Thursday, August 5, 2010

music - Sharon Jones, Big Boi, Arcade Fire, Black Keys and more

I'm constantly scouring the webs for the best in new music. And that's not just bragging for a blog, or "brogging." Or maybe "blagging." Yeah, that's better. Let's go with "blagging." I'm a download junkie. I download so much music my progress bar sweats. Literally. No, not literally. Is anyone taking anything literally anymore?

Well, take this: Dan's New Music Reviews

I use a 20 point scale. Why? I guess the same reason Nigel Tufnel uses an eleven point amp. Because it's more. Not blagging. But it is. Let's get started.

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Arcade Fire - Suburbs

Indie rock royalty shows again what makes an artful rock album imminently listenable. Even in the suburbs.
Score: 17/20

These United States - What Lasts

Unlike their last album Everything Touches Everything, which had a distinct Dear And The Headlights (but folkier) feel, this new release doesn't seem to have a point of vi
ew. Ultimately on my iTunes, What Lasts isn't what lasts.
Score: 9/20

M.I.A. - Maya

Definitely a headscratcher here. Was M.I.A. so enamored with being on the next NOW That's What I Call Music compilation she couldn't hear the harsh SFX that drowned out her otherwise sharp pop sensibilities? I dunno. But this album hurt my ears. Emotionally.
Score: 7/20

Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty

Now, this isn't Stankonia, and it isn't The Love Below. There's no "I Like the Way You Move", let alone "Hey-Ya!" But damned if I haven't been (trying to) spit out "I got a back up plan to the back up plan to back up my back up plan," all week. Big Boi's got the dope. (And by that, I mean to say he's good. Good at rapping.)
Score: 15/20

Dirty Projectors + Björk - Mount Wittenberg Orca

You're gonna have to drop your avant-garde guard for this one. If you don't like weird, you're not gonna like this. But chances are if you know the Dirty Projectors, you know they're among the best rock experimentalists since... well, Björk. This album is the equivalent of a painting by both Van Gogh and Dali. They make it (clap-clap) hurt so weird.
Score: 13/20

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way

The way I usually describe Sharon Jones to people who haven't heard her stuff goes something like this: "If you like good music, you'll like it." As arrogant and dumb as that sounds, it's true. No one that likes good, American music doesn't like Sharon Jones. And this latest soul/R&B classic is just another in a long line of superb offerings from a living legend.
Score: 18/20

The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

This year's Kings of Leon? Maybe. The GA has put together a tight All-American rock record that's somehow equal parts KoL, The Hold Steady and Bruce Springsteen without quite measuring up to any of them.
Score: 13/20

Samantha Crain - You (Understood)

Wait, this chick is from Oklahoma? Wow. Really? Don't get me wrong, my home state has produced some fine musicians (see Woody Guthrie, The Flaming Lips, Gary P. Nunn, Garth Brooks; kindly ignore Color Me Badd). But Oklahoma musicians aren't exactly known for their understated poetry, which is what Ms. Crain pulls off with this album.
Score: 14/20

Here We Go Magic - Pigeons

Viva the Sophomore Slump! What a letdown this was after their self-titled debut. Pigeons, the animals, are annoying and all over the place. Just like Pigeons, the album.
Score: 8/20

Stone Temple Pilots - Stone Temple Pilots

Perception: Reunited 90s grunge gods have no chance at relevance in a post-radio rock n' roll environment.
Reality: (see perception)
If you yearn for the 90s, listen to Core. I do.
Score: 3/20

Ceiling Stars - All The Fallen Parts

If you don't believe folk-tinged roots rock can come from the Big City, you need to drop that cynical, country-fried snobbiness right now. And you need to give Chicago's Ceiling Stars a spin. With their minor label debut, Nate Van Allen (of The Siderunners) and co. have managed to carefully drape a blue collar work ethic over a bleak, post-apocalyptic backdrop for a dark yet satisfying three-quarters of an hour. (And the whole thing costs less than $2 here!)
Score: 14/20

Black Keys - Brothers

No review. Any time wasted reviewing is time you could be listening to this bare blues-rock masterpiece. Download now. Or Jimmy Hendrix's ghost will light your pubes on fire, then inhale. Don't think he won't do it.
Score: 19/20

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

BoH don't change much from album to album. A slide guitar here, a sticky bass drum there. And their Wilco-like consistency is enough to turn on hoards of new fans with each release. The only thing missing on this record is a quirky, upbeat "Weed Party" kind of track. But it's been replaced with something smoother, a steady, collaboratively-formed group of songs arranged neatly into one package. Let the debate commence over which of the last three albums is best.
Score: 17/20