Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Recommended Listening

I sometimes wish I wrote about music more in Short Schrift, but I'm always afraid that it'll degenerate into "Hey, I like this!" and "Hey, this is great too!" But what the hell. Here are some new albums that I really like. (Not including Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs, which is still to my mind the album of the year.)

First, a recent but slightly belated discovery: In Case We Die by Architecture in Helsinki. AIH is a quirky, tight, and punchy Australian pop band. They sound a little bit like a cross between Beulah (and a lot of the other Elephant 6 bands), Saturday Looks Good To Me, The Fiery Furnaces, and Mates of State. Which is to say -- boy/girl vocals, glitchy analog synths, rolling horn-driven melodies, a solid touch of 60s-era whimsy, and multiple-movement song construction. What more could you ask for?

Two albums by old indie-rock favorites: Smog's A River Ain't Too Much to Love and Spoon's Gimme Fiction. I picked both of these up at the same time (along with the terrific Belle and Sebastian comp Push Barman to Open Old Wounds) and wound up listening to them both back-to-back so often that I just think of them as a unit by now. Both are a little on the subdued side for either artist, but have great moments, especially Smog's "I Feel Like the Mother of the World" and Spoon's "The Delicate Place," which has a great, slightly deliberate rhythm.

There are a lot of other great, if a touch uneven, new releases by some tried-and-true artists: Sam Prekop's Who's Your New Professor?, The Mountain Goats' The Sunset Tree, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Matt Sweeney's Superwolf, Lou Barlow's Emoh, Brendan Benson's The Alternative to Love and Stephen Malkmus's Face the Truth.

So who's the best new artist? Besides Architecture in Helsinki -- which is new-ish, this being their sophomore release in their second year -- I really like Bloc Party's Silent Alarm. I think they have the best first track on any record released so far this year: the powerhouse "Like Eating Glass."

Readers of Short Schrift (if I still have any) -- can you think of anything that I've missed?


Gavin said...

I really like Kathleen Edwards' album, Back To Me, but I don't know if I'd put it up in any "best of the year" category. It doesn't really seem big enough, but then again, that's one of the things I like about it. Sonny Landreth's live album Grant Street is a great slide-based electric blues rock album.

Closer to the mainstream, the new Beck album is his best since Odelay, and the new Gorillaz, while not fabulous on its own, makes me wish that there were more music like it.

I'm glad to see Brendan Benson getting props over in Philly, and I'd love to hear the new Lou Barlow. (You'd think, working in a record store, that I'd be totally up-to-date, but apparently not.)

Robin said...

I just discovered the duo called Ratatat; I have a suspicion that discerning music listeners might find them cheesy, but I am addicted. It sounds very much like Postal Service, just without words.

I tend to basically fixate on one set of MP3s for months, and before Ratatat, it was Silent Alarm. Agreed: 'Like Eating Glass' is incredible.

Robin said...

BTW, I totally feel you on the Gorillaz comment, Gavin. I'm actually not into their sound EXACTLY, but I feel that there is a sound somewhere 5-10 degrees away that would change my life.