Monday, May 07, 2007

Records I Buy (Catch-Up Edition)

There are numerous reasons why I haven't posted in ages - from the usual (laziness) to the unusual (click here for details) to the hopefully never again (oral surgery, followed by a week of walking death after a terrible reaction to the anasthesia) - but I've also been busy picking up and listening to a lot of new albums. So before the new Bjork comes out and throws some of these on the backburner, I figured it was time to give them some quality blog time.

Shearwater - Palo Santo (Expanded Edition)

Shearwater's Palo Santo finished second in last year's Album of the Year countdown, and it would likely have won had it not been for the fact that I HATED the production. When it was soft, it'd be too soft, so you'd blast the volume and the loud parts would rip your ears off. And although the album has a dark, murky feel to it, the production was just a bit too, well, dark and murky.

Apparently Shearwater felt the same way, because, after signing a new deal with Matador records, they've re-released the album, with five tracks completely recorded, the rest remixed, new packaging and a bonus disc with new tracks and demos.





Just about every problem I had with the original version has been fixed and the songs have improved from muted, almost-epics, to clear, ringing full-fledged epics. The old "Hail, Mary" was one of my favorite songs - it rocked, but also seemed a bit held-back. This one soars, ending with a lengthened, now-breathtaking jam session that really pops. The new opening drumbeat of "Red Sea, Black Sea" is a call to arms and the banjo is luscious.

Shearwater's new-and-improved Palo Santo owns the original, and the bonus tracks are great, too. If you didn't pick this one up last year, now's the time. Released: April 10. ESSENTIAL

Shearwater - Red Sea, Black Sea (New Version) [mp3 via Pitchfork]

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

So with the new-and-improved Shearwater and Neon Bible burning a hole in my iPod, you'd think Andrew Bird would get short shrift. Not so. Despite those two albums, I keep going back, time and time again, to Armchair Apocrypha.

This is going to be one of my favorites when 2007 is all said and done.

It doesn't quite catch you on first listen, but several of these songs - Fiery Crash, Plasticities, Heretics and Simple X, for example - are already old friends. Days have passed where I sang nothing in my head but "Thank God it's fatal, thank God it's fatal..." over and over again.

And his whistling! This one's a real gem. Released: March 20. PRECIOUS TERRITORY

Feist - The Reminder

Okay, the rest of the albums on this list have been getting short shrift, to various degrees and for various reasons.

Feist is an undeserving victim of the Shearwater-Arcade Fire-Andrew Bird triumvirate, as her new album seems great. "My Moon, My Man" has been known to poke "Heretics" out of my head at times, although my version goes "My moon, my man, my bah-doo-be-doo-doo", which tells you a lot about how many times I've listened to this one so far. But it will get the attention it deserves soon enough. Released: May 1. BAH-DOO-BE-DOO-DOO

Tori Amos - American Doll Posse

A lot of the songs are total crap and will be deleted very soon. But the good ones are really good. Who would have thought?

I lost interest in Tori a long time ago (she peaked with Boys for Pele, and everything since has been a let down), but songs like "Big Wheel", a country rock number in which Tori declares herself a MILF, and Teenage Hustling, featuring an irresistable "I'm at your door, I'm at your door" refrain, are the best Tori songs I've heard since my days as a Toriphile. These two alone are worth it; the others have yet to get final judgement. Some seem like they could be keepers ("Father's Son" is on now and I'm digging it), but a lot of the time I find my cursor hovering over 'send to trash'... Released: May 1. MILF

Bright Eyes - Cassadaga

One that is being ignored as well, but is most likely to collect dust.

I liked I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning but I was hesitant to buy this because I find him a bit too precious. I got it anyway and regretted it from the first track, which begins with Revolution 9-like orchestral music and a talking woman, and features the cringe-inducing line "get your revolution at a lower price". I do like "Four Winds", though, and it's always great to hear Gillian Welch (she sings backing vocals on "Classic Cars") so maybe I'll buy into this one down the road. Maybe. Released: April 10. I'M FALLING ASLEEP, IT'S EVENING

Various Artists - A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

Was thinking about buying it, then found it in the free bin at work. What a steal.

Unfortunately, it's not really that great. The Sufjan and Bjork offerings are good - you knew I'd say that, but they really are, especially Sufjan's mad-genius version of "A Free Man in Paris" - but Prince sounds like a parody of himself and most of the rest I'll probably never listen to again - why bother when I already have the originals?

And why does the picture of Joni on the cover make it look like she's dead? It's a tribute, not a memorial. Released: April 24. BLUE

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

*Snore* Released: January 23. SNORE


Anonymous said...

As much as I could watch that Lily Allen video over and over and over (and believe me, I can and have and may continue to) I'm so glad you're up and running again with new content.

And I love The Reminder, so I hope you make more room for it on the iPod as time goes by.

Becca said...

absolutely in love with feist... the more i listen the better it gets