I haven’t abandoned this blog, nor am I purposely ignoring it. My computer has been a complete mess. It’s getting repaired as we speak so hopefully a new blog will be here in just a few short days. Also, I am taking suggestions as to a new computer, so feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.
Reissued by one of my favorite record labels, Mexican Summer, Music and Dreams is a quintessential 1970’s easy-listening album. But, and I can’t believe I am about to say this, I really liked this easy-listening album. It is mellow and innocuous and provides a great soundtrack for a summer day. When I listen to music, I have a tendency to put the music in context. Where do I picture myself being when I put on this music to make it a perfect moment? In the case of Music and Dreams, I’m driving with the windows open on a hot day.
The album opens with the title track, a perfect song for lounging in the sun, relaxing, and drinking something with an umbrella – in 1976, which makes sense as this was the year the album was originally released. I can appreciate a little bit of the mellow gold sound or some good yacht rock, but if that is not your style, then this is not the album for you. Robert Lester Folsom‘s voice reminds me, slightly, of the voice of the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. Slightly strained but sincere. The first side continues with the calm, cool style with one of my favorite songs, Ginger. The album’s lyrics are simplistic and range from intimate (“I can hear the music playing, all you hear is just a space in air.”) to giggle-inducing ( “Do you have a way to heaven or do you need a ride?”)
As the album progresses, the songs pick up a bit of tempo. Some songs introduce new elements, such as the flamenco guitar, that work surprisingly well with the overall album. Side two evokes a bit of a different mood, the evening songs to side one’s daytime listening. However, I found side two to be less cohesive and the weaker side of the album. But I encourage everyone to listen to the album, and listen to it in its entirety, before coming to your own conclusion.
And by popular demand, I mean that 3 friends recently asked me why I stopped blogging. My first round of posting was short-lived, due mainly to work and my own perpetual laziness.
But I am starting anew and this time I am going to keep this venture going. I can’t guarantee I will post every week, but that is my goal. The first of many new reviews will be posting very soon and I hope you all enjoy!
Let me begin by saying that this album is definitely not for everyone. In fact, I’ve gone back and forth about whether this album is even for me. But I’ve decided it is. I’ll go even further and say that I love this album and I think that the music will stay with me for a long time.
New Raytheonport is a psychedelic album that seems to dance across the decades with songs reminiscent of the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. But no song is a cheap snapshot of the decade. The songs are both nostalgic and present and it is this juxtaposition that I find enjoyable. And it should come as no surprise that the album was mastered by Ariel Pink.
The album starts off sounding like a band is playing underwater and while this aquatic sound doesn’t ever completely go away, the effect on the songs reaps different results. The song “Obscure Preferences” doesn’t sound so much like it was recorded underwater, but rather as thought I am playing a rock sound loudly but have placed a thick pillow over the speaker. Imagine laying your head on that pillow to listen and you’ll understand the effect. It might sound unusual but I thought the effect was spellbinding. Keep in mind, I listened to the song on vinyl, where the sound is much richer. Digitally, the song is much more brash. The lone cover on the album, The Alan Parson’s Project’s “Eye in the Sky,” is turned into a moody Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks-esque piece. The album jumps between musical eras but still manages to retain a connective tissue throughout.
I hope that you will try something new and give this album a listen or two. Let me know if it affected you as much as it affected me.
Sorry for the delay folks. Work was crazy last week. I’ll do my best to catch up since it is technically week 5 but since it’s my blog, I guess I can do whatever I want.
Moving on to the music. Anyone heard of Tin Man? Nope? Neither had I. And I had no idea what kind of music to expect due to the blank, boring cover (as seen above). But it actually turns out that the cover is a pretty good indication of what the music sounds like. Minimalist, electronic music. Whether that makes it good music or bad music is still up in the air, at least to me.
After the long days that I had last week, it was very relaxing to come home and listen to this album. Any other day, I’d probably describe it as boring, the musical equivalent of nyquil. Even worse, it is the kind of music I would expect to be played in the slo-mo rave scene of some crappy movie. The first song is trance with spoken word, for God’s sake.
But far be it for me to be a negative nelly. The music got better as the album continued, and it lulled me to sleep. I can think of much worse ways to end a hard day. (P.S. Pitchfork gave this album a 7.7.)
I suggest everyone listen to “Scared” which is no longer available on sound cloud – so head on over to Little White Earbuds to take a listen.
Just listened to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion play some rock ‘n roll music. Or rockabilly punk as it were. I was impressed…for about 15 minutes. Then I got bored. But let me back up a bit.
I am not completely “untainted” when it comes to JSBX. Unlike the other albums I have reviewed so far, I had at least heard of the artist this week. I even vaguely remember a Winona Ryder starring music video that was in circulation during my college years. But, I have never heard any of the band’s music until tonight.
The album started off strong with “Lovin’ Up a Storm,” which is probably my favorite song.. This song is definitely a throwback, a song with the soul of Jerry Lee Lewis. (Editor’s note: after I wrote this, I learned it is a cover of a Jerry Lee Lewis song. Nailed it! I’m also embarrassed, but oh well.) I love it. What a way to get me warmed up! I had such high expectations after that, but the album just became so monotonous. It is drum heavy (I don’t mean that as a criticism), and garage rock-y, and I do love me some fast and furious drums which you can find in the song “Big Headed Baby.” Another bright spot on the album was the instrumental, “Mo’ Chicken/Let’s Get Funky.” But again, how can you go wrong with a song title like that? It was a very fun song in an otherwise dark album. And when I say dark, I simply mean a low, driving sound. However, the album eventually went nowhere for me. It gets repetitive and stiff. And there were times when Jon Spencer is simply trying too hard to be weird with his vocals. Seriously, you don’t have to pronounce words in a purposely odd, off-putting way just to make the vocals more interesting. Your rockabilly voice is enough.
I’m not gonna lie. I prefer some melody with my music so it can be hard for me to keep focused when what I am listening to lacks melody. Maybe that means that I started out with a bias. Maybe this album never had a chance to completely win me over. But it is what it is, and I like what I like. I know some hardcore Jon Spencer Blues Explosion fans and hopefully I didn’t offend them too much. And if I did offend you loyal JSBX’ers, just let me know. I’ll buy you a drink at their show here in Austin next month. Tommy just told me we’re going. Yay?
Here’s some old footage of JSBX covering Jerry Lee Lewis on Spanish television: