Initial Reactions (2012): Dirty Projectors, Damien Jurado, Welcome Wagon

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 initial impression on me, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan [B]: Hints all over of a strong concept, but I have a really hard time connecting with this dude’s voice. I appreciate the fact that he’s not a mumbler, but he sounds a bit too soulfully controlled. The same applies to the songs, which are good, not great, but I’ll allow for the possibility that this is better than the first impression would indicate. ("The Socialites", "Gun Has No Trigger")

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa [B]: This is a moving album, and well played at that. The first half had me plotting ‘A’ territory, but things start to slack a little on the back half. Still, a pretty strong showing, and I’m guessing a grower. But what’s with the RATM cover rip-off? Yuck! ("This Time Next Year", "Museum of Flight")

 

Welcome Wagon – Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices [B]: This is a nice album. These folks wear simplicity on their sleeves, and the result is almost child-like in its folkdom. There are a few big highlights, among them a stripped down cover of The Cure’s "High" which is quite worth hearing. My one gripe is that this dude just sounds so much like his homey Sufjan. Still, prepare to be blitzed by pleasantry. ("High", "Would You Come and See Me in NY?")

Quick Review (LP): Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
Age of Adz
Asthmatic Kitty; 2010

My Rating: B

Best Tracks: “Too Much”, “I Walked”, “Impossible Soul”

Not so sure about this. All Delighted People was great, but Sufjan’s best quality, his tunefulness, is downplayed here. The “Adz” fella has an interesting backstory, a very eccentric artist and all, but for all of Sufjan’s love of obscure and obtuse hyper-weirdness, it’s always his ability to take that which is obscure and distill into emotional and musical greatness that keeps the kids coming back for more. That being said, I’m not ruling this one out. If KID A can grow on me and become one of my all time favorites, then I suspect that Age of Adz can too. Still, in some ways, this seems more like something Sufjan needed to get out of his system than something he should have unleashed upon the world. “Impossible Soul” is something to behold, but as far as epic goes, Sufjan has done far better in the past (“All Delighted People”, “Djohariah”, “Detroit”, “You Are The Blood”). I’m hoping Sufjan has more up his sleeve in the near future, and I’m hoping it sounds a little more like the All Delighted People EP.

Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews