Archive for February, 2010

Album Review: Surfer Blood’s “Astro Coast”

February 26, 2010

I have been badgered and badgered endlessly by a trusted friend to listen to this album. After trusting him about Real Estate’s debut LP (which I would give a 1/10, the review is below) I was skeptical. Not to mention pissed that I had been convinced to spend $10 I don’t have on an album I don’t like. Nevertheless, he finally convinced me, so I gave it a spin.

Unlike Real Estate’s record, this one does not hide poor songwriting behind a veneer of post-productions. Surfer Blood’s “Astro Coast” is bold and straightforward. There’s neither a metaphor nor a simile in the lyrics throughout the whole album, which, for this this sort of punky music is ideal. Another point at which this LP delivers where Real Estate’s leaves wanting is in the melody-making. There are actual fucking melodies! Granted, they could easily be riffs you’d hear on a Weezer (sorry, boys, the comparison is too obvious) or a Jet record, but they are catchy nonetheless.

For anyone who’s seen Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii DVD, in which are excerpts from their time spent in the studio turning knobs and pushing buttons for the making of “Dark Side of the Moon,” Waters is quoted as saying something to affect of, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s important to not allow new technology take control of you. While I certainly think that Surfer Blood successfully avoided the temptation to make an overly-reverby “surf” album, I’m not totally sold on this one. It’s good, but it’s really not great. The single, “Swim,” is terrific but entirely unoriginal. Since recorded music is unavoidably temporal, I imagine a scenario where this LP was released in 2001 and I feel differently about it. Unfortunately for Surfer Blood I can’t say that I’d go back in time and spend $10 on this album. “Swim” is worth 99 cents, though – that’s a fact, Jack. (And, the final track, “Catholic Pagans” contains a brutal and unabashed honesty that I appreciate.) To compound an underwhelming review of the band, the same friend who recommended I listen to “Astro Coast” sent me a review of their recent performance at DC9 in Washington, DC. The reviewer was about as taken by the show as I was by the album. Overall, decent, but I’m not cumming all over myself in anticipation for either a follow-up release or a live show. -DFH

Album Review: Yeasayer’s “Odd Blood”

February 23, 2010

NOTE: To my readers, sorry it’s taken me so long to put up a new post, I tripped on the stairs at Buffalo Exchange and have been out of commission ever since. But I’m back now, and have a bunch of albums to review, so keep checking in. Now, for the review of Yeasayer’s “Odd Blood…”

I admit, I was late getting into the Yeasayer game. I first heard them a couple months ago when they released the single off the new album. Ready for another admission? I was ready to hate it, especially after the opening instrumental. Immediately rubbed me as something trying too hard, something over-synthesized and forced. I gave it a shot and made it to the hook before hitting the “x” atop the Pitchfork tab in Safari. And, wouldn’t you know it, I was hooked. Pun intended. (Is that really a pun?)

If I wasn’t completely sold after the chorus, then I was after the Max Schmeling reference in the second verse – and bought and sold after the head-voice bridge.

So, when it came time to listen to the entire album, I was so impressed by the single that I decided that rather than stream it in piece for free, I’d just spend the $10 on iTunes. Good choice.

Yeasayer's Odd Blood

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I don’t like comparison and I don’t like going through an album track-by-track. But, I can’t resist saying that the opening track, “The Children,” immediately struck me as a song Bowie would have recorded when he just stopped giving a shit and was more interested in making a racket than writing a song. (I’m eluding to the Lodger-era, and know that I’m as big a Bowie fan as there is.) It was very refreshing, though, and rather brave, to start an album off in such a way. Keating’s voice is a perfectly-poppy combination of masculine and feminine, even if he does occasionally slip into a bit of a Rick Roll-esque register.

I can’t decide whether this is a gay dance collection, an 80’s pop/synth revival, or an ambient-prog album, but one this that’s for sure is that it’s fucking great. It will infect you with a similar illness as Lady Gaga: you try not to fight it, but it’s getting under your skin and you’re going to like it. Now, the real test comes when I go an see them live. I have no fear that they’ll deliver just what was on the record, but I fear that a) the crowd may creep me out, and b) they just might not have a performance, but a DJ-set. Either way, this is one impressed dirty hipster. Kudos, Yeasayer, you’ve made a really good album. -DFH