Much More Music: Part I

Because I loved writing those CD reviews so much and because I received such a positive response from them, I have decided to make it a regular practice here on "Adventures in a Strange and Distant Land." So, to get us started on the right foot, I will begin with mini-reviews of the most notable albums I have obtained this year. And since I so greatly enjoyed Theresa's entirely subjective, in-your-face comments, I have of course asked her to become a regular contributor. We've got kind of a good cop - bad cop review style going. The banner I made says it all.

Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
R: This album is pretty straightforward indie-rock fare, but with enough experimentation to differentiate it from the pack. It's upbeat rock songs are well written and catchy enough to encourage an enthusiastic sing-along, which makes them the perfect addition to a summer road trip. 4/5

Handsome Furs: Plague Park
R:The best word I can think of to describe this lo-fi offering from Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner is 'haunting'. The songs are very minimal, often employing a simple guitar melody over a sparse drum machine; they are great individually, but listening to the entire album can get a little tedious. 3/5
T: My favorite Handsome Furs song is"What we had": although it doesn't actually sound Native American, it kind of reminds me of the time we had some aboriginal leaders come to my elementary school and teach us how to bang drums and set up a tepee in our gym. 5.63/7

Metric: Grow Up and Blow Away
R: Not being a huge Metric fan, I didn't have too high of expectations of this, their lost first album that is only now being released. However, I was pleasantly surprised: instead of Metrics usual guitar driven rock, this album is a nice trip-hop collection, where Emily Haine's vocals are given the provenance they deserve. 4/5
T: I like the new(old) Metric album. Emily Haines does a nice job and this album sees to show more of her personality: is less Metricy and more Soft Skeletony [her subdued solo album]. 4.69/7

Stereogum: OKX: A tribute to OK Computer
(available for free here)
R: These tribute songs are decent, especially the ones that include jazzy female leads; but really, this album just makes me want to listen to the original, and when I do, I realize that these tracks fail to truly capture that phenomenal album's essence. 2/5

Beruit: Gulag Orkestar
R: I'm surprised that I like this record. Although it was made by a 20-something from New Mexico, it sounds so authentically like Eastern Europe that when I listen to it, I have an inexplicable urge to cook up some pierogis. 3.5/5
T: What can I say, I love Beirut: it has also inspired me moved to eastern Europe. I love the accordions - they give the music a real old and unique feel. 5.97/7

Califone: Roots and Crowns
R: I fell in love with this album when I first heard the single, "The Orchids." On this album, Califone infuse folk music with a kind of electric eccentricity that invigorates it and creates a unique sound. 4/5

Tokyo Police Club: A Lesson In Crime
R: This young band has often been compared to the Strokes, but they have a greater depth then this comparison suggests. Overall, they are upbeat and fun. 4/5
T: "I have a microchip implanted in my heart, so if I try to escape, the robots will blow me apart. And my limbs will go flying and land before the ones that I love, who would wail and would weep but the robots would keep them at bay while I shut my eyes For the very last time. Citizens of tomorrow be forwarned". Enough said. 5.71/7

White Rabbits: Fort Nightly
R: I loved their first track "Kid on my Shoulder," but after listening to the entire album, this band seems kind of one-dimentional: all of their songs blend into each other. I do really like their use of piano, though. 3.5/5
T: Oh White Rabbits, how I love thee so (or at least moderately like you.) I like this band because one of their songs sounds like a train, and it makes me think of old western movies and robbing steam engines on horseback, all which makes for a good time. 4.98/7

The National: Boxer
R: This is an amazing album. At first, it seems like pretty standard soft-rock, but upon further listen, you can note the welcome presence of a number of other instruments, orchestral and otherwise. The lyrics are smart and the songs just really grew on me. 4.5/5
T: The lead singer is this group sounds too much like Great Big Sea for my liking: not that he sings the same style, but his voice is deep like his. I really don't like Great Big Sea, and don't like to be reminded that they exist. The National are OK, I just don't want to listen to them. 3/7

Deerhunter: Cryptograms
R: This album contains some great ambiance music, but I don't really like it for much more than that. 3.5/5