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Friday, August 30, 2013

Iron & Wine -- The Creek Drank the Cradle


I'm gonna talk about myself, that's the point of these things, they're for me, and if you like them, fine.
I was fairly optimistic in the spring of 2005. Sure my crawfishing gig was soon to end, and no one was knocking my door down over my recently acquired English degree, and my mom was often dropping hints that me sleeping in my old bedroom all the time was getting old, but hey, I had friends and the mindset of a vagabond, and if I was going to wander, I was at least going to enjoy it. My good friends, the Slavens, always had their doors open to me, and I took great enjoyment in discussing life, politics, religion, and music with them. They introduced me to Iron & Wine's debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, knowing me to be a good country boy. Since I was exiled to the country outside of my wanderings (though I live there now again and would rather be nowhere else), this album made a fitting soundtrack to lazy cane field days, and hanging out at barns, and looking at the old rusted pig coop, and watching the moon rise over the Mississippi and all its towering oaks, and my dog waking me up at night as he barked at a train, and my cat poaching baby blue jays from their nests and leaving them on the steps, and eating all my parent's ice cream, and watching the movie Godspell while eating some fried chicken my old man bought and drinking a bunch of Kool Aid blasts I bummed from somewhere. Ah, to again be 23 and aimless. Actually, I'm glad that happened, but I'm glad it's over. Better to have a purpose and goals and stuff at this age, but anyway, ramble tamble, The Creek Drank the Cradle was recorded by Sam Bean on a four track with an acoustic guitar, and a banjo, and according to Wikipedia, a slide guitar. It's a bunch of songs about country stuff, and I miss Joanie Jarreau's rooster puffing out his chest at me while I fed all his hens. This ain't country music, though, I don't know what it is, though it is evocative of the country. I guess it's folk music or something? though it doesn't really sound like folk music. In genreless terms, I guess its just Sam Bean's unique musical vision, and maybe he's read Flannery O'Connor a lot, too, because this sounds like the horizon from one of her books, sometimes. If there's a weakness, though, it's that Bean kind of stretches things lyrically in that neo-folk way where he seems more apt to enjoy thinking of milking cows and dragging a bushel while he drinks his imported whiskey at some trendy dive bar, but maybe not, maybe he grew up in the country, too, and this is his version of it. It does sound like he recorded this in a barn with the wind blowing the vane on top and grain swaying in the breeze, and the trees slowly heaving, and a snake resting in the shade. Whatever the case, I love run-on sentences and paragraphs, and I love thinking and writing about my experiences in 2005 very much, and I like this album and how it reminds me of some of that stuff, and I picked and shucked a pick-up truck full of corn this morning and if you don't believe me, look at my hands, they're all yellow, and that's never happened before until now, so it must be the strain of corn we planted this year, and did you get up at 5 am this morning?

I was also watching the second season of Deadwood on HBO that spring. I always felt like this song should have popped up in the end credits at some point, but it never did.

2002 Sub Pop
1. Lion's Mane 2:49
2. Bird Stealing Bread 4:21
3. Faded from the Winter 3:17
4. Promising Light 2:49
5. The Rooster Moans 3:24
6. Upward over the Mountain 5:56
7. Southern Anthem 3:54
8. An Angry Blade 3:48
9. Weary Memory 4:01
10. Promise What You Will 2:24
11. Muddy Hymnal 2:43

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whip It. Whip It Good.

Man, covers like this make me miss being on the radio. We loved playing stuff like this. Oh, well.

It Ain't No Use to Sit and Wonder Why

Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right [HD] from Đi on Vimeo.

