Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weekend Music Roundup

I mentioned last week that I was reorganizing my music collection before it threatened to swallow the house in the same manner the fox metropolis seems to be swallowing part of my back yard. As much as I like to have all my music out in the open for easier, more library-ish browsing, I realized it was time to consolidate a few hundred albums into those dreaded CD case books. I decided to create a bunch of books by genre, which meant a lot of listening to CDs that I hadn't listened to in years so that I could remind myself what it actually sounded like. A long process to be sure, but on the plus side, I discovered many great albums that I've owned for years and didn't realize it.

I also discovered there were a bunch of albums that belonged to the Missus prior to our joining of music collections, some which I'd never heard or heard only once 10 years ago. This weeks list highlights a few of those albums. But just a dusty old list of '90s music would be boring, so also included are some albums I've heard for the first time recently simply because I just acquired them recently. Enjoy.

Kid Thomas - Rockin' This Joint Tonight: I got this a few months ago and listened to it once or twice without much affect. But I put in on again because I wasn't sure if it belonged with jazz or soul in my reorganization. Two surprises. One, it belongs in neither because it's more blues than soul. Second, it's fantastic.

Lovvers - OCD Go Go Go Girls: The new album (from last fall) from UK garage punk band Lovvers was a pleasant surprise. I bought their previous album Think on past trip to London. It was okay, but I thought it showed enough promise to continue following the band. This album is much less straight-forward punk, which I'm thankful for. It's almost a shoegazer punk album, with lots of distortion and faded vocals. It's definitely a good summer disc and has assured that I will be waiting to see what they do next as well.

Wu Tang Clan - Avenging Eagles: Okay, so not officially Wu, but close enough. This compilation style mix-tape collects bits and pieces of Method Man, the Chef Raekwon and Ghostface and throws it all in together to make a passable album. It's probably not for the casual Wu fan, but old schoolers like me will find yourself covering your mouth with an "Awww sheeet" every time a familiar dope rhyme comes on. Some great freestyles on here and the old St. Ides commercial is classic (by the way Mobb Deep's St. Ides commercial is even better).

dubstar - disgraceful: This is one of the rediscovered albums of the past week. Dubstar are one of those bands I always categorized in my head with really knowing what they sounded like. This happens either from mistaken identity, or in this cause, misinterpreting the band name and writing it off some late '90s pseudo-electronic dance music. It's not. It's actually quite a good album. It's more a dreampop album, though with definite electronic roots (I'm not that clueless). Musically it falls somewhere between Slowdive and Portishead, though not quite on the level of either of those bands. Very pretty album.

Carol King - Writer: A year before Tapestry would dominate, King released this, her first album. Now, it should be known that I'm a big Carol King fan and Tapestry is an easy 5 star album in my book. I remember her music always playing on the radio in my early childhood and I suppose there's an element of sentimental attachment, but it's also just wonderful piano singer songwriter bliss. Writer isn't the masterpiece that Tapestry is, but you can definitely hear the movement toward it. The songs are nearly just as memorable. Well worth the buy if you are a Tapestry fan and don't know her other work. (Or if you don't know Carol King at all but are a Norah Jones fan).

nosound - clouds: This is a decent little ep that I got several months ago, but it somehow got lost in the shuffle. It's moody art rock with a shoegazer feel. Though the band is from Rome, it sounds more Scandinavian to my ears, or perhaps even like many of the new German bands ala Pandors.Box or Naked Lunch (from Austria). Plus the cover image reminds me of my first year in NYC when I used to pass this fenced in schoolyard on 11th street every cloudy morning.

Etta James - The Chess Box: Etta James has one of the most amazing voices in jazz/soul vocals. This three album collection showcases her amazing range and talent. I prefer the first album here of earlier recordings. Her later recordings are tinged with the struggles of drug abuse, and the pain is audible in her voice, though there is something quite sadly beautiful to it. I love Etta. Must have song "Tell Mama."

Pearls Before Swine - Balaklava: I actually listened to two albums from this late '60s early '70's psychedelic folk outfit, but this is definitely the better one. I love the Kubla Kahn feel this genre always conjures for me, and this album is no different to some other gems I've reviewed here over the past year (Trees, Spirogyra, etc). However, one minor issue that makes me feel petty, is that the singer has a lisp that pops up a little too audibly for me at key moments in tracks and it annoys me. Cindy Brady with a lisp is adorable. Lead singer of a dark folk album...not so much. Even so, this is album is very good if you're into that genre.

Morcheeba - Big Calm: This is the real find in the albums that were buried in my collection this week. This one belonged to the Missus and I'm sure I listened to it early in our merging and I'm sure I enjoyed it, but somehow it didn't stick. Possibly because this album is from 1998 and I was already feeling well over the "British Electronic Revolution" of 1996 and 1997. Boy, did I miss out on this gem. A trip-hop album that ranks up there with the best of the genre (Massive Attack, Portishead, and Tricky). It reminded me of one of my favorite and little known bands Scala, dreamy electronic music to listen to when you're feeling groovy catatonic. AND THEN the last song came on and I nearly had a fit because there, rapping over beats was the one and only, Nature Boy Jim Kelly (aka Nosaj of New Kingdom). BRILLIANT.

adorable - against perfection: Another from the Missus, this indie Brit album from 1993 predates the Britpop explosion era and it shows. Though there are definite elements that would later make up that scene, there also more elements of Sex Pistols era British indie rock. The combination is actually quite good. They are like an angry Ride (a Creation Records label mate of theirs.) Creation Records really played a huge role in defining the sound of British indie rock in the '90s (Ride, Slowdive, Oasis, etc) and this album certainly is a fitting and worthy listing in their catalog.

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