What else we’ve been listening to #2

So we continue in the spirit of the last time we did this, to get a chance to talk about some other music, and to see if you, dear reader, have heard anything recently that you’d like to share with us!

 

L.K.: I have to do my half of it with the disclaimer that I haven’t really had time to listen to much of anything in the past week; I’ve been working on putting some score from this old Victor Herbert operetta into Sibelius. It’s from 1914 and it’s pretty impossible to read in places, which I guess is why I have to copy it. Musically it’s not really anything I would ever really choose to listen to, though. This project has been kind of eating up my time though, because I don’t like listening to new music while doing other things. I feel like it distracts me. I don’t even like surfing the internet or typing or anything if I’m listening to something I’ve never heard before.
A.S.: Just sit in front of the speakers and soak it all in.
L.K.: Headphones. You forget that I live in a house with other people who are always watching television and don’t like anything I’d be listening to anyway.
A.S.: Right.
L.K.: So what did I actually listen to since the last time we did this?
  • Finally listened to a Violent Femmes album (3). Got ahold of a bunch of stuff that I haven’t listened to at all yet.
  • Some Cab Calloway, Fats Waller… I was going through a phase where I was obsessing over the Artie Shaw recording of “Summertime” because of the unison altissimo clarinet section in the chart, which just seems like bad arranging.
  • I listened to “Los Angeles” by Frank Black on repeat while I was doing this Sibelius project actually. Just that one song, because I didn’t want to get around to listening to anything new while distracted.
  • On the TMBG front, I got my copy of At Large as a member of the 2011 IFC, so I listened to that.
  • Oh, the Ultimatum EP by The Long Winters, because “The Commander Thinks Aloud” is another great song to zone out to, albeit a more depressing one. Adam Savage of Mythbusters covered that song recently, which was interesting because I had no idea he was capable of singing/playing piano. I also have the hardest time listening to them after making the mistake of listening to Roderick On the Line because now all I can think of is a young John Roderick lying naked in a half-full bathtub, smoking pot, eating meatball subs, and masturbating – TOTALLY KILLS THE BEAUTY OF THE SONG. That podcast is the most terrifying thing.
  • I also acquired EVEN MORE BRIAN DEWAN, in that I bought his Hello EP. With shipping, it was $18 for five songs. I told you Hello EPs were expensive! THAT WAS THE CHEAPEST ONE THEY HAD FOR SALE!
I really can’t remember anything else…I’ve just been too busy and too tired to listen to much of anything new lately.
A.S.: Honestly, that’s not the Violent Femmes I’d recommend anyone to start with – I’d begin with their self-titled debut and then follow it up as soon as possible with my personal favorite, Hallowed Ground.
L.K.: I feel like I usually worry a lot about what album from a given artist to “start” with, but considering that my first TMBG album was Severe Tire Damage
A.S.: I guess on the opposite front, I’ve had the time and resources to completely indulge myself with all sorts of stuff.  I guess I can split it up in two categories: the old and the new
The old:
  • Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who wrote a bunch of songs that the Monkees would record (“Theme from The Monkees” [which TMBG has covered live], “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”, and “Last Train To Clarksville” among them) also had a hit in 1968 with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”.  The album that followed the single, of the same name is really a spectacularly crafted ’60s pop record, full of exquisite arrangements, humor, and earworms out the earhole.
  • I also got around to hearing the one Move record that I was unfamiliar with up to this point.  Their third LP, Looking On, was the first album to feature former Idle Race member and future ELO leader Jeff Lynne.  It’s a diverse record with a number of complex, lengthy, multi-part songs.  But the greatest thing I pulled from it was a single released before Lynne joined the band, added to the reissue’s bonus tracks.  “Curly”, the last single to feature Carl Wayne on vocals and apparently disliked by drummer Bev Bevan is a perfect fucking pop song holy crappo
The new:
  • My college radio mentor, Ed, turned my attention toward Hospitality, a young pop group who recently signed to Merge and released their self-titled debut.  In a climate where a lot of “indie” music sounds simultaneously stale and undercooked (somehow) to my ears, Hospitality really seem to put a lot of care into the songwriting process, resulting in some well-crafted, hooky music.
  • And from the Cleveland front, I’ve really been into a band that’s virtually the sonic opposite of TMBG – Mole People (video NSFW).  Dark, abrasive, bleak as hell, but complex and full of energy, they’ve already carved out their own sound over the course of their recordings over the last year, collected under the name Year One.  I’m pretty sure their guitarist tunes his guitar to an open e minor chord.  Mole People’s bassist also plays bass in the new iteration of Cloud Nothings, so if you liked their new album and want to trek further down the rabbit hole, look no further.
L.K.: Oh yeah, I listened to that Hospitality album too. Guess you must’ve liked it a lot more than I did, because it sounded pretty much like every other “indie” act to me. There were only a couple of songs that were at all memorable.
A.S.: Hospitality definitely have a sound common to a lot of today’s indie pop groups, but to me the songs are a lot more fully-formed.
L.K.: I mean, I’m usually not one to criticize vocalists either, but I really don’t care for their vocalist that much. What is with all the waifish indie chicks with weird accents? Actually, the men do that too. What is wrong with everybody?
A.S.: That’s the thing these days – partly what I’m referring to in what’s so stale and undercooked about the whole sound.
L.K.: I mean, I hear some “hip” young singer and judging by her accent I’ll figure she’s from eastern Europe or something… and then it turns out she’s actually from Utah. I’m getting really sick of that.
A.S.: It definitely doesn’t annoy me as much as some other trends in a lot of indie music these days (a notable lack of any sort of pulse, everyone wanting to be The Band for some reason)
L.K.: I am not going to start pulling “authenticity” bullshit because that’s exactly what that is – bullshit… however that’s still no excuse for stupid affect in trying to be trendy. Oh yeah, the slow music thing, that’s also horrible.
A.S.: Yeah, that’s something I can’t tolerate anymore
L.K.: Lana Del Rey’s performance on SNL might have been better received had it not felt like it lasted for hours.
A.S.: But dear reader, you can read a billion ridiculous articles on Lana Del Rey all over the internet, you didn’t come here for that.
L.K.: Well, you didn’t come here for this either, you came here for A THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS SONG A DAY, IN REVIEW.
A.S.: Well, assuming they’re reading this far down, maybe you did. But let’s end here so we can ask what you’ve been listening to?
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