Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running Off at the Mouth

So many new records, so few updates.  Here are my thoughts:

Wild Flag - S/T (Merge)

Glad I stuck with this for a few spins.  The hooks aren't immediately apparent cuz this ain't a pop record, it is a ROCK record and a decidedly excellent one at that.  I could do without out all the affectation in Carrie Brownstein's vocals (the blame can be traced squarely back to Patti Smith), but this is a bracing set of songs from a band committed to energizing, powerful rock'n'roll.  There isn't enough of them and it should be encouraged at all costs.

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds)

Don't judge a band by their promo photos is the lesson to be learned here.  Based on all the buzz floating around Christopher Owens I expected something twee, precious and just a little shy of an outright shambles.  Instead, this is a clear, focused rock record with a purpose.  It draws you in with great riffs and assured playing (drumming is uniformally excellent) and the first half climaxes with "Vomit," which deserves all the comparisons it's been getting to Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, etc.  And if the second half seems anti-climactic at first I prefer to think of it as the calm after the storm as the sun rises and our protagonist starts to see the world more clearly after a dark, dark night.  Yeah, it's that kind of record.  I had no idea they had it in them.

Butch Walker and the Black Widows - Spade (Dangerbird Records)

Some kinda weirdo this Butch Walker is.  He writes unabashed little teenage symphonies with on-the-nose hooks and detail-specific lyrics that remind me of nothing less than the expert craftsmen who litter the Country Top 40 stations, not the Pop ones.  This is type of stuff you feel silly for singing along with until you realize there's no reason to feel silly at all.  The big drawback - a little goes a long way and it gets exhausting after awhile.  He's that really smart and clever life of the party who just just doesn't get the hint that everyone else has left and you really want to get some sleep.

Boston Spaceships - Let It Beard (Guided by Voices Records)

I so enjoyed Pollard's Lifeguards collaboration with Doug Gillard earlier this year that I decided to check out this, his latest from yet another project that's been floating around the GBV universe for the last few years.  Much more straight-up rock than his often meandering solo records, you still have to mine through a lot of half-baked ideas to get to the gold.  One day he'll distill all his best instincts and put out another perfect record, or maybe that's besides the point.  Maybe you just need to go along for the ride and cherry pick the stuff  you want to keep.  I mean, he's not obligated to do anything but follow his muse and I'm not obligated to love it all.  I doubt even he does.  But can't begrudge the man making a living, right?

Jonathan Wilson - Gentle Spirit (Bella Union)

Trying to painfully recreate a scene that hasn't existed in 40 years is no way for a young man to spend his time.  And you thought his buddy Jackson Browne was a drip.

Male Bonding - Endless Now (Sub Pop)

When did Weezer cross over into the realm of Classic Rock?  Dinosaur Jr.?  Does it matter?  This record pushes my particular buttons.  Can't tell you what any of it is about, but they make a powerful guitar/bass/drums racket.  More memorable than the first, always a good sign.  Hope that they swing for the fences  on the next one.

Tommy Stinson - One Man Mutiny (Done to Death Music)

Like a terrific character actor who's never made it as a leading man, I want to root for Mr. Stinson.  A recent live show convinced me that after 20 years of post-Replacements music making, he's got about an hour's worth of excellent Stones-infected tuneage.  One Man Mutiny adds the requisite song or two to that list (my votes go to "It's a Drag" and "Seize the Moment").  In another 5 years he may add one or two more.  That's more than most people ever do.