Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Flaming Lips
"At War With the Mystics" (CD)

The Lips are a band I have never sought out on vinyl.  They are great at building songs that include an extreme spectrum of sounds which are great for testing out stereo equipment.  The clinical precision of chores like this are better left to digital sources, in my opinion.
This album has two songs I like to use for trying out new equipment. The "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" and "W.A.N.D" are both sonic playgrounds.

That being said, this album represents the last Lips album I own to-date. This was their eleventh release, dropped in 2006. It is the end of an era of Lips albums that was more commercially viable.   I suppose I'm fine with letting them slip back into the sea of Weird Obscuritus because a firm half of this album would have been completely fine not being released.

Perhaps its the drug use, but the Lips don't seem to possess a finely-tuned radar for what music should make it into the world and what shouldn't.  Their prolific output could be condensed measurably if certain guidelines were applied.

I'll be the last one to suggest that music needs confinement, but in the case of the Lips, there's a lot I could do without.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Weather Report
"Heavy Weather" (Vinyl)

Released in 1977, this was the Weather Report's eighth full-length album.  Considered a milestone of jazz-rock fusion in the 70's, this was the first album to feature bassist Jaco Pastorius as a full-fledged member.  His playing is prominently featured throughout this record.

Fusion groups became quite popular for off-the-beaten path music-lovers in the 1970's.  Whether it was Herbie Hancock's genre-blurring albums or the Mahavishnu Orchestra, there was a vibrant, logical exploration of the many forms of music that had found each other in the decades immediately following rock n' roll's explosion of popularity in the 1950's.

Maybe this kind of music was as off-the-radar in the 70's as it is today, but I'd like to think that the Weather Report could have found a more willing audience to their music than the stranglehold radio and music television is in today where only a few artists of "redeeming" quality are paid attention to.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Dummy" (CD)

Perhaps the greatest ambassador of the trip-hop genre, the UK trio Portishead released this album in 1994 and achieved a critical and commercial success despite their reluctance to do high-profile press.

Deep, groovy, looped beats form the foundation for Beth Gibbons' vocals who uses lyrics that are sometimes to the point, and some times flit effortlessly towards nowhere at all.

The trio's unpredictable work tempo has helped to develop a cult fan base that would cling on from 1994 until their third album's release in 2008.   If most bands tried to release an album every eleven years, their efforts would be rewarded with a dismal thud.  Portishead is one of those lucky few.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

TV on the Radio
"Nine Types of Light" (Vinyl)

Progress on this blog will slow dramatically for the next few weeks as I'm out of town and can only listen to albums I "own" on the iPod while I'm toodling about.  

In 2011 TV on the Radio dropped this, their fourth major-label full-length LP.  It received a lot of buzz for a band that's off the public's radar (Justin Bieber they are not.)
My first listen I was a little disappointed; the album felt flaccid and uninteresting compared to their earlier albums which always featured ground-breaking noise combinations.  They sounded unlike anything I'd ever heard prior.

But after digesting this album for a while (I've probably listened to this album 20 times now) I've decided that "accessible" is the best word to use. TV on the Radio wasn't always a band who's palette appealed to everyone.  With "Nine Types" they cross a boundary into more familiar, comfortable land where their unique sonic tapestry meshes with a more common idiom.

In short: in many respects, it's their best work yet.  Let's hope TVotR can't disappoint any worse than this!