Hem: Rabbit Songs (2002)

Hem
Rabbit Songs; 2002
Dreamworks
My Rating: 80/100
I’ve heard Hem’s style called Country-Politan, but I’d term it High Americana. While most alt-country bands keep their noses in the dirt, HEM spends their time looking for the flowers in the old gardens of American music, putting the emphasis on Bernstein more than Guthrie. In this sense, Hem’s debut remains a landmark. There’s none of the irony of punk kids singing gospel songs with a Tennessee twang to be found, only the sweetness of the symphony and the angelic timbre of Sally Ellyson. Let me just ask: who’s done anything like this before or since? Sure, there are moments when the lush orchestration threatens a comfortably numb monotony, but there are too many brilliant songs here, from “Half Acre” to “Idle” to “Stupid Mouth Shut”, to let it happen. Although RABBIT SONGS is not the place to start with HEM, as it lags and loses focus toward the end, it is nevertheless a great debut. Highly recommended for the starry-eyed soul.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Tracks:
1. Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please
2. When I Was Drinking (4/5)
3. Half Acre (5/5)
4. Burying Song
5. Betting on Trains (4.5/5)
6. Leave Me Here (4.5/5)
7. All That I’m Good For (4/5)
8. Idle (The Rabbit Song) (5/5)
9. Stupid Mouth Shut (5/5)
10. Lazy Eye (4/5)
11. Sailor (4/5)
12. Polly’s Dress
13. Night Like a River (3.5/5)
14. The Cuckoo (3.5/5)
15. Waltz (4/5)
16. Horsey (4/5)

rabbitsongsHem
Rabbit Songs; 2002
Dreamworks

My Rating: 80/100

I’ve heard Hem’s style called Country-Politan, but I’d term it High Americana. While most alt-country bands keep their noses in the dirt, HEM spends their time looking for the flowers in the old gardens of American music, putting the emphasis on Bernstein more than Guthrie. In this sense, Hem’s debut remains a landmark. There’s none of the irony of punk kids singing gospel songs with a Tennessee twang to be found, only the sweetness of the symphony and the angelic timbre of Sally Ellyson. Let me just ask: who’s done anything like this before or since? Sure, there are moments when the lush orchestration threatens a comfortably numb monotony, but there are too many brilliant songs here, from “Half Acre” to “Idle” to “Stupid Mouth Shut”, to let it happen. Although RABBIT SONGS is not the place to start with HEM, as it lags and loses focus toward the end, it is nevertheless a great debut. Highly recommended for the starry-eyed soul.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)

Tracks:

1. Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please
2. When I Was Drinking (4/5)
3. Half Acre (5/5)
4. Burying Song
5. Betting on Trains (4.5/5)
6. Leave Me Here (4.5/5)
7. All That I’m Good For (4/5)
8. Idle (The Rabbit Song) (5/5)
9. Stupid Mouth Shut (5/5)
10. Lazy Eye (4/5)
11. Sailor (4/5)
12. Polly’s Dress
13. Night Like a River (3.5/5)
14. The Cuckoo (3.5/5)
15. Waltz (4/5)
16. Horsey (4/5)

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Mark Knopfler: The Ragpicker’s Dream (2002)

