6.30.2009

Best of 2009 So Far: #11-15

I'd like to start this off by saying that this has been a fantastic year in music thus far. In six months, one may even go as far to say that the overall quality of 2009's releases has already surpassed 2008's. You can count me one of them. I'd also like to take this time to thank everyone who has been reading over the last 12 months, as well as those who have supported this blog in anyway. As we head into year two, you can expect much more from us, as we hopefully see more of you. It has been, and will continue to be, a pleasure.

Below are albums #11-15 (in opposite order) for the year thus far. For the albums that have been reviewed here already, we've also included a link to the original review. Some things have changed. Others have not. Either way, all original reviews were left as they were.

Just reviewed last week, Wilco's latest effort squeaks in to the top 15 of the year thus far. It shows a proud and happy Jeff Tweedy- one who, maybe, is finally comfortable with both the life that exists inside, and one outside of the music. Not their best, but in no way their worst, Wilco (The Album) is definitely one fans of the band can embrace.

I'm just going to face facts that I'll probably take some heat for this. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and a fan of Belle and Sebastian, so when I saw Stuart Murdoch put together a pseudo- 60s concept album, I needed a listen. Quaint, fun and playful, this album does all I could have asked of it.

Every year there are a couple of debuts that blow me away. Here We Go Magic would fit that bill. Luke Temple's new project isn't jaw-dropping, as much as it's simply thought-provoking. A fresh gust of air in an increasingly crowded indie and folk scene. Plus, I'm pretty sure one of the underlying themes is an alien abduction, which is fun.

12. Bromst, Dan Deacon
I'm still hooked on the first description I ever read of Dan Deacon- "electro-terrorist". Never has an artist been described so ridiculously, yet so aptly in the same breath. Bromst is a tribute to positive noise, and the outcomes you can create when literally mixing the hell out of an effects board. Not for the faint of ear, but if you enjoy an album with a lot going on, here it is.

As I mentioned when it came out, this album surprised the hell out of me. Positive steps, and real, natural progression and maturity in music. Plus the powerful vocal pipes of one Andy Hull, and you've got yourself quite an album. The band has taken their formula to the next level, hopefully with more to come.

Well that's the first five. Stop back in tomorrow for round two of three, when we reveal numbers 6 through 10.

John's Track of the Week: "Braid of Voices"

Song: Braid of Voices
Artist: DM Stith
Album: Heavy Ghost
Year: 2009

Admittedly, I should have posted something (anything) about this album sooner- it's not that I haven't been listening to it for months now. The fact is, I have been. Problem is that other things always seemed to unfortunately take precedent. Well, the wait is finally over. DM Stith's Heavy Ghost is full of engaging and dynamic tracks, all unique in their own way, but some just excel more than others. One of these is "Braid of Voices," which appears near the end. To me, it's fitting that it starts to bring about the close of the album. A mood all its own, it allows you to wind down and reflect. What more could you ask for when coming up on the finale?

What starts in slow and quiet, builds steadily, as a vibrant piano part dances off of the reverence in David Stith's voice. We arrive at the middle, seemingly waiting- a steady hum, ready to burst into a crescendo of some sort, it's just unknown as to when exactly it'll happen. Suddenly, the silence is broken- a tribal percussion beat, backup choir and Stith's rising voice begin to take over. At its peak, the combination sounds like the misguided offspring of old Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. And then it all drops out, settling into silence, then a timid piano part, and then it's gone. It's intriguing to say the least, and probably won't be the last you'll hear of DM Stith this week (take from that what you will). Enjoy it below.

Beck Presents DJ Mix Series "Planned Obsolescence"

Not fully content with just sitting around with his friends and covering albums for his "Record Club," Beck has decided to take to his computer and turntables for a DJ mix series. Entitled "Planned Obsolescence," the project's first venture is named "Autobahn Hologram". I wish I had time to do stuff like this all day. Really. But I suppose I'm also glad that Beck has these resources and blocks of time at his own disposal, since he's much more talented than me. "Autobahn Hologram" features songs Madlib, DJ Spooky and of course, Michael Jackson, along with many others. Expect a new mix every week until told otherwise. Check it out here.

