Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Quick Music Jerk

Somehow the long-awaited return of The National feels more like coming home for me.

1.  Speaking of "coming home", I'm back.  Yeah, I got a little horny for the blog (and you all, of course), so please expect some increased activity in the next few days (which probably means this is the last post for two months).  Honestly, I haven't felt as compelled to write about anything music-wise lately as there's perhaps been a bit of a lull in either new releases and/or releases that are new to me.  But alas, like manna from Heaven, a ton of new strong to quite strong/significant music has come to my attention.

2.  So after I got you all hot for the greatness that's already arrived, I'm going to shift gears like a jerk and tell you I'm excited for something that isn't out yet--the new album from one of "Rob's Active in the Community Top 5" (which will be the subject of a future entry), The National.  Their new album, High Violet, hits the streets with stylish fury six days from now and the dark place in my heart where Nick Cave and Viva Hate reside is rejoicing.  There are typically just a handful of albums each year whose release date I add to my crowded Outlook calendar and this is one of them.  Even though you can listen to the album in its entirety here, I find myself wanting to wait until the fresh vinyl arrives at my door via the increasingly beaten-down looking UPS guy who I've seemed to grow a friendly, yet increasingly odd rapport with.  I think he may ask me out soon and there's just something about the idea of turning down a hard-working, sweaty guy in brown shorts that makes me a little sad--but I digress...

3.  The Hold Steady's new album Heaven is Whenever  is a bit of a disappointment after the first listen.  The passionate piano of departed band member Franz Nicolay is both obviously and painfully missing from these songs (which I have to imagine were at least partly written while he was still in the band since he left recently and the album came out yesterday).  Having said that, I concede that my instincts with albums as far as first impressions go is pretty weak.  There have been several albums and bands/artists that on first listen I "meh"'d only to later come to love.  This includes everything from Joy Division to Morrissey to Kid A and most recently the new album from Mark Sultan, $.  I find this to be especially true when one of my beloved bands records a "departure album" (like Kid A, for instance).  At first, it's jarring because I'm "listening for" the band/artist I've come to love and I resent that I'm not hearing them.  But often, with a little investment of time I discover the soul, the idea, the concept, etc. and find a little greatness.  Don't get me wrong, some bands/artists simply fall off after a great album or two and can never get it back (Ben Lee, Cracker, Terence Trent D'Arby, 98 Degrees).  However some merely require an investment of time worthy of the effort and risk the artist took to deliver you something that isn't "the same old shit".  I'm hoping The Hold Steady's new album falls in to this category.

4.  3 new releases/new to me releases of note I'm digging on so gently and hard and you should check out:

     1.  Together by The New Pornographers--The name of the band ironically suggests something dirty, but this is really good sweet clean indie pop rock music.  Highly fun, skilled, and accessible.
     2.  12" EP by Davila 666--Fun, rockin', deceptively layered garage rock--in Spanish!  This is so by far my favorite Puerto Rican music act (not like that's saying much).  You don't have to understand the words to have fun listening to this fine, hand-crafted rock and roll music.
     3.  Sea From Shore by School of Language--Think Grizzly Bear (I may have just lost half my audience, but stay with me!), only more energetic and pop-centric (yeah, I just said that).  This is a side project I'd never heard of from another band I'd also never heard of named Field Music who I stumbled upon and have come to really enjoy.  Slightly artsy, but at its core rock music with a twist of adventurous experimentation thrown in.  The album moves fast and the record's inhernet energy avoids the lulls that needlessly bog down so much of the indie rock Pitchfork seems enamored with these days. 

Enjoy the day, Kids.  I love you.  Happy Cinco de Mayo.  And don't let anyone give you shit about getting drunk today.  Remember, it's 10 AM somewhere.