Drake’s Take: New Releases 06.17.08
There are exactly two albums this week that I’m obsessing over, the first being the sophomore release from those quirky Canadians Wolf Parade, and the second involving the reissue of Dennis Wilson’s long lost classic Pacific Ocean Blue, combined in a 2-CD set with his unfinished follow-up Bambu, which he was still working on when he died in 1983. Elsewhere, we have the latest from My Favorite Diamond (which I snuck in last week,) Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay, The Impossible Shapes, Ponytail, Adem, and a sort of ‘greatest hits so far’ collection for those soul/nuggets purveyors King Khan & the Shrines — as great an introduction to the band as you could hope for (if you need one). Secretly, I’m also not hating the new Coldplay (thanks to Brian Eno,) but keep that to yourself internets. Besides Dennis Wilson, there’s also reissues of Sebadoh’s Bubble & Scrape and and expanded reissue of Bowerbirds’ Hyms for a Dark Horse, gets the odd one year removed treatment (bonus tracks).
Playlist: New Releases 06.17.08
It may have been almost three years since their amazing debut Apologies to the Queen Mary, but certainly nobody’s calling Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner lazy. Krug’s output alone has been nearly Robert Pollard-like, with two Sunset Rubdown albums and his contributions to Swan Lake, while Boekner has his Handsome Furs. With all this recorded output over this period of time, their songwriting styles are pretty recognizable now. But while ATHQM sounded like two great EPs from different artists stitched together, At Mount Zoomer sounds more like a band, albeit one with two distinctly different singer/songwriters.
For the debut, like many I found myself enamored with Krug’s fully realized contributions, while Boekner’s songs seemed at times pedestrian in comparison. This time out, it’s Boekner’s work that shines a bit more, and I think it’s not just that he’s gotten better at songwriting but also because he’s writing songs that utlize Krug better. The opening notes from the album (Boekner’s “Soldier’s Grin”) illustrate this point, as well as other Boekner-penned highlights like “Language City,” “The Grey Estates” and the Spoon-meets-Television of “Fine Young Cannibals.” Meanwhile, while Krug’s songs are still strong, they might be suffering a bit from over familiarity with all his output, as outside of “Call it a Ritual”, his songs here sound more like Sunset Rubdown experiments. The one song they co-write is the epic 11-minute closer “Kissing the Beehive,” a title the album once carried in its gestation (switched when it was discovered a Jonathan Carroll album of the same name). It’s interesting that even co-writing, the parts they contribute feel easy to pick out, and not just because of their distinct vocal styles. The song has several points it works through, never dwelling too long on any movement, until Krug sings “Fire in the Hole!,” which climaxes, fades out and then continues on in an oddly comforting 9/8 time pounding encore. If you thought their debut grew on you after a few listens, this one might just require bathing in it for a week or so. Once you’re glistening with it, I guarantee you won’t want to dry off.
The most under-appreciated (and hardest living) of the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson finally gets his due this week with the reissue of his solo album Pacific Ocean Blue, in a 2-CD set which includes his unfinished Bambu. Those expecting typical Beach Boys fare will be surprised to find something closer to the personal reverb-drenched recordings of Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. One listen to “Thoughts of You” and it’s obvious why this was considered a lost classic. Wilson’s vocals are Springsteen-raspy, shredded from all the substance abuse at the time, but his genius shines through. The reissue comes with three essays from Beach Boys scholars, rare photos taken by family friend Dean Torrence (Jan & Dean,) and online SonyBMG released a 3-part free podcast hosted by Dennis Diken of the Smithereens featuring interviews with collaborators on the album, along with his brother Brian and even Dennis himself. In addition, one of the bonus tracks (“Holy Man”) features Foo Fighters drmmer Taylor Hawkins adding vocals to an instrumental track from Wilson.
POB was the first Beach Boys solo album, and at the time, it both charted and outsold the Beach Boys’ lukewarm M.I.U., yet it mysteriously went out of print (while the lesser M.I.U. stayed in print). Turns out the reason it’s been so long is in an effort to release both albums together, there’s been a ton of legal wrestling involved. Mike Love, the only original member left with the band name, has famously resisted and sued to keep his preferred version of the band that he displays on tour (pre-Pet Sounds and of course “Kokomo”) from being ‘diluted.’ While no one will publicly say that it’s Love specifically, all you have to know is that if Love had thrown even an ounce of support behind Dennis Wilson’s legacy, we’d have been deservedly talking about him alongside Brian during the recent new wave of Beach Boys appreciation. The fact that the recent Beach Boys singles collection was released a couple weeks prior is no coincidence — my guess is Mike Love made sure of that.
More on the radar this week:
My Brightest Diamond – A Thousand Shark’s Teeth / Full album stream from Asthmatic Kitty / “Inside a Boy” [mp3]
Eef Barzelay – Lose Big
The Impossible Shapes – The Impossible Shapes
Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual / Free album stream from AOL / “Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came From An Angel)” [mp3]
King Khan and the Shrines – The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines / “Torture” [mp3]
Adem – Takes
Tilly and the Wall – O / Free album stream from AOL / “Pot Kettle Black”, “Cacophony” [mp3]
Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
The War on Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues
Jason Falkner – Bedtime with the Beatles 2
Teddy Thompson – A Piece of What You Need / Free album stream from AOL / “In My Arms” [mp3]
Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal (in Rhapsody a week early)
Katy Perry – One of the Boys / Free album stream from AOL
The Notwist – The Devil, You + Me
Ride the Boogie – Ride the Boogie
Dan Tyminski – Wheels / Free album stream from AOL
Sebadoh – Bubble & Scrape
Bowerbirds – Hyms For a Dark Horse