Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Taking a Crack at Reviewing Some of '08's Worthy

Real Emotional Trash – Stephen Malkmus and Jicks

Among those that preach the quirky and the unique one-man still remains supreme, after all he is the flag bearer that started it all. Stephen Malkmus steps to a new sound without leaving his artsy, outcast date by the punchbowl with a stain on her ironic retro dress. Much of what makes Malkmus is of course his days with Pavement. Under the same notion much of what has restrained Malkmus is his time with Pavement. A stigma he seemed destined to never escape. His work since Pavement has touched on high points, hinted at glory and even whispered ‘this is something different, just listen harder.’ Real Emo doesn’t tickle the ear, it shoves it’s droning, heavy laden guitar riffs deep inside and racks your ear drums, jamming away deep into the night keeping you wide awake and fuzzy with confusion of the best kind. The songs twist, yank and hang vicious u-turns as any tracks of Malkmus fame will do, but here there is no urgency to top what has been done, to force the extra tempo change or squeeze one additional anomalous rhyming couplet. Malkmus and his Jicks have made a complete album that puts to rest the notion that Malkmus’s best days are behind him. A true odd and wandering delight.

Attack and Release The Black Keys

I began the drool factor a few months back when my eyes scanned the line ‘DJ Danger Mouse to produce next album for the Black Keys.’ Oh Lord, have mercy on me! Could this live up to such an impossible hype? Could the current masters of blues-rock take such a redefining detour and arrive unscathed and ahead of schedule? The personnel involved is furious and volatile in exploration and potential, could the onslaught back produce the result? Will Attack match Release? Upon first listen the album is pure Black Keys, just more refined production. Sure there are times when the time in studio with a rising master rings more true than others but the presence seems more back trodden and mysteriously than originally assumed. Once the album sinks in, when you recognize that the Keys are still the mighty Keys, then you notice what is all around and has been screaming at you from the basement for hours on end. ‘This album is a brilliant success because it is so perfectly produced, arranged and the concept not overbearing of the potential. This is the true Odd Couple of the year and by the time they are clearing the dinner plates on the first date they’ve snuck off to the parking lot to make out…skipping on the tab. Yeah, they’re crazy like that.

For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver

Pure, refined, heartfelt and true. A genius in the making, Bon Iver sculpts a epic beauty of an album in effortless fashion as the sun sets and the winter chill gives way to the bright suns on Spring. To say this album grows on you is to make as blunt a statement as with every passing day, we grow one older. The profit of the hills and the muse of the forest, Bon Iver’s voice rattles the leaves and cascades among the sputtering creeks of a place you know and love but rarely take the time to visit. A place that seems lost in the confusion of the world today. Track after track, heart spills from soul across lips, feeding into reverb out your speakers into the ambiance of the world in which you live. It’s the most comforting album I’ve heard in years. I trusty dog that walks in stride along trail throughout the day and nestles in close as night draws and the fire cracks. Simple, succinct and patron of ‘less is more.’ For Emma is truly for the kindred spirit of hope in us all.


Sun Giant EP – Fleet Foxes
Fantastic folk meets twang meets howling reverb of smoky bars and long nights with heavy thoughts.

We Brave Bee Stings and All – Thao (with the Get Up Get Downs)
Uplifting, jangle mixes of folk rock with a hint of world pop. Strong songs and lively instrumentation.

Walk It Off – Tapes ‘n Tapes
Bit of the ‘ol sophmore slump. Less fire, less direction, less zeal. Still punk meets pop and rides heavy on a few key tracks.

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