Mark Knopfler
The Ragpicker’s Dream; 2002
Warner Brothers
My Rating: 89/100
Singular. If Mark Knopfler has proved anything in the new millenium, it is that his years spent as the frontman for the Dire Straits were merely formative. His most vital and meaningful work has happened in the last fifteen years, and at this point, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to his latter day glories. His third solo effort, THE RAGPICKER’S DREAM, is his greatest, and a classic album, though criminally under-recognized at present. Knopfler’s genius as a solo artist rests in combining the pub-to-prog rock aesthetic of his Dire Straits era with the atmospherics and localization of his numerous soundtrack works, such as THE PRINCESS BRIDE and LOCAL HERO. While “Why Aye Man” certainly harkens back to the Dire Straits track “Calling Elvis”, the music transports the listener to the world of German expatriates seeking a new and better life. “Hill Farmer’s Blues” similarly transcends its folkish roots and finds an epic arc, yet Knopfler can keep it light and matter-of-fact just a few tracks later with “Quality Shoe.” Still, RAGPICKER’S canonical status is afforded by its sheer vision. For all of its inherent darkness, it is a hopeful and idealistic record, a musical good times brew. While Knopfler sings with deep sadness of “A Place Where We Used to Live”, he also sums it all up in optimistic fashion with the title track. A “ragpicker”, says Merriam-Webster, is “one who collects rags and refuse for a livelihood.” Thus, THE RAGPICKER’S DREAM may well be the Knopfler album most representative of his vision, a collection of tracks yielding to the simple joys of human existence, a theme wondrously captured in the Elliott Erwitt photo that graces the cover. It’s a “mulligan stew” of pure delights, a feast of the “brotherhood of man.” Now go on and dig in.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Tracks:
1. Why Aye Man (5/5)
2. Devil Baby (5/5)
3. Hill Farmer’s Blues (5/5)
4. A Place Where We Used to Live (5/5)
5. Quality Shoe (5/5)
6. Fare Thee Well Northumberland (4/5)
7. Marbletown (5/5)
8. You Don’t Know You’re Born (4/5)
9. Coyote (4/5)
10. The Ragpicker’s Dream (5/5)
11. Daddy’s Gone to Knoxville (4/5)
12. Old Pigweed (5/5)

the ragpicker's dream-mark knopflerMark Knopfler
The Ragpicker’s Dream; 2002
Warner Brothers

My Rating: 89/100

Singular. If Mark Knopfler has proved anything in the new millenium, it is that his years spent as the frontman for the Dire Straits were merely formative. His most vital and meaningful work has happened in the last fifteen years, and at this point, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to his latter day glories. His third solo effort, THE RAGPICKER’S DREAM, is his greatest, and a classic album, though criminally under-recognized at present. Knopfler’s genius as a solo artist rests in combining the pub-to-prog rock aesthetic of his Dire Straits era with the atmospherics and localization of his numerous soundtrack works, such as THE PRINCESS BRIDE and LOCAL HERO. While “Why Aye Man” certainly harkens back to the Dire Straits track “Calling Elvis”, the music transports the listener to the world of British expatriates seeking a new and better life in Germany. “Hill Farmer’s Blues” similarly transcends its folkish roots and finds an epic arc, yet Knopfler can keep it light and matter-of-fact just a few tracks later with “Quality Shoe.” Still, RAGPICKER’S canonical status is afforded by its sheer vision. For all of its inherent darkness, it is a hopeful and idealistic record, a musical good times brew. While Knopfler sings with deep sadness of “A Place Where We Used to Live”, he also sums it all up in optimistic fashion with the title track. A “ragpicker”, says Merriam-Webster, is “one who collects rags and refuse for a livelihood.” Thus, THE RAGPICKER’S DREAM may well be the Knopfler album most representative of his vision, a collection of tracks yielding to the simple joys of human existence, a theme wondrously captured in the Elliott Erwitt photo that graces the cover. It’s a “mulligan stew” of pure delights, a feast of the “brotherhood of man.” Now go on and dig in.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (5/5)

Tracks:

1. Why Aye Man (5/5)
2. Devil Baby (5/5)
3. Hill Farmer’s Blues (5/5)
4. A Place Where We Used to Live (5/5)
5. Quality Shoe (5/5)
6. Fare Thee Well Northumberland (4/5)
7. Marbletown (5/5)
8. You Don’t Know You’re Born (4/5)
9. Coyote (4/5)
10. The Ragpicker’s Dream (5/5)
11. Daddy’s Gone to Knoxville (4/5)
12. Old Pigweed (5/5)

