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I buy a lot of CDs. And I live under the misconception that people care about my opinions. And I like to catalog things. Therefore I've decided to keep track of all the CDs I buy and what I think of them.

Monday, October 25, 2004 :::

The Handler by Har Mar Superstar

Why I bought it: because I like the guy's commitment

What I think about it: Har Mar is a freak. No, make that a superfreeeeeak. But in a good way. He's like the type of freak that everyone wants to be friends with - just not too good of friends. You wouldn't think that a balding pudgy white guy from St. Paul would be able to kick out an endless stream of catchy R & B jams that could so easily emulate the best of Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Jamiroquai, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, The Jackson Five, and Missy Elliott, but he pulls it off quite brilliantly. Most people will probably dismiss him as a novelty act, and indeed, some of these songs do sound a bit derivative of your favorite dated radio hits of the 90's, and granted, he does perform on stage wearing tightly-stretched spandex and a cape. Plus, aren't all white rappers pretty much considered to be novelty acts? But if you close you eyes and imagine anyone else performing these songs, they suddenly stop seeming novel and start sounding impressively solid, and almost maddenlingly infectious. It's a nearly perfect party CD, on par with The Scissor Sisters in terms of foot stomping pop anthems, and even though the guy's image and stage presence are unconventional (to say the least), maybe he's worth taking a little more seriously. Oh, and HOME TOWN PRIDE! Woot!

Song(s) worth a listen: Transit ; Save The Strip ; DUI ; As (Seasons) ; Bird in the Hand ; Back in the Day

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 2:43 PM :: #

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 :::

Strange Bird by Augie March

Why I bought it: Because I listened to it at Barnes & Noble

What I think about it: It's lush and dense and difficult to deconstruct and it will take me a long time to work my way through it, but I'm excited to do it because the melodies it makes and the mood it creates make me want to hug myself, which is probably the lamest, cheesiest thing I've ever written, but I can't help it. It's warm and enveloping and I like it. Sometimes the singing on the album gets drowned out by the loud production and the opulent orchestration, but it works anyway. It's great folksy pop rock which, let's faced it, is my preferred musical milieu.

Song(s) worth a listen: This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers ; Little Wonder ; Addle Brains ; The Night is a Blackbird ; The Keepa ; Sunstroke House

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 10:55 PM :: #

Monday, October 18, 2004 :::

From a Basement on the Hill by Elliott Smith

Why I bought it: I'm a really really really big fan.

What I think about it: I'm not just saying this because the guy is dead. And I'm not trying to canonize the man, like they did with Kurt Cobain or Jeff Buckley (who only released one CD and is somehow considered a legend). But this CD, by far, is the best I've bought so far this year, and I venture to say that it is also the best CD he's ever released. It's a downer, for sure; melancholy, depressing, but also characteristicly poppy and brisk. It's not overproduced like his last album or underproduced like his early work, it's pure and simple great songwriting with pitch-perfect production. Every single song is miles beyond anything you'd hear on the radio these days, but I suppose people don't want to feel sad when listening to music anymore, so I can understand why he's never been considered radio-friendly. I heard he was working on over 30 songs when he died, so hopefully we'll get to hear the rest someday, but this CD will MORE than suffice as his last hurrah... in fact, it will go down as one of my favorite CDs of all time.

Song(s) worth a listen: Coast to Coast ; King's Crossing ; Fond Farewell ; Distorted Reality ; Twilight ; Pretty Ugly Before ; Little One ; Memory Lane

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 10:51 PM :: #

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 :::

Last Exit by Junior Boys

Why I bought it: It got some good reviews.

What I think about it: This CD is the perfect soundtrack for chilling out with your iPod. But I hate chill-out CDs and I don't have an iPod, so the only thing left I can judge is the quality of the songs themselves. I am a big fan of The Postal Service, so I am always looking for something similar. And true enough, this CD has got a lot of the blippy twitchy electronic pop vibes that The Postal Service has in spades. The big difference is that Junior Boys hold back, and yet they don't know when to quit. Each song on this CD is constructed out of minimal fits and starts, barely ever building to any type of crescendo, so while listening I kept expecting each song to eventually open the floodgates and let loose a torrent of beats and some soaring compositions. But they don't. They just sit there, bleeping and twitching, for minutes on end. Then they stop. All done. Some of the songs aren't bad at all, but their inability to catch your attention or deliver any type of impact relegates this CD to background music, and I just don't have any interest in not paying attention to my music. This is actually 2.5 star CD. I should really just alter my point system to allow half stars, but I'm too lazy to make the new graphics.

Song(s) worth a listen: More Than Real ; Last Exit ; High Come Down

Learn more.

::: posted by dan at 1:39 PM :: #

Friday, October 08, 2004 :::

Treble & Tremble by Earlimart

Why I bought it: because I heard it at a listening station at The Electric Fetus

What I think about it: A rave on the CD jacket told me to "expect goosebumps." I never got any shivers down my spine, but I wasn't disappointed either. In fact, it's thoroughly above average from beginning to end, although some songs are definitely better than others. The only real problem is that this band sounds so eerily similar to Elliott Smith that it's hard not to compare the two, and sadly, this band is no comparison. But few are, so that can only be an unfair judgement. Elliott Smith's brilliant new CD will be released in a couple weeks, and it will forever bury this release into an early grave, but until then I will enjoy the hell out of it.

Song(s) worth a listen: First Instant Last Report ; All They Ever Do is Talk ; Heaven Adores You

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:46 PM :: #

Phantom Phorce by The Super Furry Animals

Why I bought it: I will buy anything that SFA releases.

What I think about it: Last year's Phantom Power was one of my favorite albums of the year. It was a perfect pop music masterpiece, with some 60's influenced harmonies and some truly mindbendingly catchy choruses. Then they decided to remix it. I hate remixes. Most of these aren't bad, just pointless. I hate listening to a single lyric dubbed ad nauseum over a sampled loop while only being able to recognize the smallest shred of the original melody in the background. And the two new songs on the included bonus EP are subpar for this band, and definitely not worth the inflated import price. Oh well, I should have known better. Remix CDs almost always suck.

Song(s) worth a listen: Go back and listen to Cityscape Skybaby or Piccolo Snare on the original Phantom Power. You won't be sorry.

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:36 PM :: #

The Dirty South by Drive By Truckers

Why I bought it: It was a promo.

What I think about it: If you're a hipster looking for some loud, dirty southern rock and roll, then look no further. I didn't think I was that type of person, but I guess I am, because this is an extremely listenable rock album that's trashy in all the right ways. The songs are literate and very likely to induce some rowdy foot stomping, plus every so often you expect the Charlie Daniels Band to chime in with a fiddle. Sadly, that never happens, but it wouldn't have been at all out of place if it had. It's like Lynyrd Skynyrd reinvented by a garage band and suffused with a sense of irony. I dig it, but a cowboy like me definitely has to be in a specific type of mood to really fully appreciate it.

Song(s) worth a listen: The Sands Of Iwo Jima ; Where The Devil Don't Stay ; Tornadoes

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:20 PM :: #


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