5.29.07 | Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
[Red Int / Red Ink]
You know, I’m not going to say that the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club isn’t a good album as a whole. It’s just that I feel like I’ve outgrown this whole sound… I ate up B.R.M.C. in 2002, but since then we’ve had the Strokes, White Stripes, etc. and others pretty much duplicating that sound needlessly.
I do like a few tracks on the album, but for the most part this sounds exactly what you’d expect BRMC to sound like – and that’s sorta problematic for me. I mean, you can only go so far with this type of sound. It’s sort of funny that they sing: “Suicide IS easy… what happened to the revolution?”
They’ve always had a Velvet Underground and Dandy Warhols type of groove going, and that’s what you get with their new album Baby 81. I dunno, the songs are decent… I’m just finding it difficult today getting all excited about them.
5.29.07 | Dappled Cities – Granddance
You know what? I’m going to have to apologize in advance to Dappled Cities for getting up on the rant-box within their review. Sorry guys, the album IS very good – and unique sounding. Ironically, what I wanted to say is that I do read quite a few music mp3 blogs around the net and it seems like more and more you read a review where the content has almost nothing to do with the actual music and more to do what the author had for lunch, or what shirt his girlfriend was wearing that day which reminded him so poignantly about the band he’s talking about. I say ironic, because I guess that’s what I’m actually doing in this review!
Many Mp3 blogs have those short Seinfeldish reviews, and then they end with 1 or 2 sentences saying, “nice album, they’re playing at BlahBlah Bar, check it out HERE (linking to many online MP3s). For that pittance of actual music coverage, they get a reamload of CDs in the mail from the major indies for free. Uh, not that I don’t get a few CDs for free myself.
Every so often, I go through this existential, fatalistic, gloom-n-doom reasoning about the site – wherein I say, why do I even bother talking about these bands? (Have you guessed yet that today is one of those days?) Surely, everyone is just going to go to read the insightful reviews at Bitchfork or StereoDum if they really want to know about a band. And if they just want links or free music, all they need to do is look at any of the more popular indie blogs out there. No one needs indie blogs that actually try to write more than a piddling few sentences about a band, right?
EXACTLY RIGHT. Over the past year or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat them, then join them. So I’ve been sort of cutting down on the length of the reviews. But you know what? I just can’t bring myself to completely suck out like the majority of review blogs out there. Every now and again I feel like spouting. Hence, the split focus of this blog between reviews and personal “issues”.
If you’ve been any kind of reader of this blog, you’ll remember that I’ve had this sort of conversation with myself many times (working from home has the unfortunate consequence of encouraging discussions with either the cat or the washing machine). I feel like that Al Franken character that talks into a mirror to reassure himself that everything is hunky-dory. He’s talking into the mirror and going “It’s OK to write short reviews. The bands AREN’T going to contact you with hate mail. The readers aren’t going to go over to read Bitchfork instead – and you know why? Because people LIKE me.”
I think it’s just that every so often, I need to physically remind myself by writing it down in the blog that there’s no need to feel bad about writing 1 or 2 piddling sentences about a band and calling a review. I’m sure the majority of the college kids writing blogs are more concerned about the next after-show boozer party than that. More power to ‘em I guess, it sure helps keep you writing post after post.
Did I also mention I have been having extreme shoulder issues from a non-ergonomic work environment, and that writing for Palebear is often to blame? Yeah – suffer for your great work…
Keeping this reviews site semi-personal has been helpful, especially on those days when anything is liable to set me off in a spiral of musical depression. I keep saying I’ll try to make more personal posts more often, but I keep getting caught up with the number of CDs coming in.
Anyhow, back to Dappled Cities. This must be the longest review they’ve ever received that isn’t directly about their music – or not. Their release “Granddance” on Dangerbird is positively Arcade Fire-ish, especially on tracks like “Colour Coding” and “Watercourse”. Over tracks like the great “Work It Out” are sort of like Danielson’s Trumpet song – they have that sort of ringmaster showmanship vibe. The instrumentation is great, as are the overall dynamics. Er, are they from Australia or are they just touring there?