New Dirty Projectors Video, "Stillness Is the Move"

So glad Dirty Projectors made a video for my favorite track off of Bitte Orca, "Stillness Is the Move". Like I said when it came out, it sounds fantastically like Mariah Carey, electronica and NES, so for that, I give it much respect. As for the video, it has nothing to do with the themes/likenesses I just mentioned. It's pretty woodsy- you've got llamas, wolves and possible fairies/muses. Odd, to say the least, but still thoroughly enjoyable. Check it below.

6.29.2009

New Jay-Z Video, "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune)

It's almost a guarantee that "D.O.A.(Death of Auto-tune)" will finish as my favorite hip hop track of this summer. Jay-Z, as we mentioned when the song first premiered sans video, is back to making the type of rap that got him to where he is today. In this video, Hova calls out the rash of auto-tune selections in today's music, and if that wasn't enough, he also eats at an Italian restaurant, plays poker in a back room, and manages to look a bit like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Thoughts on Jay's new hairstyle? I think he looks a bit younger. In fact, I barely recognized him on the sidelines during the Eastern Conference Finals. Still a bit weird getting used to though. Check out the new video below, and look out for Blueprint 3 on September 11th, out via Roc Nation (like you actually needed that reminder).

New Sondre Lerche, "Heartbeat Radio"

Sondre Lerche seemingly catapulted from small-time success to big-time stardom after being featured as the soundtrack to Steve Carrell's film, Dan in Real Life. His orchestral pop conjured images of old-fashioned simplicity for folks who are a bit older, and a subdued version of Beirut and the like, for those of us who are a bit younger. Here in 2009, Lerche embarks upon his latest adventure, which will most likely be his best-selling album to date, The Heartbeat Radio. As always, a lot of fun instrumentation going on within this, the title track, "Heartbeat Radio," and it seems that the singing style has changed ever-so-slightly. Where I'd once compare him to more of a pop crooner who happened to have classical sensibilities, I'd now beg to differ a bit, and group him more towards the Andrew Birds of the world. Maybe I'm wrong, but for some reason, the first 30 seconds reminded me very much of Armchair Apocrypha. Check it out for yourself though over at Stereogum. The Heartbeat Radio is out September 9th via Rounder.

Birthday Announcement

Rather than bury this information at the end of another post, I figured I'd just give it its own space. For anyone who has been following the blog since its beginning, you may be aware that our birthday is coming up in a week. Really not planning on doing much to commemorate/celebrate the occasion, however, we will be rolling out our picks for the Top 15 albums of 2009 thus far, and maybe introducing a new feature article to fill the empty space on Tuesdays (we'll keep you updated). Our Top 15 list will be presented in three parts, starting this Wednesday, and going through Friday, so I'd recommend stopping in for the festivities, and ensuing discussions on what I "missed". Besides that, stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming throughout the week.

New Lupe Fiasco, "Shining Down" (Feat. Matthew Santos)

I'm posting this more because of my appreciation for some of Lupe Fiasco's past work than for this song. "Shining Down," which I'm sure many of you have already heard before this, features Matthew Santos (Lupe's co-conspirator on "Superstar") and features a lot of auto-tune. Add to that a lackluster beat, and it takes away anything the song could have amounted to, and buries it. What could have been a decent track turns into something that sounds more like a washed-up has-been trying to get back on top. Not sure why Lupe's decided to do this, but well, he has. Hopefully the rest of his upcoming album, Lasers, is better than this, and hopefully the rest of this summer's hip hop is better too because, as Pitchfork aptly pointed out, it's been dismal so far (save Jay-Z and Mos Def). Check out the track if you really want to over at the aforementioned P4k.

6.28.2009

Music Video Monday: "Thriller"

Song: Thriller
Artist: Michael Jackson
Album: Thriller
Year: 1984

This website did not comment on the unfortunate death of Michael Jackson last week, due to the fact that we figured it a much more meaningful tribute to incorporate the King of Pop into one of our weekly featured articles. Since my appreciation for the man only goes to a certain point (pre-creep), I figured I would briefly discuss something from that earlier, more noteworthy part of his career. Without a doubt, Jackson changed music videos forever, becoming more and more creative as his career went on, and to me, and a lot of others, "Thriller" is probably the epitome of that reputation. Everyone's seen it- the 13-minute short film that mesmerized viewers with it's fantastic choreography and great cinematography. It was the mark of a genius. It's a shame that the genius eventually faded to the pressures of public life, and an even greater shame that it all left us so soon. Rest in peace.

Pay What You Want for New E-603 Album

For those who are fans of mashups and the like, you've probably heard of E-603. His 2008 self-released effort, Something For Everyone, was an online success and gained rave reviews from many while taking a break from salivating over Girl Talk. Ever since the beginning of 2009, the artist has been alluding to a new mixtape, but with no release date attached. Checking back in this week, it's finally up, this time in the "name-your-own-price" format. So for anyone that's a fan, I'd recommend checking out his website to acquire Torn Up. It's a good time, and sure to become a staple of any party mix you may be compiling.

6.26.2009

Beck's Record Club Presents "I'm Waiting For My Man"

Beck and his kooky Record Club have (as promised) released their second track in their The Velvet Underground & Nico cover song adventure. This week, it's "I'm Waiting for My Man"- which the group put their own spin to by purposely making themselves out of tune, as per Beck's explanation himself. As Stereogum astutely pointed out already, it's a little slice of psychadelia that completely changes the track, but still makes it an enjoyable listen. If I were you, I'd look at the video below, since we can actually do that this time, as compared to the last video-less attempt. Enjoy.

Not-That-New Major Lazer Video, "Hold the Line"

This Major Lazer video has been out since the beginning of the month, but since I've been a bit busy, I missed out on it. Plus, I mean, it's hilariously awesome because it utilizes some mean 1980s artwork, with an overtly odd storyline involving vampires trying to take over the world, and using cell phone to defeat them, which is entertaining. If you haven't seen the video for "Hold the Line" (Feat. Mr. Lexx and Santigold) yet, I'd highly recommend checking it out below. Plus, their debut album, Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do, in all of its electro-reggae goodness, came out earlier this month too, so I'd also suggest investing some time in that as well.

New Clipse Video, "Kinda Like A Big Deal (Feat. Kanye West)"

The video for, "Kinda Like A Big Deal", the first single off of Clipse's upcoming album, 'Till the Casket Drops, has officially been released. I don't even know where to begin with my praises, except to say that it's absolutely beautiful. From seasoned director Bernard Gourley (M.I.A., 50 Cent, Flo Rida) we get a stunning treatment, heavy on fluorescents and cuts to falling bullet cases, that speaks almost louder than the song itself. It also features an appearance by none other than Kanye West, who delivers the songs most hard-hitting and dynamic verse, catapulting this jam above your everyday self-promotion track to a probable spot as one of this summer's most spun hip hop tunes. Check it out below.

Spoon's Got Nuffin EP Preview Now Available

Hadn't heard anything about this until this morning, but I'm sure others will be equally intrigued. Spoon's coming out with new EP, Got Nuffin, on Tuesday, June 30th, and they've been nice enough to allow us, the fans, to preview the short, three-song selection over at Amazon today, before potentially purchasing next week. The tracks are "Tweakers," "Stroke Their Brains" and the title track, "Got Nuffin"- all different, but all an interesting look into what we might be seeing from the band later on in the form of a full album. Check'em out here, and don't forget to stop back into Amazon, or your preferred music provider, to pick up the Got Nuffin EP on June 30th via Merge.

New T.I., "Make You Sweat"

T.I. sure isn't letting this whole "jail" thing stop him from making music. Or rather, perhaps he's trying to make us much as possible so everyone's still talking about him for the year he's locked up. Either way, I approve. The King of Southern Rap's got another new track out, this one by the name of "Make You Sweat". I'll tell you it's got a great beat, but barely resembles the popular and catchy tunes we heard on Paper Trail. And this isn't a bad thing. It would seem that the man still has enough "swag" to go around, so for that, this track will be appreciated. Check it out over at Pitchfork.

6.25.2009

Pre-Screening: Wilco

Album: Wilco (The Album)
Artist: Wilco
Label: Nonesuch
Due Out: June 30th

I feel like everybody's heard this album by now. Between the fairly early leak, and the subsequent streaming of Wilco (The Album) in full online, I'd say most fans of Wilco (The Band) have listened to it at least once through. Still, I'd say this one's worth speaking about, if only for the fact that very few lengthy and organized opinions have been amassed on the band's seventh studio effort as of yet (or at least I haven't seen many). Plus, I mean, it's the band's seventh album. That's a real legitimate accomplishment, made even better when you can say honestly that six of them fall between pretty good and great (discounting A.M. of course- sorry, but I'm not a fan). For Sky Blue Sky's critics, perhaps this is the album for you.