Track Review: “Bucket of Chicken” by Sunny Day Real Estate

Sunny Day Real Estate
“Bucket of Chicken” (aka “The Crow”)
from LP2 [Remaster]
Once a mythical lost track for the Sunny Day cult, “The Crow” saw release as “Bucket of Chicken” back in 1998, the b-side to the 7″ single for “How It Feels to Be Something On.” Recorded around the same time as most of the tracks from LP2, it ups the pathos the Seattle four were known for with a minor-key vengeance while constructing one mighty phalanx of post-hardcore musical aggression. Featuring the sludgiest down tempo in the band’s catalog, the track’s overdriven guitars and punishing drums evoke a depth of regret that was uncommon even for Sunny Day. The closest track in the band’s catalog is probably “48”, but the unpolished production of “The Crow” takes the band’s sound to the next level. It’s also great to hear Dan Hoerner get his turn at vocals on the chorus; he actually steals the show from Enigk on this one. Overall, Sunny Day nailed it here. Far more than a mere lost oddity, “The Crow” is a career highlight on the scale of “Talk Show Host.” If there’s a recording future for Sunny Day Real Estate, I want it to sound like this.

3423518248_d23162cb41Sunny Day Real Estate
Bucket of Chicken” (aka “The Crow”)
from LP2 [Remaster]

Once a mythical lost track for the Sunny Day cult, “The Crow” saw release as “Bucket of Chicken” back in 1998, the b-side to the 7″ single for “How It Feels to Be Something On.” Recorded around the same time as most of the tracks from LP2, it ups the pathos the Seattle four were known for with a minor-key vengeance while constructing one mighty phalanx of post-hardcore musical aggression. Featuring the sludgiest down tempo in the band’s catalog, the track’s overdriven guitars and punishing drums evoke a depth of regret that was uncommon even for Sunny Day. The closest track in the band’s catalog is probably “48”, but the unpolished production of “The Crow” takes the band’s sound to the next level. It’s also great to hear Dan Hoerner get his turn at vocals on the chorus; he actually steals the show from Enigk on this one. Overall, Sunny Day nailed it here. Far more than a mere lost oddity, “The Crow” is a career highlight on the scale of “Talk Show Host.” If there’s a recording future for Sunny Day Real Estate, I want it to sound like this.

Tracks of the Decade: “M79” by Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend
“M79”
from VAMPIRE WEEKEND
The crowning achievement of a stunning debut, VW’s inconceivably tuneful “M79” comes off as the lyrical equivalent of a scavenger hunt. Esoteric only at the surface, the track combines references to architecture, exotic geography, transportation, minor league baseball players, and racism into one refreshing cocktail. And then there’s the music – lush, airy, light, and bouncy, featuring the most pop-transcendent string section since OMD’s “If You Leave.” It’s a strange little song, the kind of tune you’ll love but never know what the heck it’s all about. That’s okay though, because I’m convinced after a thousand listens that it’s mostly about the joy of the ride.

vampire_weekend1Vampire Weekend
“M79”
from VAMPIRE WEEKEND

The crowning achievement of a stunning debut, VW’s inconceivably tuneful “M79” comes off as the lyrical equivalent of a scavenger hunt. Esoteric only at the surface, the track combines references to architecture, exotic geography, transportation, minor league baseball players, and racism into one refreshing cocktail. And then there’s the music – lush, airy, light, and bouncy, featuring the most pop-transcendent string section since OMD’s “If You Leave.” It’s a strange little song, the kind of tune you’ll love but never know what the heck it’s all about. That’s okay though, because I’m convinced after a thousand listens that it’s mostly about the joy of the ride.

Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted (1992)

Pavement
Slanted & Enchanted; 1992
Matador Records
My Rating: 88/100
There aren’t many records that I would call “incredibly pretentious” and “brilliant” all in the same breath, but here it goes: SLANTED & ENCHANTED is brilliant in an incredibly pretentious sort of way. For the novice, Pavement’s debut will most likely sound like the schizophrenic garage-band antics of middle-class white kids who’ve been playing their instruments for, oh, three weeks. But don’t be so shallow, you! Here’s the big secret: Pavement could write some great songs! Yes, beneath all the fuzz there’s a juicy fruit waiting to be enjoyed, but SLANTED & ENCHANTED can’t be approached head-on. You have to accept the inherent contradictions (the inverted beauty of “In the Mouth a Desert”), the off-kilter rhythms (“Conduit for Sale!”), and the off-key guitars (“Zurich is Stained”) on their own terms. When you do, you’ll start to see them as a necessary part of the experience. “Here” wouldn’t be nearly so great in the hands of someone with a soulful voice – there’s an undeniable authenticity in Malkmus straining to hit those high notes. But the record’s title really says it all: these songs come from a world of paradoxic landscapes and schizoid vision, the sound of running Escher’s and Picasso’s collected works through a blender. Every piece has its place, and while some tracks are better (“Trigger Cut”, “Two States”) than others (“No Life Singed Her”, “Our Singer”), SLANTED & ENCHANTED is a jigsaw that wouldn’t quite fit together if a note was missing. Obtuse? Yes. Inscrutable? Fer sure. Esoteric? To a point. A waste of time? Not at all. Give SLANTED & ENCHANTED as many listens as it takes. You will believe.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Tracks:
1. Summer Babe (Winter Version) (4.5/5)
2. Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17 (5/5)
3. No Life Singed Her (4/5)
4. In the Mouth a Desert (5/5)
5. Conduit Sale! (5/5)
6. Zurich is Stained (5/5)
7. Chesley’s Little Wrists (4/5)
8. Loretta’s Scars (4.5/5)
9. Here (5/5)
10. Two States (5/5)
11. Perfume-V (5/5)
12. Fame Throwa (5/5)
13. Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era (4/5)
14. Our Singer (3.5/5)

Slanted_and_Enchanted_album_coverPavement
Slanted & Enchanted; 1992
Matador Records

My Rating: 88/100

There aren’t many records that I would call “incredibly pretentious” and “brilliant” all in the same breath, but here it goes: SLANTED & ENCHANTED is brilliant in an incredibly pretentious sort of way. For the novice, Pavement’s debut will most likely sound like the schizophrenic garage-band antics of middle-class white kids who’ve been playing their instruments for, oh, three weeks. But don’t be so shallow, you! Here’s the big secret: Pavement could write some great songs! Yes, beneath all the fuzz there’s a juicy fruit waiting to be enjoyed, but SLANTED & ENCHANTED can’t be approached head-on. You have to accept the inherent contradictions (the inverted beauty of “In the Mouth a Desert”), the off-kilter rhythms (“Conduit for Sale!”), and the off-key guitars (“Zurich is Stained”) on their own terms. When you do, you’ll start to see them as a necessary part of the experience. “Here” wouldn’t be nearly so great in the hands of someone with a soulful voice – there’s an undeniable authenticity in Malkmus straining to hit those high notes. But the record’s title really says it all: these songs come from a world of paradoxic landscapes and schizoid vision, the sound of running Escher’s and Picasso’s collected works through a blender. Every piece has its place, and while some tracks are better (“Trigger Cut”, “Two States”) than others (“No Life Singed Her”, “Our Singer”), SLANTED & ENCHANTED is a jigsaw that wouldn’t quite fit together if a note was missing. Obtuse? Yes. Inscrutable? Fer sure. Esoteric? To a point. A waste of time? Not at all. Give SLANTED & ENCHANTED as many listens as it takes. You will believe.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)

Tracks:

1. Summer Babe (Winter Version) (4.5/5)
2. Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17 (5/5)
3. No Life Singed Her (4/5)
4. In the Mouth a Desert (5/5)
5. Conduit Sale! (5/5)
6. Zurich is Stained (5/5)
7. Chesley’s Little Wrists (4/5)
8. Loretta’s Scars (4.5/5)
9. Here (5/5)
10. Two States (5/5)
11. Perfume-V (5/5)
12. Fame Throwa (5/5)
13. Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era (4/5)
14. Our Singer (3.5/5)

