Jennifer O’Connor – Here with Me
You could trash this on the fact that O’Connor’s unassuming, acoustic-based folk rock would have made her huge anywhere 1988-1994 but at no other time. But you won’t, because she’s a damn fine songwriter and like a certain politician currently, whatever you say about her style, she truly, sincerely, means to do good, and that’s a rarity in music and politics.
Frida Hyvonen –Silence is Wild
FH’s voice contains an unnameable timbre that separates her from silly piano perpetrators like Tori Anus etc; maybe her inclusion of her Swedish accent and absolute lack of pretension (and maybe ambition) also contribute to an almost voyeuristic kick to hearing her least-produced numbers. Kate Bush could bring you into her living room (or vice versa) with her voice. Unlike Bush, Hyvonen isn’t batshit with the studio tricks, but she’s miles better than her other piano-benched contempos.
Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
Sure, you get points for a mindfuck style switch, but you have to make a spectacular album to justify it (see: Zen Arcade). If it’s from noise rock to accessible power rock, like here, Boris has beaten Fucked Up to the punch by about five years, and Fucked Up doesn’t kick half the ass Boris does when they see fit. But – and but — while reaching for the stars, Fucked Up come back down with a meteorite and a comet or two, so love them happily and stay tuned.
David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Sadly not as monumental as I’d hoped. That’s unfair, since these geezers owe me less than nothing at this point. “Strange Overtones” remains a great song, but nothing else on this album percolates like it.
Wilderness – (K)no(w)here
More of the same pirates-from-the-mist foreboding, a low-throated Rotten singing over Jesus Lizard with no distortion. And I love it.
Flying Lotus – Los Angeles
Admirable but weightless. I could think of 842 other beats I’d rather stay awake for.
Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
Oddly interesting, if only for my suspicion that someone’s been listening to Alan Parsons and (good) ELO in equal portions. Like most side projects (this one of Grizzily Bear, athough i think it predates GB, this being DoE’s second) there’s one song that seems to justify the project wholesale and simultaneously vaporize the rest as filler, and that’s “No One Does it Like you.”
Snowman – The Horse, the Rat and the Swan
Something in the water in Perth? Abrasive and thrilling. Like hearing Throbbing Gristle for the first time at the right time again.
Love is All – A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night
Wow. I found their previous effort too shrill, with infrequent, ebullient pop highlights; overall, it was messy and unfocused. But here! — a tighter-than-tight band matching power with wraparound sax and well-written rock and roll that you can – yes – dance to, with good conscience. Each touch is the right touch and, as the title implies, now there’s tension.
The Cure –4:13 Dream
Iconic artists all cannibalize themselves, some earlier than others, some with more good reason than others. Robert Smith’s bag of tricks went empty after Fascination Street, and subsequent albums failed, mired in a boring guitar mash, but they didn’t cannibalize. For 4;13 Dream, Smith has decided to take another run at 1988’s monumental Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, to the point of bringing guitarist whatshisname back. It’s his right, he made KMKMKM all by his lonesome, but wowsy, talk about raising the bar to unreacheable heights. Plus, 4:13 Dream sucks on its own. Why not just perform KMKMKM for ATP in its entirety and release that?
Marnie Stern – This Is It etc [ Note to Ms. Stern: the novelty of overlong album titles ended at half past Fiona Apple. -ed]
You can put lipstick on Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, and it’s still Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. Stern’s she-shreds-but-has-boobs hype might not be her fault, but the best parts of this and her debut were those sans fingertapping, and if she really loved metal soloing for what it is — and she’s no Sonny Sharrock — why not make a phenomenal metal record, straight up? With Don Dokken? Courting the indie crowd makes it all gimmickry. Although others may argue she plays this way because she can, and therefore should, anyone who’s seen PJ Harvey play guitar live, like I have seen, knows Stern isn’t the only non-male guitar hero out there. But she’s the only one who wants to be known as such. Possibly because the previous folkie schtick went bust? Now now JFP. That’s just mean.
The Bug — The London Zoo
I like dubstep – Burial gets me off mightily — but when I hear this collection I cannot banish images of Sasca Baron Cohen’s Ali G from my mind.