So yeah- before you get a chance to send a comment or an e-mail my way, let me interject with the standard "no, we didn't forget it..."; just in case you're wondering where the new album reviews are. They're here, they're just encapsulized. Bear with us as we're trying to prepare for the big switch over to our all-new website (New and improved! With a legitimate domain name! No more blogspot!) which launches all over your internets on Sunday, February 1st.
Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (Domino Records, released 1/27/09)
Sexy in a nerdy sort of way because on the one hand you have Alex Kapranos' Scottish pub-rock-croon over familiar yet odd, angular post-punk guitar chords and then on the other hand there are all these seemingly out-of-place 8-bit beeps and blips that show up (like the ones used in various old-school video games; the track Live Alone sounds like one of the radio stations you can choose to blast in your Ferrari Testarossa in that Sega game OutRun, circa 1986) which should work as the requisite antithesis for trying to get laid. The excursions of the newly discovered synthesizer are abound as Franz explore dub and electronica; but also keeping the old formula they're known for: groovy sing-along dancefloor bangers. Since this is FF's "night" album, most of the album is an up-tempo affair with hand-claps, drummy freak-outs, stomp-alongs; it shuffles and stutters, stops and starts and eventually drives the point home. Getting weird with the extended acid-house instrumental during the last four minutes of the re-worked Lucid Dreams, the stripped-down acoustic bareness of Katherine Kiss Me, and Ulysses; cribbing its style from the deep space dub echo chamber. There's also the classic formula revisited on tracks that sound exactly as Franz should; Turn It On and What She Came For. I'm recommending this album- if you're already a fan of Franz Ferdinand you might be slightly disappointed, if you're new to the boys from Glasgow- it'll be exciting.
Live Alone - Franz Ferdinand
Katherine Kiss Me - Franz Ferdinand
Andrew Bird - Noble Beast (Fat Possum Records; released 1/20/09)
Andrew Bird is a big fan of life; both in an intra-personal aspect and on a molecular level. Continuing on a concept from his three previous records of breaking the biological constraints of life down to its basest parts- the album is again rife with the imagery of elemental vocabulary like calcium mines, radiolarians (some type of protozoic life form that produces intricate skeletal systems), sea anenomes, etc.- it's as if you need your old bio textbook to read his lyric sheets. I'm going to go ahead and start calling him Dr. Bird, he's probably the most cerebral songwriter around these days; and I can't quite call his music "pop", being that he's a classically trained violinist his music veers closer towards a baroque sentiment- imagine pop music of the late 1700s set to brainiac post-Ph.D lyricism. But the musicianship coupled with the uber-intelligentsia slant makes for repeated interested listens; highlights include Oh No, Masterswarm, Not A Robot, But A Ghost, and the hands-down best piece of music on the entire record appears after the 2:15 mark of Anonanimal- it's actually one of the nicest breakdowns in a song I've heard in a while. But then again, Dr. Bird can write some really fine melodies; so it's completely expected.
Anonanimal - Andrew Bird
Masterswarm - Andrew Bird
More albums I missed from 2008 that I've been rocking heavily this past month:
Deerhoof - Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars Records; released October 7th, 2008)
You know, I'm half on the fence with Deerhoof, half-off; I loved Reveille and The Runners Four (but not at first), sort of panned Friend Opportunity and was stand-offish about their latest. Eventually I grew to like all these albums after forgetting about them and revisiting them sometime later- it's like I can't get into it right away, it takes a bunch of listens before I get hooked in. I listened to Offend Maggie a few times back in October and let it sit on the shelf until about two weeks ago; now I get it- it's got bigger guitars, less freaky, more restrained. Each album is less a continuation of the last than a re-invention towards something slightly different, but still essentially Deerhoof-esque.
Offend Maggie - Deerhoof
Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista (Fonal Records; released July 22nd, 2008)
This record would've made my top five, easily- that is if I actually listened to it before I made my flawed and (now) out-dated list, actually there's about 6 or 7 albums I would've slipped in my top twenty that I didn;t get a chance to hear until after the new year, but alas; no need complaining when there's such sweetly ethereal music like Paavoharju out there. Ambient dream folk electronica from the far reaches of Finland; I have to say this is as fine a record I've heard in the last decade; there's nothing to compare it to because there's nothing else that I've heard that sounds even remotely like this.
Uskallan - Paavoharju
The Bug - London Zoo (Ninja Tune Records; released July 7th, 2008)
I've somewhat maligned the entire genre of dubstep, however this is not only listenable, it's ridiculously enjoyable. It's closer to "darkwave" dancehall, if such a thing exists (probably not) but it's way better than any other dubstep I've heard. No wonder this ended up in so many top ten lists at the end of last year- it's a great record.
Judgement ft.Ricky Ranking - The Bug
Heavy Anticipation for February:
Nathan Williams' Wavves project has a follow up LP entitled Wavvves due out February 3rd from De Stijl Records, listen to So Bored.
So Bored - Wavves
Dark Was The Night Compilation, due out February 17th from 4AD Records; here's The Decemberists' offering:
Sleepless - The Decemberists
Morrissey's Years Of Refusal, due out February 17th from Attack/Lost Highway Records
No-One Can Hold A Candle To You - Morrissey
Abe Vigoda's Reviver EP, due out Feb. 17th from Post Present Medium Records; here's a taste:
Dont Lie - Abe Vigoda
Zach Condon has releases scheduled on Feb. 17th from two separate projects: his well-known day job Beirut with the March Of The Zapotec EP and his electronic side-project Realpeople's Holland EP
The Akara - Beirut
No Dice - Beirut
Black Lips' new record, 200 Million Thousand; out Feb. 24th from Vice Records; have a listen:
Starting Over - Black Lips
See you later...