Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Thurston Moore and Dennis Coffey are NOT Worth It.

Hey, I know that hymnal!

First up, my review of Thurston's Demolished Thoughts at PopMatters, excerpted below:

My word, this is a long, slow, dull, boring album. And not even in a good way. It’s not dull and boring in a way that’s theoretically cool, like whatever the most recent SYR release is. (Sonic Youth Play the Aleatoric Bell Music of Giacinto Scelsi, I think.) Nor is it long and slow in a way that invites ruminative longing for transcendence, like Alexi Murdoch’s recent folk stunner Towards the Sun.

No, Thurston Moore’s acoustic solo album, Demolished Thoughts, is just long, slow, dull, and boring like a Thurston Moore acoustic album. Thurston comes up with some pretty chords but then he strums ‘em into the ground. His guitar rhythms are stiff and repetitive—chop chop chop chop. He repeats his modestly attractive tunes in extremely square multiples of two. He and violinist Samara Lubelski trade off lines with exquisite tact and politeness—they might be Emily Post and Miss Manners sharing tea breads.

Ahem. Next up, my review of Dennis Coffey's Dennis Coffey, also at PopMatters, also excerpted below:

If you haven’t heard it in a while, put on Freda Payne’s 1970 hit “Band of Gold”—the one where she and her husband stay in separate rooms on their honeymoon—and listen to that opening guitar riff. THAT’s Dennis Coffey, and his riff’s steely wah-wah and flatted final note set the scene for all the shit that’s about to go down. That riff is the rising curtain, the operatic overture, the Bernard Herrmann title music to Payne’s horrific sex-deprived nightmare. It’s the darkness of a lonely room, filled with sadness, filled with gloom. Of course, it’s also a killer rock hook on an AM-radio soul hit; hence Coffey’s historical importance as a session guitarist...

So it’s a little disappointing when Dennis Coffey opens with… a pretty good bar-band funk workout. It’s got horns, congas, the works, but it’s all very polite. The guitar solo even stops to make room for the hackneyed horn fills, and everything just chugs along smoothly and competently. The band sure sounds well-rehearsed. They practically tell you to tip your waitress. Said opener is the spacily-titled “7th Galaxy”, which does very little to evoke astronomical netherworlds—Coffey could have named it “Motion Lotion” or “Crimestoppers are GO!!!” (these are just suggestions) and it would’ve had the same effect.

I'm silently judging you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This Emanuele Errante album is Worth It.

There's a song on here called "Counterclockwise".

Since it's short I'll post my review here in full, but if you like flashier graphix and linx you can also read this review of Emanuele Errante's Time Elapsing Handheld at PopMatters.

Emanuele Errante is one chill Italian and he makes soundscapes that some (read: press release) would describe as “experimental”, though the exact hypotheses and methods governing his experiments remain obscure. “Obscure”, fortunately, is a descriptor that doesn’t apply to Errante’s gentle electro-acoustic music, structured as it is with familiar meters and chords that slake a subliminal and probably universal human thirst for normalcy, relaxation and spa treatments; complex major and minor sonorities suspended over the unusual, but not outlandish, duration of early rap singles; and static swatches of ambience that threaten constantly to deteriorate into rainstorm sound effects. Wisely, they never do. Lovely. Tangerine Dreamy.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Albums and Singles that are WORTH IT!!! (The 2011 T1 Report)

Before we get to the main event, a couple miscellaneous categories:

Best Pre-2011 Album I've Heard for the First Time in 2011 (aside from Neil Diamond):
Franco & Rochereau -- Omona Wapi ('85, from Zaire, gorgeous)

Best Thing I've Written This Year (I Think):
"More Than Words: Three Ways of Making Christian Hair Metal in 1990" ft. Holy Soldier, Stryper, and Extreme (at Burnside Writers' Collective)

