Sunday, July 7, 2013

North Mississippi Allstars "Hernando" (2008)

The Allstars seem to try to mix up their sound a bit, and end up sounding more like a classic power trio.  The blues is still there, of course, but it's heavier and seems like Cream more than you might expect.  Unfortunately, the fun that is so present at a NMA show is sorely lacking.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Pixies "Complete B-Sides" (2001)

As time goes on, The Pixies seem more & more the most influential band to emerge from the 80s.  Their sound, or portions of it, have probably influenced more bands than any of their peers.

This collection of B-Sides is a bit of a mixed bag.  Almost nothing here has the power of their more famous songs.  But the catalog is deep enough that there's still a ton of great material here.

Nouvelle Vague "Nouvelle Vague" (2004)

OK, it's a gimmick record.  Brazilian pop covers of classic New Wave songs.  But it's awesome. Song selections, performances, the whole thing.  This is one of my favorite summer records of the 21st century.

Ralph White "Navasota River Devil Squirrel" (2008)

Former Bad Livers member White has released an album that is just as strange as its cover implies.  This is some real outsider art stuff.  Traditional old time supplemented with oddball instrumentation and Eastern touches.  Perhaps a bit off putting at first, but it certainly demands some serious listening.

William Fitzsimmons "The Sparrow & The Crow" (2008)

One of the many confessional singer songwriters that have proliferated in the decade since Iron & Wine released their first album, Fitzsimmons offers up about what you'd expect:  quiet, sensitive songs.  This time about his divorce.  It's solid enough, but nothing spectacular.  And with the glut of similar acts, it takes spectacular to be noticed.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Okkervil River "Golden Opportunities" (2007)

A free mixtape chocked full of covers!  What could be more delightful?  Okkervil have a stripped down sound here, with the occasional horn section adding color.  The overall effect is a mixture of The Decembrists and Calexico.  Highly recommended.

Paavoharju "Laulu Laakson Kukista" (2008)

I honestly don't know why I have this one.  Dense & complex, Paavoharju escue traditional songcraft to focus on texture and ambience.  I'm glad I'm not listening to this in the Finnish winters.

The Kinks "Muswell Hillbillies" (1971)

Is this the most American album by the most British band?  While the combination sounds like it should be a disaster, in fact this is a wonderful album.  It deserves to be celebrated besides the Stones and Faces sides from the same era.

Paul Westerberg "Mono" (2002)

Unfortunately, that cover photo is probably the rowdiest thing on this album.  Now many years removed from his heyday in The Replacements, this is a solid if not fiery release.  Westerberg is struggling to followup the high points of his earlier career.  When your reputation is built on sloppy energetic rock music, how does a middle aged man continue in that vein?  The musicians who have seemed to stay relevant tend to be more musically exploratory.  The audience is unable to compare the newer with the older material simply because they are too different.

Unfortunately, Westerberg tries to stay with the tried & true.  Without the energy or the sloppiness of his earlier work, Mono seems to be a footnote at best.  While it's not bad, there's just no reason to listen to it when you already have the older material.