Friday, October 16, 2009

Frequent Spins (2009.7)

Anders Parker - Skyscraper Crow
Upon first listen, I thought this album would probably make my year-end list, but not necessarily near the top. But, then I listened to the electronic half of this two-disc set on my iPod, and it won me over. Skyscraper, as the first disc is called, is "the computer record," according to Anders, and so far it's my favorite of the two. The second disc, Crow, is a nice little acoustic affair, but with fewer really catchy songs than the first. Apparently, there are two more completed records waiting to be released, as Anders has been doing his best Ryan Adams impersonation of late.

Discovery - LP
I certainly don't profess to know all that much about this genre—let's call it electro-pop—but this collaboration between Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles is delightfully cheesy throughout, including an enjoyable cover version of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back."

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs - Under the Covers Vol. 2
Cover songs present an interesting dilemma. Should they remain true to the original, or does an artist need to add a personal touch to a song to make it worthwhile? While taking the former route can produce some pretty boring results, a lot of listeners want their covers to at least remind them of the version they're most familiar with. Personally, I look for a happy medium. I don't want to hear a completely recycled, straight-up cover, but I generally don't take to those that stray so far from the original that they're unrecognizable. While this album is far from earth-shattering, Sid and Susie—as they’re calling themselves—do a nice job on their second covers album, which handles the territory of the 1970s. The songs that really stand out here are those on which they're so different from the original artists that their fairly straightforward versions still sound fresh. One particular highlight for me is Sweet’s clear enunciation of the lyrics, “Yeah man, when I got that little girl standing right by my side, you know, I can tell the whole wide world to shove it!” on “Here Comes My Girl.”

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
I really like supergroups, especially when they get it right, and singer-songwriter M. Ward, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, and Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst and his frequent sidekick Mike Mogis do just that. Back in the mid-90s, I recall Golden Smog being referred to as the alternative Traveling Wilburys, but I'd have to say that these guys better fit that description. Of course, I mean that in the best possible way.

Those Darlins - Those Darlins
This country/punk/rock/pop girl group consists of Kelley, Jessi and Nikki Darlin. They're not sisters, so if you want to fantasize that they're in some kind of triad relationship, I can't say that I blame you. The only problem with that theory is, they live in Tennessee. More importantly, though, they write infectious songs with charming lyrics, such as "You're too, too, too much fun, and when you're gone, clouds cover the sun," on "222," and "I may be a little darling gal of yours, that's when i'm straight and sober, and both feet are on the floor," on their ode to recalcitrance, "Wild One."

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