After a sorta slow musical summer, things very much gittin heated up music-wise.
First, since I primarily do albums during these little postings, I miss out on all the one-off's, singles, playlists and old stuff I listen to. This isn't the end of the world, but it does mean I miss out on chatting about things like the new Major Lazer single, Get Free, which is likely to end up my song of the year even though the album won't be out til 2013. Pretty much I do most of my non-album listening on Spotify, so I suppose I could just link to those playlists and you can assume I like the stuff and am listening to it. That might be better than slagging off stuff I bought and don't like and don't listen to once I decide I don't like it.
Secondly, doing things this way means I don't usually have a chance to go back and RE-review stuff I got wrong first time around. One such case is the Hot Chip album, which gets better to my ears with each listen.
You can see what incredibly important issues these are. Perhaps I will ruminate on them further. I enjoy writing about music, but what I write about and listen to feel like they don't quite sync like they really should. The world waits with baited breath for resolution I am sure. Til I can work it out, here is what is new to the ears of late:
Swans - The Seer: Well, I now have a default go to when I try to explain "music I like but don't enjoy listening to". This is actually a really good album. Very intense and tightly wound around the core ideas behind it. I like that it is heavy and dark. I like M Gira's Voice Of Zeus. I like it loud too. That said, there are very few occasions where I want to put myself through ~2 hours of it. So far, I have found it is excellent to have on during a long plane ride when I am reading, but if I fall asleep with it on, that sleep can be unsettling and I land in odd sorts. Sigh. I can't think of any friends I would recommend this too, so it makes it hard to push it on y'all here. If you like Swans or Angels Of Light, this is a most worthy acquisition. Whether or not it shows itself a perpetually good listen is not something I would dare approach. It is tough to get preachy in benefit of music that is good at making one feel bad. (B)
Bauhaus - In The Flat Field (Omnibus Edition): Of all the alt-80's stuff to enjoy critical rethink and new audience, I think Bauhaus is one of the alphas given the least love. They really were very very ahead of their time, and if anything, what once made them seem art damaged has been shown to be far less self-indulgent than it first seemed. They could rattle off beautiful little twisted pop songs when they wanted to, but they rarely did this - especially early on. More often they did dark and spare little sketches held together by the sheer will and presence of Peter Murphy and his nearly perfect presence. Of all their studio albums, this one is the most dark, spare, and held together by Peter Murphy, and that is what makes it the most challenging and interesting of their albums. It may not be their best (tough call), but it is the one that best rewards the efforts. It is important though to buy the expanded editions of this album because the extras of the period work hard at making the Goth label seem simplistic and lazy. Terror Couple Kill Coloniel and Telegram Sam for example are awesome, and work perfectly with the album. It is sorta sad that at my age I am still spending so much time going back to these old albums, but I don't do ONLY that. I try not to let my ears become too ossified, and so sitting around telling myself how good Bauhaus was isn't just a masturbatory exercise in which I laud the tastes of my 16-year old self. I think this actually is good well beyond its time and could well be meaningful to a modern day 16-year old who has no interest in the pap on their top 40 stations. Sadly though, I suspect that same youngin' may just pick up a Cure compilation and feel like their work is done. Such is our world. (B+)
Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears: I definitely consider modern country music to be little more than bad, right-wing bar band crap with a fiddle thrown in. I don't think I have enjoyed any Nashville music since the mid-80's. About the only exception would be Dwight Yoakam, and even then, to call him Nashville would be most inaccurate. He does a kinda old-timey style to begin with, covers lots of rock songs, and has a very West Coast/Bakersfield bent to what he pays homage to (plus his cover of Merle Haggard's Holding Things Together is one of my favorite records of all time.) Add to that, I only know about this album because Beck co-produces part of it. Even so, I can't say I have ever heard Dwight do anything bad. Often enough, he does stuff that is excellent. It can be a little tough to distinguish album over album, but that kinda goes with the genre territory. I can't think of any way to make someone like music like this if they don't organically do so. Even Beck's presence isn't strong enough here to make it immediately identifiable as him (if you want to have a Beck filter to see a new artist through, get the last Thurston Moore solo record - it is excellent.) I will give any DY record a listen on the strength of his historical output. I can't really place this as being dramatically better or worse than anything but his best. I can give it a B- grade and do so fairly, but truth is, I can do at least that with any of the records I have heard from him. (B-)
Laibach - Opus Dei: I am obsessed with Laibach. They are to music what Andy Kaufman was to comedy. They play it so close to the vest, one wonders what is actually being done and said. For a band to play right-wing love of fascism close to the vest is going to raise some obvious challenges to those not "in on" the "joke", but it is done so well, one has to roll their eyes at the haters. This album is now 25+ years old, and I gotta say, it has held up extraordinarily well - no small feat for an obscure proto-industrial obsessed with the tropes of Fascism and Communism. I bought the 12" single of their cover of Opus' Live Is Life when it came out, and I must confess, I sorta saw it as an music nerd/info-junkie's novelty record. One would have to have heard of the original - no small feat either - and "get it". I was a strange 16 year old, and I got it. For reasons I couldn't explain, I found myself looking it up on Spotify about a year or so ago, and since then, I would say I have listened to this band more than any other, and that song at least as much as any other. That their cover of Queen's One Vision is at least the equal of Life Is Life has only fueled further interest in them, and convinced me to give this full album a chance. That dood has the scariest voice I have ever heard (death metal twerps WISH they could pull this off) eventually wears off believe it or not. Eventually, one hears it for the instrument that it is; and in doing so, the mastery of this album is revealed. You hear what you don't hear, actually. They play this as straight as is metaphysically possible, yet that is the opposite of what is going on. Only the masters can do this. That they worked with a relatively new form - industrial - to do so is what makes this an album which will remain relevant long after any Cold War narrative. and it is the biggest aspect of this music which I missed first time around. The layers here between the Cold War, the Eastern European origins, the Germanic tropes and language, and the choice of cover tunes are magical when synthesized. All of those ingredients may feel like old news, but their genius is in seeing how the WWII narratives never really stopped playing out. The band X could come out and literally say "this was supposed to be the new world" about OUR side in the Cold War. From Slovenia in the mid-80's, this band could say THIS stuff. Their utopia too was supposed to be a new world - one designed to compete with OUR new world. In hindsight, both sides remain underachievers (in their case, downright flunkies.) If this message is so dated that it can find no audience going forward, we might as well pack it in now. (B+)
Laibach - Wat: My Laibach obsession has me working through their catalog. I decided not to get their obvious plays to form (they covered all of the Beatle's Let It Be for example) and went to see if their industrial stuff actually speaks to me outside the yuk-yuk covers. Indeed, it does. The demonic German is in tact, so there is still the political bent I dig, but this is actually a pretty straight up, and pretty good, little slice of industrial of its time. May not change the planet, but I dig it. I suspect one need not dig their bigger bit to dig this either (B-)Posted by rudayday at October 17, 2012 11:28 AM