tongue-tied lightning

First Quarter 2009 Music Roundup
March 19, 2009, 9:48 PM
Filed under: music

I’ve been in a musical mood today.  I figured since I’ve heard pretty much everything I intend to from January-March of 09 I might as well give you thoughts on some of the more notable releases.  So let’s go…


Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Yeah, I figured I’d spare your eyes looking at the album cover for the zillionth time.  I like Animal Collective.  I think Feels is great and there were moments of Sung Tongs and Strawberry Jam that I loved, but I am not getting the hype over Merriweather Post Pavilion.  I’ve listened to it several times, and I’m sorry, but this is not a life changing record.  Nothing about it stands out to me.  It’s a record of average songs by guys capable of much more. 5/10


Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

I was first turned on to Andrew Bird when I picked up Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs just cause I liked the cover and the title.  That album was fantastic.  The follow up Armchair Apocrypha was still quite good if a step down and possessed many wonderful songs.  Noble Beast represents another step down from the apex of Eggs but again, is still well worth listening to.  If I have a complaint it’s that the album jumps from style to style a little too often and the songs are rarely exceptional.  “Not a Robot, But a Ghost” is a mediocre Radiohead knock-off complete with Bird attempting Yorkeish vocals and easily the albums low point.  It’s the first time I’ve thought Andrew Bird sounded like someone else. 7/10


Antony & the Johnsons – The Crying Light

My god, what a beautiful album.  I tried listening to his previous album I Am a Bird Now a couple times and it never clicked.  I just couldn’t get past his voice, even with Lou Reed it’s bothered me until recently.  When I finally gave in and decided to give The Crying Light a spin, it just clicked.  His voice is unique and expressive and the chamber-pop that backs it is beautiful and haunting.  I think his voice and music are something you have to be in the mood for, but when you are, wow.  I am eager to revisit I Am a Bird Now.  And can I compliment him on his cover art?  The last album had an evocative black and white photo of Warhol muse Candy Darling lying on her deathbed.  This time he uses an equally evocative black and white photo of 102-year-old Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno.  Both seem to capture the spirit of the music, and perhaps provide a window into Antony’s world. 8/10


Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

I was quite fond of Fox Confessor Brings the Blood.  It had a unique Alison Kraus-on-heroin vibe and several great songs.  Middle Cyclone is in the same vein but for some reason just doesn’t have the spark Fox Confessor had.  It didn’t do much for me. 6/10


Bishop Allen – Grrr…



Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

The last Yeah Yeah Yeahs record I listened to was their debut Fever to Tell.  I liked it quite a bit but didn’t love it.  I haven’t heard their second record but It’s Blitz! seems a bit of a departure from Fever.  They seem to have stepped away from the punk rock sound and into a LCD Soundsystemesque hipster disco milieu.  I like it.  I’m not always in the mood for it, but I can tell I will reach for this record when I’m looking for something in the vein of Sound of Silver.  The closing track “Little Shadow” is an acoustic ballad sung beautifully by Karen O and is a wonderful comedown from the rest of the record.  8/10


Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Beware

I am quite fond of Will Oldham and all his personae, be they as actor or musician.  Last years Lie Down in the Light was one of my favorite records and in my opinion his best since I See a Darkness.  Beware, inevitably, isn’t quite that good.  It maintains the country/gospel aesthetic of Light, but qualitywise is probably closer to Master and Everyone.  Still an album of solid songs added to the Will Oldham oeuvre is something to be celebrated, especially if one of them is as good as “Beware Your Only Friend.”  7/10


The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

This album didn’t grab me right off the bat.  There are no tracks that work as wonderfully on their own as “16 Military Wives” or “The Island” but after a few listens I realized that while there aren’t any singles, it works wonderfully on it’s own as a 60-minute piece of music.  It makes The Crane Wife seem like a transitional album between Picaresque and this.  Not just a concept album, it’s almost an indie-rock opera, with a tangible storyline and several ups and downs along the way. 8/10

See you back here at the end of June!


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The Bishop Allen is pretty far from meh. I really can’t emphasize exactly how much I despise The Decemberists.. The new Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a step up for them. Still horrendous though. Cool cover at the very least. Heh, Bishop Allen and Atony are the only albums I like of that bunch, and is that really all you’ve heard this year? I’m at.. 58 albums from 2009 so far. It’s been a good year.

Comment by soulvakispacestation

haha, i’ve heard around 20. a few of them are out in april and may. alot i didn’t care enough to write about.

the bishop allen record to me, i don’t see what seperates it from your average indie rock album.

the antony record is definitely my favorite this year. that and grizzly bear.

Comment by justin

Bishop Allen’s subtly unique, they reward multiple listens. I still need the non-transcoded Grizzly Bear.. I’ll upload my ten favorite albums of the year to the person who can do that for me.

Comment by soulvakispacestation

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a new album out? Cool, I’ll probably obtain it at some stage. I’m not as much of a fan of “Fever To Tell” but “Show Your Bones” remains an awesome album.

Comment by moogirl22

hello, i stumbled upon our website while looking for tony leung pictures 😛 i love your blog and the lists and would come back for sure!!

Comment by mj

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