Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strand of Oaks "Pope Killdragon" (2010)

I really don't have much to say about this.  I was profoundly unmoved by this effort, & couldn't seem to make any sort of connection.

The Gun Club "Mother Juno" (1987)

It's funny how time plays with our perceptions of bands and their music.  I remember thinking in the 80s that The Gun Club had a very distinctive, tribal sound.  Now I can hear common elements from many 80s bands.  Realistically, I was very disappointed on relistening to this one.  I was excited for some really good 80s LA rock.  Instead, it just strikes me as mediocre.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Strand of Oaks "Leave Ruin" (2008)

The widespread dispersal of recording technology, combined with the collapse of the traditional music distribution system, has led to a flood of would be auteur projects, the stereotypical "bearded guy in a cabin".  While the creative possibilities are exciting, there's also a bit of loss of quality as the gatekeepers disappear.

Strand of Oaks is often described as "folk", which is not, I think, quite accurate.  He doesn't seem to draw on the folk tradition.  It's clearly rock music, albeit quiet introspective rock in the vein of Bonnie Prince Billy or Songs: Ohio.  I don't have fault with his vision or execution, it is just not exceptional.  To my ears, this is a great example of an album that you forget 10 minutes after it finishes.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit "Here We Rest" (2011)

Wow.  I really overlooked this album.  Stylistically, it draws from the parts of Southern Rock usually ignored by the Drive-By Truckers -- pop country, soul, Little Feat style boogie rock.  This is a very fun, personal album. 

Six Organs of Admittance "Asleep on the Floodplain" (2011)

With "Asleep On the Floodplain", Chasny seems to find the sweet spot between his acoustic Faheyfests and the more electric psychedelic freakouts.  There are some vocals & electric guitar, but it fits into the framework created by his magnificent acoustic guitar work. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu "4th Dimension" (2009)

It takes a lot of guts to open an album with an obvious allusion to Sun Ra.  But while Sun Ra's music pushed forwards, into the space age, incorporating the history of jazz only insofar as it was needed to summarize that history, "4th Dimension" looks firmly to the past, with only illusions of progress or transcendence.  The past focused on here is not the deep history of jazz, but rather afrobeat and dance music.  Disco anyone? 

While technically sound, this lacks the true transcendental nature of more forward thinking jazz, as well as the true earthy thrust of afrobeat.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit "self-titled" (2009)

Extracted from the context of the Drive-By Truckers, Isbell clearly played the part of Paul to Patterson Hood's John.  Isbell's music is the more melodic, with more emphasis on southern blues and soul.  It is the more commercial of the two.  This self-titled album isn't up to the standards of the DBTs, but it is very promising.

Six Organs of Admittance "Luminous Night" (2009)

Chasny steps away from the Fahey-isms of early SOA releases & jumps into psych-prog territory with this release.  Unfortunately to my nonprog-loving ears, this sounds more like deep album cuts from a 70s prog band than anything I really want to listen to.

Peasant "Shady Retreat" (2010)

Some forms of indie rock can be quite slippery when you try to get a handle on it.  Its quiet, strummy instrumentation means the music itself isn't something that you mind holds onto easily.  What's left then is the songs themselves.  How's the melody?  Do you want to sing along?  The best material quietly insinuates itself into your head.  The merely competent fades away.  The phenomenon seems to be that 10 minutes after the album ends, I've forgotten what I've listened to.