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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 23, 2006 :::

Knives Don't Have Your Back by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton

Why I bought it: I dig her voice and piano work in Metric

What I think about it: Emily Haines is in a rock band called Metric, which I like enough but have never loved. I've always thought her voice was the highlight of the band, and the tracks based around her fascinating keyboard work were always the standouts on their albums, so I've always been secretly yearning for her to break out on her own. Her first solo CD is exactly what I was expecting: earnest, sparse but swirly keyboard-based tunes and flow effortlessly from her fingertips. Individually, each song is tight and crafty. A whole CDs worth of them is a bit much to chew on, though, and the downbeat mood is pretty heavy even if the lyrics are light. After a while the songs start to blend into eachother, but when all is said and done the experience is more than satisfying.

Song(s) worth a listen: Our Hell ; Reading in Bed ; The Lottery

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 12:26 PM :: #

Friendly Fire by Sean Lennon

Why I bought it: He is a surprisingly good songwriter.

What I think about it: He may sound like he's channeling the late spirits of his father John, Elliott Smith, and Kermit the Frog, but Sean Lennon has created a great set of pathos-laden pop songs, with pretty harmonies, catchy hooks, and even an inspired T-Rex cover. He may never step out of his father's immense shadow, which is too bad, because he's definitely got the chops to make it on his own. The mood is somber and the lyrics seem to indicate that he's been recently dumped hard and ain't taking it too well, but if you can handle the melancholy then I think you'll enjoy nearly every track on this CD, even if you can't stop comparing him to his daddy.

Song(s) worth a listen: Dead Meat ; Friendly Fire ; Would I Be The One ; Spectacle

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 12:20 PM :: #

The Information by Beck

Why I bought it: Beck is consistently good.

What I think about it: I like Beck. One of his previous collaborations with producer Nigel Godrich, Mutations, is my favorite from his oeuvre, only narrowly beating out Midnight Vultures, so I had high hopes for The Information. This CD is a pastiche of good ideas and bad beatnik poetry set to some sparse experimental beats that sound pretty good but never really launch you into another stratosphere like his previous works might have. It definitely rewards repeated listening, but it's still not going to place anywhere near the top of my list of favorite Beck albums. His last CD, Guero, was a collection of radio-friendly singles, and this CD sounds more like an experiment he made in reaction to that. It's kind of dark and a little bit menacing and not nearly as accessible, but it's still inventive and representative of an amazing creative talent.

Song(s) worth a listen: Elevator Music ; A Strange Apparition ; Nausea ; Cellphone's Dead

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 12:08 PM :: #

Born in the UK by Badly Drawn Boy

Why I bought it: I dunno, I'm starting to waver on my initial devotion to Badly Drawn Boy.

What I think about it: I don't know what's happening with Badly Drawn Boy. His first CD was brilliant. His next two were pretty darned good. His last CD was half-good at best. This new one is utter crap. It's chock full of meandering pop folk ballads that are awash in boring piano and uninspired production. I don't want to be too mean, because The Hour of The Bewilderbeast still holds a spot in my top ten best albums of the new millennium, but I think BDB really needs to take a break, reboot, and start over, before this decade long burn-out crash into irrelevant boredom becomes irreparable. This CD would make a meth addict fall asleep at the pipe.

Song(s) worth a listen: Not a single one.

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 11:59 AM :: #

So This Is Goodbye by Junior Boys

Why I bought it: Pitchfork gave it a high rating and for some reason I trusted them.

What I think about it: and I rarely get along. They seem a little hellbent on discovering the next best thing. My theory is that they give inordinately high ratings to relatively unknown acts just to say they were there first if the band ever actually takes off. I bought the last Junior Boys CD when it first came out, so I can say I was there first this time, Pitchfork (suck on that!), but I didn't like that CD and I don't like this one either. The problem is that all the songs are non-dinstinct un-energized pseudo-techno synthesizer pap. They blend together into nothingness, until it's just a big long series of indistinguishable blips and bleeps with some breathy vocals. The first single is the highlight of the album, and it's not bad in and of itself, but put it smack dab in the middle of ten other songs that sound exactly the same and you've got a wash out. This CD would probably be perfect as the background music in some hipster coffee shop, but if you're looking for anything substantial out of your music, I don't think you're going to find it here.

Song(s) worth a listen: In The Morning

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 11:50 AM :: #

The Crane Wife by The Decemberists

Why I bought it: I'll forever buy every Decemberists CD

What I think about it: The Decemberists' big label debut is just as brilliant and accomplished as their independent releases, and they were brave enough to keep their typical sea chanteys and historical epics instead of attempting something more mainstream or radio friendly, even though you can now purchase their CDs at the nearest Best Buy. There are many hummable tunes and singable choruses and erudite lyrics and it all comes together seamlessly, without a dip in quality or an unwelcome indulgence. The only reason this CD does not get five stars is because it does not contain a clear repeat-ad-nauseum classic song, like The Engine Driver off of Picaresque, or the entirety of Her Majesty. I don't know how long I can go on touting the brilliance of The Decemberists. I guess until everyone likes them and they get over-exposed on the radio. Then I'll have to not like them anymore. Until then: buy this record and see this show. You won't regret it.

Song(s) worth a listen: O Valencia! ; When the War Came ; The Crane Wife 1 & 2

Listen at amazon.

::: posted by dan at 10:31 AM :: #


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