Friday, February 15, 2013

Frequent Spins (2013.1)

Last year, it took me almost three months to post my first installment of Frequent Spins, about twice as long as usual. This year, perhaps, it's back to normalcy. Well, we'll see.

Eels - Wonderful, Glorious
I was a little underwhelmed by my first listen to E and company's follow-up to my #1 album of 2010. But, it only took a second listen to realize that, although it's no End Times, it's definitely a worthwhile effort. E's outlook has obviously improved in the three years since and, while there are still some introspective moments, it seems he's moved on from acoustic lament to the point where he's ready to rock out a little.

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
My taste certainly isn't as eclectic as your average Pitchfork writer, but I can still occasionally get some good recommendations there. I may have pieced this impression together from their review, but this one reminds me of a cross between The Velvet Underground and The Kinks, with a little Mick Jagger swagger sprinkled in. "San Francisco" is one of two songs this year that I can't get out of my a good way.

Holopaw - Academy Songs, Vol. 1
Quite possibly the first show that Abe, my brewing partner, and I attended together was Holopaw and the Fruit Bats at Cambridge's TT the Bear's, back in 2003. One of the things I remember most from that show was we hung out most of the night with a girl we met next door at the Middle East. She was from Seattle, passing through town on vacation, and trying to decide between going to TT's or to see the Decemberists at the Middle East upstairs. She came along with us, but in hindsight we should have followed her lead. That's not meant as an insult to Holopaw—whose latest just might be their best, although the reviews are mixed—but rather as an admission that I wasn't a fan of the Decemberists yet and it would have been great to see them play a really small venue before their popularity skyrocketed.

The Joy Formidable
- Wolf's Law
If you've been reading my Frequent Spins posts for any length of time, you probably realize I'm endorsing most of the albums I'm writing about. But, there are exceptions. It would be a little unfair of me to throw this one into that category, but let's just call it a mixed bag. It initially reeled me in with some really catchy songs, namely "This Ladder is Ours" and a few others, but most of the rest of it just grates on me. A friend compared them to Smashing Pumpkins, a band that is probably the definition of "mixed bag."

Night Beds - Country Sleep
Abe, like Pitchfork, has much more eclectic taste than I do. He's a multi-instrumentalist in a math rock (although he likes to call it physics rock) band, after all. He frequently recommends albums to me that have me scratching my head as to what he was thinking. Night Beds was not one of these. One reviewer refers to this outfit as Bon Kil Foxes. Enough said.

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
The term "pop" can take on different meanings in the context of music discussions, ranging from describing a band as Beatlesque (generally a compliment) to calling something akin to top 40 radio (usually an insult). To differentiate, I usually add some sort of adjective when talking about the former (power pop, indie pop) or just use the term pop/rock. In fact, I sometimes just say "poppy," with the understanding I rarely discuss music that would be described as top 40 (is this term even used anymore?) in any meaningful way, so it's probably understood I'm talking about pop/rock. The identical twin sisters duo's latest is infectiously poppy, and I mean that in the top 40 way. But, I also mean it as a major compliment. "Closer" is the other song I have habitually stuck in my head these days.

Yo La Tengo - Fade
I'm not as familiar with YLT's entire catalog as you might think, but this one seems to capture the best of their more accessible side. In that sense, Fade is kind of like Luna was to Galaxie 500.

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