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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.

Thursday, March 31, 2005 :::

The Alternative to Love by Brendan Benson

Why I bought it: Stereogum talked it up, and I like pop music.

What I think about it: Not really impressive right off the bat, but surprisingly catchy after just a few listens. It's really poppy in a 60's Beach Boys kind of way, but it also sounds a lot like Jon Brion in parts, which can never be considered a bad thing. Every single song is radio-worthy and likeable, except for maybe Pledge, which oddly enough sounds way too much like that "Tonight you're mine, completely..." song from Dirty Dancing. I'd file this CD into a light and poppy Sondre-Lerche-esque category, so it's in good company. It's definitely going to be a great summer CD for me.

Song(s) worth a listen: Cold Hands (Warm Heart) ; Feel Like Myself ; Them and Me ; Biggest Fan ; Flesh and Bone ; Gold Into Straw ; What I'm Looking For

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 11:08 PM :: #

Guero by Beck

Why I bought it: Beck is consistent.

What I think about it: Beck is cool and all. I just can never really guster up a lot of enthusiasm for his releases. I actually prefer Mutations and Midnite Vultures to his more popular CDs, but Guero has some really good songs on it and some surprisingly good remixes. And I usually hate remixes. I bought the fancy deluxe edition CD that comes in a nice white book with a DVD that I'll probably never watch and the whole packaging thing will end up bothering me because it is not the right size or shape to fit on my CD rack properly. Eventually, my borderline obsessive compulsive disorder will trigger me to store the mismatched CD into a drawer somewhere where I'll forget about it and I'll never listen to it again. But while it's out, I'll enjoy it.

Song(s) worth a listen: Guero ; E-Pro ; Black Tambourine ; Earthquake Weather ; Scarecrow ; Summer Girl

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 10:59 PM :: #

Friday, March 25, 2005 :::

Picaresque by The Decemberists

Why I bought it: Um, cuz it's awesome.

What I think about it: If I were you, I would take any five-star review of The Decemberists from me with a large grain of salt, because I have an irrational over-the-top borderline-obsessive love for this band. Not that they aren't deserving of all the praise I heap, but because I honestly love them so much that I can't see straight anymore. The songs themselves are always insanely catchy and impressive even on the most basic levels, but after a few listens, the amazing articulation and literacy of their lyrics starts to emerge and I'm blown away every time. This go around, The Decemberists create incredibly intricate and involving stories about suicidal star-crossed lovers, vengeful murderous mariners, international espionage, and male prostitutes, and then somehow weave it all into a catchy pop masterpiece that I can't stop listening to. Many people can't get past Colin Meloy's nasally voice or the occasional sea-chantey vibe of the whole production, but I promise that if you're able to look beyond those things, you'll realize just how deep the genius of The Decemberists goes, and you'll fall in love just like I did. They can do no wrong in my biased eyes. Just the fact that they named this CD Picaresque makes me unbelievably giddy with adoration.

Song(s) worth a listen: We Both Go Down Together ; Bagman's Gambit ; Sixteen Military Wives ; The Engine Driver ; Mariner's Revenge Song ; Of Angels and Angles

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:51 PM :: #

The Mysterious Production of Eggs by Andrew Bird

Why I bought it: Someone made me a copy of it and I had to run out and purchase a legitimate copy asap.

What I think about it: I'm not even sure how to explain Andrew Bird's sound... maybe it's kinda like Sea Change era Beck mixed with a little Pete Yorn and maybe even some 60's Donovan. Then throw in some eccentric instrumentation and a heavy dose of whistling. Hmmm, that description needs a lot of tweaking, but honestly he's just too original to compare accurately. Basically, Andrew Bird writes soothing pop songs and then delivers them with interesting arrangements and lots of pretty humming violins. It bogs down a little on the second half and doesn't end as strong as it starts, but it's still an all around great CD. Maybe he's more like Sufjan Stevens without the banjo. Or perhaps it sounds more like a stoned Damien Rice. No, that ain't even right. I dunno. I give up. I know that Rolling Stone Magazine describes it as Post-Modern Pop, whatever that means, but regardless it will probably end up as one of my favorites of the year.

Song(s) worth a listen: Sovay ; A Nervous Tick Motion of the Head to the Left ; Fake Palindromes ; Measuring Cups ; Opposite Day

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:34 PM :: #

The Greatest White Liar by Nic Armstrong

Why I bought it: I heard an advance copy and got hooked.

What I think about it: Listening to this CD makes me laugh at comparatively lame bands like Oasis, who loudly proclaim themselves to be the best rock and roll band alive. To be blunt, when it comes to rock and roll, Nic Armstrong makes Oasis sound like N*Sync. He's got a distinctively retro style, in a Rolling Stones kind of way, but the hooks are still original and super catchy; I was singing along with this one by the second listen. It's loud and occasionally raucous, which is exactly how this type of music is supposed to sound. It's the most authentic sounding rock and roll recording since The White Stripes, which itself was the first authentic sounding rock and roll recording since the 60's. The Greatest White Liar is pretty much the opposite of the typical adult alternative sound I usually gravitate toward, but I needed to expland my horizons anyway.

Song(s) worth a listen: I Can't Stand It ; Broken Mouth Blues ; Back In That Room ; Scratch the Surface ; Down Home Girl

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 4:09 PM :: #

Sunday, March 13, 2005 :::

Some Cities by Doves

Why I bought it: Doves are good.

What I think about it: Good old Doves. Always puttin' out good CDs but never great ones. This is Doves third CD of solid moody brit-rock, and it's satisfactory as always. Their last CD, The Last Broadcast, came a wee bit closer to greatness, but Some Cities is good enough. If it sounds like I'm a little on the fence with this one, maybe I am. I'm just waiting for them to break out.

Song(s) worth a listen: Black and White Town ; Almost Forgot Meself ; Shadows of Salford ; Sky Starts Falling ;

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 5:31 PM :: #

No Cities Left by The Dears

Why I bought it: Because I heard it on

What I think about it: I listened to this CD online after reading bunches about it from different music blogs and I got really excited. Then I got mono and couldn't get to the record store. Three weeks later, when I finally got my hands on a copy, I had built it up in my head to be the best CD ever. Then I listened to it. It's not bad, exactly, but it's not going to light any fires, either. The guy's voice sounds exactly like a mix between Morissey and Damon Albarn from Blur, only the music isn't nearly as exciting. It's depressing pop rock with some interesting arrangements and some ocassionally inspired production, but it just can't elevate itself above being mediocre on all other levels. And halfway through there is one of those self-indulgently ear-piercing loud-guitar-feedback screech-a-thons that goes on for five minutes. Bands do this all the time. I don't get it. It never sounds good. It's always intentionally bad. So what's gives? I'm asking you, Wilco.

Song(s) worth a listen: Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe ; Expect the Worst ; Never Destroy Us

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 1:46 PM :: #

Woman King by Iron and Wine

Why I bought it: I like Iron + Wine

What I think about it: It's a shame that the guy's best CD is a short 6-song EP, but every single song on this CD is perfect. It's the same old whispy folky guitar pickin' that we're used to, only with tighter production and more varied instrumentation. The CD is short, so my review can be as well.

Song(s) worth a listen: Woman King ; Freedom Hangs Like Heaven

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 1:41 PM :: #


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