July 3, 2006

More Music You Shouldn't Live Without

It's a nice, long holiday weekend for me. I'm taking the day off work and hitting the pool. I'll wait to recap the weekend for now and, instead, share a few summer music tips with you. And, as always, if you have some suggestions for me, please feel free to share. In the mean time, enjoy!

angels.whisper.jpgAngels & Airwaves: We Don't Need to Whisper
Tom DeLonge knows a thing or two about putting a band together. He was, after all, the brains behind Blink-182 and Box Car Racer. I'd drop the old third time's a charm cliche, but the first two bands worked out pretty well. And so does Angels & Airwaves. We Don't Need to Whisper is an emo-tastic, post-punk anthem-fest of an album, long on emotion and gigantic sound. What separates this from the hundreds of similar releases this year alone is the production. DeLonge and company have mined the studio environment for all it's worth. The production is slick and the instrumentation shines. So much so, it might be responsible for the album's only flaw. It's like a non-stick pan. Sure, it cleans up easy but you know, there's some appeal to that old seasoned iron skillet...plus, it lasts longer. Don't get me wrong; the album is good. But it's sheen, it's polished surface, make it slightly less interesting than it might have otherwise been.

blackkeys.thickfreakness.jpgThe Black Keys: Thickfreakness
Do you like blues? Really gritty, dirty blues with raw guitars, howling vocals and stripped down rhythms? The kind you'd expect to hear in a southern roadhouse? So do I. And I'd honestly thought that there weren't too many young white guys making blues anymore. Well, these two Ohioans traveled down to Mississippi some time ago, heard the blues and never looked back. Thickfreakness is reputed to be their finest effort but I can't attest to that; it's my first exposure to The Black Keys. I can say is that it's fantastic. If you're a blues purist, you'll find some flaws, but if you just like a good, old-fashioned bluesy vibe, you'll dig it.

who.next.jpgThe Who: Who's Next
After 20+ years, The Who - now the duo of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey - is set to release new material. So it's a perfect time to look back at Who's Next, their finest album. The album itself is just stuffed full of excellent material - Baba O'Riley, Bargain, Behind Blue Eyes and Won't Get Fooled Again are all here...and they're more than just great CSI theme songs. Also here are Daltrey's howl, John Entwistle's bombastic bass lines, Townshend's power chords and Keith Moon's manic drumming. I have thousands of albums in my collection but there are few I know of as reliably brilliant as Who's Next.

gomez.operate.jpgGomez: How We Operate
Gomez has always been a quirky yet talented band that, somehow, has been perpetually overlooked. When I heard their latest, How We Operate described as their most accessible, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was scared. I shouldn't have been. How We Operate is indeed their most accessible album to date yet it's also their finest. They haven't lost their quirk but they've channeled it so wonderfully here. There isn't a bad song on the album; each seems to offer something new upon each listen. This is, in short, the perfect Gomez album. It is also one of the best things you'll hear all year. But you have to buy it first. So...what are you waiting for?

murdoch.time.jpgAlexi Murdoch: Time Without Consequence
You know, I'm getting wary of these so-called singer/songwriter, folk-type albums. Why? They're boring. I mean, look, I liked Elliot Smith as much as the next guy. The words and music were pretty but there wasn't much dynamism to his stuff. Smith, Gary Jules, Jack Johnson and the rest are fine and have their place but they just don't do anything for me. You've heard one, you've heard them all. Or so I thought. Alexi Murdoch proved me wrong. Murdoch's voice is so utterly wonderful and genuine, I couldn't help casting my cynicism aside almost instantly. He sounds like the genetically impossible love child of Chris Martin and Nick Drake. His music, while simple, is driven by hooks and instrumentation not common to the folk genre. It's compelling rather then strident, complimenting Murdoch's wonderful voice. Time Without Consequence is utterly wonderful. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Posted by Chris at July 3, 2006 7:10 AM

I must agree with you about Who's Next. I am not a music guy myself but as an Album Who's Next is just that. Every song is awesome.

Posted by: Bill at July 3, 2006 8:04 AM

I had to look up the word "strident" this morning. And that's a good thing. It's great when I can take normal mind numbing blog reading to a new educational level.

I recently bought the Gomez CD after hearing one song in someone's car. I love it. I also bought Ben Harper's new CD and one by Mat Kearney.

I will be checking out your other recommendations as I hate strident music. :-)

Posted by: PoeticaL at July 3, 2006 8:46 AM

ahhh your normal blogging is NOT mind numbing..just my normal blog reading is....

Posted by: PoeticaL at July 3, 2006 8:47 AM

'Who's Next' is one of my favourite albums ever.

Posted by: mamatulip at July 3, 2006 10:49 AM

big fan of the Black Keys here... reminds me of 60s/70s white-boy brit blues. good stuff.

if you're into them, you'll probably dig Jon Spencer Blues Explosion also. especially their earlier albums, like Orange or Now I Got Worry. raw, dirty, heavy blues... mmmmm...

Posted by: platypotamus at July 3, 2006 12:16 PM

i love love love the black keys. they were all i listened to a year or two ago. they've got a new album coming out in September. i think it's called Magic Potion.

Posted by: Denise at July 3, 2006 12:46 PM

How on earth you find the time to listen to all that music, read all those books, take all those pictures, post on this blog, write back to our comments, PLUS go to work and be a dad and husband is beyond me.

(PS - I liked a earlier Gomez song I heard on our now-defunct "alt" radio station and I also have Eleanor Rigby and East Shoots & Leaves on my "ro read" list. Now I must go find more Gomez and read those books to keep up with you.)

Posted by: Heather at July 3, 2006 1:11 PM

The sheer variety of your musical tastes never ceases to amaze. I'm on a bit of a pop kick myself, but I'll probably snap out of it this week.

Posted by: Kestrel at July 3, 2006 1:15 PM

The Black Keys are absurdly and consistently good...one of only a handful of bands in which I buy their album without needing to read the review. Personally, I like their follow-up, Rubber Factory, a little better, but thickfreakness is stunningly good.

And Who's Next fucking rocks the house. You NEED an arena to hear it the way it should be heard.

Posted by: CroutonBoy at July 3, 2006 2:25 PM

I saw Gomez open for Dave Matthews Band last week - they were great. I'd never really heard their stuff before (maybe 2 songs on a friend's satellite radio, so I was pleasantly surprised. I'm going to pick up their album this weekend.

I love (good)opening acts.

Re: Angels & Airwaves - I should probably give this album a chance, but I won't b/c I can't stand Tom DeLonge.

Posted by: erin at July 3, 2006 3:24 PM

Sorry for the double-post, but just wanted to second platypotamus's recommendation - Orange is fantastic.

Posted by: erin at July 3, 2006 3:31 PM

I push the Black Keys hard on everyone :) I actually prefer their other offering, The Rubber Factory, to Thickfreakness. Suppposedly it was done in one take inside an old, you guess it, rubber factory.

Posted by: Kate at July 3, 2006 9:23 PM

Thickfreakness: Are we talking electric, Delta-style blues? Or acoustic "country blues," a la Mississippi John Hurt?

Posted by: Karen at July 3, 2006 10:08 PM

I would keep reading the entries that I've missed but, I'm going to go purchase Gomez' new one now...

Posted by: Nat at July 3, 2006 10:25 PM

I just saw Gomez in concert a couple of week's ago... the show I went to is currently downloadable on NPR.

Posted by: stephanie at July 5, 2006 9:35 PM