Monday, December 18, 2006

Music in a Nutshell #1

In the past, I’ve reviewed single records at some length; not bloody great essays, but around 350 words more or less. (I’ll leave the book-length treatises to the 33 1/3 authors.) These days, however, I’ve taken to summing things up, giving my first impression based on a handful of listens. One’s headspace and situation (on the bus or in life) plays a huge role in how one experiences music. So if I hate a record today, I may love it to death in a month. And visa versa. So, what I thought I’d do is provide a nutshell first blush at recent purchases.

November 4, 2006:
I'm actually looking forward to getting Yo La Tengo’s I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass and The Shin’s Winching the Night Away. Meanwhile, I've got The Clash's London Calling on repeat. What a fucking great album! One the best ever recorded. Definitely in my top five. Oh, so good...

November 16, 2006:
My self-imposed "exile" of about ten years means that many "indie" bands of the 90s are new to me. This feels good because the members are about my age now; I'm not being sung to by a squeaky kid for whom the 80s is both a genre and retro. I also notice I'm more open to genres I wouldn't have considered in the past, so that's all new to me now, too.

Nostalgia gets twisted when you buy old stuff in a new format with newly found recordings (Clash special editions, Beatles demo recordings). You sort of change a light bulb on an old lamp to shine a new light on things.

So what do I plan to buy this week? I'm reaching back to last year for the second Interpol release. While this sounds ironic (re: my "squeeky kid" comment), I liked that their first record felt more influenced than carbon copied.

Hmm. I guess you could call this a "hipster replacement."

November 18, 2006:
Well, Interpol was absent from my dealer's bin, but my ears pricked to the sweetness emanating from his speakers. Irene's Apple Bay made my toes tap and my face smile on a grim November day, making the purchase a necessity. According to their website, this is their debut. It has hints of the Smiths, Jonathan Richmond, Velvet Underground, and Reindeer Section. The lyrics are odd. At times they're saccharine then turn frank: "Think about the way we used to meet, dear. Think about he way the sunlight kissed our feet, but your got cold feet...Think about the way we used to touch, dear. And think about the way you used to fondle by crotch. But you got cold feet." (from "Cold Feet"). Oh, those wacky Swedes.

December 2, 2006:
One cannot Christmas shop for CDs without treating oneself. Ok, I can’t. Hell, I have a hard time walking past a record store without poking my head in. So, after I visited the jazz department at Sam the Record Man, I meandered down to the regular section whereupon I clapped my eyes on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. (“For me? Aw, Phil, you shouldn’t have!”) I’ve coveted this record for about a decade. It is definitely in my top ten. Unapologetic, Christmas-y pop goodness. Love me some “Marshmallow World” by Darlene Love. Fabulous stuff!

December 17, 2006:
I picked up Belle and Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister (part of my ongoing rebuilding of the backlist). Interesting. A colleague at work calls them "creepy," which I kind of get, but I like nonetheless. This one sounds like a mix of British 60s psychedelia and the Velvets. I'm sure I'll hear more as I spend more time with it.


Todd Totale said...

"Meanwhile, I've got The Clash's London Calling on repeat. What a fucking great album! One the best ever recorded. Definitely in my top five. Oh, so good..."
Hells yes! Didja get the regular edition or the expanded one with the vanilla tapes material?
And don't get too hung up on "Antics." It's not bad...but not as good as "Bright Lights."

Carol Harrison said...

My limited budget limited me to the regular edition. One day, when I 1)win the lottery, 2)marry a sugar daddy, or 3)become a bestselling novelist, I will buy the expanded, yellow-vinyl, Japanese, fans-only, autographed version. (hee hee) Seriously, I do covet that edition, but alas, a choice had to be made.

Todd Totale said...

No worries actually: there's not a ton of revealing stuff on it...It's just kind of neat hearing them work through early versions of some of the songs. Even the dvd that comes with it is filled with the same footage that's on Westway To The World, which is awesome. I get all teary eyed when the Strummer interviews come on...God, I miss him.