Best Thing I've Actually Played This Year:
Charles-Marie Widor's Toccata from his 5th Organ Symphony
(Easter postlude! Play as you peruse. I was competent, but not this good:)

And now, here's the buyer's guide. Or at least a checker-outer's guide. These are all the albums I've heard that've been Worth It on the patented Worth It/Not Worth It grading scale. It's very similar to the patented Sheep & Goats grading scale: Worth Its don't seem like a chore to listen to again, whereas Not Worth Its do. Not all Not Worth Its are bad, per se; I wouldn't hate you for liking them or anything. But when I think of sitting through them again I feel apathy at best, revulsion at worst. So... the following albums don't create feelings of apathy or revulsion in my sick soul. High praise! (My reviews, or sometimes the Singles Jukebox's reviews, are linked where available.)

Just a brief statistical note -- There's 22 albums on this Worth It list, and I've heard 68 new albums this year. 68 is a drop in the overall bucket, of course, but we'll assume that this .324 average is statistically relevant as a baseline. The genre I've heard most of is CCM (13 albums), which is sitting at a .308 average, .016 below baseline. Not terrible. (Actually, I've probably heard more than 13 indie rock albums, but I don't feel like agonizing over what counts as indie rock right now.) Genres I feel guilty about neglecting so far this year: metal, regional Mexican, rap, and jazz. Much to do!

Neil Diamond--The Bang Years: 1966-1968 (Legacy) (major, reissue)
Monotonix--Not Yet (Drag City) (indie)
Steel Magnolia--Steel Magnolia (Big Machine) (major?, country)
Thompson Square--Thompson Square (Stoney Creek '10) (indie, country)
Various Artists--Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound of Latin New York (Strut) (indie, reissue, Latin)
Charlotte Martin--Dancing on Needles (Test-Drive) (indie)
Various Artists--Nigeria 70 -- Sweet Times: Afro-Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos (Strut) (indie, reissue)
The Gun Show--Discontentment (Static Age) (indie, CCM, metal)
David Banner & 9th Wonder--Death of a Pop Star (b.i.G.f.a.c.e./eOne ‘10) (indie, rap, CCM)
Iron and Wine--Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD/Warner Bros.) (major)
Those Darlins--Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang) (indie, country)
PJ Harvey--Let England Shake (Vagrant/Island) (major)
R. Kelly--Love Letter (Jive ‘10) (major, R&B)
Bright Eyes -- The People’s Key (Saddle Creek) (indie)
Simone Dinnerstein--Bach: A Strange Beauty (Sony Classical) (major, classical)
Alexi Murdoch--Towards the Sun (Zero Summer) (indie, folk)
Overcome--The Great Campaign of Sabotage (Facedown) (indie, metal, CCM)
Heavy Winged -- Sunspotted (Type ‘10) (indie, metal)
Radiohead -- The King of Limbs (no label?) (indie)
Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans -- Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear) (indie, jazz)
Asphalt Orchestra -- Asphalt Orchestra (Cantaloupe) (indie, jazz, classical)
Mary Mary -- Something Big (Columbia) (major, CCM, R&B)

And My Usual Scattershot Take On Singles
Brett Dennen--”Sydney I'll Come Running”
The Ark--”Breaking Up With God”
Miranda Cosgrove--”Dancing Crazy”
Diddy--”Ass on the Floor”
Toby Keith--”Somewhere Else”
R Kelly--”Love Letter”
Eric Church--”Homeboy”
La Banda San Jose de Mesillas-- “Te Amo y Te Amo”

Mary Mary-- “Walking”
Lupe Fiasco--”Words I Never Said”
The Strokes--”Under Cover of Darkness”
Martina McBride-- “Teenage Daughters”
Mary Mary--”Something Bigger”
PJ Harvey--”The Words that Maketh Murder”
Wanda Jackson--”Shakin’ All Over”
Brad Paisley -- “This Is Country Music”
Brad Paisley -- “Old Alabama”