Friday, July 01, 2011

Frequent Spins (2011.4)

Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
I had almost given up on Steve Earle, an artist who appeared in my yearly top ten in four of the first five years I produced such lists, but has failed to even grace my more expansive lists since. Well, the critics might not be completely in agreement with me on this one, but in my opinion, his latest is his best album since 2000's Transcendental Blues.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
I'm going to go out on a limb here and tell you how much this album reminds me of the folkier side of Yes. In fact, I'm going to suggest that Yes is, in fact, a folk-prog band rather than a prog-rock band. Seriously, think about this as you listen again to "And You and I," "Starship Trooper" and "I've Seen All Good People," and tell me I'm crazy. The best example of this comparison is the title track to this album of wonderous stories. It's absolutely my favorite song of the year so far. Of course, Fleet Foxes show up closer to the folk end of the folk-prog spectrum than Yes did, so to complete the "name three artists they remind you of" game, I'll add Simon & Garfunkel and My Morning Jacket. Speaking of whom...

My Morning Jacket - Circuital
...I was turned onto My Morning Jacket, circa 2002, when I read in the Metacritic user forums a description that they were like a cross between Neil Young and the Flaming Lips. I'm not really sure if that comparison holds true, but I was an instant fan after making myself a mix of mp3s that I downloaded from their web site. 2001's At Dawn and 1999's The Tennessee Fire were my first purchases, and they were great, but there was a drop-off after that, which happened to coincide with their signing to a major label. I'm not saying that's always a problem, nor am I saying they were no longer any good after that. But, what I am saying is this just may be their best album since their big breakthrough.

Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
I'm sure I've said several times before that this band will probably never make an album quite as good as the one that drew me in initially, Black Sheep Boy. This one, in my opinion, comes the closest of all their subsequent efforts, although it's still very far away.

Neil Young & The International Harvesters - A Treasure
Back in the mid-'80s, Neil Young released Old Ways, a pretty unremarkable—and that's being generous—country album. This live recording from the same time period captures the true energy that Neil was capable of putting into country music, something that was seriously lacking on that studio effort.


  1. YES! (Does this count as a double-entendre?) I think you're spot on with the Yes folk-prog designation. I like your reference to Wonderous Stories in the next line also.

  2. Yes double entendres are allowed, Macee.