Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What I'm listening to...

I was posting one new review a week for a while there, but I couldn't keep it up. Instead, I'll run through some quick one-liner reviews for several recent releases/leaks from the last few weeks. This will catch you all up on what's good and what's not.

Beck - Modern Guilt
Most consistent collection of tunes since Sea Change and the Danger Mouse production is a nice fit, but ultimately I was left with little to no lasting impact. The set is so consistent in sound and theme that each song sounds like the next. Luckily, it's a pretty decent song.
JTM Grade: 70%

David Vandervelde - Waiting for the Sunrise
Last time we heard from Vandervelde, he was Marc Bolan reincarnated. This go-round, we're still grounded firmly in the 70s, only now more Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young worn on our sleeves, rather than T. Rex. I prefer glam but it's a decent set nonetheless. Songs tend to meander on too long.
JTM Grade: 75%

The Walkmen - You & Me
I'd kinda lost interest in The Walkmen after the underwhelming A Hundred Miles Off but this new album delivers on all fronts. Even though there's nothing as immediate as 'The Rat' to be found here, the album may very well be more complete and satisfying from beginning to end than Bows + Arrows. Contender for AOTY.
JTM Grade: 90%

Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
Disco's dead and maybe it should stay that way. Even as camp, this doesn't work. Big disappointment from Kevin Barnes coming off career high Hissing Fauna.
JTM Grade: 45%

Okkervil River - The Stand-ins
Culled from the same session that produced last year's The Stage Names. I'm not sure if Will Sheff can write a bad song, but it's hard not to think of this as leftovers that didn't make the cut (i.e. Black Sheep Boy Appendix). For most bands, you'd think this would mean subpar material but that's not the case. Like I said, bad songs he cannot write. Welcome guest appearance by former bandmate and current Shearwater mainman Jonathan Meiburg.
JTM Grade: 75%

Mogwai - Hawk is Howling
Just leaked. Still absorbing. Initial impression has me thinking it could be their best in years. Bonus points for the best cover art and song titles of the year doesn't hurt either. And by best, I mean worst.
JTM Grade: pending

Bloc Party - Intimacy
Chaotic, borderline cheesy, only occasionally thrilling. For better or worse, there's a heavy Chemical Brothers influence going on. Mostly for worse unfortunately and I'm beginning to wonder if Silent Alarm was a beautiful fluke. As always, it's hard to take Kele seriously, but oh how he tries so hard.
JTM Grade: 55%

David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
My expectations were high considering the two geniuses involved here and admittedly, I was surprised with the results. Far less experimental than Bush of Ghosts but that also means much more listenable. I'd even call these accessible, MOR pop songs, but man, these are some damn good songs. In a time where every other band swipes from The Talking Heads playbook, Byrne/Eno have delivered a decidedly untrendy set of songs. It's refreshing. I've had this almost on continuous repeat since I downloaded it last week.
JTM Grade: 90%

The Verve - Forth
The beloved UK act will never be able to re-create 'Bittersweet Symphony' but I that's what I keep hoping they'll do. The Verve are one of those bands I desperately want to love but can never really fall for. Forth is a pretty album (and so is the cover art), but even now, I can't think of a single memorable track other than single 'Love Is Noise.' And again with the long songs. Unless you're post-rock or a brilliant wordsmith, I see no reason for this kind of excess.
JTM Grade: 60%

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