Monday, June 27, 2005

The Weekly, Volume Seven (part one)

The last "Weekly" until the middle of July, as I am going away for a while. So to make it worth your while, I shall present a longer, multi-part rundown of some good music from the past six months. You can expect parts two and three of the list on Wednesday and Friday. Discerning readers may criticize some of my choices as "too mainstream." To these people, I say: so what.

I am a Bird Now (Antony and the Johnsons)
Though I am personally not a fan of Rufus Wainwright, this record is probably something that fans of the Canadian troubadour will likely embrace (if they haven't already done so). Sure, one could dwell on the androgynous vocalist and lyrics to match, but the record is better for the elements that it lacks; namely, overwrought production and that intangible air of self-righteous preening that seems to permeate Wainwright's work. Why is this capsule more a dig at Rufus Wainwright than a review of Antony and the Johnsons? Because it's just easier to make lazy comparisons in 150 words than it is to provide reasoned criticism. Suffice to say, I am a Bird Now is a very solid album. Choice Cut: "Fistful of Love."

Silent Alarm (Bloc Party)
And now, just to be blatantly hypocritical: enough already with comparing each and every new British post-punk revival band to Franz Ferdinand. Sure, there are more pretenders than not, but Bloc Party's Silent Alarm is a legitimately good record, filled with catchy melodies and above-average musicianship. Though multiple listens the songs tend to feel a bit "samey," the sheer explosiveness of the whole affair remains riveting and infectious. Find the remixed versions of "Banquet" and "This Modern Love" for a little extra punch. Choice Cut: "Positive Tension."

A Certain Trigger (Maximo Park)
While Maximo Park seems to have jumped into the game a little late, they shouldn't be dismissed off hand. On first listen A Certain Trigger might seem a fairly blatant attempt to cash in on current trends. However, given time, the little things (like the sleek chord changes in "Going Missing") start to reveal themselves. The band's lack of posturing also lends them an endearing warmth that is so often missing from the genre. Choice Cut: "Acrobat."

Be (Common)
Although it's not grandly innovative in terms of lyrics or sound, Common's latest offering is one of the more enjoyable albums I've heard in the past few months. The tunes are tight, stylistically diverse and just plain fun to listen to (particularly while basking in the afternoon sun. One could complain that the record lacks the urgency of classics like The Roots' Things Fall Apart, and a particularly acute friend points out that Kanye West's "baby fetish" production style wears a bit thin on a couple of tracks, but otherwise this is first class hip-hop. Choice Cut: "The Corner."

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Blogger The Fresh Young MikeyD said...

Bah…your choices are far from mainstream. They're only mainstream if you keep-up with the usual internet music sources and if you read this blog you probably do. Still for the average person our age that isn't a music geek or psuedo-music geek those aren't mainstream choices.

After initially brushing the disk aside, I have a renewed appreciation for Bloc Party and the numerous remixes of Silent Alarm tracks floating around the blog circuit. As per the Franz comparisons, I think they'll be around for a while 'cause although Franz may not have been the first band to revive that sound, they were the first to do it with commercial and critical success. Thus they've become the default comparison point. Then again that could all disappear it the next album tanks. I doubt that’ll happen as I happen to think the archdukes are a pretty competent group of musicians.

On the subject of Maximo Park, that disk didn't scream ace/solid/etc. when I first heard it. In fact I was rather indifferent after the initial listen, which I think is worse than hating it. But since your ear much better trained than mine, I'll listen a few more times before finalising my decision.

6/27/2005 11:56 p.m.  
Blogger Punk is Dead said...

Yeah Mike, re: Maximo Park... It's not a "great" album by any means, but there are at least six or seven songs on it that I find quite enjoyable. I was fairly indifferent as well, until I was hooked by the chorus of "Acrobat."

6/28/2005 12:27 a.m.  

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