Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Music Roundup

Ah, it's Sunday again and time to poke through the list of recently listened to music to find a handful of albums to share my thoughts on. Having spent the last week going through old albums I own and didn't even know it, I got back to a regular schedule of discovering some new things. I've been working on a children's chapter book lately and when doing so, I have less of a need for specific theme or mood music as I do when writing a novel. When writing for the little ones, I definitely prefer rock music. But of course, I'm not always writing, so there's space and time for other things to creep in. This is a pretty random list. I have some theme lists planned in the future, but for now, enjoy the diversity.

Black Box Recorder - Final Statement: This two song single was released last week by the late '90s early '00s British band that's sort of a late era Britpop band. It's their first release in nearly 7 years and is meant, as the title suggests, to be a final farewell. Both songs are very typical of the band's catalog and sound great. It's a nice parting present. If you don't know the band, I highly recommend their debut England Made Me.

The Black Keys - Brothers: After a bit of a departure with their last album Attack and Release, the Black Keys are back with a new album of standard bluesy rock. Very solid album that can be listened to again and again. Nothing groundbreaking musically, they play it straightforward, but they do it excellently.

Evelyn Evelyn - Evelyn Evelyn: This one was a huge surprise for me. I admit to only checking it out because Francis Bean appears on it, but after several listens, that's the least interesting thing about it for me. A dark cabaret concept album with one of the best told stories, and intriguing stories that I've heard in a long time. I've listened to this album (and the also wonderful precursor EP Elephant, Elephant) four times this week. Its story is about conjoined sisters who survive attempted butchering at birth, a child brothel, a spell as circus performers, and the death of their beloved conjoined elephants Bimba and Kimba. It has a radio play grandness and a post fall of Berlin sentiment. The songs are intelligent, catchy, and again, the storytelling has that cabaret way of making the depressing seem at times funny and moving. One of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Codeine Velvet Club - Codeine Velvet Club: This album came out around Christmas but for some reason was completely off my radar. It's the new project from Jon Lawler (aka Jon Fratelli of the Fratellis). Much like Alex Turner did with the Last Shadow Puppets, this is an attempt to really expand upon the signature pub rock sound of the Fratellis into something richer. Depending on who you ask, this is achieved with mixed results. Frankly, I think it accomplishes it amazingly well. Partner in the project is Lou Hickey, a female nightclub singer that gives the band this old jazz vocal feel but with the energy of indie brit rock. The two sounds actually blend together very well (think Sweet 75's). Well done. Unfortunately, the Fratellis appear over, but if this band continues, I could be okay with that.

Quadron - Quadron: This is the kind of album that falls somewhere in between being pure blue eyed soul and more euro pop. It reminds me a lot of the trip-hop era of British beats bands with beautiful female voices (ie Portishead) but certainly more straight forward. It's not exactly my usual taste, but it's a very well crafted album and great for when I'm in the mood for it. It sort of reminded me of a more interesting Sade.

Hole - Nobody's Daughter: I have to be honest that up until a month ago, I had zero interest in ever hearing this album. Now, I'm big Courtney fan and I love Hole's first two albums, but really disliked Celebrity Skin. Then came the solo album, which even though I don't think is as bad as some other people do, it wasn't great. I was extremely skeptical of this album and wondered if Courtney had anything left to say. But then, after listening to the unplugged album (which I reviewed a few weeks ago), and listening to my old Hole seven inches, I started to get interested. I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised. This is a very solid album. Courtney is on top of her game. I really like the inclusion of so many acoustic strumming and the lyrics are great and certainly have something to say. This is definitely the best work since Live Through This.

Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker: This is the 1969 self-titled (there's another 1972 self-titled). This album is made up of covers and is fantastic. "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window", "Bird on a Wire", "Something," etc. There's something about Joe's voice that tells you when he's singing, he's giving 110%. He feels every note and it comes through. Also, this was a vinyl buy, and his voice in particular seems much more suited to that medium.

The Brady Bunch - The Kids from the Brady Bunch: Definitely a nostalgia listen, I grew up watching two episodes a day and know my fair share of Brady trivia. I used to own a compilation CD of Brady tunes, but sold it for cash back in college. Recently, I got "It's a Sunshine Day" stuck in my head and had to hear the album. Now though that song is the only real standout Brady song, there's some other decent tunes on here. "Love me Do" is fun, "Ben" is okay, and "Saturday in the Park" kind of rocks.

Metallica - Master of Puppets: Now, like pretty much every boy my age who was into rock, I had this album once upon a time on cassette, but never reacquired it on CD, mostly because it was one of those albums you never saw used and for good reason. It rocks! I still remember the first time I hear this...sixth grade bus ride, sitting fourth seat from the back on the bus and a 8th grader named Mike Trout always had a boom box blasting from the back seat. This tape was in heavy rotation in the winter of '87. I'm actually listening to it now as I type and it's still just as good.

Silversun Pickups - Unplugged: I have both albums by this band and I'm kind of lukewarm on those albums. Both have one real stand out track for me, but the rest kind of sounds like Siamese Dream updated. However, I caught their unplugged episode and was blown away. The songs sound amazing. I have two acoustic sets by them and both are top notch. One has a cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay" that is superb.

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