|« Apr||Jun »|
I don’t know if I’m ever going to get to see Cold War Kids play live, because every time they were playing in the area, I’m either out of town or out of the country. And I’ll be gone mid-June when they come back. Shucks. This is a big problem. I had been hoping to catch them at a show in Long Beach last weekend, but that got canceled because this time they were out of the country instead. Oh, cruel irony!
Last year I saw and loved Good Bye Lenin!, a German film that addresses the fall of the Berlin wall from the East side of the wall. I guess it is a drama, but the absurd premise places it in the realm of a comedy as well. I rewatched it last weekend, and found myself feeling simultaneously happy and sad in a way akin to the way that Amelie, a french film from a few years back, made me feel. I was thinking that it might have to do with the mood that the music sets, and, aha! I was tricked. Yann Tiersen, who did the soundtrack for Amelie, also did Good Bye Lenin!.
I feel like I have to get this post out, mostly because I am floating in a pool of dissappointment. Granted this was my most anticpated album of the year, so I admit my expectations were, well, honestly unmeetable. Especially given the new material that I heard at the Sunset Junction Streetfair at the end of last summer was uncompelling. At that show they pulled some crazy switcharoo where the bassist and guitarist decided to exchange instruments, but apparently not talent. I excused that performance as some kind of drunken charade. Still I had faith they could pull it off. But the new album really doesn’t get much cleaner than the sound at that show, the production intentionally emphasizing a more relaxed, less polished, rawer sound that in the end simply comes across feeling somewhat unfinished. What the album lacks more than anything else is a sense of direction or the kind of cohesivness galvanized by emotive song writing on previous albums. While rawness the of the sound, the raspy crooon of Hamilton Leithauser, the emphatic drumming by Matt Barrick is consistently there, the brooding conflicted confessions like “The Rat” or “Rue the Day” are no where to be found. Instead we get atmospherically correct, but unprovoking tracks like “Lost in Boston” which has fallen from the cathartic howls of tracks like “Little House of Savages” to describing drunken escades at Fleet Week.
Whenever I listen to Mason Jennings, I have to ignore the college rock signalongs like “Keepin It Real” in order to appreciate his Dylan-inspired folk troubadour tracks. But when the songs hit the mark they’re great. The album starts with “Crown,” a dismissive, but confused response to a cheating lover, where he comments “I don’t want to be together / I don’t want to be apart / I don’t want none of this love for you, honey / Deep, deep down in my heart.” The regret continues, occasionally off topic, probably hitting a high point during the bridge on “The Light (Part II)” in the plea, “Please don’t forget how much I meant to you / When you are redefined by someone new.” Oh Mason, I think ‘the light’ isn’t the only thing that’s breaking.
Spencer Krug (of Wolf Parade) brought his side project on tour to support the release of his debut LP, Shut Up I am Dreaming. Sunset Rubdown began as what appeared to be little more than Krug fooling around with a 4-track in his bedroom. His ‘Snakes Got a Leg’ ep was an overly lo-fi offering that failed to promote his skills as a both a musician and songwriter. He quickly graduated to the more produced ‘Sunset Rubdown EP’ which featured more layers of instrumentation than the fuzzed out keyboards of the earlier release. Sunset Rubdown has now flowered into a full on band with the release of the new LP and current tour. Angular guitars (not so different from Dan Boeckner’s of Wolf Parade) now counterpoint Krug’s keys and vocal whelps.
The Meeting Places are a band that I have been meaning to post about since I first came across some of their stuff earlier this year. With Zoviet’s recent review of Film School and their early 90’s dreampop influences, I wanted to add some fuel to the fire. Secretly, I believe that 2006 is the year of the return of shoegaze. While the first time was indeed a tragedy, hopefully the second time around won’t be a farce. If The Meeting Places first album is of any indication, that is not the case at all. Find Yourself Along the Way, released in 2003, earned the band widespread praise and a spot at SXSW last year. While the album did not break much new ground, the dense, complex wash of sound is so well crafted and evocative that it has been in my playlist for months. Since then the band has been working on new material and recently announced the completion of the new album to be released later this summer or early fall by Words-On-Music.
There was a period of time where I couldn’t sleep well because of Eternal Sunshine. Something about the difficulty in the ups and downs of growing accustomed to someone else that was portrayed in the film hit really close to home. Pretty much every time I saw the movie, I ended up spending a sleepless night. Brion‘s soundtrack played a huge roll in the mood and effect of the film. For me, the tracks tie in with visuals of moments in the movie, but none as strong as the opening “Theme,” which backs a disgruntled and lonely awakening. Feeling bad never felt so good.
Film School are back out on tour after having all their gear (and van) stolen back in March. It’s easy to label them as being pretty derivative. I saw their show last night with someone who had never heard them before, and his first question was “are they British?”. Their self titled debut LP certainly evokes the very specific psychedelic, delay ridden guitar work of early nineties shoegazer bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. The fact is, I have a soft spot for that little blip in music history, and these guys have done a pretty decent job at capturing it. Because of this, their set was enjoyable. This type of music is meant to be listened to loud, and the band certainly made some noise out there. If you like their record, I’d check out the live show. I think they write good songs and it would be interesting to see them leave some of their effects pedals at home on the next record.
Even after listening to Owen‘s I Do Perceive for a few years, I’m still not quite sure who did find whose hair in whose bed. While its possible that he himself is the cheater, my assumption is that the first track of that name is a pained accusation towards a deceiptful lover. Thereafter, Owen seems to beat himself up repeatedly about the situation. Its painful, but honest and sweet. I think what throws me off is the introspective talking to himself, and the difficulty in figuring out when ‘you’ really is the other person. The most touching part has to be on “She’s A Thief,” when he sings, “Not a day passes that you don’t close your eyes / And ask St. Francis to find the love of your life / That you lost when she left / You dumb fuck, your life’s a mess / Without her to tell you what to say / Or when to breathe / Or what you’ll need where you’re going.” Talk about a self-confidence problem.
Written shorty after the dissolution of Dylan‘s first marriage, Blood On The Tracks is a rollercoaster of emotions, honest and exposed. Its hard to say, but it would probably be my favorite Dylan album (Freewheelin’ is a close second), because of the way that it manages to be simultaneously focused and all over the place. The album teeters between regret (“You’re A Big Girl Now”), pain (“If You See Her, Say Hello”), frustration (“Idiot Wind”), and making due (“Simple Twist of Fate”). Something in the candid, yet coded lyrics gives the album a sense of Dylan’s intent to vent his feelings while keeping some element of himself secluded and protected. “People tell me it’s a sin / To know and feel too much within / I still believe she was my twin / But I lost the ring / She was born in spring / But I was born too late / Blame it on a simple twist of fate.”