Dawn Landes: Fireproof (2007)

Dawn Landes
Fireproof; 2007
Fun Machine Music
My Rating: 77/100
Dawn Landes’ dreamy urbanicana draws from the same Kentucky well as My Morning Jacket’s debut. FIREPROOF, her second full-length, shows the kind of restraint and melodic prowess common to artists like Feist, M. Ward, or Kings of Convenience. Still, unlike her sometimes-cohorts Hem, Landes’ outlook is infused with an off-beat humor and sleepy-eyed optimism that, on first listen, churns imperceptibly below the surface. Give the straight-laced groove of “Bodyguard” a second listen, though, and you’ll soon feel the joy. Landes shines brightest in simplicity. The simple strums and harmonies of “Tired of this Life” are playfully modest, and the afore-mentioned “Bodyguard” sounds like the rhythm was hammered out during recess twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the album sags dramatically in the middle, with novel excursions like “Picture Show” and the unbalanced and awkward “Kids in a Play.” But Landes saves the best for last, closing with a run of four brilliant tracks, including the angelic sway of “Dig Me a Hole” and the last dance of “I’m in Love with the Night.” Bonus points to Landes for her hushed and intimate take on Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”, sneaking it in a few minutes after the star-crossed romance of “You Alone.” FIREPROOF proves that Landes is a big talent, someone with a unique and alluring vision. I expect we’ll be hearing from her for years to come.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Tracks:
1. Bodyguard (5/5)
2. I Don’t Need No Man (4/5)
3. Tired of this Life (5/5)
4. Twilight (4.5/5)
5. Private Little Hell (4/5)
6. Picture Show (3.5/5)
7. Kids in a Play (3/5)
8. Toy Piano (4/5)
9. Dig Me a Hole (5/5)
10. I’m in Love with the Night (5/5)
11. Goodnight Lover (5/5)
12. You Alone (5/5)

Dawn_Landes___FireproofDawn Landes
Fireproof; 2007
Fun Machine Music

My Rating: 77/100

Dawn Landes’ dreamy urbanicana draws from the same Kentucky well as My Morning Jacket’s debut. FIREPROOF, her second full-length, shows the kind of restraint and melodic prowess common to artists like Feist, M. Ward, or Kings of Convenience. Still, unlike her sometimes-cohorts Hem, Landes’ outlook is infused with an off-beat humor and sleepy-eyed optimism that, on first listen, churns imperceptibly below the surface. Give the straight-laced groove of “Bodyguard” a second listen, though, and you’ll soon feel the joy. Landes shines brightest in simplicity. The simple strums and harmonies of “Tired of this Life” are playfully modest, and the afore-mentioned “Bodyguard” sounds like the rhythm was hammered out during recess twenty years ago. Unfortunately, the album sags dramatically in the middle, with novel excursions like “Picture Show” and the unbalanced and awkward “Kids in a Play.” But Landes saves the best for last, closing with a run of four brilliant tracks, including the angelic sway of “Dig Me a Hole” and the last dance of “I’m in Love with the Night.” Bonus points to Landes for her hushed and intimate take on Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”, sneaking it in a few minutes after the star-crossed romance of “You Alone.” FIREPROOF proves that Landes is a big talent, someone with a unique and alluring vision. I expect we’ll be hearing from her for years to come.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)

Tracks:

1. Bodyguard (5/5)
2. I Don’t Need No Man (4/5)
3. Tired of this Life (5/5)
4. Twilight (4.5/5)
5. Private Little Hell (4/5)
6. Picture Show (3.5/5)
7. Kids in a Play (3/5)
8. Toy Piano (4/5)
9. Dig Me a Hole (5/5)
10. I’m in Love with the Night (5/5)
11. Goodnight Lover (5/5)
12. You Alone (5/5)

Boards of Canada: In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country EP

This post has been permanently moved. You can find it here:

EP/Log: In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country by Boards of Canada

Tracks of the Decade: “In State” by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards
“In State”
from BACK TO ME
Other folk-rock songwriters saw more success than Kathleen Edwards this decade, but her passionate, full-bore delivery and muscular songwriting picked up where greats like Cash, Petty, and Farrar left off in decades past. “In State” was the strongest track off her excellent sophomore LP BACK TO ME, and it remains the ideal starting point for her music. As dejected as it is spiteful, the song sails on a seering guitar lead while Edwards assures her cheatin’ man: “I know when you’re going down.” “In State” evokes alt-country classics like Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD, but Edwards’ delivery snarkily suggests that even after “20 years in state” she’s still not likely to forgive. While Neko Case undoubtedly gets the gold medal for alt-country voice of the decade, Edwards’ fervent focus and steady lyrical aim tip the songwriting scales in her favor. “In State” might be all the proof you need.
Great video, BTW…

points_kathleen_edwardsKathleen Edwards
“In State”
from BACK TO ME

Other folk-rock songwriters saw more success than Kathleen Edwards this decade, but her passionate, full-bore delivery and muscular songwriting picked up where greats like Cash, Petty, and Farrar left off in decades past. “In State” was the strongest track off her excellent sophomore LP BACK TO ME, and it remains the ideal starting point for her music. As dejected as it is spiteful, the song sails on a seering guitar lead while Edwards assures her cheatin’ man: “I know when you’re going down.” “In State” evokes alt-country classics like Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD, but Edwards’ delivery snarkily suggests that even after “20 years in state” she’s still not likely to forgive. While Neko Case undoubtedly gets the gold medal for alt-country voice of the decade, Edwards’ fervent focus and steady lyrical aim tip the songwriting scales in her favor. “In State” might be all the proof you need.

Great video, BTW…

Tortoise: Millions Now Living Will Never Die (1996)

I’m now posting over at Beards of Kentucky. You can view my more recent thoughts on this record here:

http://www.beardsofkentucky.com/blog/track-by-track-millions-now-living-will-never-die-by-tortoise

Tortoise
Millions Now Living Will Never Die; 1996
Thrill Jockey
My Rating: 100/100
Sounds. There was a time when Tortoise made records full of magical sounds. Of their three early masterpieces, MILLIONS NOW LIVING ranks as the greatest, easily the record I would recommend as an introduction to the grandeur of pure sound. The album’s six tracks etch landscapes in the mind of the listener, not mere hillsides or river valleys, but worlds where paradox meets parabola in the natural order. Eye has not seen, that sort of thing. The epic “Djed” launches Tortoise’s sonic expedition. Exploding like the big bang and slowly evolving into a mechanistic krautrock groove, things roll along pleasantly enough until around the 10 minute mark. The song breaks apart at this point, coalescing once again into a swirl of xylophones, vibes, keyboards, and bass guitar. It all ends in outer space, the song fading into nothingness on the back of a synthetic beat. “Glass Museum” follows in gorgeous fashion, calling to mind crystalline cities but generating enough serpentine tension to elicit a vague narrative. Incorporating nature’s own music, the mysterious “A Survey” somehow walks the fine line between humor and terror. “The Taut and the Tame” and “Dear Grandma and Grandpa”, though far better than mere filler, seem mostly to serve as a bridge to the devastating “Along the Banks of Rivers.” What began agreeably enough with “Djed” ends by weaving together threads of darkness, fear, paranoia, regret, nostalgia, and loneliness. It’s a fitting epilogue, an intricate web of style and emotions. All in all, MILLIONS is canon, a record of child-like wonder, and a classic of the art of sound. Why don’t you own it?
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Tracks:
1. Djed (5/5)
2. Glass Museum (5/5)
3. A Survey (5/5)
4. The Taut and Tame (5/5)
5. Dear Grandma and Grandpa (5/5)
6. Along the Banks of Rivers (5/5)

Millions_Now_Living_Will_Never_Die_-_TortoiseTortoise
Millions Now Living Will Never Die; 1996
Thrill Jockey

