Initial Reactions (2012): Kathleen Edwards, Cloud Nothings, First Aid Kit

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an impression on me at that point, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur – (B): Edwards’ first two albums are Americana masterpieces. Since then, she’s struggled a bit to make her next giant leap. While Voyageur has its moments, it all seems a bit tepid, especially given Edwards biggest past triumphs (see, for example, "In State"). Only "Mint" approaches that flood mark. In the end, this is a set of good tunes, it’s just that we’ve just come to expect more than that.  ("Mint")

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory – (A-): You gotta admire the aim. Cloud Nothings went from bedroom pop-punk to devastation post-punk in about a year’s time. Is Attack on Memory great? I’m not sure, but it’s a big fat maybe. The first several cuts are grabbers -  "No Future/No Past" nails a sound I haven’t heard since about the mid-90’s. AoM satisfies, but is it devoid of filler? We’ll see where this shakes out a year from now. ("No Future/No Past", "Fall In")

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar – (A-): Aims to put stars in your eyes. Canyon-carving vocals, fiery harmonies, and great tunes abound. These ladies sing with conviction something like religion.  My only complaint is that The Lion’s Roar could have boasted a little more variety. You know, more like "Blue", which hits upon a playful pop sensibility that’s otherwise absent. All in all, promising. ("The Lion’s Roar", "Emmylou", "Blue")

Tracks of the Decade (so far)

1563_Pieter_Bruegel_the_elder_The_Tower_of_Babel-wl400There’s still more to come, but here’s a list of the Sweet Georgia Breezes’ Tracks of the Decade so far (in no particular order). What do you think of the list? What are your top 5 or 10 tracks of the decade?

Counting Crows – Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby
Wilco – I am trying to break your heart
The New Pornographers  – Myriad Harbour
M. Ward – Poison Cup
Kathleen Edwards – In State
Vampire Weekend – M79
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
Built to Spill – The Weather
Neko Case – Star Witness
Belle and Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
Interpol – NYC
Wilco – Impossible Germany
Coldplay – Lost!
Ryan Adams – To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)
Fugazi – Cashout
Flaming Lips – Fight Test
Nathan – The Wind
Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place
Rachel’s – Water from the Same Source
Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
Bruce Springsteen – My City of Ruins
The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin

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…