Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Music Roundup

This week was spent mostly listening to things that I acquired near the end of last year as I try to absorb the many wonderful albums that were added to my collection. I was also working on the finishing touches of a story that I had worked on diligently from Thanksgiving to New Year's and I find it always helps to go back and listen to what I was listening to then. Music has such a way of putting me in a creative mood, and different music creates different types of creativity. The eight albums on this week's list kept me pretty solidly in the dystopic fairytale world I needed to inhabit. For that, I owe them a great debt. Enjoy.

The Wooden Sky - When Lost at Sea: This is the 2007 debut album from the Toronto indie folk outfit whose second album was on my list of best discoveries from previous years a few weeks ago. Of course, after playing their second album, If I Don't Come Home..., I had to go back and get this one. I wasn't disappointed either. A collection of nearly perfect songs in the style of a lower key Magnolia Electric Co. Easily one of my favorite bands that I've found in the last year.

Klaxons - Landmarks of Lunacy: This EP came late in 2010 (Christmas Day release), several months after the London band's much awaited second LP Surfing the Void. These five tracks are less chaotic than the album. They are almost pretty songs, which is quite a turn for the band that specializes in manic electro psychedelia. I actually prefer this sound for them, it seems more distinct. There is a rumor that Surfing the Void was their second effort at a second album and there was a scrapped album recorded before. I can't help but wonder if these songs come from there and if so, I hope some day the entire album surfaces.

Coma Cinema - Stoned Alone: This is a debut album that I discovered thanks to my friend dANIMAL's best of 2010 list. It's a short album of lo-fi honesty that is served well listening to it as the title suggests. It's the sound of longing told in a bare Beatlesque style. Over several listens, I've found it quite enjoyable and one of those albums that gets better every time.

The Dutchess and the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke: This is an album I'd been chasing down since 2008 after falling in love with the first single and their Daytrotter Sessions. Finally got it for Christmas and have been loving it. The Seattle duo remind me of the Rolling Stones' more acoustic country rock sound on albums like Exile on Main Street, or like Brian Jonestown Massacre doing the Rolling Stones. However, The Duke and the Dutchess stay a little closer to their folk roots with their garage sound. Just a really good record.

Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off, Baby: This is an album that has been on my wishlist for over a decade, but for whatever reason, I never bought. After I began my vinyl collection in earnest last year, this album quickly made the jump onto that list. For Christmas, I finally got a beautiful colored vinyl edition of the album and it totally blew me away. This 1970 album came a year after Trout Mask Replica (one of 10 most favorite albums) and it's a natural companion to that album. I got Trout Mask Replica for Christmas when I was 15 years old and I can still clearly remember listening to it for the first time, it had that kind of impact on me. What's truly amazing is that this album, nearly 20 years later, had the same kind of impact on me. A masterpiece of experimental blues. 'She stuck out her tongue and the fun begun,' one of the best lines ever.

Cat Power - Joan of Arc: This is a live bootleg from 1999 that is simply perfect. Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) is well known for being incredibly difficult and painfully shy live, but it many ways that may add to the power of this record. Her voice is naturally fragile, giving every song that feeling of potentially breaking apart at any note. This album is definitely a necessary addition to the Cat Power catalog.

The Bevis Frond - Bevis Through the Looking Glass: After the underground success of his first album in 1986, Nick Saloman (aka Bevis) released this double album of outtakes with a limited release of 500 copies that he gave to friends. He was accused of purposely trying to create a instant rarity and later the album was re-released. Obviously the album resembles the fuzz-rock psychedelia of other early Bevis Frond albums, but there are a few truly amazing tracks on here. "The Shrine" is a 20 minute bit of crazy fuzzed out bliss. "Die is Cast" is garage rock perfection. And the last song on the album is a recording from when he was 14 years old, playing a song called "Alistair Jones" which a great Syd Barrett type song. This album is also worth buying for the fake mail-order record catalog he wrote up for it, it's truly hilarious. SIDE NOTE: This was my go-to album for two difficult scenes that I had to write this week and it got me through both.

Donovan - Open Road: By 1970, Donovan was folk pop star so this album feels a little like a departure. More of a gypsy folk album in the spirit of The Incredible String Band, this record is more melancholic and less goofy than most of Donovan's work up to this point. Ironically, I think I like this album better for its lack of Donvonvanism. I would say this album, along with A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, Fairytale and Sunshine Superman are essential Donovan.