52 Albums: Week 16
Eternal Summers — The Dawn of Eternal Summers
Eternal Summers describe their music as “Dream Punk” and it’s an appropriate label in that their music combines dream pop with lo-fi indie punk influences.
The Dawn of Eternal Summers is apparently a release of early recordings in anticipation of their second full length album due out in June. Be that as it may, it’s a full length collection that I’ve been listening to all week so, for the purposes of this blog, I’m considering it a new release album.
As a rule, Dream Pop rarely captures my attention for very long but it’s perfect as background music while working. Fans of the genre, however, will find a lot to love on this album which is solid throughout. I would also recommend the track “Able To” to pretty much anyone as it’s one of the better songs I’ve heard all year:
I give the album three and a half stars based on my personal taste but it deserves more so be sure to check it out if you like the track above. I’m looking forward to checking out their new album in June.
Listen to The Dawn of Eternal Summers on Spotify.
52 Albums: Week 15
Spiritualized — Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Sweet Heart Light Heart is a sweeping album, successfully blending Shoegaze, Britpop, Rock-Gospel, Blues and large scale orchestral arrangements into a grand, cohesive whole. Spiritualized has been around since the early 90’s and while Sweet Heart Light Heart draws on some of the groups earlier sounds, the efforts are focused by singer/guitarist Jason Pierce’s near death experiences and medical treatment while writing and mixing the album.
The album’s highlights are among the best songs I’ve heard all year. Take the track ‘Mary’ for example:
The song starts out in a Slowcore, Dreampop vein reminiscent of Low but, over the course of six minutes, it builds into something entirely epic featuring strings, noisy, angular guitars and horns. This ambition and richness of sound is present throughout Sweet Heart Sweet Light. The album’s best song is “Sweet Jane” and, if you have ten minutes to spare, I highly recommend director AG Rojas’ excellent, long-form video. (Elements of the video are NSFW.)
Good as this album is, ambient, shoe-gazy music sometimes tries my patience and the album sags a little bit from time to time. I give Sweet Heart Sweet Light four stars out of five. It will be interesting to see if it sticks around in my rotation long enough to make my year-end top ten albums or if those duller songs turn me off enough over time to drive me away from the album.
Listen to Sweet Heart Sweet Light on Spotify.
Inspired by my favorite music podcast, Rock Solid, I have put together this play list featuring days of the week. Six weeks worth of songs, to be precise:
Listen to A Month And a Half on Spotify.
This is a long playlist, perfect for listening to at work, or on a lazy Sunday morning. (Something about songs featuring days of the week — A lot of them are contemplative.) There are some obvious choices missing from this list — You can safely assume I hate those songs. (Elton John, Steeley Dan, etc.) Here’s the full playlist:
- Sunday Morning Wednesday Night — Spoon
- I Don’t Like Monday’s — The Boomtown Rats
- Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning — Cowboy Junkies
- Waiting For Wednesday — Lisa Loeb
- Like a Summer Thursday — Alela Diane
- Friday XIII — Deer Tick
- Saturday — Built To Spill
- Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2
- Blue Monday — New Order
- c u next tuesday — Ke$ha
- Wednesday (No Se Apoye) — Mike Doughty
- Thursday — Asobi Seksu
- Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) — Katy Perry
- Come Saturday — The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
- Sunday Best — Agustana
- Monday Morning — Fleetwood Mac
- Ruby Tuesday — The Rolling Stones
- Wednesday — Drive-by Truckers
- Blackouts on Thursday — Les Savy Fav
- DUI Friday — Fishbone
- Saturday Come Slow — Massive Attack
- Sunday — Bloc Party
- Monday Morning — Death Cab for Cutie
- Tuesday Night — Social Plaza
- Wednesday — Tori Amos
- Holy Thursday — David Axelrod
- Jebidiah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party — Audra Mae
- Saturday Night — Misfits
- Sunday Morning, Coming Down — Johnny Cash
- On a Monday — Ry Cooder
- Tuesday Morning — Michelle Branch
- Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. — Simon & Garfunkel
- Thursday — Jim Croce
- Friday’s Child — Nancy Sinatra
- The Heart of Saturday Night — Tom Waits
- Pleasant Valley Sunday — The Monkees
- Monday — The Jam
- Tuesday’s Gone — Leonard Skynyrd
- Ash Wednesday — Elvis Perkins
- Thursday Evening Swing — The Cats & The Fiddle
- Black Friday Rule — Flogging Molly
- Finch On Saturday — Horse Feathers
- One Sunday Morning — Wilco
In reading up on Jack White this week I discovered that he collaborated with Electric Six on one of my favorite albums, Fire. Rocking your face off while making you laugh is no small feat but Electric Six manage to pull it off.