The record of re-clarification begins, fittingly, with "Wilco (The Song)". Here, Wilco is the prescribed treatment for your problems- a "whatever ails ya"-type of approach which (somehow) works, and doesn't come off hokey. You'll find the approach here is much different than what their last album brought. Where there were sprawling landscapes and solos on Sky Blue Sky, there are the niceties and simplicity of piano and some off-beat percussion. Think Summerteeth- my favorite Wilco record. Next up is "Deeper Down," which looks to dive past the playful nature of the first song, and explore some of the emotion that lies within these themes. Like a charm, it delivers, and also becomes one of the stronger musical portions contained on these eleven tracks. Then we reach "One Wing". A classic Wilco song if I've ever heard one (and I have). Starting slow, it builds on its strong folk introduction to include enough pop to carry, but not to be overbearing. A lot of the album is about support, or the underlying effort needed to get through certain experiences. This one talks about the malady of inadequacy or ineffectiveness, at least in the metaphor of only having "one wing" to function with. A charmer, and I think it should have been the first single.

As "Bull Black Nova" begins, it almost feels like you're listening to the aforementioned Sky Blue Sky again, but only the best parts. That album was experimental for the band in all the right ways, and to me, the influence still seems heavy here. Interestingly enough, the song's about a murder, yet remains fun to listen to. "You and I" next marks a very different vibe- both for the album and the band. Feist joins Jeff Tweedy for a soft and playful duet that dances along the relationship between two different people, something that would appear obvious from the name. This is the first duet to appear on a Wilco album, but something tells me it won't be the last, given how well this one turned out. Admittedly, "You Never Know" scared the crap out of me for the first few notes. I had terrible flashbacks to the utter failure that was Conor Oberst's latest effort. Then, I realized that the album's first single is actually just a venting of frustrations in a purely genuine and positively alt-country fashion. It's definitely one of the standouts, but like I said earlier, I prefer "One Wing" as the single, if only because I think it better captures the essence of the entire collection of songs better. Not to allow you to get too happy, "Country Disappeared" does a nice job of once again toning it down, and providing a thoroughly relaxing and pleasant interlude that probably ranks as one of their more notable slow songs.

"Solitaire" seems to reflect its name. To me (a big fan of solitaire) there's something inherently relaxing about playing a card game alone while listening to a calm and soothing CD. You also get to think a lot while playing the game, which may be what provided the inspiration here. Next, "I'll Fight" continues the support theme I mentioned earlier, but rather than talking about what Wilco will do for you, as Tweedy does in the opener, it is much more about what he, personally, will provide. If you notice, the album shifts to more singular, and one-on-one themes at the halfway mark, in comparison to the all-inclusive methods we saw at the onset. "Sonny Feeling" also reflects this, as it encourages looking on the brighter side of things, instead of sitting around waiting for the "other shoe to drop". It captures the energy of the entire album, while still standing on its own as a potential single down the line. Like the best Wilco tracks, it expertly combines classic country elements with enough folk and pop to keep fans all across the board engaged. Due to the outward appearance of several slower numbers earlier on, it makes sense that "Everlasting Everything" packs a bit more punch than you may be used to at the end of a Wilco album. Still, it does a great job of summing up the mood and the ideas as a whole, encouraging an embrace of the good- namely love- over everything else.

Though it's not the last album of their career (or at least, it isn't to my or anyone else's knowledge), Wilco (The Album) feels like an end to a successful and accomplished career for the band whom this effort is named for. With that in mind though, there's also a newfound energy and youthfulness at times that haven't been seen in awhile from the guys, so signs point to us definitely seeing an eighth album at some point in the future. Until then though, we've got this enjoyable and unique collection to hold us through. And for those who are in the New York City-Long Island area, Wilco's playing in Brooklyn in July. I'll be there, and I encourage readers to attend as well. Similarities for the record include Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Spoon and The Flaming Lips.