Don't think twice, it's alright.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Intronaut -- Prehistoricisms

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I loved dinosaurs when I was a kid. The quick-to-label system of today would most likely have stamped "ASPERGER'S" on my file, after listening to my five-year old self identify every single species in any dino-dictionary presented to me. In the early 80's, quality dinosaur film-entertainment was pretty scarce. My options were mostly limited to the prehistoric exploitation films of the late 60's and 70's, featuring big claymation dinosaurs, bigger boobs,  giant bugs,exploding volcanoes, and often weird plots involving caveman wars, aliens, evil supernatural monsters, and all sorts of the kinds of crazy madness that makes one's mother say, "Turn that off!"
Despite their often awfulness, I have a soft-spot for those movies, and they've subconsciously shaped my mental image of "prehistory." Intronaut's Prehistoricisms is no where near awful, but it could easily soundtrack the magnificent cinema I've described above.  It's metal music, but not really in any conventional sense. The vocals are nice caveman yells, and the guitars shred out a metal riff now and again, but mostly this is something different. The drums sound like a sophisticatedly-synchronized rock-slide. The bass-playing alternates between the sound of flowing lava and a lumbering sauropod, bordering on virtuoso.  The guitars are just as apt to conjure a muddy, mosquito-ridden swamp as a skull getting crushed. The whole thing is as relaxed as a T-Rex, resting on a sunny riverbank after a three triceratops meal.

Speaking of stuff I like that this reminds me of, this album really reminds me of the 65 Million B.C. music from the Super Nintendo classic, Chrono Trigger. Awesome.

Best. Game. Ever.
Finally, when listening to the final track, does anyone else envision the titular lizard driving around in his cool lizard car to all the activities listed, slicking back his lizard hair and checking out his reflection in the mirror? Just me? Procomsognathus!

2008 Century Media
1. Primordial Soup 1:26
2. The Literal Black Cloud 5:29
3. Cavernous Den of Shame 4:13
4. Prehistoricisms 6:29
5. Any Port 7:31
6. Sundial 7:33
7. Australopithecus 4:32
8. The Reptilian Brain (Sleep, Eat, Shit, Fight, Fuck) 16:20

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This A Capella Dude Is Awesome

I can't understand why his videos don't have more views. His voice is great, and his vocal arrangements are excellent. Plus, a lot of the songs he chooses to cover are top notch.

For reference, here is the original, from some rookie band I'm sure will blow up some day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Favorite Scenes From Movies I'll Never Watch Again, Part II

I knew when I posted the first part of this series that I'd soon revisit the topic.
The first of the two films I will look at today is one of those with subject matter too difficult to watch twice. United 93 is, as far as researchers can piece together, an accurate recreation of the hijacking of that particular 9/11 flight, up until the passengers fought back and the plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The heroes on this plane saved the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. from a direct attack that would have ended countless lives and likely thrown our government into unprecedented chaos.
The film is directed by Paul Greengrass in his signature hand-held camera style. In his popular Bourne Identity films, the style and rapid-cutting is used to illustrate the fragmented nature of the protagonist's mind. In this film, it highlights the chaotic, terrifying nature of the events. My wife and I were not married at the time of United 93's release, and for some reason, we went to see this movie as a date. She spent half of the film in the bathroom, sick from the shaky camera and the traumatizing events on screen. I watched the entire thing, and I never will again. It is an incredible film, and witnessing the courage of these particular Americans was incredibly stirring, but viewing the film is a punishing experience, as I think it should be. It puts you in the passengers shoes.
The final scene, which features the passengers fighting to retake the plane, provides a sort of catharsis for those who have just witnessed two hours of United 93's passengers being bullied and terrified. The plane crashes, some of the passengers die before even reaching the cockpit, but as the score swells, and the passengers refuse to give up, even as the plane is spiraling to the Earth, the blackout as 93 makes impact feels like a note of victory, albeit the kind that makes you cry for the rest of the afternoon.

Clip number two comes from the exact opposite of United 93. Saving Silverman is about as dumb as dumb comedies get. It is pretty funny, I guess, but not funny enough to justify me ever sitting through it again. However, I'll watch the climactic wedding scene a thousand times, as it hilariously subverts the "two people in love running toward each other" trope, then bloodily embraces it. And Neil Diamond.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Interpol -- Interpol

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Interpol's self-titled fourth album includes one truly great song.

There, now you've heard it. The rest of Interpol lacks any forward momentum. It isn't bad, per se (Latin is a dead language), but it does nothing to answer the questions, "Who is Interpol, and why are they still doing this?" I mean, this is a self-titled album, but outside of "Lights," there really isn't a reason for any of these songs to exist. They should be vital, not completely disposable. Atmosphere isn't definitive--there has to be substance beneath. If this band wants to continue making music, they have to do better than this. They've been great before. Just being isn't enough. I could make a thousand too-serious comments like these. I don't like making them, but an album like this makes them too easy to make. There has to be a Latin phrase that sums up the previous sentence more succinctly.

 2010 Matador
1. Success 3:28
2. Memory Serves 5:03
3. Summer Well 4:05
4. Lights 5:38
5. Barricade 4:11
6. Always Malaise (The Man I Am) 4:15
7. Safe Without 4:41
8. Try It On 3:42
9. All of the Ways 5:18
10. The Undoing 5:11

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interpol -- Our Love to Admire

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After the inconsequential Antics, Interpol's Our Love to Admire packs a little weight back onto their sound. I'd say third times the charm, but in this case, the first time was the charm. Everything else hasn't come close, but Our Love to Admire does have a lot to. It recaptures some of the heavy atmosphere of the cinematic Turn on the Bright Lights, though it lacks that album's dark energy. It also re-claims some of Bright Lights' coolness, amounts of which Antics pissed away with a few of its more disco-esque numbers.
The heavier use of keys, particularly on album opener, "Pioneer to the Falls," does its best to define Our Love to Admire differently from the band's previous work. Most importantly, the band still understand how to use a guitar to create atmosphere. The powerful closer, "The Lighthouse," is a testament to that. Unfortunately, the rhythm section is again marginalized in the mix to Paul Banks' voice, though it does shine in moments. If it sounds like I am going back and forth here, I have to tell the truth:
The first time I heard this album, I hated it. I even accused the band of "not trying." With time, I've come to appreciate Our Love to Admire's finer aspects. I think, more than anything, it made me realize not only how weak Antics is, but how weak anything this band is going to do in comparison to its debut. I hate that I keep coming back to Turn on the Bright Lights. The thing is, if you throw a rock at a car and it explodes, you are going to be disappointed if every rock you throw after that just smashes through the windshield. I want explosions! All the time! I'm a spoiled brat!
On its own merits, Our Love to Admire is a good album. Paul Banks still has a tendency to spout some ridiculous lyrics at times--I am pretty sure "No I in Threesome" was specifically written so that Banks could use the title as the punchline to a joke about trying to convince his girlfriend to partake in one. Most of the rest of the lyrics are fairly stirring, though. As a final complaint, the band can also ignore the advice of "Pace Is the Trick" and follow the just-mentioned song with "All Fired Up," instead of the more fitting "Rest My Chemistry." But who is else going to create this kind of atmosphere while sounding this cool? In 2007, only Interpol could do it, and even if this isn't their best, it is still pretty awesome.
Here's "Wrecking Ball" to prove my point, with a powerful chorus to boot. A really cool boot.

That chorus!

2007 Capitol/Parlophone
1. Pioneer to the Falls 5:41
2. No I in Threesome 3:51
3. The Scale 3:31
4. The Heinrich Maneuver 3:35
5. Mammoth 4:19
6. Pace Is the Trick 4:43
7. All Fired Up 3:35
8. Rest My Chemistry 5:00
9. Who Do You Think 3:12
10. Wrecking Ball 4:33
11. The Lighthouse 5:25

