The Baseball Project - Volume 2: High and Inside
Of course, I've already written a couple posts breaking down the lyrics of two of this album's major highlights, "Buckner's Bolero" and "Fair Weather Fans," but there's much more where those songs came from. "1976" celebrates the year that Mark "The Bird" Fidrych's on-field antics captivated the baseball world. "Here Lies Carl Mays" tells the story of baseball's most tragic moment from the perspective of a man who would be forever considered a villain. "Twilight of My Career" actually sheds a bit of a sympathetic light on Roger Clemens. In fact, so many of these songs prove that heartbreak and tragedy not only provide the subject matter for better songs, but they also make for better baseball tales.
Bright Eyes - The People's Key
If Conor Oberst was trying to shed his pretentious image with the release of the more straightforwardly rocking Outer South (credited to Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band), this one's not helping his cause much. Interspersed throughout the album are the philosophical ramblings of Denny Brewer of Refried Ice Cream on subjects such as mankind's responsibility for the future, the Sumerian Tablets' depiction of lizard-like beings who invaded the Garden of Eden, and the naming of the pomegranate. Meanwhile, Oberst's lyrics ponder questions such as "...if it's true what we're made of, why do I hide from the rain?" In the end, the intersection of the messages is the theme of love and mercy towards your fellow man. Despite the overly philosophical nature of the album, or perhaps—in part—because of it, Bright Eyes' latest is one of my favorites of the year so far.
Drive-By Truckers - Go-Go Boots
It's quite possible that I'll never grow tired of these guys. Go-Go Boots shows off a little more Muscle Shoals influence—not surprising, considering co-leader Patterson Hood's father David was the bassist of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section—than prior efforts, which have always been decidedly southern rock oriented. My personal highlight is a song that I described to KJ as being the equivalent of listening to an 8-minute Dateline episode, "The Fireplace Poker."
The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts
The Go! Team's schtick is that they're kind of an indie cheerleading squad. I pretty quickly dismissed their 2004 debut, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, as "not my thing" and didn't pay an ounce of attention to the band until one of that album's songs, "The Power Is On," appeared on the NFL Play 60 commercial featuring the Atlanta Falcons riding a school bus. So, I was definitely curious to check out their latest, and I wasn't disappointed.
The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
This band is one of my favorite discoveries of the last few years. In fact, they're probably at the top of the list, at least partially due to the fact that I discovered them all on my own. Don't misunderstand me, now. I like a good recommendation from a friend as much as the next guy, but there's something very satisfying about being your own influence. I'm not really sure why, to be honest. It's not like I did extensive research regarding my own personal likes and dislikes and developed an algorithm for determining what music is perfectly suited for my eardrums. In fact, I probably just got lucky. Anyway, it's nice to get into a band before they even have a recording contract and then see them a few years later show up in Curtis Granderson's iTunes Library. Well, sort of.
The Streets - Computers and Blues
Ever since A Grand Don't Come for Free, The Streets seem to have an alternating album thing going for them. That is, every other album is very good, but followed up by an effort with a few bright spots that has failed to come close to being as good as its predecessor. Computers and Blues falls into the latter category. Don't get me wrong. I've enjoyed listening to it, particularly "We Can Never Be Friends" and "OMG," the latter of which tells the story of a Facebook-induced relationship misunderstanding that ultimately has a happy ending. It's just that, it's not the swan song I'd hoped it would be. Did I mention this is supposed to be Mike Skinner's final album as The Streets?
Yuck - Yuck
When I wrote the first Frequent Spins of 2011, I decided that I would play the "name three bands they remind you of" game with each entry throughout the year. But, as you can see from the albums written up in this installment, I've already broken that trend. Still, when I heard the first song the first time I listened to this album, I was thinking Dinosaur Jr. The remaining songs don't really live up to that expectation, but if you like your Weezer with a generous portion of Elliott Smith and a dash of Pavement, you might actually enjoy this record.
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