Note: It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Carving out the time these days is more of a challenge than it’s ever been. But with a sick daughter sleeping downstairs, I figured it might be time for a few posts detailing the highlights of what I’ve been listening to in the past few months.
Against Me!’s New Wave remains to this day a rare example of an album over five years old still in my regular rotation. And with each subsequent release from the band, as strong as those efforts may have been, and probably were, none have stuck like New Wave. Until Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Beyond the boundary shattering concept and poignant storytelling of the record as a whole, which would be well enough to make this an album for the ages, the quality that keeps me hitting repeat is exactly the same draw New Wave has held for me in the last six years. Both albums tread a thin line along which a subtle thesis about politics, love and how to be a human becomes a tightly wound helix of everything a post-punk album should sound like; wherein the vigor, idealism and anarchy of youth isn’t lost, but refined after too many realizations that the revolution was a lie. But instead of admitting defeat, on both New Wave and, particularly, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Grace constructs a post modern interpretation of what the revolution should look, sound and feel like. Here’s to progress.
This morning, en route to procure brewing supplies for an imperial pumpkin brew, my freshly, and hopefully finally, first fever free daughter and I had the opportunity to listen to the first few tracks off Slow Club’s Paradise. The overwhelming sound is one of music being produced in the middle of an empty warehouse. And as anthemic as each song tends to end up, the hollow echo undertones carve out a decidedly minimalist sound, leaving the noise uncluttered by anything resembling excessive. Not to say there aren’t a handful of well placed and deceptively intricate layers to the music, on both a sonic and lyrical level. And as is the case with so much of the excellent noise I’ve come across lately, my only gripe is my lack of auditory acumen in 2011 when Paradise dropped.
For every polished riff and flawless bass beat of The Orwells ‘Who Needs You,’ a handfull of long burried dreams differed–that only really good music can conjure up so easily–get brought back to the surface, if only for a fleeting nanosecond. When I listen to ‘Who Needs You,’ I hear a song equally entrenched in defiance of the powers that have been and will, most likely, always be and the genuine hope that by simply shouting the truth, we might win. I couldn’t imagine we’d need another anti war song so soon. But then again, being only one major cycle of political leadership ahead of the Orwells in age, I’m just now starting to lose faith in the hope of ever making any real and permanent progress toward peace.
I’ve gone and listened to the 2012 album, Remember When, and while I can’t get behind every track as easily as ‘Who Needs You,’ the album as a whole will remain easily in my rotation for the forseeable future.
Leages You Belong Here starts flashy and direct, sweet wa wa guitars and very specific metaphors of what romantic love is all about lead off a wholly entertaining album made with the intention, or at least having the effect of, making a Wednesday afternoon watching my daughter play in the living room feel like being in the throes of an all night party montage commercial for Bacardi featuring people old enough to know better or a Ford Taurus comprised of a cast far too young to have given up on life. And in reality, as long as the soundtrack is going to be the same, I’d take the living room with Weezy Baby over the inevitable hangover and probable ‘clap from drinking too much cheap booze or negative investment, likely breakdown and crushing realization of finding myself inside a terrible decision. But I digress. Leagues stays funky to the point of me being willing to use the word funky twice in one sentence on a blog I intentionally make available to people I know personally and whose opinion of me as a writer and human I value. Every song is driven by a steady beat, anthemic vocals often drifting into synthy falsetto and a sense of genuine purpose and composition. Lyrically, no university will be adopting Leagues 501 anytime soon. But that’s perfectly fine with me. Leagues have the ability to construct an ideal illusion of being present for the perfect moment in time back to back ten times over in somewhere close to forty minutes, which is about the most I could ask for from any album.
It’s nice to see bands realize the value of their music. And that isn’t meant to belittle The Lighthouse and the Whaler’s specific variety of jangly folk rock that comprises their overwhelmingly consistent album This is an Adventure. Instead, they realize that $7 is a perfect price for an album that doesn’t miss getting the most out of every song, is available for preview on Bandcamp, and embeddable for lowly sporadic bloggers like me. They first showed up this morning in my living room while I was dancing in a really white guy sort of way with my daughter to the apty titled ‘Sunshine Indie Pop’ playlist (or something like that) on Songza, a free internet radio app that has incredibly not left Pandora smoldering in the dust. The lead song, ‘Pioneers’ doesn’t sound wholly original in a genre defying way by any means, and in making this my first recommended post in quite some time, I realize how through selective framing of my endorsements, my musical taste might look like it’s losing a little adventure, or at least trending toward redundant. Being aware of this fact, I’m gonna remain steadfast and put my seal of approval on the whole of Adventure as the perfect album for a Saturday morning when a convergence zone shuts down any potential of local wind on the water, but broken clouds in the distance and beer banana pancakes with my wife and daughter are a far more than equitable substitute for freezing my ass of on Lake Washington. Anyway, it’s supposed to nuke tomorrow.