Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Parts and Labor - Mapmaker (2007)

Well, I guess I kinda broke the Tiger Credo on this one. Luckily for anyone reading this, my moral decay (i.e. posting brand-spankin'-new album leaks) is your considerable gain. This really is an exciting new album from this Brooklyn trio. As on their last album, Stay Afraid, the P&L boys continue to carve out a unique Noise Rock niche for themselves. When looking for a comparison through the ol' lens of history, I can't help but think that these guys are like the Husker Du of their generation. They combine a well-tuned sense of melodicism with the highly energetic, reckless spirit of punk and hardcore. While Stay Afraid contained some fine songs and excellent playing, the album felt a bit rushed (which in fact, it was, as the band admitted in a recent interview). This time out, the guys were able to spend a little more time refining and tinkering, and it really pays off. The production is fuller and the band stretches their sound a little more. Opener, "Fractured Skies", even has a nice horn arrangement. I predict big (or at least bigger) things for this band in the coming year. Musically, I think a lot of people are adopting the idea that noise=good, and that means the time is about right for these boys to shine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Richard & Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974)

I knew I would like this album as soon as I saw the cover. Perhaps it was the voyeuristic thrill of the album title being written by hand on the glass wall of a steamy shower, with the naked bodies inside just barely showing through. So fitting for an album by a husband and wife duo singing songs about personal pain. It's not only brilliant cover art, though, as the album inside is equally stunning. Richard Thompson was fresh from his first solo album after leaving the Fairport Convention, and in Linda Peters he had finally found his perfect vocal counterpart. There isn't any real contemporary comparison to Linda, though I am inclined to suggest Neko Case, who posesses a similar timbre and spirit of voice to Linda, not to mention her own ease with darkness and melancholy. The title track is the obvious highlight here, although everything else is so damn good it hardly matters. This is folk-rock in a carousing English sense, with traditional string arrangements and balladry boozing it up alongside barroom rock. It's the kind of beautiful melancholy that makes you want to raise your glass and sing along until you get too drunk to remember the words, and then perhaps your own name.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

B. Fleischmann - The Humbucking Coil (2006)

This is a nice one. Beautiful, easy lisening, electronic music. I would apply the term "chill", if that didn't conjure up images of over-packaged, completely generic compilation albums featuring glossy cover shots of sunsets and leather chairs. There is also something very organic about this music. The opening track, and album highlight, is enough to convince you that this stuff is worthwhile. I would compare the slow build of "Broken Monitors" to a band like Broken Social Scene. In fact, some of the tracks on here could have almost fit on their last self-titled album (BSS). There is a warmth to these recordings that is truly commendable. Forget "bleeps" and "glitches", and other sounds of digital technology gone awry. Sometimes it's nice to just have songs. Chilled-out electronic tracks for people that like rock music. Throw this on next time your waiting for your flight at the airport. You won't be disappointed.