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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The audience is listening

  • British Sea Power : The Decline of British Sea Power - A multi-styled and ambitious album. Most of the songs are anthemic and grand almost to the point of parody - singing emotionally about one's "Casio Electric Piano" requires either gigantic balls or, more likely, an abundance of irony. Sytlisitically, they're British. If I was more familiar with the various flavors of British pop over the last twenty years, I might be able to identify the different sounds better. But, since I'm not, I can only say this part sounds like The Smiths, or this part sounds like the Psychedelic Furs. But those two examples don't do the album justice, as it's much more modern and varied than just that.

  • Califone : Heron King Blues - As one should expect from Thrill Jockey, this is a 'post-rock' record, along the same lines as Tortoise, Sea and Cake, or Gastr Del Sol (or Discipline-era King Crimson). The songs share Gastr Del Sol's semi-detached and cerebral styling; instruments wander in and out, phrases start in non-typical places, verse-chorus-verse structure is shunned, etc.. Even with all that, though, it retains a kind of a dark and bluesy quality overally. It's not overt; it's more like blues-scented. And the songs have a nice flow to them - organic. The vocals on these are warmer than you hear on Gastr songs, too, and even sound a bit like Beck's more languid songs - relaxed, warm and smooth. I like it.

  • Firey Furnaces : Blueberry Boat - This one has received a lot of critical acclaim in the indie music press lately, so I gave in and bought a copy. After a couple of weeks of occasional listening, it's proving tough for me to wrap myself around. Within a song, it happily careens from style to style: from anxious speech over electronic blooping, to whimsical sing-song sections, to sound collages, to actual, but bare-bones song. Rarely content to stick with one style or tempo for long, it agressively mashes all this stuff together, often with no real transition. Unlike the album above, where things flow organically and rather slowly, this one leaps about and shows off. It's a tough listen, and one that doesn't pay off, for me.

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