Quick Review (LP): Nothing Is Wrong by Dawes

Dawes
Nothing Is Wrong
ATO; 2011

My Rating: A+ (98/100)

Best Tracks: "Time Spent In Los Angeles", "My Way Back Home", "How Far We’ve Come", "Fire Away"

Scoffs at the sophomore slump.

NOTES

  • Harmonies! May not be as otherworldly and numinous as Pecknold and company, but these are strong enough to match some of the best acts of the 70’s.
  • Great melody and lyrics on "Time Spent in Los Angeles." ("You’ve got that special kind of sadness/You’ve got that tragic set of charms/That only comes from time spent in Los Angeles/Makes me want to wrap you in my arms")
  • That breakdown on "My Way Back Home" slays me. Love the coupled guitar riffs at the bridge.
  • "Fire Away" is basically one big homage to Jackson Browne. And I’ll be damned if "A Little Bit of Everything" doesn’t strike quite a bit like "The Load Out."
  • What does "Million Dollar Bill" remind me of?
  • This is a great road record. It’s got that wide open feel, the themes of leaving town and coming home, of loves lost and revisited, of the nostalgia for yesterday and dreams of tomorrow’s endless possibilities.
  • I love the humility these guys bring to making music. Splendid.
  • Appropriate title, as this is one of the best of the year.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station

Alison Krauss & Union Station
Paper Airplane
Rounder; 2011

My Rating: C (56/100)

Best Tracks: "Paper Airplane", "Sinking Stone", "My Opening Farewell"

More of the same from Alison & company, which is OK.

NOTES
– I listen mostly to hipster rock, so listening to new music by the likes of an Alison Krauss or a Mark Knopfler is always an interesting change of pace for me. But then again, Alison is sort of a hipster herself at this point, since she collaborated with T. Bone Burnett and Robert Plant on that grammy winner a few years ago, covers Elvis Costello songs, and collaborates with Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris.
– This sounds very standard for one of their records. That is, the Alison-led songs sound exceedingly lovely, and the Tyminski-led songs are gruffer and a bit more trad Bluegrass.
– It’s pretty much become a formula with Alison’s material. Pleasant, pastoral arrangements with her gorgeous voice right up front in the mix, like she’s your mother rocking you to sleep.
– The chorus (and hook) of "Lay My Burden Down" sounds almost identical to that of "Just Let Me Touch You For A-While." If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.
– Alison has produced some truly brilliant moments in the past – "Everytime You Say Goodbye", "Broadway", "Baby, Now That I’ve Found You", "Restless", "The Lucky One", "The Scarlet Tide" – unfortunately, there’s nothing that feels truly great here. There are a whole bunch of beautiful songs and lovely performances, but nothing that really demands your attention. More Castleman next time?
– This one could have used some of those mind-blowing instrumentals that the band pulls off so well.
– I’d love something a bit more in the way of a concept from this band. This effort seems very workman like and a bit anonymous. Even a cover record would be great (the cover of Jackson Browne might be the best thing here)! Just something to mix it up.
Thom Jurek of AMG offers a perspective that is certainly counter to mine. He detects a little more of an overarching theme perhaps. I will admit it feels a little too critical to award this less than a B, because when it comes down to it, Union Station is an above average group of musicians on a bad day. Still, this one just wasn’t that interesting for this city slicker.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion  (4/5)
Concept (3/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Songs (4/5)