Quick Review (LP): Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter

HALCYON-DIGEST-575x567 Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD; 2010

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “Revival”, “Desire Lines”, “Helicopter”, “Coronado”

I got to know Deerhunter earlier this year via the excellent single and “b-side” Revival/Primitive 3-D. “Revival” is here as well, the perfect doorway into the band’s throwback pop impressionism. Now I’m not familiar with Deerhunter’s back catalog (yet), but this album certainly seems to channel the golden age of pop music. Whether it’s the “heart in sax” of “Coronado,” or “Basement Scene”, which takes the Everly Brothers’ “Dream” through the looking glass, this is a record shot through with thoughtfully deconstructed rock and roll. It’s a pretty good record, one that might have made my A-list, but unfortunately a good number of the songs are overlong. Often these tracks begin with a great idea, then devolve into a dull monotony. The effect is that the songs quickly grab you, and then just as quickly let go. Of course, that might be the whole point. After all, the album’s title would suggest that we are encountering something ideal and fleeting, a mental photo album of fleeting memories. So I grant that. Unfortunately, it still leaves a potentially great record just below the mark. Be that is it may, overall this is a solid record, and I’m excited to hear more from Deerhunter, both past and future.

Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews
Band website
Daytrotter session

Quick Review (LP): High Violet by The National

high-violet The National
High Violet
4AD; 2010

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “Terrible Love”, “Sorrow”, “Bloodbuzz Ghost”, “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” a wise man once said. And who is The National to argue with that? Coming off of Boxer, which made them one of indie’s undisputed heavyweights, the band apparently tried to craft something a bit more upbeat. They failed, and the result is this haunting and opaque beauty of a record. At first, it comes off like “Boxer, part 2”, but after a few listens you’ll start to pick up on singer Matt Berninger really stretching himself and the rest of the band changing things up ever so slightly. For all of the cold tones of their sound, The National have at root an Americana soul that imbues their music with a warmth and richness that most upstarts of the NYC scene can’t quite attain. For what it’s worth, I think The National have officially become what Interpol might have been with a little heat to balance out their sound: America’s own chroniclers of urban lonesome and paranoia.

The National’s website
Daytrotter downloads
”Terrible Love” video
Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews

Quick Review (LP): Teen Dream by Beach House

Beach House
Teen Dream
Sub Pop; 2010

My Rating: A+

Tracks: “Walk in the Park”, “Zebra”, “Used to Be”, “Take Care”

Thriller. Born In The USA. Rumours. There is a short list of albums that are amazing both as cohesive artistic statements and as collections of pop classics. Who would have thought that, in 1991, three knuckleheads from the Pacific Northwest with only one sloppily recorded sludge-rock effort to their credit would rise into that category with a gleaming collection of 12 odes to teen angst? Well, I was just as surprised to find Beach House ascending into that hall of greatness with their third album, Teen Dream. All of these songs would stand as great singles in and of themselves, but strewn together as a collection they make for one of the greatest rock records in recent memory. While the standards for these songs have been set with these recordings, I can’t help but wonder what tracks like “Walk in the Park” and “Zebra” would sound like stadium-sized. I’m not asking Beach House to go all U2 on us or anything, but then again, if Radiohead and Springsteen can pull of rock and roll glory in super-sized settings, then based on the strength of the songs on this album, Beach House can too. Teen Dream is probably the first great record of this decade.

Daytrotter session
Pitchfork review
Paste review
Myspace site

Quick Review: Pope Killdragon LP by Strand of Oaks

Pope-Killdragon-Cover I was an instant fan of Strand of Oaks after hearing “Bonfire” a few months back. Timothy Showalter has an approach that might best be described as creepy campfire folk, evoking all kinds of dark season imagery through melancholy vocals (a la Robin Pecknold), acoustic guitar, and eerie, lush synth. “West River” opens things in instrumental fashion, invoking the spirits of the other songs like any good overture should. “Bonfire” remains the obvious standout, but I really dug “Daniel’s Blues” for raising the early SNL players to archetypal glory. I don’t know that this is quite achieves what “Bonfire” set my expectations to, as some of the songs blend into a monotonous drone (an easy thing for this type of music), but it is a solid effort nevertheless, and I recommend checking it out. “Bonfire” is simply a must-hear. Rating: B. RiYL: Fleet Foxes, The National, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Songs:Ohia, Red House Painters.

Listen Here (Myspace site)
Pitchfork Review
Hearya Session
Daytrotter Session

Best Breezes #2: 10/25/09 – 10/31/09

BEST BREEZES is the wrap-up post wherein I discuss my favorite music related items of the past week. Enjoy!

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LIVE GOODNESS: I was familiar with these sites before, but  seeing how there’s some serious goodness going on in the live music department here, I’ll be adding them to the link list.

Daytrotter (Fleet Foxes, The Low Anthem, Death Cab for Cutie, Bonnie Prince Billy, etc. etc.)
Hearya.com (The Low Anthem, The Deep Dark Woods, Port Obrien, etc. etc.)

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fleetfoxesepFLEET FOXES EP: Why is it that I just found out today that Fleet Foxes released a six song EP a year BEFORE Sun Giant? Found downloads here: Free FLEET FOXES DEBUT EP MP3.

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NEW FOUR TET: Break out the headphones and listen to a new 9 minute track from Four Tet! NICE!!!!

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LOW ANTHEM, SEA WOLF VIDS: Just a few days after my post on The Low Anthem’s “Charlie Darwin”, here’s a new music video to accompany:

(via Muzzle of Bees)

Also, head on over to My Old Kentucky Blog to see a new vid from Sea Wolf. Really startin’ to dig that band…

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dan-zanes-close-croppedDAN ZANES: So that dude Dan Zanes who I’ve seen associated with kids music was a member of the Del Fuegos (“It was the Violent Femmes/And the Del Fuegos/Before they had a record out…”).  Plus he put out an album of sea shanties called SEA SONGS a few years back. As I am considering getting an Masters in English with a focus on all things relating to the sea, I am now officially obsessed.

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White Antelope, anyone?