Tag Archives: Superchunk

497. Bright Eyes – “The People’s Key”

Here’s another act we caught live in NYC.  The attraction was really the venue (Radio City Music Hall), and a couple of cool-ish supports (, Wild Flag, and Wild Flag).

But I had some inkling that I’d quite enjoyed reviewing an earlier Bright Eyes release, and the chance to see them showcase a new CD was appealing.

I went along expecting a pretty mellow, warbly singer-songwriter affair, with perhaps a little artiness.

What we got was an elaborate, full-band, full-blown art-rock extravaganza, which matches perfectly to the content of this recording.

The CD abounds with whacked out Rasta imagery, lengthy soundbites of some very creepy L.Ron Hubbard-esque rambling and refreshingly organic electro sounds.  The drums in particularly are well-mixed (and live were reproduced through multiple drummers – Modest Mouse style), while Oberst’s vocals are much stronger than I expected.

The songwriting is expectedly verbose and eccentric, and rewards multiple listens. This album reminds me most, in terms of overall feel, with the recent Arcade Fire effort, and I’d certainly be delighted to see these two acts back-to-back on some festival stage.

Last time I reviewed BE I promised to pick up some more of their albums. This album reminds me I need to do just that (plus the Wild Flag debut). If you’re unsure, you can watch/hear this entire album here:

File under: Ear-opening

More like One Album a Week

Loyal readers, you might have noticed a lull in proceedings over the past week or so. I am currently staying in New York (with sporadic commutes down to Philadelphia). Our apartment here doesn’t have a newfangled stereo that’ll play my iTunes, so the albums currently in the queue are only heard when I don my headphones.

As such, you should lower your expectations regarding frequency of reviews. I suspect I might only get to one a week for the next 3 months!

On a more positive front, I am enjoying new venues and new gigs to see. Last night’s show featuring Wild Flag (featuring two members of Sleater Kinney), Superchunk and Bright Eyes at Radio City Music Hall was superb.

354. Guided By Voices – “Alien Lanes”

I went through a ‘lo-fi’ phase in the mid-late-1990s.  I was seduced by the awkwardness and deliberate difficulty of it all.

Thus I have an excess of albums from Superchunk, Sebadoh and these guys.

Not wanting to prejudice those “S” reviews in a couple of years time, those blokes were a little less difficult than this collection from GBV.

I’ve seen GBV referred to as ‘anti-rock’. I presume that refers to their unwillingness to conform with the expectations of record labels, listeners etc.

For example, here we get 28 tracks, most under 2 mins along, most without a chorus-verse structure, many without intros or outros.  Most sound like they were recorded underwater (one deliberately so) or from a long, long distance away.  Tracks are overdubbed, underdubbed, haphazard and throwaway.

I get the concept – let the music free, don’t conform, don’t overmassage the message.  But in the end it just aint very listenable or enjoyable. It’s the musical equivalent of mumblecore – over-rated and self-indulgent.

It’s a real shame.  There is a huge amount to like on this album underneath all the grime.  These guys lay down some great riffs, grooves and what could/should be choruses. Game of Pricks and Motor Away are very solid (although the latter was improved by the Salteens), and songs about hunting knifes are always fun:

File under: Roadworks are called for…