Saturday, January 31, 2009

Somewhere There's a Hole in the Windowpane

#39 Three Sides Live: Genesis. Genesis had a sweet spot. Between the drug fueled wacko stylings and operettic meanderings of the Peter Gabriel era, and the absolute dreck of the Invisible Touch era, they had a few albums of great music. That era (Trick of the Tail, Duke, Abacab) is captured in this live set - which has some nice lengthy jams (the 12 minute In the Cage medley is a highlight). Phil Collins was never this cool again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things I Don't Get

In general, on a day to day basis I tend to steer towards indie rock - I listen to KEXP and WXPN and try and keep up on all of the brand new stuff out there. I also enjoy things like the NPR All Songs Consider blog where folks from pretentious outlets like Pitchfork tell me what was good this year. I've been turned on to some cool stuff this way. But lots of times, these guys uniformly swoon over something that I run to check out and I just dont get it. Here is a list of a few.

- Interpol. Remember a few years ago when everyone went gaga over these guys? All I kept asking is -- why is he constantly yelling at me?

- Arcade Fire. Oh man, what is it about these guys that everyone loves? Booooring.

- Radiohead. Maybe this isnt fair, because I do like some of their stuff. But these guys are presented as some kind of messiahs, and to me, its just a lot of bleeps and blips with a *really* annoying voice.

- TV on the Radio. OK, I get that this music is complex, and it demands repeated listening, and that it is multilayered. But is it good?

- Sufjan Stevens. Do we really have to suffer through 48 more states?

- and this year's addition....wait for it....yes, Fleet Foxes. Fleet Foxes were named #1 on the KEXP end-of-year list, and in top 5 for almost anyone with indie cred. And they are from Seattle, the ultimate badge of indie-coolness. And Trevor raved about them...enough to send me a CD when I showed skepticism (Thanks, Trev). And the music is, well, pleasant. But why oh why do they have to make the CD sound like it was recorded in an empty, cold, dark church, with each member standing in a different corner of the room? The songs are nice, but for a band that is trying to get by on folky lyrics and beautiful harmonies, why do they make the vocals sound so crappy? Really, the effect of the echo-y reverb-y analog-y ness of it all makes it sound like an old Mamas and Papas record.

The other thing I dont understand is how a bunch of guys get together to form a band and decide to make this kind of music - choirboy/folk? Guys should get together to form a band and sing rockin tunes about obscure movies and movie star siblings, not this stuff.

So what is it that I don't get? Please enlighten me.

Listening to the CD makes me cold. Very cold. Maybe they want me to feel that way, and if they do, they are brilliant, but I like music that makes me warm and happy. Like #40: In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson. This is a beautiful, fun, happy, strummy, singalong from a kind of hippy-dippy dude. Perhaps this is the first CD on this list which my kids had influence in, since I got to know JJ through his Curious George work. But In Between Dreams is really a great listen. Give it a shot instead of that pretentious choirboy stuff.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What'cha Want?

#41 Check Your Head: Beastie Boys.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've Committed Murder

#42 On How Life Is: Macy Gray. Macy headed into train-wreck status after the success of this soulful, steamy debut. This came out of nowhere to log serious time in my 5 CD changer - infections melodies and a serious old school R&B feel, long before Amy and Duffy made it popular again. It would also be hard to find another mainstream CD that was more explicitly about sex without being explicit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Long Gone

#43: Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy: Louis Armstrong. Louis Armstrong was a jazz musician like no other, with soaring melodies and that famous gravelly voice. It's hard to pick a classic CD - for one, he has so many, for two, his early stuff is often of poor recording quality and the songs are short and fast, for three, his late stuff is dominated by easy-listening crooners that make you want to just sit in a rockin' chair and take a nap. This CD is the perfect combo of great songs, transcendent trumpet playing and that great Satchmo persona. Plus it has been remastered and sounds great. Try not to smile when listening to this one.

Friday, January 9, 2009

She Thinks I'm Crazy, But I'm Just Growing Old

#44 Aja: Steely Dan. I love Steely Dan, and their earlier stuff has some of their best songs, but this is their most consistent CD, with a real late-night jazz club vibe that I love. Unfortunately, this spawned a gazillion soft-jazz copycats, but no one matched the cool smoky sound of this gem.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Can Keep Your Black Tongue

#45 - Fever To Tell: Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Not too much to say about this one - they have disappointed since this awesome debut. I'm a sucker for a good female lead singer in a punk-y band (Kim Gordon, Kim Deal, Shirley Manson come to mind, I'm sure there are more), and Karen-O fits the bill just fine. Black Tongue is one of the best songs of the aughts.