Sunday, November 23, 2008

attack of the mini-reivews

As of late, I've been otherwised engaged, leaving a lot of releases over the last few months gathering dust on my desk (along with a tea cup, several post-it notes, and a half package of Clariton). Here are a few albums that have transcended my housecleaning skills and wormed their way to the top of the listening pile.

elephants...teeth sinking into heart by rachael yamagata

I got this album back in September, tossed it into my iTunes, labeled Rachel Yamagata a Fiona Apple come lately, and promptly forgot about it. But a funny thing happens on shuffle (and when listening to KCRW obsessively trying to win tickets) - things start coming full circle. Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart requires repeat exposure to uncover the gems: first time around, you’re struck with the sweet instrumentation; the next, Yamagata’s husky jazz lounge voice; and then sooner or later, you realize, hey, the girl can write! A two EP album showcasing two sides of the breakup coin, Teeth Sinking Into Heart highlights Yamagata’s budding ability to lay down an "angry girl" riff while (the infinitely superior) Elephants finds her playing the spurned lover, ruminating over heartbreak riddled with animal kingdom imagery. While seemingly unassuming, the collective album's emotional impact is tiger's-teeth sharp.

mp3: "Elephants Instrumental" by Rachael Yamagata

perfect symmetry by keane

In 2004, three rose-cheeked lads from Great Britain released a sweet, unassuming album of piano-based rock. Then came rehab, rumors, and...well, is there an "r" word that sums up the sudden desire to make music fit for grocery stores and banks? Perfect Symmetry is not Hopes and Fears; in fact, one might even argue that Keane is not the same band that captured my heart four years ago. Now normally I don't spend my time writing reviews for albums lacking in redeemable quality - the Would-Be Hipster pay just isn't high enough to warrant spending precious time finding synonyms for "crap." Regardless, Hopes and Fears was one of those rare "life track" albums, and despite their increasingly depressing downward musical spiral (see what I did there?) Keane will always have a small place in my heart. Advice? If you don't own it already, pick up Hopes and Fears and leave Keane's latest stab at electro-indie dribble to the strip malls.

mp3: "Spiralling" by Keane

broken limbs, hymns and skin by o'death

I am not a tough chick, I just play one at the gym. This is what I'm listening to when I pull those "oh-just-running-because-I-can" hardcore faces1. They call themselves "goth country" but O'Death's third official full-lenghth has more in common with fellow genre benders DeVotchKa - although push come to shove I'm sure whiskey would be an appropriate beverage of choice for both. Sounding both skilled and a little scary, O'Death carry on the modern gypsy tradition, and I carry on trying not to trip over my own feet.
1. And thinking how embarrassing it would be if I passed out.

mp3: "Low Tide" by O'Death
mp3: "Daytrotter: various tracks" by O'Death

shark remixes vol 1 - alfred brown by my brightest diamond

When it comes to remix albums, I’ve become a harder and harder act to entertain. I’m about to become even more of an impossible and pretentious critic, because My Brightest Diamond and her ilk (this time remixer Alfred Brown) have raised the bar impossibly high. Released earlier this year, A Thousand Shark's Teeth is a French-pop, operatic, daydream-filled album. Shark Remixes Volume 1, is a similar sort of animal: the alpha member of the pack. Vocals all but scraped away, this is the soundtrack to the Jean Pierre-Jeunet film yet to be made – you know, the one where the girl falls in love with a shark hell-bent on experiencing life free from the stress of enforcing the oceanic food chain before global warming eradicates life as we know it and all of humanity goes out in a big, apocalyptic chorus line number at the very end. (Call me...the treatment is written and waiting.)

mp3: "The Lonliest Man In History"by My Brightest Diamond


Anonymous said...

Haha! Nice! I love your paragraph about Keane. I agree they're not the same as they were before, but I guess people change, right?

Myriem said...

Love the Elephants instrumental. Thanks so much for that upload.