Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frequent Spins (2009.5)

The year seems to be starting to take a turn for the better, as this is a pretty quick turnaround since my last Frequent Spins. My original intention was that this would be a monthly feature, but it hasn't quite turned out that way, although 14 out of 19 ain't bad.

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
The latest from Western Massachusetts' Dinosaur Jr. is even better than 2007's solid comeback effort, with the exception of the two Lou Barlow songs, of course. Actually, the Barlow songs aren't bad, but they're really nothing to get excited about. In fact, nothing that Barlow has ever written—Sebadoh material included—has satisfied that criterion, in my opinion. Several J Mascis songs do, though, even rivaling some of their best material from my two favorite Dinosaur Jr. albums, Where You Been and Green Mind.

Passion Pit - Manners
The funny thing about the evolution of my listening habits is that, ever since I started really consuming music, I grow a little tired of stuff rather quickly. This album really drives that point home for me. For what now seems to me like one fleeting moment, I thought this was a contender for album of the year, but I was so wrong. Don't take that to mean this record has completely fallen from grace, but it's hard to rate it that highly when the singer's falsetto voice borders on just plain annoying on a few of these songs, and it did wear out its welcome quicker than most. But, for the most part, this is still fun indie pop that you can (almost) dance to.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Phoenix's last release, 2006's It's Never Been Like That, was the band's breakthrough, or at least it was the album that exposed them to me. I thought there were a few catchy, upbeat tunes on that one, but their latest—despite the ridiculousness of its title—ups the ante a little. This one actually reminds me a bit of Of Montreal, though not nearly as adventurous, with danceable indie pop highlights including "1901," "Lasso" and "Girlfriend."

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
The third release from Spencer Krug's Wolf Parade side project is a little poppier than the first two, as it effectively straddles the line between indie noise and melodic pop, with the latter characteristic replacing the classic rock influence of prior albums. Considering how I like Krug much more than Dan Boeckner, with whom he shares songwriting duties in Wolf Parade, you would think that I'd like Sunset Rubdown better than their main band. But, it just doesn't work that way, although this album is another contender to finish pretty high on my year-end list.

Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
The title of this record appears to be an attempt at proving this band doesn't take themselves too seriously, but I'm not convinced. Still, I have to admit that I think this is their best post-Jay Bennett work, and is one that gets better with each listen. Sometimes when someone says that an album keeps growing on them it's an indication that it wasn't that good to begin with, but that's not the case here. Particularly impressive is the beautiful duet between Jeff Tweedy and Feist, "You and I."

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