on a best of the decade list.

As for the Microphone's I will have to check out that disc. I own their previous disc 2000's "It Was Hot We Stayed in the Water" (pretty good album title) and the only truly memorable track was the 11 minute "Glow" (part 1 I guess).

Keeping with the cancon bent of Brian's selections I will put forth Destroyer's 2001 disc "Streethawk: A Seduction". Since it had a very 70's (Bowie, Drake) feel to it anyway this is an album that has aged well. Might be the key to any great record, not sounding like everything else that comes down the pike during the same period. Joanna Newsom's "Ys" either confirms or blows that theory to kingdom come depending on how you feel about our harp playing friend.

From the following year, 2002, Beck's "Sea change" is an album that I might have bypassed completely if I had listened solely to the critics. Stuart set me straight on this one and I picked it up at Soundscapes on my way to New Zealand for my year long soujourn. Part of the reason for selling house and packing up for the big adventure was my imminent 40th birthday and this album lived with me for the whole time I was gone as it suited my melancholy mindset to a T.

This album and the Flaming Lip's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots", another favourite of the decade, were on constant rotation during my year off and for me they have a similar vibe. Artists baring their soul, one on a very personal scale and the Lips' almost on a planetary scale. Both great albums for contemplating your small place on this big planet.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

He is startlingly handsome isn't he?
well I always knew you were narcisstic Brian but this goes too far. To insert yourself into that video by Novillero the Hypothesist... (that you just recommended below)... is something else... and if it isnt really you he sure looks like you so the critism still stands...