Rating: 8.0/10

Best Track: "One Wing"

New She & Him Cover, "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"

I'm talking about yet another song covered for the sake of a movie today. This time, however, it's one that I would actually go see. You all know Zooey Deschanel, I'm sure. You know, that girl who's engaged to Count Death Cab himself? Yeah, her. Well, she's once again teamed up with everyone's new favorite folkster (now that Conor Oberst has delivered an epic failure I never thought possible), M. Ward, for another cool and interesting cover song- remember, there were several non-originals on She & Him's Volume One last year. This time, they take some liberties with The Smiths' "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want," and the results are, as one might have guessed, favorable. The recording was made for Zooey's upcoming film, (500) Days of Summer, which, as you might know, has killed many indie festivals over the past year. I'm really looking forward to it, and the soundtrack, as I'm sure you are as well, but unfortunately you're going to have to wait for the music to come out on July 14th, via Sire. But for those who want to give this track a listen first, check the deal over at Stereogum.

Matt's Track of the Week: "Into the Hillside"

Song: Into the Hillside
Artist: Cassettes Won't Listen
Album: Into the Hillside
Year: 2009

Lately I've been intrigued by the idea of finding an artist that makes mainly instrumental, not necessarily electronic, music that I can enjoy listening to over and over again. I came across Cassettes Won't Listen while browsing the exclusive interviews section over at Last.fm, and it peaked my interest. In a departure from his prior work, Jason Drake, the man behind the moniker, said that he thought giving people an album of instrumental music seemed like the right thing to do at this time. If the rest of Into the Hillside sounds anything like this, I would agree.

Although this music is mostly electronic, Drake plays a wide variety of instruments, and has dabbled in several genres over years of experimentation. The vibe on this one is worldly and exotic, conjuring images of high-class globetrotting. Overall, a very cool sound. The full album came out on June 16th, and I will surely be getting my hands on it soon. Check out the iLike link below.

6.24.2009

New Unreleased Jeff Buckley Cover, "We All Fall In Love Sometimes"

We'll make this quick, but just figured some people out there may want to know that there's an unreleased Jeff Buckley track out there. Of course, it's not original- it's an Elton John cover, but still, as would be expected, "We All Fall in Love Somtimes" is a real depressing track, that gets even more depressing when we find out that it appears in this summer's top sick-kid chick-flick, My Sister's Keeper. Add in the part about Buckley's own tragic death, and you're left with one downer of a song that's only worth listening to due to the man's untapped talent, and if you're an Elton John fan. Whether you fall into either of these categories or not, feel free to enjoy(?) the song over at the website for the movie.

New Binary Marketing Show, "Shape of Your Head"

I'm going to go ahead and forcefully disagree with Pitchfork on this one. Not only does The Binary Marketing Show's new track, "Shape of Your Head" not sound anything like Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam, but it sounds nothing like Animal Collective. Why make statements like "we'd love to get through this without mentioning Animal Collective... But what can you do with a song that sounds like a deliberate effort to record a slender yet vital track for Strawberry Jam?" when you don't need to? It's a good song- one that I enjoyed, and has allowed me to be intrigued by the band's upcoming effort, Pattern. But if you must draw comparisons, accurate ones need only apply. The Binary Marketing Show, good in their own right, resemble a mix of Dan Deacon and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Much more apt a description. See, it wasn't that hard, Pitchfork. Enjoy the track below.

John's Track of the Week: "Never Wrong"

Song: Never Wrong
Artist: Foreign Born
Album: On the Wing Now
Year: 2007

In light of
Foreign Born's new album, Person to Person coming out yesterday, I decided to sit back down with their freshman effort, On the Wing Now again. It was definitely a good decision on my part. Here on the precursor to this year's great record, you can recognize the building blocks that weant into making their notable and intelligent sound. However, you can also see the point where they veer off from what appears to be their tried and true formula on the album. The sounds come the end of On the Wing Now provide hints as to where they're headed, and when you hear Person to Person, you'll both hear and appreciate the transition from simple and enjoyable indie rock, to something a bit more meaningful.

On an album full of great and spirited tracks, to me, nothing seems to epitomize what it's all about more than the closer, "Never Wrong". It's a fan favorite, but there's something undyingly triumphant about it. It's the period at the end of a great novel, the final trumpet blare in a symphony. Not to compare the song to any orchestral arrangement, of course, but stick with me on the metaphors. There's a sense of completion here which can, and does, lack on many an album, and you can't help but see the smile on the band's face at the end. Check it out below, and don't forget to get yourself a copy of
Person to Person if you haven't already.


