New Release Roundup: Alex Chilton Took a Piece of Me Upstairs

New Orleans, you stole something from me, and I want it back.

Here We Go Magic – Pigeons
Not a turn for the better, but: moments. Less collage&mood and more Eno-ish pop than their still-unassailable debut. But – did Luke Temple injure his voice? On some tracks, he misses.

Aloha – Home Acres
What can I say? I just flat-the-fuck-out dig the emo Genesis (Gabriel-era, thanks). Darker, this one, but no less pretty and catchy.

Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back
Sometimes, while I’m not rejoining Genesis for a one-off, four sold-out nights of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” start to finish for a bazillion dollars a ticket at the Beacon Theater, I’m recording an abrasive yet innovative throwback, a ‘melt’-era batch of covers of songs written by the African & Brazilian musicians I’ve employed over the years. I’m definitely not a great enough singer to justify orchestral backing on a mostly yawnfest batch of covers, like on “Scratch My Back.” Hopefully, “I’ll Scratch Yours” a tribute collection on which artists will cover my excellent stuff ’77-’85, will asskick.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks

Ted! With this, you’re almost back. It was funny to recently hear P-fork trash your last album, in a track review for the new one, and then edit it out because they gave that last album a way overblown 7.9 when it came out, a rating so inflated, for your only obvious failure of an album, that nobody was embarrassed of suspecting payola. Still gotta’ work on those sometimes corny lyrics though – “no one lives forever?”(Even Heroes Have to Die) c’mon now. Luckily, songs like “Bartolomeo and the Buzzing of Bees” make up for it, and some some.

The Soft Pack – s/t

All the wrong attention is being paid to the wrong guitar bands. This albums kills. “Parasites.”

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

Bomb. What were they thinking? Like Lindsay Buckingham produced by Jellybean Benitez.

Fang Island -s/t

Spare me. Didn’t Naked Raygun do this thirty years ago? Also: Please don’t sing.

Magnetic Fields – Realism

Nice enough, but I’ll take last years “Distortion,” thanks.

Sambassadeur – European

You might not be stopped in your tracks, but Sambassadeur will never hurt you. As light as a fly wing, and seemingly ornate by chance.

Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Hot Chip, reliably decent electro-pop dudes, simply don’t boast the songwriting chops to justify the handful of ballads on here. With auto-tune.

Rogue Wave – Permalight

Do I hear Autotune here also? Zach, you don’t need it. Someday you’ll drop a greatest hits album that’ll be the greatest. “We Can Make a Song Destroy” indeed.

Surfer Blood – Astrocoast

If I didn’t need the last two lackluster albums by the Shins, why do I need this?

Shearwater – Golden Archipelago

While it may not be a scintillating an effort as previous Shearwater albums, no other contemporary band could this ably execute an immigration concept record of gorgeous piano-based art rock.

Robert Pollard – We All Got Out of the Army

There’s so much, Robert. So much. Here’s a challenge: At the end of 2010, take everything you write this year, and force yourself to write only nine songs out of all of it. Just nine, and each one must be under 3:35. I suspect it might be the greatest album any of us hear for a long time. While this one surely isn’t, it’s ok, but Robert: there’s so much.

Horse Flies – Until the Ocean

Don’t laugh. In 1986, the Horse Flies released “Human Fly,” one of the creepiest yet prettiest records of the late eighties (their 92 release, ” was uneven, but no less unique). Then, as now, they’re erroneously stamped as folk, or of similar ilk to the jam bands they share stages with for their infrequent gigs. But “Human Fly” was Cramps-inspired (said so on the sleeve), and garlanded with lush violin lines, and propelled by electric banjo so heavily delayed it sounded like an alien helicopter. Word was a member had been homeless, and when they sang of sleeping out among the pines or living where it’s grey, you believed them. Their upstate NY locale has only grown more depressed, and so “Until the Ocean,” appearing 20+ years later, is equally effective, with eerie standards (“Drunkard’s Child, “Oh Death”)

Four Tet – There is Love in You

Bloopy-bleepy winner, ornate, rhythmic headphone music for those who prefer their beats with beauty. Nothing innovative, though. Eurythmics did this 30 years ago with their aborted 1984 soundtrack.

Titus Andronicus – Monitor

If we needed proof that indie rock is being made by kids too young to remember any of the albums made by the robot who replaced Bruce Springsteen around 1987, these NJ howlers provide it by cramming 1000 words per song into bloodshot swamp anthems of forlorn love, drinking, and not-giving-a-fuck (all that noise about the Civil War? huh.). That sounds better than it is after 3 songs. I sure hope they know how funny it is that their name, on this album’s cover, appears in the same font as Big Country’s did throughout their career.

Clipse – Til the Casket Drops
ZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Sadly, hip hop’s legacy includes a litany of riveting breakthrough records (Clipse’s “Hell Hath No Fury” being one of the ten best, ever) followed by boring albums limply celebrating newfound fame. Which means “Til the Casket Drops” might gain video airplay for Clipse, but rock-guitar-backed boasting about hitting the bling-time simply jumpstarts my narcolepsy.

Blacroc -s/t
I couldn’t pick a better rock band to collaborate with rappers like Raekwon, Pharaoh Monch, RZA, Mos Def, and the ghost of ODB, than the Black Keys, whose rock albums always retained a swagger other bands lack. On this, they don’t merely back MCs but add choruses and leads. It works about half the time. But EPs don’t sell.

Gorillaz -Plastic Beach

Maybe. Blur fans will need to change their underwear, I suppose. Never understood the Blur craze, tho. Saw one of their first ever shows, found it very pedestrian.

Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

I found the duo version of FB unbearable. This full-band approach better suits FR’s arena-pop anthems; it especially works if they continue to insist on singing with Scottish accents intact. Although they could have added a violin.

Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox – Various

An amazing lineup covering Knox’s songs with and without Tall Dwarves, all to benefit his bills following a stroke. If that isn’t reason to buy it, this may also contain one of Jay Reatard’s last recordings.

2 thoughts on “New Release Roundup: Alex Chilton Took a Piece of Me Upstairs

  1. I'm not sure which is worse, losing Jay Reatard to coke at 29 or Alex Chilton to natural causes at 59.

    I knew Fang Island reminded me of something I was glad to have forgotten. Not sure why Fang Island, Surfer Blood, or Titus Andronicus got so much positive press.

    For some reason the Hot Chip ballads didn't piss me off, and the auto tune just cracked me up. No matter what they do I still can't take them seriously which is just the way I like it.


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