27 February 2007

Review: Capsule 2007 CD's Vol. 1

Didn't catch any live shows in the past week... I think it's the 1st week of '07 where this has been the case. Never fear, I'll be out and about multiple times in the next couple days and will be sure to report back with the usual nonsense.

In the meantime, some quickie reviews of the last few new 2007 CD's I've purchased -- yes, I still buy real live plastic CD's, crappy jewel cases and all, old habits die hard. Although a few of these have some wonderful packaging that makes it all the more worthwhile.

Click on links for Amazon pages and expect some of these to make appearances in the minimixes in weeks to come... actually hit 3 last week for your downloading enjoyment.

[Note: these are my initial impressions, not full-blown reviews, and Ned-O-Matic grades are based on a 5 being an average album in my collection with the caveat that I am an informed buyer these days, so everything I buy I'm probably going to like. Happy to review others if you want to send me free music!]

Of Montreal -- Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer
I've downloaded an Of Montreal track here and there and always enjoyed the hell out of 'em, but I went crazy and bought the whole shebang and am really happy I did. Expansive, psychedelic doo-wop at times deep and introspective and others swinging and, well, funky. A lot of reviews will dwell on the personal edge to the lyrics, but I've listened to this a half dozen or so times and have enjoyed it immensely without making a single pass at what the songs were about. Some of the more creative CD packaging in my music collection, you don't get the full effect via iTunes, I assure you. Ned-O-Matic: 7

Menomena -- Friend and Foe
I got a bunch of these in one batch and threw 'em straight into the living room CD changer. Three of them - this one, Of Montreal and The Earlies - kind of ran together as one blur of that big psychedelic pop sound. I dig them all, but this one continues to stand out head and shoulders above the rest as a truly excellent album. Brings to mind the best of the critically acclaimed Super Furry Animals' Rings Around the Sun and TV On the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain and yet carves out wonderfully new sounds in between those. Can't get enough of this one, highly recommended. Ned-O-Matic: 9

The Earlies -- Enemy Chorus
Of the three that I'm kinda lumping together, this one is definitely the most ambitious: symphonic, electronic... big. This is the kind of album that seems to take a different form depending on the venue: background noise while making dinner, dance music when playing with the kids and seriously deep mind-expanding experience when it's just you and the headphones. This thing is growing on me with each listen and I'm sure there's plenty left in there to discover. Ned-O-Matic: 7.5

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah -- Some Loud Thunder
Sophmore albums are pretty tough. CYHSY's 1st one came pretty close to living up to the praise and this one is a pretty admirable follow-up, which would lead you to believe that these guys are for real. They don't quite stick to formula and they don't quite change it up radically, so maybe they're playing it safe. The sound has definitely evolved, pushing that Talking Heads-at-CBGB's punk derivative both forward and backward and time, bringing in their own elements and some damn good songwriting. Still they channel David Byrne in the best possible ways on swingers like "Satan Said Dance." Ned-O-Matic: 6

Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter -- Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul
Your enjoyment of Sykes' music will certainly be directly correlated to your enjoyment of her voice. She's got a whiskey-stained growl that's been compared (favorably) to Widespread Panic's John Bell. I think it's more of an evolved Janis Joplin, but regardless, the music's pretty damn good... most of the time. When she tries to slow it down too much, her voice just doesn't get pretty enough to carry it. Her band totally rocks, though, so she has that much more in common with Janis. This music sits in that reliving the 70's vibe, channeling that bridge between sweet candy pop and churning dirty rock and roll. Ned-O-Matic: 5.5

Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle -- Battery Milk
Don't know about Mike Dillon? Get involved! His latest band is a vibraphone-driven mind-and-body fuck. Funky grooves, wild percussional interludes and great subject matter. The title to "Your Mother Was My Teacher" was actually blurted out by a woman to Dillon mid-coitus and "Bad Man" is about good ole GWB with some well-placed samples augmenting the mood. Dark and twisted in reality and much of the same in his music (just look at that album cover). Ned-O-Matic: 6

Tin Hat -- The Sad Machinery of Spring
Tin Hat is like mutated chamber music that has lost its way in the East European woods of jazz, pop and folk. With such a colorful palate to draw from, this album plays like it's in black and white: melancholy, moody, everything shadows and shading. While I think their previous efforts as a trio are a little better (Book of Silk is a masterpiece album that should be in your collection), it's all just degrees of wonderful. Tin Hat is listening music at its finest. Ned-O-Matic: 7

Guess you can't go wrong with any of these -- just be thankful I limited myself to a couple sentences. I'll hit you again in a month or so with the next batch of good 'uns and you be sure to return the favor with any recommendations or CD's to avoid for that matter.

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