Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

Last weekend I was away, and though I tried, I missed the chance to post a new music update due to spotty wi-fi reception at where I spent my weekend. But I'm back, and I'm still going through the record haul from the west coast trip. I'm still really thrilled so far with the finds I made out there. I'm about half-way through listening to them and have yet to be truly disappointed. Here's another week's worth to share with week I will take a break from the road trip vinyl and review some current releases. Enjoy.

Jack White - Blunderbuss: The first solo album from arguably the most influential figure in rock over the past decade. After fronting three bands that all posted bestselling albums, it's about time that Jack White released something that was from him and only him. Upon first listen, the album is solid, though it boasts no real surprises. I'm not sure that's the album's fault or just due to the fact that we've heard Jack do just about everything over the past 12 years or so. Well, I shouldn't say no surprises, because he does incorporate a rockabilly feel to some songs that up until now he's only really favored in songs by others which he has produced. After the initial listen, I finally let myself get caught up in the songs and truly love this record more and more each time I hear it. There's a joy in the making of the music that somehow seems to have been missing for some time. Great stuff.

Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminal Starvation League - From the End of Your Leash: I picked up this record at a small store in Eureka. I'm quite a fan of Bobby Bare Jr and had this album on mp3 prior. The reason I picked it up was because I don't figure to ever see it again on vinyl and Bobby has a great vinyl kind of voice. I wasn't wrong either. Having liked, but not loved this album on mp3, I can say that it is vastly better on vinyl. Funny how that can happy. As for the music, Bobby to me is what Elliott Smith would sound like had he grown up in Nashville. They have a similar sense of melody and veiled gloom that can found on Elliott's XO album.

Dogs - Turn Against This Land: Definitely one of the more under appreciated bands of the mid 2000's this London band plays rock with social and political awareness. This is their 2005 debut that I happened to find randomly in Portland, in a store that had no business really having it. Though I enjoy their 2007 follow-up better, this album is still a great blend of pub punk and there was no way I was going to pass this up, knowing this record will rarely show up stateside, you can't even find them here on CD, let alone vinyl.

Beefeater - Plays for Lovers: Easily one of the treasures from the journey, this is the original Dischord #17 debut EP in mint condition, with lyric sheet, for only $9.00. As one of the earliest Dischord bands, Beefeater really stood out as something different. They weren't really a hardcore band like Minor Threat and they like, but rather one of the first Post-Punk bands around. When I was 15, I bought the CD compilation of their two EPs and one 7" and it was one of my favorite albums as a teen...and still is. At a store in Seattle, they had both the bands EPs and I had to get them. I listened to this again, enjoying every second of their fiery criticism of Reagan and the Far Right, all of which still applies today...and I thought to myself "Who the hell would sell these?" Whoever it was, it was obvious they had held onto them for years and kept great care of them. I can't imagine what the tipping point was that finally made them part with this record, but I'm sure glad they did.

The Nocturnes - Aokigahara: The amazing cover is really attracted me to this 2011 album. I looked at it and there was a note from the store saying it was "Red Sparowes" related, and having been sort of familiar with them, I asked the guy at the store to put it on for me so I could hear it. It didn't take long before I knew I'd purchase it. This is such a beautiful record. It reminds me a little of Slowdive's Pygmalion meets Appendix Out, very low key and with a storytelling vibe. It's one of those perfect summer dusk albums to listen to as the sun goes down all around you. Truly loving this record. It's available for Free Download at The Nocturnes page.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Uncle Charlie: This 1970 album is the only one in the band's career that I'm really familiar with, so I can't speak for them as a whole, all I can say is that this album is pretty great. I've it for quite some time on mp3 and consider it one of the finest country folk rock albums of the period, on level with Gram Parsons and others. I found this in a 99¢ bin and knew I couldn't go wrong.

George Harrison - Living in the Material World: This is the Dark Horse's 1973 follow-up to 1970's masterpiece All Things Must Past. Though not nearly up to the level of that album (though not much is, considering it's one of the 10 best albums ever made in my opinion), this album is still quite good and easily his second best solo effort. The songs are mired in tales of the quibbling Beatles post-breakup, highlighted by the stellar "Sue Me, Sue You Blues." I actually never owned this on CD because instead I have a bootleg called "Living in the Alternative World" which features alternate takes of all the songs.

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