“Danger! High Voltage” is the song that first turned me on to Electric Six:
The video for “Gay Bay” is funny in its own right and also sets up this hilarious sketch from the BBC’s Armstrong and Miller Show:
52 Albums: Week 14
Jack White -- Blunderbuss
Jack White’s first full-length solo-album, Blunderbuss, is mostly deserving of the considerable buzz it is generating.
Freed from the expectations of The White Stripes, Blunderbuss gives Jack White the leeway to further explore his particular brand of bluesy punk in. White takes full advantage of this freedom — Blunderbuss is bursting at the seams with creativity and masterfully pulls together sounds that have only been hinted at in his previous work. The whole thing is pulled off with a confidence and control that ties everything together into a coherent whole.
The songs on the album that work are great on a visceral level and I want to love Blunderbuss but, unfortunately, the filler on this album leaves me mostly cold. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste — None of these songs are bad but some of them just aren’t my bag. Nevertheless, the legitimately great songs on this album keep me coming back for more and, in a year that’s been fraught with musical disappointments, Blunderbuss is currently sitting in my top five.
In looking for a song to highlight for this review I am tempted to go with the album’s first single, “Love Interruption.” It’s a phenomenal song and utterly original but it’s gotten a fair amount of exposure so instead I will go with the album’s closer, “Take Me with You when You Go,” a song which really captures the range of sounds White manages to blend on this album:
Shades of The Sweet or Electric Six towards the end there. (Which gives me a good idea for this week’s Album Recommendation.)
Blunderbuss deserves four stars out of five but I’m going to give it three and a half stars, based entirely on my personal tastes. I love half of the songs but the other half does nothing for me and that holds me back from enthusiastically endorsing the album as a whole.
Listen to Blunderbuss on Spotify.
Sons and Daughters are an indie-rock band out of Glasgow, Scotland who cite Johnny Cash among their influences. I was first turned onto them by their 2005 album, The Repulsion Box, which absolutely blew my doors off. Their 2008 album, This Gift, was well received by critics but, to my ear, it felt over produced.
Imagine my excitement, then, when their most recent album was released last year featuring a stripped back return to the sound that grabbed me so powerfully when I first heard them. By turns moody and hard driving, this is an album that knows what it’s all about. Here’s one of the more atmospheric songs on the album, “Ink Free”:
If there was an award for Best Use of a Typewriter for Percussion, that song would totally win. For something a bit heavier, check out the single “Rose Red”:
Listen to Mirror Mirror on Spotify.
52 Albums: Week 13
The Carolina Chocolate Drops -- Leaving Eden
The Carolina Chocolate Drops is a four-person string band playing a combination of original songs and traditional folk and bluegrass music from the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina. The live, improvisational nature of this sort of music lends itself well to updating for modern audiences and the individual band members are all highly skilled musicians, equal to the task.
I was actually turned onto the Carolina Chocolate Drops by The Hunger Games soundtrack which features an excellent original song by them. Their new album Leaving Eden, features both original songs and fantastic, energetic updates of traditional songs.
I actually want to feature two songs in this week’s review to give a sense of the breadth of their talent. First up is a cover of Cousin Emmy’s “Ruby Are You Mad At Your Man?”
This fantastic, foot-stomping energy is all over the album which would be good enough in it’s own right but The Carolina Chocolate Drops are also capable of shifting gears and dropping original gems of pastoral beauty like the title track, “Leaving Eden”:
Leaving Eden blends these diverse sounds seamlessly and the result is a well-balanced album with a real sense of place that is at once true to its traditional roots and relevant to contemporary audiences. If you enjoyed the tracks above I can highly recommend the album as a whole. Four stars out of five.
Listen to Leaving Eden on Spotify.