Initial Reactions (2012): Smashing Pumpkins, Sun Kil Moon, Keri Latimer

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)

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania [A-]: I’m dipping my toes in easily – it’s been a long time since BC unleashed something great – but this is some super-dreamy dream-rock and a really pleasant surprise. I get off the Pumpkins train right after Pisces, but Oceania resurrects all the things I loved about those first 3 albums, and commits a big prog-nerd embrace to update the sound. And hey, this is a full band effort – go figure! This could just turn out to be one of the best albums of the year. Welcome back Corgan.  (“Pale Horse”, “The Chimera”)

Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves [B]: AtL leads off with three great, RHP-esque tunes, and then settles for mediocrity. I was not a fan of Admiral Fell Blues in all of its noodling glory, and thus I find the AFB-esque tracks here to be the filler. Bottom line is this could have been cut by a third and been a really good album, standing in line with the finest of RHP’s work. But rather than our favorite mopey hipster, we get a worn out, cranky old one.    (“Sunshine In Chicago”, “Among The Leaves”)

Keri Latimer – Crowsfeet and Grayskull [B+]: If there was ever an album I wanted to love, it’s this. I was head over heels for Latimer’s (old?) outfit Nathan and their 2007 LP Key Principles. And while Latimer’s fallen angel vocals and lonesome tired melodies are all present here, the songs just don’t hit me on the same level as, say, “The Wind” or “Ordinary Day.” There’s no doubting this is a good album with a strong and worthy concept, but it doesn’t quite satisfy the hunger inside. (And how’s that for a fitting critique?) (“Mud and Slobber”, “Bloomington”)

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Quick Review (LP): Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil Moon

sun kil moon admiral fell promisesSun Kil Moon
Admiral Fell Promises
Caldo Verde; 2010

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “Third & Seneca”, “You Are My Sun”, “Admiral Fell Promises”

This is a record so snoozy that it makes “I’m Only Sleeping” seem like a Mastodon outtake (Yes, I’m here all night). Rarely does it approach that monolithic musical identity called pop/rock. Instead, it’s a serious departure even from the slo-mo epics of Red House Painters. This is more of a classical guitar album than anything else, and I can handle that on one level. The problem is that I don’t think Kozelek’s fans want him to fade away into obscurity as a “high art-form” musician, and unfortunately that’s what the trajectory on this record appears to indicate. Whereas there’s a handful of distinctively strong tracks, such as the world-weary “Third & Seneca”, most of the record feels academic, just a little too reasonable. In light of that, maybe a collaboration with Mastodon next time around wouldn’t be so outrageous. Wake me up the next time around.

Metacritic reviews
Pitchfork review
Paste review

Best Breezes: 5/31/10 – 6/6/10

Been away for a little while. Should be pretty consistent this week…

NPR: Best Opening Tracks?

(via NPR Music) If you follow this blog, you know by now that I am a music obsessive. So I love lists, especially when they discuss things like “best opening tracks.”  NPR’s editorial list can be found here. Interesting stuff. I’d have to include:

REM (“Radio Free Europe”, “Harborcoat”, “Finest Worksong”)
Radiohead (“Airbag”, “Everything In Its Right Place”, “15 Step”)
Wilco (“Misunderstood”, “I am trying to break your heart”)
Crain (“Car Crash Decisions”)
Slint (“Breadcrumb Trail”)
Rodan (“Bible Silver Corner”)
Belle & Sebastian (“Stars of Track and Field”)
Innocence Mission (“Keeping Awake”)
My Morning Jacket (“Mahgeetah”)
Mark Knopfler (“What It Is”, “Why Aye Man”)
Elvis Costello (“Accidents Will Happen”, “Clubland”)

in my own long list.

New Sun Kil Moon

(via onethirtybpm) I have a friend who was really into Mark Kozelek’s Red House Painters in high school, back when it was hard to get your hands on their stuff. I never got into them myself, but after hearing these new tracks from Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon project (awesome name by the way), I might just dive headfirst into the world of “the other” MK.

GY!BE + “Weird Al” = WHAT???

(via Pitchfork) File this one under strange, even by the standards of both artists. Dear Lord, let there be a collaborative effort in the future.

New Superchunk On The Way

(via onethirtybpm) New Superchunk on the way. Superchunk is hit or miss with me, but when they hit, they knock it out of the park. (See “Driveway to Driveway”, “The First Part”, “Hello Hawk”, “Burn Last Sunday”)