6.21.2009

Music Video Monday: "Jellybones"

Song: Jellybones
Artist: The Unicorns
Album: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
Year: 2003

There's always been something infinitely entertaining about anything Nick Thorburn touches. From the intrepid Unicorns of the early 00s, to Islands, Human Highway and Th' Corn Gangg today, his projects never lack personality and a humorous charm. With that touch of humor though, there's the inevitable underlying intelligence. As goofy as The Unicorns sounded in their day, you knew that below all of the fuzzy synths and other strange instrumentation was a true vision of death, as the band saw it. Nearly everything Thorburn's been involved in has involved the theme of death- whether it be fearing it, accepting it, dealing with it or being obsessed with it- the man has nearly mastered the undercurrent of the afterlife. Though this song fails to deal with it a ton, the video nevertheless gets involved with death on a personal level.

Of all of the tracks on Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone, "Jellybones" is definitely one of the most poppy and fun. With that and the band's personality in mind, it's no surprise when they begin to play the track live on top of tables in a pizza parlor. The band, dressed in pink, proceeds to play, eventually donning glow-in-the-dark masks alluding to ancient native Central Americans, before the (un)expected, hilarious passing of one of the members mid-show. They lay their comrade to rest in traditional ancient burial, black x's on his eyes, then proceed to go out and drink away their sorrow(?) A seemingly fitting end for a song by this band... I suppose. Give it a look below.

6.19.2009

New Bloc Party, "One More Chance"

Bloc Party has a new single out in August, which is of course, why we're hearing it today (?). Yup, everyone's favorite choppy, Strokes-y indie-pop, Last.FM users have got some new material, and it actually doesn't sound half-bad. If you're into this sort of thing, you can feel free to check it out at Pitchfork, and yes, that site's prayers from the other day were answered, since it is, in fact, not a Notorious B.I.G. cover. However, I, personally, would have loved to see such a thing. Catch the single on August 10th, via Wichita.

God Help the Girl Now Streaming

Surprisingly busy Friday here at Animal Noises. Our latest piece of valuable information (as deemed by yours' truly)? As we spoke about last week, Stuart Murdoch (of Belle and Sebastian) has a side project called God Help the Girl. Well, with just days to go before its highly-anticipated (at least by me) release, Matador Records has done us the service of streaming it online to help diehards get their fix, and those on the fence make up their minds come purchase time next week. Check it out here, and check it out in stores June 23rd via the aforementioned Matador.

50 Cent Releases New Mixtape for Free

Hey, it's that guy 50 Cent. Yeah, I remember him. Well, with his music career floundering, but his financial status still standing pretty tall, Mr. Curtis Jackson released his newest mixtape, War Angel, to the public, free-of-charge Tuesday. Apparently, from what I've heard, it's the first of three mixtapes he'll debut before Before I Self Destruct finally comes out this fall. From what I can figure out, it appears that Fifty's back to more violent themes, and is ditching large portions of the pop sound he's seemingly embraced these past couple records. If you're interested, go check it out over at thisis50.com.

Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm Now Streaming

I feel like we just spoke about the album not moments ago (scroll, down- we did), but here we are again. Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm is now streaming up on Myspace, of all places. See everything I just so very recently raved about for yourself, and maybe you come back with a similar verdict. If not, don't hold back in telling me about it. For those interested, or even casually concerned, feel free to check the deal. Forewarning: it's about an hour long, so make sure you've got that kind of time to spend away from other things (like work).

New Modest Mouse, "Whale Song"

I had a feeling we'd be seeing this one before the end of the week. As we've been talking about, Modest Mouse is releasing a b-sides album entitled No One's First And You're Next this August. In the lead-up to the collection hitting stores, the band has been giving us, the fans, special edition 7" singles. "Whale Song" is the second track off of the second and most recent single, "Autumn Beds," and it packs quite a punch. Do you remember those really rowdy and explosive guys from Lonesome Crowded West? I think they're back, or at least seem to rejoin us for this one song. Check it out at your leisure over at Stereogum. The "Autumn Beds" single is out June 23rd (this coming Tuesday).

6.18.2009

Pre-Screening: Dinosaur Jr.

Album: Farm
Artist: Dinosaur Jr.
Label: JagJaguwar
Due Out: June 23rd

Who would have thought that after all of this time, Dinosaur Jr. could still be this good? Not only that, but then actually produce an album that shows change, growth and even a newfound youthfulness. Amongst the things we'll talk about here on this blog, Farm is one of the hardest hitting, yet enjoyable you'll see. As a fan of a lot of their older material from the 80s, I was truly baffled by the explosion of sound I heard here. So much raw, building energy, driving melodies and action here, you'd think that J Mascis was in his 20s instead of his 40s. Still, he, just like the band, delivers on a level you'd assume difficult at this point in their overall careers. I'll start off by saying that my hopes going into Farm were met and then some on this truly entertaining record.

