Quick Review (LP): III: Arcade Dynamics by Ducktails

ducktails arcade dynamics Ducktails
Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
Woodsist; 2011

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Hamilton Road”, “Sunset Liner”, “Little Window”, “In The Swing”

If you follow this here music weblog, you know that I love me some Real Estate, so it should come as no surprise that I decided to give the third long-player from Ducktails, Real Estater Matthew Mondanile’s side project, a look-see. What we have here sounds essentially like demo workouts aimed at future Real Estate recordings. Now, I don’t know that that’s what these really are, but perhaps it’s better to say that this record demonstrates that Mondanile is no mere hired-hand. Is it good? It’s certainly not as solid as the material we’ve seen from Real Estate thus far, but it does have its moments.  “Hamilton Road” in particular is a pleasant bit of breezy, backporch bliss, and the rest of the record’s hazy, dreamy tunes approximate some of the less captivating (but nonetheless enjoyable) moments on Real Estate‘s Reality EP. I think it’s pertinent to say that over the course of six or seven listens, I most enjoyed partaking in this on the heels of Chris Bell‘s I Am The Cosmos. To that end, I think it’s best to view Arcade Dynamics as sort of a “back down to earth” record. For a bedroom effort, that’s par for the course, and if you’re a Real Estate fan (and if you’re not you should be), then give this one a shot.

AMG review
Pitchfork review
Bowlegs Music review
Sputnik Music review

Big Star: #1 Record (1972)

Big Star
#1 Record
Ardent/Stax; 1972

My Rating: 100/100

Just what can be said about this record that hasn’t already been said, especially in the last few weeks? It’s brilliant, no doubt. And while it was legendarily ignored upon its initial release, it has since become the universally recognized stepping off point for all things power pop. You don’t need me to tell you any of that. All I can really say is that for every year that my youth fades into the rearview mirror, this record gets a little sadder and a little sweeter, all at the same time. With the record’s two chief songwriters having since departed for Indias all their own, even the sunny, powerhouse optimism of lines like “You give me life/And that’s right” come off as bittersweet at best. Over the years, I’ve come to love the song “When My Baby’s Beside Me” most of all, but there is no denying the overpowering nostalgia of “Thirteen”, a song so fragrant and pacifying you’ll feel like you’re slowly slipping into a Downy commercial. God, can any other song make a grown man cry? Whenever I hear it, I visualize all of my childhood friends, bridging the gap between innocence and experience, naive and childish, without a clue and all the better for it. Who wouldn’t want to capture that era forever? Chilton did it in that single song, but the full set of twelve manages to grab all the other angles as well. As I close this review, I’m struck by my utter inability to communicate all that this album means to me. I’d rather just let it speak for itself…

Once I walked a lonely road
Had no one to share my love
But then you came and showed the way
And now I hope you’re here to stay...”

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


1. Feel (5/5)
2. The Ballad of El Goodo (5/5)
3. In the Street (5/5)
4. Thirteen (5/5)
5. Don’t Lie to Me (5/5)
6. The India Song (5/5)
7. When My Baby’s Beside Me (5/5)
8. My Life Is Right (5/5)
9. Give Me Another Chance (5/5)
10. Try Again (5/5)
11. Watch the Sunrise (5/5)
12. ST 100/6 (5/5)