Archive for May, 2011

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

‘Tis the season to be atypical. How about a side dish of TV on the Radio to go with your post-rock Explosions in the Sky? Tunde Adebimpe and the TV on the Radio gang hit this one for a single, but that’s about all they pulled off. I can’t think of any more metaphors that clearly do not work together.

I enjoy some TV on the Radio every once in a while and usually when I do, it’s a little Return to Cookie Mountain that will get me going. At least there are some memorable songs in that album that I might click “repeat” for. Unfortunately, TV on the Radio’s new album, Nine Types of Light, isn’t all that spectacular. I listened through it once thinking that I hadn’t grasped it all on the first go around. When I listened to it again, my feeling of estrangement did not subside and I was left wondering where I had gone wrong in purchasing this album. The logic seemed sound: I’ve liked TV on the Radio before, I listened to the free single that the band sent around a couple weeks ago, I enjoyed the single, and then I purchased the album when it came out. When I finished the listen through, I noticed the single that I liked at the end of the album and was only really happy when I listened to that. It wasn’t the type of happy where I’ll run around like a lunatic frothing and foaming about how great TV on the Radio is, but the type of happy I get when I come across a decent song on Pandora that fits the exact parameters for what I would expect the music to sound like on the radio station I created. But that enjoyment was fleeting and the cold, hard fact that I had just spent money on a not-very-good album hit me in the jugular. I mean, if you really, really love TV on the Radio, purchase this album and enjoy it. Just don’t expect it to be Return to Cookie Mountain.

Well, this might be the first time, but the important thing to get out of all of this is that I didn’t really like Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio all that much. *Sad face*

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Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

It goes to show you how uninformed I am if I didn’t even realize there was a new Explosions in the Sky album out there to cherish. Severely behind the eight-ball, I just purchased Take Care, Take Care, Take Care a couple days ago. It was released April 26 in the US, so I was quite behind.

Do I like post-rock? Always. It shows me that musically we’re progressing. Somebody is doing something different with the standard garage band pieces and they want our popular music to move in their direction. It’s also not techno which I really, really, really, really hope is not the future of music. It’s cool, but please don’t tell me it’s the future. I’d much rather sit down and listen to post-rock or I’d like to create it someday in my post-post-post-post-rock band without a name as of late. We wanted to start a post-rock band, but I really wanted “wah” to be in it and we determined that post-rock would not allow “wah”, but post-post rock would. For some reason there was something wrong with being post-post-rock and since post-post-post-rock would again disallow “wah”, we decided to go with post-post-post-post-rock or quad-post-rock.

But I digress. Explosion’s new album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, despite a somewhat annoyingly redundant title at least to type out each time, is pretty awesome. I would probably say every other album by Explosion is “pretty awesome”. I appreciate in this album how Explosions dropped the heavy piano use that they employed in All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone. They instead went back to mostly guitar work with their three guitar line-up. Most Explosions albums sound a bit the same in approach, but the contemplativeness that you get out of listening to their work is always well worth the ride. I love how you can enjoy it in whatever way you like. Joe Tangari from Pitchfork.com says it the best: “The emotion in it is ambiguous, and you can read whatever you want into it– the soundtrack to your rainy day might be the soundtrack to someone else’s overwhelming joy, and that too is important to [their music’s] appeal.”

My quoting of Pitchfork aside, the important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky.

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

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Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

Goodness do I love free, streaming albums. Over the past week there have been two free album streams of bands I like. This could even challenge Christmas as “the most wonderful time of the year” (See Andy Williams). What better way to study for finals is there than to listen to a new album online for free? Actually, there are much better ways because I found I was often very distracted by that, but I still enjoyed a lot.

Manchester Orchestra’s third album, Simple Math does not disappoint. Starting somewhat slow with “Deer”, the album then makes a sudden turn for the semi-hard tone that Manchester loves to work in. My favorites on the album were “Pensacola”, “April Fool”, and the single “Simple Math”. Before I woke up to realize the album was available for streaming, I purchased Simple Math on Amazon and was actually quite happy to only have that. Discovering the whole album after that teaser was simply fantastic.