My Rating: 100/100

Sounds. There was a time when Tortoise made records full of magical sounds. Of their three early masterpieces, MILLIONS NOW LIVING ranks as the greatest, easily the record I would recommend as an introduction to the grandeur of pure sound. The album’s six tracks etch landscapes in the mind of the listener, not mere hillsides or river valleys, but worlds where paradox meets parabola in the natural order. Eye has not seen, that sort of thing. The epic “Djed” launches Tortoise’s sonic expedition. Exploding like the big bang and slowly evolving into a mechanistic krautrock groove, things roll along pleasantly enough until around the 10 minute mark. The song breaks apart at this point, coalescing once again into a swirl of xylophones, vibes, keyboards, and bass guitar. It all ends in outer space, the song fading into nothingness on the back of a synthetic beat. “Glass Museum” follows in gorgeous fashion, calling to mind crystalline cities but generating enough serpentine tension to elicit a vague narrative. Incorporating nature’s own music, the mysterious “A Survey” somehow walks the fine line between humor and terror. “The Taut and the Tame” and “Dear Grandma and Grandpa”, though far better than mere filler, seem mostly to serve as a bridge to the devastating “Along the Banks of Rivers.” What began agreeably enough with “Djed” ends by weaving together threads of darkness, fear, paranoia, regret, nostalgia, and loneliness. It’s a fitting epilogue, an intricate web of style and emotions. All in all, MILLIONS is canon, a record of child-like wonder, and a classic of the art of sound. Why don’t you own it?

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)

Tracks:

1. Djed (5/5)
2. Glass Museum (5/5)
3. A Survey (5/5)
4. The Taut and Tame (5/5)
5. Dear Grandma and Grandpa (5/5)
6. Along the Banks of Rivers (5/5)

The Unseen Power of Pavement (Pavement Reuniting?)

You can never really be sure in these uncertain postmodern times, but it sounds like we’re close to a mathematical proof that Pavement will in fact re-unite in the next year. See here and here for more.
As a tribute, here’s a mix I concocted recently from the Matador reissues of the band’s greatest rarities and b-sides from their heyday. Did I leave anything off?
The Unseen Power of Pavement
1. Give It a Day
2. Painted Soldiers
3. Frontwards
4. All My Friends
5. Drunks with Guns
6. Beautiful as a Butterfly
7. Sue Me Jack
8. Sensitive Euro Man
9. Harness your hopes
10. Gangsters & Pranksters
11. Secret Knowledge of the Backroads (Peel Session 1)
12. The Sutcliffe Catering Song
13. Circa 1762 (Peel Session 1)
14. Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)
15. Strings of Nashville
16. Mussle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)
17. Lions (Linden)
18. Texas Never Whispers
19. I Love Perth
20. Greenlander
21. No tan lines
22. Kris Kraft
23. Roll with the wind
24. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence
25. Nothing Ever Happens

pavement18caYou can never really be sure in these uncertain postmodern times, but it sounds like we’re close to a mathematical proof that Pavement will in fact re-unite in the next year. See here and here for more.

As a tribute, here’s a mix I concocted recently from the Matador reissues of the band’s greatest rarities and b-sides from their heyday. Did I leave anything off?

SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF PAVEMENT

1. Give It a Day
2. Painted Soldiers
3. Frontwards
4. All My Friends
5. Drunks with Guns
6. Beautiful as a Butterfly
7. Sue Me Jack
8. Sensitive Euro Man
9. Harness your hopes
10. Gangsters & Pranksters
11. Secret Knowledge of the Backroads (Peel Session 1)
12. The Sutcliffe Catering Song
13. Circa 1762 (Peel Session 1)
14. Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)
15. Strings of Nashville
16. Mussle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)
17. Lions (Linden)
18. Texas Never Whispers
19. I Love Perth
20. Greenlander
21. No tan lines
22. Kris Kraft
23. Roll with the wind
24. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence
25. Nothing Ever Happens