12 February 2010

Loudon Wainwright III - Album I

This album, Loudon's 1970 debut release, is most similar to Album II due to the sparse instrumentation and melancholy tone. He's young, self-absorbed, and full of emotion and a histrionic whine. That aside, this album, and his early material in general, runs circles around just about any contemporary singer-songwriter.

While his humor isn't as prominent on this album as it is later on, it still exists on songs like "Uptown", a song about living in squalor in lower Manhattan. For the most part, though, the songs are brutally honest and poignant, a characteristic that Loudo sharpened in subsequent releases. "School Days" and "Glad to See You've Got Religion" are stand-outs in that department.

After listening to handfuls of his other albums, this is a bit of an anachronism. It's got all the qualities that Loudon's come to be known for, though the songwriting just isn't quite as sharp yet. But that youthful forcefulness, the freshness in his voice, the obvious desire to be recognized- these are the things that make this album worth it.

Loudon Wainwright III - Album I

05 February 2010

Spoon - Transference

I'll start out by saying that there are a couple of really good songs on here. "Got Nuffin", "Mystery Zone", and "Nobody Gets Me But You" especially stand out. "Got Nuffin", a song released last year on an EP is their staple barn-burner. "Mystery Zone" plays with a shimmery, echoed guitar which builds into the chorus with piano and (presumably Pro-Tooled) strings to create this creepy, "Twilight Zone"-esque warp. And "Nobody Gets Me But You" has one of the fattest bass riffs on a Spoon record to date.

But overall it's territory that Spoon have covered on each of their previous albums. It's diminishing returns. "Out Go the Lights" is a poor version of "Metal Detektor", "Written in Reverse" is the coupling of "Beast and Dragon, Adored" and "I Turn My Camera On", but with the conviction of neither. "Goodnight Laura" is a complete misstep, aiming for the sincerity of "I Summon You" and the chilling sobriety of "Paper Tiger" and completely falling short. It's missing artistic depth completely, and drips with mushy drabness. It would better suit a Ben Folds record. Even "Got Nuffin" is basically "Jonathan Fisk" rehashed.

I suppose more than anything, I'm simply disappointed. I've liked Spoon for a really long time, and after each subsequent full-length I've never felt like they've let me down. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a great batch of pop songs, Gimme Fiction is a record with such immense depth, and Kill the Moonlight is a masterpiece all its own. Girls Can Tell was the album that initially got me hooked. Series of Sneaks, while not as interesting as the rest of the lot, still took on a straightforward sound of its own and ran with it. Transference, on the other hand, is a mixed bag that just simply doesn't live up to the reputation Spoon built for themselves. While I'll continue to give it its fair share of spins, I just don't see this thing becoming much of a grower.

04 February 2010


I heard a song on the radio today that I liked by a band called machinemachine. I went home to look them up, only to realize that it's a friend's friend's band, and that I saw them in September last year.

This particular song, called "Puberty Blue", sounds a bit like Sebadoh if Hey Mercedes-era Bob Nanna were singing.

01 February 2010

Talking Heads

Any band can only hope to have a live act half as good as this.