Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekend Music Roundup

I'm publishing this list from the road, which is always one of my favorite music listening places. I have an uncanny memory when it comes to listening to music on road trips. In 1995, I first heard George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" while driving from Boston to New York, flying down the interstate in a condition probably unfit for driving. I remembering first hearing Madrugada while crossing the Alps. If someone brings up a time we were in the car together and where we were going, I can usually name at least one thing we listened to. Of course, all of this has nothing to do with the list, I just like to talk about music as much as I like to talk about writing. The list this week spans several decades and genres and all were part of my editing soundtrack over the past few weeks. Enjoy.

The Coral - Butterfly House: I've been a fan of this band since their 2002 self-titled debut. They were really on the forefront of the new psychedelic indie rock in the UK. In many ways they've mellowed out with each album, but they still bring the intrigue. This album reminds me a lot of Ride's "Carnival of Light" or "Going Blank Again" era while very much staying current. Another solid effort by a band that really knows how to craft good songs. The bonus edition with extra disc of tracks is definitely worth it.

Son Drop - Deep In The Underbark: Good old lo-fi folk rock from Kalamazoo. This album really grows on you. It's got this amazing organic rhythm to it that reminds me a lot of a live Neil Young acoustic set. Released this year, but it is definitely haunted by the sounds of the '70s. Just a really good summer sitting around kind of album. Listening to it is like being with old friends you've just met.

Bats for Lashes - Two Suns: I ignored this release last year when it came out because I was really unimpressed with her debut. This one feels very different. It's bigger, grander, and better in my opinion. It's very moody and symphonic. She sounds a lot like Bjork at times, but in a good way. All in all, quite enjoyable chamber pop, but certainly more of "winter" album in my mind.

The Story That The Crow Told Me - Early American Rural Children's Songs: This is a collection of roots folk recordings done in the 1920's and 1930's. Some very good stuff on here if you like old timey, and I like me some old timey. Most of these are not exactly children's songs in any way except that some of are songs that you might still hear children sing in elementary school music class (or least, I did way back when). Just simple americana roots material. There's also a Volume 2 with some more obscure tracks. You might also want to check out Leadbelly Sings for Children.

Pink Floyd - Meddle (Trance Remix): I remember when this came out in 1994 and made the circuit throughout the "trance rooms" in the many raves I spent all night at, but I never listened to the whole thing before recently. Now I must preclude this by stating that Meddle is one of my two favorite Floyd albums (and favorite albums of all time), so I was a bit nervous. And though this is not equal to listening to the original, it is an interesting interpretation and worth a listen for any hardcore fan of the original.

Dave Van Ronk - Just Dave Van Ronk: Van Ronk is a figure on the '50s and '60s NYC folk music scene that spawned the likes of Bob Dylan. This 1964 album has a definite blues feel to it but played with a folk sensibility that creates something sort of magical. Dave's voice is pretty amazing, somewhere between Ralph Stanley and Ted Hawkins. I hesitate to say this is a must have, but for any fan of that's a must have.

Hallelujah - Hallelujah Babe!: I have this thing that when I really like a band, I always want to hear their lesser known contemporaries to see if there is a forgotten great in the genre. One of those bands I do this with is Jethro Tull. Hallelujah is a German prog-rock band who released this, their first and only album in 1971. It has moments of brilliance, especially "Signs of Strange" and "Friend" and overall is a very good example of the genre. Recommended for fans of Tull's Stand Up era.

Animal Collective - Campfire Songs: If you follow my Weekend Roundup, you are aware that I'm not a huge fan of this band or their offshoots. But under the recommendation of the dANIMAL, I decided to check out this earlier, more experimental album from 2003. It's much more to my taste. A lo-fi free folk album slash field recordings. It's extremely chill, almost to the point of being boring, but never quite boring me completely. Decent enough to hold my attention through several listens.

Edgar Broughton Band - Edgar Broughton Band: This 1971 album is the third album from the band. I have the first two and a later one, and this ranks up there with their best. Their earlier Captain Beefheart vibe is skewed a little here and they start to sound more British ala early Hawkwind and more structured. They are definitely one of the unsung bands of the early acid rock era and a pioneer of the later prog-rock movement. Whereas some of their other albums suffer from being uneven, this might be their most consistent. Top quality.

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Strung Out in Heaven: As I continue to work my way through this San Fran band's catalog, I finally got this 1998 album which was a breakout of sorts (at least it was all over NYC that summer as I recall). As with all of their work, there is the sunny Cali psychedelic sound to this album that is their trademark. However, this album seems to make more use of acoustic guitar and has a more laid back feel. When it works, "Maybe Tomorrow" and "Wisdom", the band has never sounded better. But often, it feels a little unexciting. Still very good, but mid-level as far as the band's genius output is concerned.


  1. The only one I can really comment on is Edgar Broughton who I saw about the time this album came out. I remember them as uneven and possibly drugged out but they definately had something to say.