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interpol -- Antics

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First, let's get this out of the way. Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights came out of nowhere. It is a masterpiece, and it is not likely that Interpol can ever top it. For their sophomore effort, Antics, the band don't even try. The merits of this decision are debatable. Let's give this a cold dissection.
"Next Exit" kicks off Antics in a fairly anonymous fashion. All of the dark mood and atmosphere that opened Turn on the Bright Lights is absent. In its place is a bouncy rhythm, the oldest chord progression in history, and a promise to head into sunnier waters. "Evil" immediately fulfills that promise. It takes ...Bright Lights energy and cool factor, but transforms it into something...happy? Joyful? It's a good place to start, though the next track, "Narc" sounds like "Evil's" b-side.The heavy rhythm section sound from Turn on the Bright Lights is gone. Paul Banks' voice is at the forefront instead. It's not a bad song, and the sunny guitars in the chorus are a good prelude to one of Antics standout tracks, "Take You on a Cruise." This whole, "taking a holiday to sunnier seas and away from the darkness" thing seems to be Antics' main theme. Turn on the Bright Lights was a very dark album, so the sentiment is understandable. "Take You on a Cruise" is a great argument for that point of view, as it takes the album's nautical vacation idea to a beautiful place. It also marks one of Antics rare occasions where every band member sounds to be hitting full cylinder at the same time. This song's extra-effort, particularly that of the final-minute outro, would have gone a long way toward putting this album somewhere close to its predecessor.

Indeed, the entire middle of Antics is the only portion that comes close to giving Turn on the Bright Lights a run for its money. "Slow Hands" follows "Take You on a Cruise" with a sort of fun, fast-paced energy Interpol has seldom-displayed since. "Not Even Jail" expands the band's sound with new-found space, taking its time to fill out its repetitive groove before finally hitting upon a fitting finish that is truly earned. "Public Pervert" takes Interpol into the romantic stratosphere and works as Antics' highpoint, union on the seas finally achieved. Unfortunately, there are three more songs.
"C'mere" is a lightweight love song. It's pleasant, and that's about the best thing I can say about it.
"Length of Love." If you sang "Two notes, two notes, two notes, two notes, two notes, two notes, three notes," you would sum up the entire melodic and lyrical span of "Length of Love." The simplistic, stretched-out, obnoxious laziness of this song is too much to bear considering what Interpol is capable of.
"A Time to Be So Small" closes out the album by lyrically returning to the nautical theme, but musically, it's dead in the water. It goes nowhere. Thus ends the second chapter of Interpol's musical career. Some great songs floating in a stagnant sea.

2004 Matador
1. Next Exit 3:20
2. Evil 3:35
3. Narc 4:07
4. Take You on a Cruise 4:54
5. Slow Hands 3:04
6. Not Even Jail 5:46
7. Public Pervert 4:40
8. C'mere 3:11
9. Length of Love 4:06
10. A Time to Be So Small 4:50

Friday, August 16, 2013

Well, Geez, Now I'm Sad

This background song is legit, too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interpol -- Turn on the Bright Lights (and a discussion of the complexities of the Human Mind and its ailments, namely the migraine)