Andy Hull is always pretty angry at something in his albums. I don’t know if I readily recall lyrics that are overwhelmingly joyous. But even so, his songs create a call to action or some sort of great awakening and you just want to jump aboard and pump your fist in a rally against…whatever the heck he’s rallying against. It helps also when the music sounds great. On a different note, a lot of the guitar work sounds almost exactly the same as the band’s prior album Mean Everything to Nothing. I’m wholly against that; it was interesting to hear something I’m familiar with even on a new album and expect what might be the musical response to a starting phrase.

Angry or not, the important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Simple Math by Manchester Orchestra. Check it out, it’s streaming on their website. http://www.columbiarecords.com/simplemath/

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Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

There aren’t many free things in this world I appreciate more than music. Of course, I would love a free $1,000,000,000, but I’m talking about reality here. Fortunately for me and this blog about music, Fleet Foxes decided to stream their new album via the NPR website a few days before the album’s release. I listened to the album and then went to amazon to pre-order it. That’s how it went down. A direct relationship between listening for free and then spending hard-earned cash on a physical version of the album. Could I have ripped the album off the “interwebs” for free? Perhaps. But the real point is that I spent the money; it’s good.

Bands have to progress from album to album. If they don’t they look stale. If they change too much, they lose us completely. What’s important is this balance. For example, Radiohead maintains this balance quite well (or at least they did until the King of Limbs (but in their defense, King of Limbs wasn’t terrible, it just was not GREAT)). Fleet Foxes certainly maintained this balance well with Helplessness Blues. I can sense the Fleet Foxes I knew well whilst capturing the abundance of freshness in the album.

The crescendos aren’t redundant like Mumford and Sons, and are instead subtle and tasteful. Their harmonies are as perfect as ever and Robin Pecknold’s voice continues to sooth. “Helplessness Blues” is my favorite track on the album. It has a beautiful transition from straight acoustic guitar strumming to full band melody in the middle of the song. I couldn’t help but think of “White Winter Hymnal” from their earlier LP, Fleet Foxes. I especially admired the lead guitar work thrown over the latter portion of the song. It is in very typical Fleet Foxes style. Surprising for Fleet Foxes is an atonal section of “The Shrine/An Argument”, but it actually works well.

I wish I could write just how fantastic this album is, but my words could never do it justice (nor could they for any album). My inadequacy as a music analyst also does the album an injustice. But, the important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues. Go listen to it; it’s free to stream.

http://www.npr.org/2011/04/28/135550848/first-listen-fleet-foxes-helplessness-blues#playlist

Helplessness Blues

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Funkadelic – Funkadelic

I am a strange lad. It is true. I have come to accept that I will never be normal. With that, let it also be known that I love funk. I love funk from it’s earlier stages with James Brown, I love it when it was in full force in the years of the P-Funk, and I love its reverberations in early rap and early Michael Jackson. I love funk. When I listen to funk I start to move like my Caucasian self normally wouldn’t. I spend hours on end studying for tests while listening to funk and the mornings after, my neck is sore from all the movement, but I’ll keep doing it.

Funkadelic’s self-titled Funkadelic certainly isn’t a new album, but a couple weeks ago it was new for me. I felt I had to support my funk craze with more albums so I went to Amazon and perused some Funkadelic listings until I ultimately decided to purchase Funkadelic. I am quite happy with my purchase. Most only know Funkadelic for their album Maggot Brain and its single “Maggot Brain”. In this song you will find some guitar licks the likes of which the world may never see again. It’s fantastic. Few truly desire a full length Funkadelic album. Well, this strange lad does. I love listening to something that I will probably never understand for its context or inspirations. I love it for the way it moves me and the way it moved the people who played it first.

It is certainly no Parliament album. While Funkadelic was a side show for the more famous Parliament, the two bands don’t run the same way. Parliament gets me bouncing in a much more funky fashion. Funkadelic moves me with an intricacy of improvisation and good feelings. It’s more similar to a Jimi Hendrix album in some ways.

Funkadelic is also no Maggot Brain. I can’t decide which album I like more, but the comparison comes down to whether I like one song so much (“Maggot Brain”) or if I love the album in its entirety. Funkadelic as a whole is a great album. It does not relinquish its funky origins, yet it toes the line of psychedelic rock a lot more closely.

Whether or not you will appreciate funk as much as I do, I don’t really care about. The important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Funkadelic’s Funkadelic. Give funk a try.

Funkadelic Funkadelic

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