This week Drake steps up his (already considerable) game with unprecedented back to back ‘Takes’ covering the latest releases from Nick Cave, Man Man, Wye Oak, The Breeders, The Long Blondes, Jason Anderson, and more. -ed.
Drake’s Take: New Releases 04.04.08 (Part 1)
If some were worried that 2008 wasn’t going to have the same share of great albums we’ve seen in recent years, a slew of this week’s releases should alleviate most (if not all) of those concerns. Last week I poached Foals great debut on Sub Pop and yesterday I wrote about Tapes n’ Tapes’ sophomore release, which is fortunate, since I probably wouldn’t even be able to get to either this week with all the rest of the riches that dropped. To wit, we have the latest from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Man Man, The Breeders, Clinic, The Long Blondes, Jason Anderson, Cloud Cult, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Richard Swift, Neva Dinova, Peter Moren, The Duke Spirit, Robots in Disguise, full-length debuts from Wye Oak, New Bloods, The Old Haunts, and new EPs from Spoon and the much hyped Fleet Foxes. In fact, there’s so much good music, I’m breaking up this post into two parts, one today and a continuation tomorrow.
Playlist: New Releases 04.08.08
If the garage rock of Nick Cave’s Grinderman project last year served as a cathartic exercise, then Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! is a refinement of that midlife Christ-kick. Cave hands the guitar back to Mick Harvey and mans the organ, hammering out an album that infuses some of Grinderman‘s noise and bravado into songs that often recall the power of ’97’s The Boatman’s Call. At age 50, Cave is now releasing some of his most vital work, and he seems to be having more fun while doing it, taking himself a little less seriously. In the stomping title track and opener “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!” Cave re-imagines Lazarus (calling him ‘Larry’) crossing America before ending up “back in the streets of New York, in a soup queue, a dope fiend, a slave.” Meanwhile, with “We Call Upon the Author,” Cave eschews Bukowski (“a jerk!”) preferring the works of John Berryman (“the best!”) but still calling upon the author to explain his suicide. Prolix, of which I often suffer, provides another humorous take. “I say prolix! Prolix! Something a pair of scissors can fix.” And then there’s the line “our myxomatoid kids spraddle the streets.” Colin Meloy’s thesaurus just got green with envy. It’s not all fun and diction, though, as Cave still has time for one of his patented murder ballads in achingly beautiful “Jesus on the Moon.” The album ends with eight minutes of Cave saying ‘c’est la vie’ to the unstoppable force of time with “More News From Nowhere.” “Don’t it make you feel so sad, don’t the blood rush to your feet, to think that everything you do today, tomorrow is obsolete? Technology and women and little children too. Don’t it make you feel blue?” As long as it’s backed by the Bad Seeds, it don’t feel so bad at all.
Album: Man Man – Rabbit Habits
When Philadelphia’s Man Man released Six Demon Bag back in 2006, it was if someone had blended all my Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa albums as into one delectable shake. But both live and lyrically, the songs took on more than just a rehash of music’s marginalized past. Rabbit Habits, whose title comes from the practice of rabbits eating their young, doesn’t stray too much from their Waits/Zappa/Beefheart junkyard ethos, but this time around, there’s an underlying darkness amidst all the vaudevillian tomfoolery. Frontman Honus ruthlessly hunts down the title character in “The Ballad of Butter Beans,” and then calls out a vacuous lover in “Poor Jackie.” “I don’t see what everybody sees in your sexy body. All I see is a shallow grave, trapped inside a pretty face.” “Whalebones” brings it’s own dark heartache, with the line “but she holds him like an infant, though it breaks her in half to know he’ll wake like a man — sold on cold indifference.” All this lies underneath tremendously fun (re: great live) songs, full of crazy instrumentation. Pitchfork TV launched yesterday, and the first
video time-waster you should check out is the behind the scenes look at Man Man recording this album, recording falling junk, dogs in the bathtub, and of course fireworks (“Mysteries of the Universe Unraveled.”) All in all it’s a great rock album, even though there’s nary a guitar in the mix.
Album: Wye Oak – If Children
This album is already destined for my Best of the Year (That’s Really Rrom a Previous Year) list, as it was originally self-released last summer by the duo from Baltimore. If Children is a great debut, one that relies quite a bit on the shoegaze of the nineties, along with the dreamy folk pop of Yo La Tengo, but without sounding entirely derivative. Jenn Wasner’s vocals are a bit like a laid back Kim Deal, dry and double-tracked, but lyrically a bit more like Jenny Lewis, smarter than you give what you’re hearing credit for. The duo easily move from the controlled feedback of first single “Warning” into the gentle acoustic pop of “Regret,” a nice demonstration that the band isn’t reliant on the shoegaze angle. Meanwhile, “I Don’t Feel Young” is a joyous number, where Phil Spector’s wall of sound meets Crosby Stills and Nash, by way of lots of distortion, of course. It’s an album that I’ve had on repeat all week now, and only through the incredible depth of today’s haul will it (temporarily) slip out of rotation.