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For me, a migraine has two disparate causes: dehydration or mental issues. The first cause is easily preventable, and not so difficult to treat: take my pills, drink some water, eat a little something, and get some rest. If not in a couple of hours, it'll be gone in the morning. The second cause is harder to prevent and even more difficult to treat. When I picked up a debilitating nine month cranial visitor, it wasn't because I wasn't drinking enough water--it was because my mind reached an impasse. I had been dealing with problems by taking mental loops that could not be sustained, the circles growing shorter and shorter, until there was no place to move. My mind was completely boxed in. I know that sounds crazy. I know I am not mentally wired like most people. I also know there exists a large enough minority of people similar to me to keep several major pharmaceutical companies in business. I patronized many of them. Most did nothing for me.
Eventually, I realized, while certain medications could temporarily alleviate the pain, I had to get out of the box. The impasse had to be crossed. The obstacles had to be dealt with. I guess I'll do a review in the middle of this thing.
Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights turned out to be a great companion on the mental journey I had to take. It's an extremely introspective, late night album. The relationship issues singer Paul Banks describes were just as easily relatable to me as my own metaphysical battle with my brain. It's also ironically titled for that purpose. Bright lights are a migraine sufferers greatest nightmare.
Without any personal connection, Turn Out the Bright Lights would still rank highly in my estimation. It's musical perfection. The rhythm section is as in-sync as any you'll find on record. The bass and drums are ideally what holds a rock band's music together. Unfortunately, they are often afterthoughts. On Turn on the Bright Lights, they serve the ideal impeccably. They steady and move the beast. The guitars often sound like stabs of icy light emanating from from the solid, tidal darkness of Interpol's rhythmic base as it  rolls along. The guitars can be as impressionistic as they want because the rhythm section is always carrying the weight of the songs. In true rock fashion, the rhythm section is turned up loud, emanating inescapable movement. Finally, Paul Banks' often pained lyrics are ideally conveyed by his wounded singing. I mean "wounded" as a high compliment, and I use "ideally" again because it is the most fitting word for this album. Everything is just as it should be.
Considering the band and its legion of imitators haven't been able to top this since, perhaps the moment of its creation was serendipitous. A point of reference others have given is the work of the short-lived band, Joy Division. Let's be honest, though, Interpol is listenable. Getting through Joy Division's full albums is a slog. Which brings us to why: I've made this album seem far more gloomier than it is. Despite the density of its darkness, Turn on the Bright Lights is a real good time, whether it's in the blow out the roof rhythm section I've made apparent I am obsessed with, or in Banks' and the band's lighter moments, like the breath of fresh air of "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down." Maybe its the simple fact that the resolution seems like progress past an impasse. And speaking of impasses...
My neurologist, Dr. Kaufman, ran an EKG on me, gave me an MRI, I had my sinuses X-rayed, and I went through all matters of testing. Finally, Kaufman and I had a long discussion on mental disorder. I realized that my migraines stemmed from thoughts associated with certain people, entities, and issues. I found that I had to cut certain people out of my life (if you have psychopaths or narcissists around, cutting them out is a must, even if you've never had a migraine in your life), and completely change the way I either viewed or related to others. I had to, in a way, be selfish, and perhaps put myself before people in situations I would have always put myself last. You can't really do much good when you can barely stand or keep your eyes open, though. So I forced myself to travel deep into my own mind, down every corridor, until I cleaned out the cobwebs, cleared the blockages, and found a way to live that didn't build up more. It was hard, it was dark, and it was difficult. But it happened, and at the end of the journey, I found myself migraine free. I get a couple a month these days, and they are easily treatable with the one pharmaceutical medication I have found to be reliably effective. My life goes on. I've discovered how to heal when I feel withdrawn, instead of withdrawing only to escape. Simple religious repetition, such as reciting the Lord's prayer, has helped as well.
Today, I still know every word to Turn on the Bright Lights. It's still just as much a dark masterpiece to one who has a clear head, as to one who's head was engulfed  in fog and night.

2002 Matador
1. Untitled 3:56
2. Obstacle 1 4:11
3. NYC 4:20
4. PDA 4:59
5. Say Hello to the Angels 4:28
6. Hands Away 3:05
7. Obstacle 2 3:47
8. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down 6:28
9. Roland 3:35
10. The New 6:07
11. Leif Erikson 4:00

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Still the Best

Never better. Time to crush the day.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Il Rumore del Fiore di Carta -- Lesson 3/How to Live Without Senses

