Sunday, January 27, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sea Hag's Ultra Fabulous 2007 Music Review : Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Some Loud Thunder

I really, really, really, really, really liked CYHSY's last album from the first time I heard it, so I was pretty excited about their new one, but I was a little cautious too, because this was one of those 'sophomore albums' that could cement them as an awesome band or exile them to 'their first album was a fluke' status. Also, CYHSY gained their fanbase for their first album via the internet instead of a record company (they were unsigned and produced it themselves. Actually, they even mailed out orders for their CDs to customers themselves), so it was going to be interesting to see what happened after I learned that they had finally signed with a record label.

The verdict is: well, the jury's still out on this one. It's not that I don't like it, but of the few times I have listened to it, it didn't grab me like their first album did. That's OK though, some of my favorite albums are ones that grew on me as times passed and I listened to them more and I think this one probably will too. It's a little quieter and doesn't have some of the fun, happy pop stuff that the last one did, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. Eventually I will just have to work it into my rotation of stuff I listen to on my iPod and see what I feel about it.

Recommended songs:
Ask me again later

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sea Hag's Ultra Fabulous 2007 Music Review : Wilco

Sky Blue Sky

Even if you don't know who Wilco is, you've probably heard most of the music from this album already- they played it on the new Volkswagen commercials:

I liked this album. They ditched a lot of the twangy country flavor and all of the experimental noise-thing that they tried on some of their previous work and produced an album that is very mellow and melodic. It's a great album to put on when you're hanging out on the couch and reading a book. Wilco's lead singer Jeff Tweedy went on a solo tour earlier this year and Noochie and I went to see him. I really dug the stripped-down acoustic thing he did, and I think this album is a reflection of that.

Recommended songs:
"Sky Blue Sky"
"On And On"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sea Hag's Ultra Fabulous 2007 Music Review : Handsome Furs

Handsome Furs
Plague Park

I first heard of Handsome Furs on that fateful night that I went to Steak 'N' Shake with Michael and we were listening to Album 88. Makes me wish I had kept listening all night long.

Anyway, Handsome Furs. This is apparently a side project of some guy from Wolf Parade and his fiance. I've never heard of Wolf Parade (or any of their fiances) but I did really like this album a lot. It's hard for me to describe their sound, it's not mellow or lush like I've described nearly everything that I've reviewed. Pitchfork calls it 'sparse and minimal' but I think it's got a lot more going on than that. I think 'minimal' and I think of some guy standing on a street corner who made a kazoo with a piece of waxed paper wrapped over a comb. That's minimal. Handsome Furs use synthesizers and drum machines. I guess there's a whiff of... um... industrial-ness to their songs. Grindy. Gloomy. Gray. I don't know. But it's worth checking out, at least as an antidote to all the mellow, laid-back stuff that came out this year.

Recommended songs:
"Handsome Furs Hate This City"
"Dead + Rural"
"Hearts of Iron"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sea Hag's Ultra Fabulous 2007 Music Review : Blonde Redhead

Blonde Redhead

Pitchfork Media says of this album: "Somewhere underneath all the high-gloss, ornamental swirlies and lacquered doilies are haphazardly camouflaged well-written songs." To this I say (as I usually say about Pitchfork) : shut up, you bunch of tools. This is a good album, and one of the reasons I like it is because it is so totally and lushly hyper-produced. Its true that most of the vocals are pushed back to the point that you can't understand what they're saying, but I like music where the voice isn't predominant but is utilized as another instrument. The Changelings and My Bloody Valentine do this too, and they are both excellent.

I just discovered Blonde Redhead this year when Michael and I made a run on Steak 'N' Shake one night and had Album 88 on while we waited at the drive-thru. (Album 88, or WRAS-FM, is Georgia State University's radio station. I just got into listening to them about a year ago.) A song came on that I didn't recognize but I liked instantly, and it turned out to be "Spring and by Summer Fall" by Blonde Redhead, so I went ahead and got their CD. I haven't heard any of their older stuff so I don't know how this CD stacks up to their previous work, but I'm definintely going to check it out some time.

Recommended songs:
"Dr. Strangeluv"
"Spring and by Summer Fall"

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sea Hag's Ultra Fabulous 2007 Music Review : Let's Go Sailing

Let's Go Sailing
The Chaos In Order

Sometimes you can't help but like a band simply based on the way you discovered them: your best friend told you about them, you saw them play in a bar before they hit it big, you randomly bought a CD based solely on the cool cover art. I found Let's Go Sailing through Gil The Crab.

One day I watched all of the Honda Element commercials online and I totally geeked out over the Gil The Crab ones. ("I pinch" is still a popular catchphrase in the Sea Hag household.) So later on that day I scoured the internet for more about my new pinchy friend and came across his MySpace page. The song he had on his page was "Sideways" by Let's Go Sailing. Sideways? Crab? Get it? Heh heh, clever little crustacean. Anyway, I really liked this song so I bought their entire album.

This album turned out to be pretty good. Shana Levy's sweet, breathy voice adds a poignant, fragile quality to some of the quieter songs on this album, and a cheerful, girly kick to the more upbeat ones. Lyrically it's a little uneven, going from the bare-but-brilliant:

And all I want from you is love
And all I want from you is love

(Does she mean it as though it's the easiest thing to give or receive? The simplest? The hardest?)

To the clunky:

It hurts like a splinter stuck in your foot
And you've tried, but can't get it out.

And of course, you walk in the heat for miles.

You forget the pain, but it comes back after a while.

But in all, this is a great, solid indie-pop CD, and I think they'll just get better.

Recommended songs:
"All I Want From You Is Love"
"Come Home Safely"