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Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Audio Tones

I average about 50 albums a year added to my CD collection, but only about one genuine new release a month. Here are some quick thoughts on my class of 2005:

Annie: Anniemal
Pop pop, fizz fizz. The singles are wonderfully insubstantial, the rest of it merely insubstantial. Summer's over, and much of this already sounds like it. Fun while it lasted, though.
Beck: Guero
Far and away his best major label record (and just behind One Foot In The Grave for best, period.) Unfairly maligned for sounding too much like, well, Beck, Guero manages to synthesize the best impulses of everything from Odelay through Sea Change.
The Duke Spirit: Relieve the Distressed e.p.
Dave heard the first ten seconds of the first track on this and nailed them as a Too Pure tribute band. Which isn't neccesarily a bad thing to be. Sign me up for the domestic release of the full-length.
Franz Ferdinand: You Could Have It So Much Better
Haven't changed my mind yet--better than the debut by a mile and possibly the best new record I've heard this year
The Hot 8: Rock With the Hot 8
I first discovered these guys in a second line parade on a trip I took to New Orleans in February. This is brass band music heavily informed by Parliament and Prince--the record has a couple of rap tunes and a celebratory cover of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." Last I heard they were borrowing instruments from a high school band (rescue workers airlefted them out, but not their instruments.)
Hot Hot Heat: Elevator
This one kinda came and went in a hurry, which is too bad. It has many of the same charms as the new Franz, and is more consistent than its often enaging precursor, Make Up the Breakdown. Like Urge Overkill in 1993, this was a band seemingly construced for its major label sellout move, and like UO, they did it entirely successfully. They're a minor band, but they made an enormously fun record here.
James Kochalka Superstar: Our Most Beloved
I had no intention of buying this, despite being a huge fan of Kochalka's comics. But when the man himself asked me if I wanted one of the last two copies he'd brought to ComicCon, how was I going to say no? Five or six of the songs are genuinely good, half of the rest are at least funny, and the bonus DVD, loaded with cartoon videos for the good songs, makes my kids happy.
New Order: Waiting On The Siren's Call
I can remember the melody of the single "Krafty"; otherwise it's as if I never heard this record. It's not that bad. It just didn't stick.
New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
Earns an "Exceeds Expectations" and my expectations were very, very high for this album from possibly my favorite contemporary band. All the AC Newman-written songs are great, and the Dan Bejar stuff is at least listenable.
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods
Terrific songs. Committed performances. Brave, if occasionally irritating production. And I know they meant to be provocatively irritating. It's still irritating.
Spoon: Gimme Fiction
It may all be diminishing returns since Girls Can Tell, but with a mark that high, even the falloff has been enjoyable. A handful of songs on this are among the band's best work. But a handful remind you that they're a little overrated, and that the grinding, mechanical, almost anonymous quality of some of the material occasionally threatens to overwhelm all of it.
The Wedding Present: Take Fountain
Their best since about 1992 is just barely good enough for me. Would have been better served as an e.p anchored by "Interstate 5" and "I'm From Further North Than You." Much of the rest is padding.
The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
I appreciate the thought. More high profile bands should record rushed, half-baked records like this. I mean that sincerely. Some of the individual songs may be underdeveloped, but it's more than made up for by the spontenaeity. Okay, the highly calculated spontenaeity. In any event, I dig it.

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