More on the radar this week:
The Breeders – Mountain Battles / Free album stream from AOL (more tomorrow)
Jason Anderson – The Hopeful and the Unafraid / Free album stream from AOL (more tomorrow)
Foals – Antidotes / Free album stream from AOL (Reviewed last week)
Clinic – Do It! / Free album stream from AOL (more tomorrow)
The Long Blondes – Couples / Free album stream from AOL
Tapes ‘n Tapes – Walk it Off / Free album stream from AOL
Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP
Old Haunts – Poisonous Times / “Volatile” [mp3]
Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Pershing / Free album stream from AOL / “Glue Girls,” “Think I Wanna Die” [mp3]
New Bloods – The Secret Life / “Oh, Deadly Nightshade” [mp3]
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours / Free album stream from AOL
Richard Swift – Richard Swift As Onasis
Jim Noir – Jim Noir (Free AOL Stream – Not in Rhapsody)
Neva Dinova – You May Already Be Dreaming / Free album stream from AOL / “Knee High Boogie Blues” [mp3]
Peter Moren – The Last Tycoon / Free album stream from AOL
The Duke Spirit – Neptune
Robots in Disguise – We’re In The Music Biz
Ike Reilly – Poison The Hit Parade
Boredoms – Super Roots 1
Spoon – Don’t You Evah
The Wombats – The Wombats EP
Hayes Carll – Trouble In Mind
Finest Dearest – Finest Dearest
Marie Digby – Unfold
Eric Avery – Help Wanted / Free album stream from AOL
Meat Meat Manifesto – Autoimmune
The Green Owl Comp: A Benefit For The Energy Action Coalition
Dark Meat – Universal Indians [Expanded]
The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2 (w/ Bonus Disc)
Drake’s Take: New Releases 04.04.08 (Part 2) Continued After The Jump
I haven’t done this before, but there was so much great music (and so little else out there currently I’m caring to write about) that I’m giving new releases and extension of sorts. Yesterday, I hit the latest from Nick Cave, Man Man and Wye Oak, and if you count the week prior‘s poach of Foals and Monday’s ‘Ear on TV’ sideways glance of the latest ‘effort’ from Tapes n’ Tapes, I’ve already hit on five releases this week. But that still leaves so many still worthy of digital ink, like the latest from The Breeders, The Long Blondes, Jason Anderson, Clinic and more. This is Motherload ’08, my friends, so I’ll just tackle what I can without keeling over. (M83’s latest is even in Rhapsody a week early, but for practical purposes, I’m pretending it’s not here until next week.)
Playlist: New Releases 04.08.08
Back six years after the under-appreciated Title TK, Kim Deal’s Breeders pick up where they left off, with this similarly anti-Last Splash follow up. Odds are, then, that Mountain Battles will suffer the same lack of appreciation, which is too bad considering how many great moments there are to uncover in this album. Back to turning knobs is producer Steve Albini, who has helmed their best efforts (aforementioned Title TK and debut Pod,) but here his usual contributions are harder to notice. That’s partially because, aside from “Walk it Off” and “German Studies,” the songs don’t lend themselves to Albini’s trademark drum sound, instead relying more on a more sublime sound, as if Kim used Breeders old great oddities “Oh” and “Roi” as a blueprint for what to record. Or perhaps this is an equal and opposite reaction to the 2004 behemoth Pixies reunion (for instance, sister and Pixies tour mate Kelly sings beautifully in Spanish on “Regalame Esta Noche.”) Whatever it is, I’m thankful that this simple artistic work came to fruition.
Album: The Long Blondes – Couples
When this Sheffield outfit released their debut (review 06/05/07,) post-punk geeks everywhere lost their shit. Lead singer Kate Jackson’s come hither vocals came with a kick in the junk, and the guitar-based attitude hit a sweet spot. With their second release, they’re seem to be charting post-punk’s progression and roots, opting to infuse their sound with disco, noting Donna Summer’s influence on the genre. Where the first album opened with one long squall of guitar feedback, Couples begins with one long synth note (“Century,”) changing expectations immediately. It comes as less a surprise then to find out London DJ Erol Alkan is behind the production, and his hand is especially felt on the sleek track “Guilt,” which is the obvious single here. In case folks are worried they’ve given up the harder edge, “I Like the Boys” and “Here Comes the Serious Bit” up the tempo and the attitude, while final track, “I’m Going to Hell,” serves as a perfect ending to a fun ride. I can’t wait to see where they take us next.
The prolific Jason Anderson makes a valiant attempt to make a Born in the USA for 2008 (“El Paso,”) opting for a fuller studio sound for his back of the bar stories. Here he’s recording with former members of Magnolia Electric Co., pushing forward a more roots rock sound. The album was recorded in two days, while on a short break in the middle of his tour, with nearly everything live and the vocals all first take. As such, it has an immediate feel, which serves as the album’s strength. Anderson’s enthusiasm is hard to deny (he’s also a children’s music teacher,) and the only thing holding him back here is the feeling that some of this sounds like something to be co-opted for a car commercial. Put the blame it on John Mellencamp.