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There are no shortage of instrumental "post-rock" bands who sound the same. Instrumental "post-rock" is that genre with two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer, where the guitars play softly for about four minutes, get more intense for another four, and then all the instruments go crazy for four minutes. Write and record four of those, and you have an instrumental "post-rock" album. Post-rock instrumental albums are never led by a piano, never include copious amounts of horn-playing, and are never created by bands from Italy. No one told Il Rumore del Fiore di Carta this.
Lesson 3/How to Live Without Senses bucks almost every instrumental post-rock trend. A piano is the lead instrument for most of the album. The guitars and drums don't have to freak-out in every song. Each song doesn't have to explode at the end. Sometimes loveliness is lovely enough for itself. This album doesn't follow the rules.
Lesson 3/How to Live Without Senses is a melancholy album that's meant to be listened to alone, particularly if the sky is grey, and the sun can be timed to come out just as the album reaches its concluding three minutes. It contains two jams that eclipse the ten-minute mark, and even they buck convention. The first, "Minigolf Striker," gets as loud as its going to get just past the halfway point. It's content to let the piano and horn-led after-affects be the most interesting part of the song. The second, "Music for Vegan Vampires," is as unconventional as its song title. The first three minutes are dominated by a drum-machine and piano. The guitar-buildup hides in the piano runs as if the latter is a Trojan horse. Just when you think the slaughtering Greek army is going to burst out, the song slides to a halt, and the expected explosion of noise is just a woozy display of quiet guitar effects. When the rhythm section returns with live drums instead of the drum-machine, it is actually unexpected. When the live drums do their expected rolls and crashes, they are backed  not by a roaring wall of guitars, but by even more slow-burning distortion. After Troy comes tumbling down, here comes our buddy, Mr. Horn, and his friend, the underrated secret-star of the show, Bass Guitar, to play us out.

I act as if these instruments are living things without people behind them, but this is that sort of album. In reality, though, Lesson 3/How to Live Without Senses was made by people, and whatever those people are doing now, I hope it is making new music. Il Rumore del Fiore di Carta is needed, and I hope their best is yet to come.

1. Damaged Robots (in a Camomilla Bar) 6:20
2. Part-time Superhero 7:46
3. Minigolf Striker 10:54
4. Last Dog In a talk-show 6:28
5. Gold Medals for Rent 4:22
6. Music for Vegan Vampires 11:21
7. The Blind Cosmonaut Under the Sea 3:25

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Book of Sorrows Just Crushed My Soul

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Good grief. I got dehydrated by frequent water loss from the face for the entirety of this book's 339 pages to the point that I felt I should mention it here, as I haven't met anyone else who's read it. This is the follow up to Wangerin Jr.'s Book of the Dun Cow, which is also quite good (and necessary to understanding this book), but doesn't rival the power of the waves of raw emotion rolling from The Book of Sorrows. That was only two sentences. Sorry.
As far as spiritual truth coming from a work of fiction, this is the best I've read.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Idlewild -- The Remote Part

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During my final third of college, I often felt overwhelming feelings of victory. This was mainly because I knew that I had successfully completed five semesters of Spanish and would never have to attempt to speak that language again. Now that I'm back and getting a second major, that victory seems like even less of a big deal. At the time, though, I felt like I could rip the ears off a gundark. Idlewild's "A Modern Way of Letting Go" was the perfect musical expression of those feelings.

After jamming out to this song many times in the KLSU booth with my fellow DJ's, I decided to buy the album it came from so that I could RTFO anytime. Unfortunately, The Remote Part doesn't really RTFO.
Well, that's not necessarily true. Four of The Remote Part's eleven songs rock out. The other seven are either ballads, or mid-tempo anthem attempts. Granted, Idlewild wears their Scottishness on their sleeves, and the ballads can sometimes be very beautiful. Unfortunately, though, The Remote Part ends up being a decent album instead of an awesome album because of these songs. Now, here's a video where they dress up in wild west garb, just like Scottish people always do.

Finally, I started this review with a reference to linguistics, and linguistics are something quite important to this band. Just look at the track titles. Your opinion of lines like, "Isn't it romantic to be romantic, when you don't understand what you love," might heavily affect your opinion of The Remote Part, as well.
Hasta luego.