"Pieces" starts us off right away on the high-powered train ride through open roads and miles of landscape ahead. Farm may apply very well as a title here, as does the album artwork, as it probably describes the physical attributes of the album better than many other words could. If you're planning on taking a long trip through the country, I'd highly recommend throwing this one in immediately. Nothing's mechanical, but instead, loose, as soaring guitar solos permeate the scenery not just here, but on many of the tracks. "I Want You To Know" continues the electric feel, exploding into fits of ecstasy and in my mind, capturing the essence of what this venture's all about. People have been raving about this one, myself included, and in the album format, it did not disappoint whatsoever. Just listen for the solo. Next, "Ocean In the Way" feels like its moving a large landmass, slowly and steadily, but with an equal amount of force to the previous tracks. We're given a minute or so to recover from yet another solo as "Plans" begins. At first appearing more subdued than its counterparts, the listener quickly realizes that this is not at all the case, and that we are actually in for yet another barn-burner, this time of the almost seven-minute variety. It's one of the album's better musical moments, with several different interludes previewing the varieties and textures to come.

"Your Weather" starts off with a bit less of the jubilation that precedes it. Actually, to be honest, it sounds like Interpol, which is strange. Still, the slight change in scenery allows for us to stop and look around for a bit, really beginning to appreciate the towering edifice being erected around us. Then, "Over It" jumps in rather quickly and abruptly- guitar squeals abound- throwing us back into the up-tempo salad shaker we thought we may have exited earlier. The video exudes the life that album literally bleeds, with a bunch of 40 year-olds skateboarding as only they could. "Friends" is similarly punchy track, but in a very opposite fashion to the previous track. Instead of being "over it" so to speak, the song is now actively searching for companions, or rather, a certain companion. As the solo jumps along, you can't help but get completely enthralled in the song, as is the case with nearly every selection. I've never been one for solos, to be honest, but what we see here is so joyous and genuine, I can't help but enjoy. Once again, for those doing a little too much bouncing around, "Said the People" drags back down to Earth, albeit temporarily. Still, even with a somber tone, there's quite a bit going on that may peak your interest, especially at the halfway mark.

If you've recovered from the almost eight-minute rock opera, you're probably ready for "There's No Here," though there's absolutely no downtime to be found. The song literally hits you in the face at the onset, and proceeds to do so yet again every 20 seconds or so. Next, "See You" takes brightness beyond what we've witnessed to this point, and is, in essence, a pop track. Once again, the change doesn't take anything away from it- it's more of a reflection on what's happened thus far, and perhaps a look into what's left to be seen. The album's longest track, "I Don't Wanna Go There," seems to address what's left, or rather, refuses to. Mascis suddenly sounds like a man who's seen it all, and maybe he has, but the wear finally seems apparent here. What we're looking at here is an explosion of all the pent-up energy from the album (I know, you're wondering how that was even possible). Still, this is the breaking point, as made extremely obvious during a five-plus minute jaunt into metal solo land. Finally, "Imagination Blind" leaves us off on a note that is more of a period than an exclamation point. Reflecting on what has happened, it calmly (?) leads the way out of what was Farm, and onto the next step, which will most likely be hitting 'repeat' for the listener.

There have been a ton of very good records this year, but only a few which stand head and shoulders above their counterparts. Somehow, after all these years, Dinosaur Jr.'s latest effort, Farm, is one of those chosen few. They're the same, yet different. Rarely do you see this type of progression and dare I say, maturity, from a band with this amount of history, but somehow, they've accomplished becoming the hip new thing, 20 years after accomplishing the feat the first time. If every band was like these guys, perhaps I wouldn't detest hearing anything by The Rolling Stones and U2 so much. Regardless, this is one of the essential records for your consumption this year, and though you may not have heard it here first, you did hear it here, so that has to count for something. Right? Similarities include Built to Spill, Pixies and My Bloody Valentine.

Rating: 8.5/10

Best Track: "I Want You To Know" (download courtesy of AOL Radio)