Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Week That Was #12: Passes & Passports

These charts seem to be increasingly disparate with what I'm actually posting, but they're also not entirely in sync with my most recent listens. Oh well, I'll make do, enjoy.

Oh, Stars. I'm convinced, purely from personal bias of course, that there are very few bands that can aspire to such glorious, uplifting pop songs, while still maintaining a distinctly personal mood. Their long awaited remix album has finally arrived, and over the last few months, there were times when the possibility seemed very remote. It's essentially a field day for the Arts & Crafts fan, and while it's not nearly the cohesive whole of Set Yourself On Fire, there are reinterpretations that, while not entirely novel, really affirm how good these songs are to begin with. Here's one of them.

MP3: Stars – Celebration Guns (Camouflage Nights With Kevin Drew)
Buy: Here

Following up on last week's One Dove pick, I've been listening to Dot Allison's solo stuff quite a bit, specifically her second album, We Are Science. I like the way she moves effortlessly from various styles, with her voice shifting from a breathless purr (as on this track) to a more traditional delivery. She's incredibly versatile, and it's no surprise that she's collaborated with so many other groups. According to her official site, she's finished a third full length, entitled Exaltation of Larks, and hopefully we'll hear more soon.

MP3: Dot Allison - Substance
Buy: Here

Blonde Redhead's new album 23 drops today. I actually just headed over to the SoHo Apple Store to see them, but unfortunately the line went beyond capacity. Like so many other bands, I had only heard their name in passing, and it's a very good thing that this new release finally provided the impetus for me to give them a listen. The album's title track is a strong "statement of purpose," with dense, swirling guitars and singer Kazu Makino's layered vocals, like some sort of fantasy synthesis of Asobi Seksu and Sonic Youth. It's gorgeous, and a very good reason to check out more of their material.

MP3: Blonde Redhead - 23
Buy: Here

brooklynvegan recently directed me to a pretty interesting article over at eMusic on Trance, a much maligned electronic sub-genre. I recall back in the winter, on one of my first trips to Other Music, after a very productive number of recommendations, the topic of classifying electronic music came up, which lead to the dismissive, "House is good; Trance is bad." I can't say I'm near knowledgeable enough to comment on the sweeping validity of the statement, but then, it all comes down to personal taste in the end. As general fan of pop music, I do sometimes appreciate its sweeping, grandiose nature, even if there's an inherent lack of meaning. For those reasons, I've been enjoying Above & Beyond recently.

MP3: Above & Beyond - Air for Life (With Andy Moor)
Buy: Here

On the flipside, there's that chill out genre, a generally innocuous conception that seems to have floated its way into the mainstream sphere, as evidenced by, say, car insurance ads. Even if you've little interest in "proper" electronic music, there's definitely a broader appeal here. Bent seems pretty big in England, but underappreciated elsewhere. Hopefully this track, with its spacious, unhurried beats, and the Tracey Thornesque vocals, will make for a proper introduction.

MP3: Bent - Private Road
Buy: Here

Not so long ago, the Hold Steady were saturating the web with the release of their critically acclaimed album, Boys and Girls in America. I largely ignored the hype, for no particular reason, but after hearing that they were going to play on campus on April 26th, I felt pretty obliged to take a listen. While I had heard some negative feedback regarding singer Craig Finn's delivery, and while his voice isn't particularly endearing, it's not half bad, either. I haven't really absorbed the whole album, but what really strikes me about this lead track is that, while it rocks out as advertised, there's a legit hook to it as well.

MP3: The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations
Buy: Here

Opening up that aforementioned show will be the Thermals, whom I have also neglected. Their fiery brand of indie rock should be a very good time indeed in a live setting, but what distinguishes them from their peers is the social consciousness that seems to pervade their most recent release, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. While this could quickly become preachy, the band seems to do a good job of relegating any social agenda into the background, and it doesn't dilute the intensity.

MP3: The Thermals - A Pillar of Salt
Buy: Here


Chris (CPAOI) said...

What's the deal with Patrick Wolf? I've been thinking about picking up his new albums but I've been waiting for a peer to recommend/describe him to me.

Roland said...

See above, and definitely check out the new album.

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