2002 Parlophone
1. You Held the World in Your Arms 3:21
2 .A Modern Way of Letting Go 2:23
3. American English 4:34
4. I Never Wanted 3:55
5. (I Am) What I Am Not 2:43
6. Live in a Hiding Place 3:16
7. Out of Routine 3:09
8. Century After Century 4:01
9. Tell Me Ten Words 3:46
10. Stay the Same 3:11
11. In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction 3:55

Monday, August 05, 2013

So Much for H

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Well, that's it for "H." It sure went by quickly. "I" will go even faster. There are a couple of "I" artists who inspire very mixed emotions in me, yet have also somehow inspired me to purchase most of their albums. Those reviews should be the most interesting.
I think Pizza Hut is really underrated. They've been around so long, it's easy to forget how well they set the standard. I'm hungry. Speaking of Pizza Hut, it's nuts how there are mid-priced pizza chains now (Rotolo's, Reginelli's) who sell $20 pizzas that are, in truth, not any better than the stuff you get from Papa Johns's or Pizza Hut. Why would I want to spend $18 on a large pepperoni, when I can spend ten dollars on a large, unlimited topping pizza of equal quality? It doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Hooverphonic -- The Magnificent Tree

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Hooverphonic shift their sound from the direction of really cool to really freaky. I don't mean like funky-freaky, I mean like when I wave my hand in front of my face, it's trailing colors-freaky. The opening song starts with a sample of what sounds like an aged Hank Hill repeating the phrase, "Dr. Walter Doodah is a nationally known doctor of music, and has taught many teachers and boys and girls how to play the authoharp,"-freaky (Comma,quotation"dash-freaky). And then the singer says in a very alluring voice, "You are my autoharp. I push every button on your body,"-freaky. I mean, they still sound pretty cool, but more than anything, they sound really weird. I can dig it.
The Magnificent Tree features strings on the more "Hooverphonic" sounding songs, as well as the electronic beats and big bass the band are known for. "Out of Sight," and "Mad About You" could play on fancy car commercials just like the tracks from Blue Wonder Power Milk.
Outside of that, though, even the ethereal title track is freaky. The acoustic guitar, flute samples, and Geike Arnaert's vocals are gorgeous.

Check the lyrics, though:
Bought this guitar
At a shop called mars
But on the way back home
Strange things happened in my car
Started to play
All by itself
Creatures jumped from
The highest shelf
Until I touched string
This magnificent tree
Appeared in my mind
Even without leaves
Its strength was divine
Synthesized gnomes
Penetrated this godly zone
Summer was thrown off
Its royal throne
This magnificent tree
Appeared in my mind
Even without leaves
Its strength was divine

Yes. Synthesized Gnomes. I guess the song does sample Crosby, Stills, and Nash. When I shake my head really fast, I can see glitter.
Most of the other tracks don't really hide their intentions. "Frosted Flake Wood" features scary talking mushrooms (Geike with some really freaky filters on her voice) and Big Bird, and "Pink Fluffy Dinosaurs" is called "Pink Fluffy Dinosaurs." The whole thing comes together to form some weird trippy carnival, and hey that's awesome. The Magnificent Tree might not be nearly as cool as its predecessor, but it is a psychedelic mini-masterpiece. Who doesn't like synthesized gnomes and scary talking mushrooms who promise you'll be the "leader of the band" if you would just go ahead and eat them already? Go ahead, eat them. Eat them! Eat them, what's wrong with you!?!

2000 Epic
1. Autoharp 4:21
2. Mad About You 3:43
3. Waves 4:01
4. Jackie Cane 4:20
5. The Magnificent Tree 3:55
6. Vinegar & Salt 3:20
7. Frosted Flake Wood 3:17
8. Everytime We Live Together We Die A Bit More 3:35
9. Out Of Sight 3:55
10. Pink Fluffy Dinosaurs 3:50
11. L'odeur Animale 3:47
12. Renaissance Affair (Bonus Track) 3:25