Well, it seemed like August flew by faster than most of us expected. Sure enough, there is a pile of things I left undone. First to clear some of that off the docket, here is yet another edition of Music that slipped through the cracks… . In Part VII, I’m pleased to bring you what I feel is one of the best albums of the year, as well as some decent additions to anyone’s music collection.
Released: June 9, 2009 (USA)
Run Grizzly Bear, Run. Run Animal Collective, Run. This is your challenger for album supremacy in 2009. While those other bands got a headstart, Dirty Projectors have been playing a crazy game of catch up (at least on my iPod). If you like avant-garde experimental indie pop (and, honestly, who doesn’t?) Bitte Orca is the album for you. I have been living “Temecula Sunrise” daily, now.
For a taste, check out the video for “Stillness Is The Move” (it has llamas).
Tears of laughter did pervade
Your ambivalent behavior
Where was your diamond engaged but an instinct
Could be written over like a page
In a dead book, yeah
– The Bride
Released: May 19, 2009 (USA)
Indie rock bands are usually heavy on the former and lacking on the latter. Not so much with White Rabbits, who begin It’s Frightening with the aptly named “Percussion Gun”, firmly establishing that they are here to rock your bones (easy when you have two drummers). The indie sensibilities are never too far away, though, creating an intelligently layered, yet unpolished soundscape that makes you nod your head while you scratch your skull.
For a taste, check out the video for “Percussion Gun”
I see the house burning down
The pillars, the porch and the roof
The curtains that light up the room
Right where they left you on the floor
– Right Where They Left You
Released: January 28, 2009 (Swe)
Ahhh, the sweet sound of colonialism. Now that is what I call a concept album. Nina Persson (The Cardigans), her husband, Nathan Larson (Shutter To Think), and Niclas Frisk (Atomic Swing) form this incarnation of A Camp, Persson’s solo effort the first time ‘round, in 2001. After a trip to Africa, Persson was inspired to write music with the aesthetic of old imperial decadence. At least she didn’t come back wanting to cover Paul Simon’s Graceland. Colonia is indie pop rock that arrives in your ear drums, sets up shop, and sooner, rather than later, has you believing you don’t actually own the place. Oh, those Swedes. Watch your back, Norway!
For a taste, let “Love Has Left the Room” invade your ears, and dare I say, your heart.
Anybody tell you that there is no resale value
When your romance goes to hell
You better say farewell to what you thought was wealth
Ever get the feeling that the paint is started peeling
Are you staring at the ceiling of your castle
Dreaming that you’re someone else
-Golden Teeth and Silver Medals
Old Crows/Young Cardinals
Released: June 23, 2009 (Can)
What, this isn’t the new City & Colour album? Totally not what I expected. Dallas Green, how could you? What about your hot TV host wife? What will she think (“So You Think You Can roMance Canada?”)? You can’t serenade her with your acoustic guitar to “Old Crows”, I can tell you that. Far too loud, these kids.
Fun Dallas Green Factoid #1: he is a fan of Mike Holmes. Found that on Wikipedia, so it must be true. How do you sit around backstage with other post-hardcore bands and go about discussing your favourite HGTV programs, exactly? “So, the other day, Leah and I were looking for ideas on how to renovate the den, and sure enough Debbie Travis…I mean Mike Holmes came on…”. Whatever, dude, you’ve got all bases covered, being the smart, sensitive type a la City & Colour, while being the tattoed badass in Alexisonfire. Speaking of bases covered, Fun Dallas Green Factoid #2: he is named after the baseball player of the same name. Apparently he wasn’t given a name for over a month, while his father gambled on the Phillies to win the World Series. It’s a shame they didn’t name him Tug McGraw Green. That would’ve been awesome.
But in all seriousness, Old Crows/Young Cardinals is, in my honest opinion (why do people shorten that to IMHO? It always seems to cheapen the honesty involved), a top-notch post-hardcore/screamo album that while it won’t convert any new listeners, will no doubt please the longtime fans.
For a taste, check out the music video for “Young Cardinals” (“I’m on a boat!”)
Old crows ride in the mouth of the beast
Sleep beneath its tongue, cradled by it’s teeth
We roam from shore to shore
From the open sky, to the ocean floor
The more we move, the less we are ourselves
And when we finally stop, we’ve changed to something else
– Old Crows
The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Released: May 18, 2009 (UK)
“Whoa, whoa….whoa, whoa…” Madness is back! The musical geniuses who brought us that song “Our House” (you know, the one in the middle of our street) have a new album. File that under “Yes!”. Do I need to say any more? Oh, right, whether this new album is any good (that part slipped me up last time when I heard A-Ha had a new album…). It is. Seriously. There isn’t a single on this album that will knock your socks off on its own, but taken as a whole, it is a serious ska-pop heavyweight. As far as 1980s comebacks go, I’d file this one far ahead of The Pet Shop Boys or A-Ha.
For a taste, check out this live performance of “Forever Young”
Oh, there was a time when I was younger
When all the nights and days were long
And everyday just getting stronger
Like a sunflower in the sun
In the sun
– Forever Young
Released: June 9, 2009 (USA)
Mos Def is crazy. Half the stuff he says on TV is laughable. The other half of it is poignant and pointed. Back in the arena where he has the most weight, Mos brings the heat again. The Ecstatic is a really good album, with some great beats underlying sharp lyricism (“Auditorium”, for example, takes aim at Iraq, a common target). After last year’s Audio #3 mixtape (with DJ Ideal) jogged the memory (including some that date back to Blackstar days), it’s great to hear some new tracks.
For a taste, check out “Quiet Dog Bite Hard”, performed live on The Late Show with David Letterman
I feel it in my bones like I’m so wide awake that I’m hardly ever asleep
My flow forever deep
And its volumes of scriptures when I breathe on the beat
My presence speak volume before I say a word
I’m everywhere; penthouse, pavement, a curb
Cradle to the grave, talk a vegal, know it’s sail
Universal ghetto life, holla black you know it well
Quiet storm, vital form, pen push the bright across
Mind is the vital force, high-low we’ll ride across
Soul is the lions roar, voice is the siren
I swing round, ring out and bring down the tyrant
Chop ma small ax and knock a giant lop-sided
Music for the People
Released: April 27, 2009 (UK)
In 2007, The Enemy released their debut album, We’ll Live and Die in These Towns. It was one of those “Fuck Maggie Thatcher” albums that UK bands love to make – except about twenty years past relevancy. It was pretty decent rock, as far as the straight-forward variety goes (think Stereophonics/Oasis), but had occasional moments where you fully expect coal miners to come barging in to sing-a-long (especially in the anthemic title track and also “You’re Not Alone”).
Their follow-up, Music for the People, while being obviously written from the heart (of Coventry, that is), suffers from delusions of grandiousity that can only make Don Quixote wince. The opening track “Elephant Song” is the kind of bombastic, we’re hear to play music opener you’d expect from Oasis (fittingly, The Enemy will be opening for Oasis on tour), but not really “music for the people”. Luckily, the next song “No Time for Tears” does a decent job of putting the rest of the album back on track (though, to be honest, when that is the best song on the album, maybe it doesn’t).
Overall, an okay album. My biggest problem, really has to be with the ballad “Last Goodbye”, not because I hate ballads (I don’t), but because the chorus is almost an exact rip-off of Richard Ashcroft’s “Words Just Get In The Way” (which came out three years ago and is a better song, to boot). I’ll let you give both a listen and get back to me on this.
Gettin’ back to a empty flat
Hacked up and even more
Screwed up wrappers from a take away dinner
Scattered all over the floor
This isn’t glamorous
It’s not rock and roll
This is England on a Saturday night
This is a nation’s soul
– No Time for Tears