Dappled Cities website
5.18.07 | Palebear Blurbs – May 18
Sorry folks, I have been totally out of it as far as getting to new stuff goes. I will have to do the lame-dance again and merely vomit up the links due to the ancient enemy called time breathing down my neck…
1. Blackwater – The Great Park (Brighton folk a la Field Mice)
2. Hateful – The Diamond Family Archive (Eitzel, Kozelek)
3. Grainy Film Summers – Pupa’s Window (Seldon Plan plus Amanset)
4. Troll For You – Whiting Tennis (Neil Youngish One Foot In The Grave)
5. Eileen – The Storyboards (Fountains of Wayne, Yum Yum vocals )
5.9.07 | Private Eleanor – Sweethearting
Godamn this band is really good. We’d earlier written up Private Eleanor on the basis of their great 2005 release No Straight Lines which came in through the inbox by way of Austin Stahl. This new album Sweethearting may top that one. The same influences and RIYLs are in effect here. Topping the list of bands they sound like is American Analog Set. It mostly has to do with the softserve, creamy feel to the mid-tempo pop that Private Eleanor plays and the hushed vocals, but the frequent use of xylophone doesn’t hurt as well. I don’t want to get stuck pigeon-holing the band as Amanset part 2; but they’re one of my favorite bands so it’s difficult not to throw that type of compliment their way when it’s deserved. Actually, in some instances, PE’s songs sound even prettier and more delicate than Amanset.
“Weeds” is an amazing track that sounds like a Chris Isaak song played by Amanset. There’s a sort of spectral feel to a lot of the songs – like being in a waking dream while watching a show. The earlier album was compared a bit to the twin towers of E. Smith and N. Drake, but I seem to hear a lot less of that on Sweethearting. I also can’t remember if Marian Glebes (who adds those bells and other percussion) sang that much on No Straight Lines, but in any case her similarly hushed accompanying vocals and harmonies are very welcome on these newer songs. I still get a Red House Painters vibe, especially on the quieter parts of songs like “Consider The Archer.” And that Posies vocal similarity still rings true every so often.
Man, the Baltimore-based Beechfields label, who also released the amazing Seldon Plan are definitely on my list of favorite collectives right now. They just can’t seem to do wrong at the moment.
Private Eleanor website
Get to the River ...
I have to keep reminding myself never to judge a band based on anything before hearing their music or seeing them play live. Sometimes it’s best to even listen to them blind. In this case, I’m talking about the amazing band Sea Wolf who I saw play the Echoplex kickoff show this past Thursday along with The Parsons Red Heads, Watson Twins and Earlimart.
I was going to the show to see Earlimart, but I’d gotten an advance of the Sea Wolf CD as well. However, I didn’t even listen to it beforehand – one of my favorite things to do back when it was actually possible to be surprised by music (early 90s) was to take a chance and buy a CD or go to a show without knowing anything about the band. Kinda like forcing yourself not to know anything about a movie before going to see it. I decided to do this with Sea Wolf and I’m so glad I did. The reason is because the band is headed up by Alex Church of Irving, and his band mate Alex Burrows is also in the lineup. The thing is – I can’t stand Irving! So, if I’d read they were in Sea Wolf maybe I would have made up my mind already about the band.
Instead, at the show we were treated to an amazing, dynamic performance by Sea Wolf (everyone else was good too, but if Earlimart didn’t come out with guns blazing, I would have said that Sea Wolf stole the show from them). At the heart of the band are Church’s quirky but extremely moody compositions that seem to swim with the tide rather than against it. Melodic acoustic guitar and beautiful string accompaniments make all the difference. The rest of the rhythm section is locked in sweetly as well.
There are only 5 songs on the EP and they played all of them at the show. They differ, with some being slower and others more forceful, but all have a really dreamy quality to them.
“You’re A Wolf” is the crowd favorite, but mine is the driving and drony “I Made A Resolution.” As far as bands they sound like, I’d say take the Decemberists plus Arcade Fire, mix in a little Dirty Three for string dynamics, some old nods to the Velvet Underground and its ilk, and then add some Great Northern for atmosphere (the latter is a gimme, since members of that band are in the live lineup).
This band completely blew me away with their performance. Hopefully, I’ll get to see them again soon. They’re actually touring with Silversun Pickups. I already missed Sea Wolf playing with Sloan at the Troubadour, and apparently they are playing one date with Elk City! What a show that would be. (On a side note: I gotta say there is a very incestuous Silverlake scene thingy going on… or maybe I just haven’t really noticed it until now since I’ve been so out of it. But it’s all good – I like nearly all the related bands.)
You’re A Wolf – Video
Sea Wolf website
5.18.07 | She Keeps Bees – Cage Match
She Keeps Bees
Funny, I found this artist while looking up some info on The Finches whose show I caught awhile back at Silverlake Lounge. The link was to She Keeps Bees playing Cagematch on gootube – the band is basically Jessica Larrabee playing just about all the instruments from guitar to drums. It’s a Chan Marshall / Mia Doi Todd type of gritty folk/blues. I really liked the stripped down Cagematch song because it reminded me of Songs: Ohia (The Lioness?).
There’s a very raw and wounded sound to her voice. I liked the rest of the more fleshed out songs too, like Lucille which reminded me a bit of The Naysayer. Some really nice songs from this mostly home recorded first effort, “Minisink Hotel“.
Jessica is currently doing a tour with The Love Story
She Keeps Bees website