Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I guess she spent her last quarter randomly..." - Music of 2009 Q1

In lieu of my usual end-of-year musical summaries, which are always a lot to take in, I am hoping to start a new trend of quarterly music summaries. (Admittedly, I'm already a month behind on this one.) The goal is to minimize the amount of reading material while maximizing the potential for those who spot something intriguing or something they were iffy on to discover a great album (or avoid a not-so-great one).

Discerning readers will immediately notice that not all of these albums came out in 2009 Q1. The list is more intended to capture my listening experience these first three months, rather than highlight new music only.

And yes, I think in quarterly terms now. I guess the corporate world has officially taken me over.


  • Army Navy, Army Navy - sunny, fuzzy guitar pop that's infectious as hell. Nothing overly remarkable, but I can't stop listening.
    Recommended tracks: "Dark as Days", "Sleight of Hand", "In the Lime".
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love - it's the Decemberists and it's a concept album. What else do you need to know? Why don't you have this yet?
    Recommended tracks: "Won't Want for Love", "The Wanting Comes in Waves", "The Rake's Song".
  • The National, The National - re-release of their debut album. Not as spectacular as Boxer or Alligator but that's a lot to expect.
    Recommended tracks: "The Perfect Song", "American Mary", "Theory of the Crows".
  • NODZZZ, NODZZZ - lo-fi garage rock for the ADD. I'm not sure there's a song here over three minutes, but they're all catchy and leave you wanting more.
    Recommended tracks: "Is She There, "In the City", "I Can't Wait".
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon - on a par with ATYCLB and way beyond HTDAAB, U2 fan extraordinaire Bill Gates described it as a journey through U2's entire evolution as a band.
    Recommended tracks: "Magnificent", "Moment of Surrender", "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight".

Decent But Unremarkable:

  • Blue October, Approaching Normal - lacks the raw power of Consent or the heart and variety of Foiled. But it's still Blue, so there's enough quality for a few spins.
    Recommended tracks: "Kangaroo Cry", "Dirt Room".
  • Cut Off Your Hands, You & I - completely adequate Brit pop-rock, but nothing more.
    Recommended tracks: "Turn Cold", "Heartbreak".
  • Dark Was the Night - solid compilation of the quieter side of indie rock. Sometimes too quiet, but oh well. No surprise my favorite songs here are from bands I love already.
    Recommended tracks: "So Far Around the Bend" (the National), "Well Alright" (Spoon).
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - more of what you'd expect from the assassinated archduke of Austria. Better than their second, close to their first.
    Recommended tracks: "No You Girls", "What She Came For".
  • The Lonely Island, Incredibad - a hip hop/R&B/comedy album from the same talented humor group that brings us SNL's Digital Shorts. Hilarious stuff, but doesn't invite lots of additional listens.
    Recommended tracks (and videos): "I'm On a Boat", "Lazy Sunday".
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - if the Cure met My Bloody Valentine in a bar, this would probably be the bastard child.
    Recommended tracks: "This Love is Fucking Right", "Come Saturday".
  • A.C. Newman, Get Guilty - second album from the driving force behind the New Pornographers. You'll miss their harmonies and Neko, but not the great melodies.
    Recommended tracks: "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer", "All of My Days and All of My Days Off".
  • Bruce Springsteen, Working on a Dream - Bruce and the E Street Band doing what they've always done, but it feels like it was better 20 years ago (or even on 2007's Magic). For die-hard devotees only.
    Recommended tracks: "Working on a Dream", "The Wrestler".

Stay Away From:

  • Glasvegas - I can't say there's not quality music here, and a few songs ("Geraldine", "Go Square Go") will garner repeat listens, but other tracks turn me off of this album.
  • The Shaky Hands, Lunglight - listened once, was very "meh" about it, so I never returned.

Potential highlights of 2009 Q2 include: the Hold Steady, the Thermals, Crystal Antlers, Silversun Pickups, Death Cab for Cutie (EP), Green Day, White Rabbits, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear, Wilco (may it be better than their last), Dead Weather (Ben, you've probably never heard of them, but they feature Jack White on drums), Sonic Youth, Rock Plaza Central, Dinosaur Jr., Third Eye Blind, the Lemonheads, Sunset Rubdown, and theoretically Five Dollar Friend. Yep, lots of upcoming music folks. Get excited!

"I never try to find you
I hope you don't remember me
I hope you're not alone"
- the National, The Perfect Song


Anonymous Barzelay said...

I am liking the new Dan Deacon (Bromst), but it may be too weird and hipsterish for your taste. Similarly, the new Animal Collective is great, especially "My Girls." It came out at the end of last year, I think, but Department Of Eagles - In Ear Park is very good. It's the side project of the singer of Grizzly Bear. Oh, and in case you missed it (as I did), Lykke Li is also fantastic.

April 30, 2009 6:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

You know, I've almost picked up the new Animal Collective several times, and I'd heard about Dept. of Eagles, but it hadn't made my list. Thanks for the tips Barzelay. I think you should start posting music reviews again on EatFoo, though I guess it wouldn't really fit with the theme.

May 01, 2009 9:08 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Anything done with enthusiasm, but especially Lo-Fi garage rock bands are what I'm looking for. (Think Be Your Own Pet.) So I'll need to check out NODZZZ. Also, anything with Jack I'm interested in Dead Weather.

And now, to completely change the musical direction, I liked the death-obssessed, pretty sounding album by White Lies called "To Lose My Life..." At least, the first three tracks. If I ever get that mix CD I made for Jeff to you, you'll hear a few of their tracks.

May 01, 2009 10:10 AM  
Blogger Matthew B. Novak said...

I like the song "To Lose My Life" too. And I've heard a little Lykke Li and enjoyed that. I'm a little sad to not see Ida Maria on here. You're missing a couple other songs I'd throw out: Loaded by the Idle Hands (good luck finding that one), French Navy by Camera Obscura, and I'm Sorry Baby but You Can't Stand in My Light Anymore by Bob Mould. I think those are all first quarter songs...

My problem is that I listen to The Current all the time now (which everyone should check out, it's public radio and awesome, and I'm plugging it all the time, I know, but still...), so I end up listening to songs only and not much in the way of albums unless I feel like I really need to go pick one up. So lots of the individual song recommendations I would echo, but I've got no basis to agree/disagree on albums as a whole.

May 01, 2009 10:35 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

That White Lies song gets played all the damn time on XM. Same with that Ida Maria song.

U2 fan extraordinaire Bill Gates described it as a journey through U2's entire evolution as a bandSo that means the first half of the album is awesome, and the second half is crap except for a couple good songs near the end?

May 01, 2009 11:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew B. Novak said...

described it as a journey through U2's entire evolution as a band.

No, I think that means that at the beginning they were awesome and then the members dispersed to various charity events and so all of the songs on the second half were written and performed by Chris Martin.

May 01, 2009 2:03 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Actually Jeff, that does turn out to be a pretty accurate description.

Thanks to the magic of Lala, I've now heard "French Navy" and the Bob Mould song and I approve; they also have the White Lies and Ida Maria, so further investigation is imminent.

Ben, NODZZZ makes Be Your Own Pet sound like a marvel of studio-quality production. I don't know whether that will intrigue you or turn you off. I'll probably be bearing mix CDs on my next Atlanta trip.

May 01, 2009 5:08 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Well, it's not the studio quality that grabs me one way or the other. It's the enthusiasm, the energy....the feeling, after listening to an album, that I've just run an audio sprint. If that makes any sense.

Anyways, as you know, I'm all in favor of A.D.D.

May 02, 2009 7:43 PM  

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