Sunday, January 21, 2007

Here's the second half of The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept In Their Entirety. Next week: the first.

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat

Her ornate affectations and truisms are sufferable only when compared to her indie-folk peers, who either can't sing or can't write. But though I worry about its obtuseness compared to Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous, Rabbit Fur Coat still sounds direct, and similarly beautiful. At first the cover of Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" seems like a trainwreck trifle, but it actually offers a tempo boost, cops to the relatively contemporary influence of VH1 and makes a joke of a New Dylan.

Love Is All, Nine Times The Same Song

It's fine to reduce post-punk to hipster dance as long as you're a great dance band, and these guys hop from rave-up to power ballad like Liliput rocking the prom circuit. I read in the issue of Venus my housemate keeps by the toilet that the tracks were remixed by a dude from Comet Gain, which helps explain the air-tight clatter and why the singer has a shirt over her mouth. But the lyrics, when I bother to focus on them, make me curious how they'll sound when they break free of his kung fu grip.


I checked this out after discovering I prefered DFA 1979's remix album to the original, a rare compliment to remixers and a rare insult to a band. A true technoid would know better than me if the sound is inherently post-the-other-DFA, but The Looks offers a less theoretical take on the crass pleasures Daft Punk always got backpats for. So smart stupid I want to bring up the Ramones, but less hung up on novelty than most '90s big beat I've heard. Hopefully it won't age like "The Rockafeller Skank."

Ne-Yo, In My Own Words

His songwriting is so assured that it's almost charming when he goes for amateurish vocal fireworks (including a prolonged, sub-Idol WOAAAAAAAAAAAH) on "It Just Ain't Right," which also happens to be one of the few songs where he's looking to get out of a relationship (and then, only to return to an earlier one). He's no pimp, just "a man with a very healthy appetite for chicks" who smiled in grateful disbelief when you said you'd be with him, telling his fuckbuddies he won't "get down like that" anymore. You're his sexy love, even when you're mad (especially when you're mad), and while he knows you're not ready for his "directorial debut," would you be bothered by a mirror in the bedroom? If you leave, this sex fiend with a heart of gold will sit alone by the radio, thinking about how he failed you.

Phoenix, It's Never Been Like That

Is This It? fans who liked to reference Television and the Feelies have a new band to adore, and, judging by First Impressions Of Earth, it's right in the nick of time. Band perky not ugly, singer lyrical rather than lethargic, this may be the only time in rock history where the French variant is preferable to the American brand. You'd never guess they still don't have a full-time drummer.

The Presets, The Presets

"Girl And The Sea"'s hazy synth-psychedelia didn't prepare me for the brash electro-clash and slight instrumentals that surround it on Beams. But the brash seems less rote with every listen, and the instrumentals are cute, minor joys. Then there's the processed vocal gibberish of "I Go Hard, I Go Home," a twisted melange of all three poles. Some, especially if they're tired of looking at party photos no one made them click on, might want more there there. I'll take my techno trash transparent.

Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah

Aside from the disco Floyd, I thought their first album was shtick in search of songs. On Ta-Dah, they're a song band with a shtick I can get behind. They apply the same distilled, nothin'-but-hits aesthetic to soft-rock disco that the Darkness did to harder forms of pomp on One Way Ticket..., or Love Is All with femme post-punk on Nine Times The Same Song. That I'm no fan of Elton John means I'm even more grateful than usual for such a wry, big-hearted effort. If the hate for "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" is on point, I need to pick up some Leo Sayer.

The Thermals, The Body, The Blood, The Machine

Having mastered power trio pop-punk, they speed-read the bible, noting what's fucked and what isn't, why that is and why they give a shit. Spending more time than usual on the words, Hutch Harris abstracts them enough to avoid harangue but not so much that you miss the gist. I'm glad they've chosen thematic ambition over the musical kind, which would have defeated the point of mastering power trio pop-punk in the first place.

Tiga, Sexor

You've got to love a Jellybean Benitez that can double as Madonna. His DJ career implies a great love for mindless pop songs that intimate profundity, but there was no guarantee this immersion would enable him to write and perform his own. Irreverent covers blend in with his own confident prattle so well that Public Enemy, Nine Inch Nails and Talking Heads fans could be forgiven for missing them. Beatwise, he's got peers, but I'd be surprised if they could handle the mic with similar success.

Thom Yorke, The Eraser

After his agonized, song-sinking wails on Hail To The Thief, I would have assumed this for a Scott Walker-esque chore. But instead of reaffirming his intolerability, The Eraser's spare beats and samples make Radiohead sound like too many cooks in the kitchen. Ringing emotion out of key phrases and gorgeously mumbling the rest, Thom resembles no one so much as mid-period Michael Stipe, increasingly comfortable in the spotlight but still blessed with entrancing, elliptical logic. It's an "Idioteque" fan's fever dream, and I hope he never records with a real band again (at least not his).

(Previous post: The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From! (A-L))


Ian said...

That Phoenix blurb is perfect (I'd say the same for the Thom Yorke if I didn't like Hail to the Thief more than you did).

Anthony Miccio said...

Aw, thanks! Every time I listen to Hail To The Thief I hear some music detail that intrigues, but I really feel that Yorke was a lost cause on that one. I'm still surprised he was less indulgent on a solo effort.

Ian said...

I actually subscribe to the viewpoint that HttT plays more like an alternate-universe Greatest Hits than anything else... at first I'd have said I could ditch many of the tracks as b-sides or something, but these days even "I Will" and "We Suck Young Blood" feel pretty essential and natural.

I may have a taste for more indulgence (well, a differing kind of indulgence) than you, though.