Friday, January 30, 2009

What Are You Listening To Lately (Part 10)?

Roxy Music - Roxy Music
Not quite seminal for me, but damn close. The album consists of weirdo artsy stuff that still retains enough pop/rock sense to seem sorta normal, though not so much once you delve into the soundscapes on side B. So yeah- wherever they take it, there's still a sense of melody, of structure, and for this I guess we ought to thank Mr. Ferry for dominating the proceedings enough that he deserved (or so he felt) sole songwriting credits no matter how clearly you can hear the audible input of his confreres. But the 'A' is downright classic art-rock, the 'B' never tests my patience unduly or anything, but I've noticed myself tuning out from time to time when they're not hitting it perfectly right, as they are in the fractured rhythms of "Sea Breeze" or the totality of "Bitters End." But it - and by this I mean the whole album, A- & B- sides alike - sounds fantastic. The enterprise of warped pop/rock songs makes a nice audio complement to Ferry's Romantic longings and letdowns and brings the whole thing up a notch. The record really opened some possibilities for my listening - it let me realize that you don't have to wear your strangeness on your sleeve to prove you're smart like too many avant-gardists think. You can be plenty subversive via more a broadly accepted means of expression.

Kimya Dawson - Alphabutt
It should be no surprise that someone like Kimya who's always sung about adult subject matter with the whimsy of a child and in terms a kid can understand should, on the event of her having her own child, make an actual kids' album complete with songs that indulge her mildly scatalogical humor ("Pee Pee in the Potty" and whatnot). I had hoped she'd take her gift for condensing adult ideas into child-friendly music, but given her penchant for being utterly goofy (not to mention the fact that her kid (named Panda) is still only an infant), songs about tigers in your bedroom and an alphabetical lesson that makes sure to use variants of "fart" at least six times out of twenty-six are probably exactly what I should've expected. So I may not listen to it much, but if I had a kid I just might, and should I choose to throw it on anyway, I'll get some laffs out of it for sure. And then at the end she throws down "Sunbeams and Some Beans" the politically charged kid song I had hoped the whole album might be. Killer. It fits totally within her ethos, but it's a unique item` for sure. Buyer beware. Juno fans, beware.

Various Artists - The Only Doo-Wop Album You'll Ever Need
It's great, sure, and only if you take the title literally will you have a problem with the selections that don't dive too deep. If you want a great intro to the music, 2+ solid hours of great doo-wop you'll be very pleased to have this, as I am. It's a bunch of no-brainer selections, by which I don't mean an insult, it's just that there's no way for things to go wrong if you program stuff like "In the Still of the Nite," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "I Only Have Eyes for You" and the like, the only potential problem being overexposure of some tracks. And that's what you get here, two discs worth of surefire greats, nothing controversial, every one of them very good or great. Again, if you take issue, it'll be with the false advertising of the title which is certainly misleading - there's plenty more great material out there if you want to look of course - but if you really only need two discs worth, if you look at the title and believe it, this probably will do you just fine. I personally take issue with the title, yes, but moreso with the skimpy book, which could tell you something about the personalities surrounding this great music and instead gives you nothing but a couple paragraphs by Billy Vera telling you why you should enjoy doo-wop. I mean, if you're reading it, you already know why it's worth your listening time, right? Anyway, take it how you will - a fantastic collection of music, or a misleading package that only scratches the surface; either way, it's a lot of great shit.

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