January 11, 2006

Mid-January Music Report

It's barely the middle of January and I've already heard five albums from 2006. I'm making a concerted effort to take in more this year, so this isn't terribly shocking. I've only bought one of the five, but two have yet to be released. I love album leaks. Anyway, my plan is to lovingly detail my listening experiences with damn near every record I hear this year, so I will proceed to talk a bit about the albums of 2006 (thus far).

First and foremost is The Strokes' First Impressions of Earth, which leaked several weeks ago and was released in stores last Tuesday (it debuted at #4). I've been listening toThe Strokes for a long time, but I'm by no means a big fan. First Impressions of Earth is their third album, following 2003's excellent Room on Fire. While the album starts impressively and ends well, the middle unfortunately meanders a bit. The album is overlong; more than 50 minutes in length where the previous two had been just over half an hour. Where the previous albums had been concise (short and sweet, if you will), this one just seems to go on and on.

"On the Other Side" is a painfully whiny track in which singer Julian Casablancas slurs "I hate them all/I hate them all/I hate myself for hating them." Witty lyricism! It's not the only instance of unexpectedly dumb lyrics, just the most obvious. And yet, I don't hate this record by any means. I just think it would be better without three or four of the lower quality tracks. It would be a killer third album under those circumstances. As it is, it's just another instance where the "more bang for your buck" argument fails.

We Are Scientists are a new band in the vain of Hot Hot Heat, featuring catchy, repeated lyrics set to fast dance-rock tracks. With Love and Squalor starts off strongly with "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," which features the amusing chorus, "My body is your body/I won't tell anybody/if you wanna use my body/go for it." Fortunately, the energy is maintained throughout the course of the record, adding up to a very strong debut. I may pick this one up if it continues to grow on me.

Morningwood's self-titled debut is an overtly sexual affair, similar to early Garbage, sans tact. Or overall quality. Rather, the album comes off as silly and Donnas-ish, which is not a complement. Not recommended, based on my initial reaction. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley is releasing a solo album later this month with help from the Watson Twins. Rabbit Fur Coat is largely a country affair, shedding the glossy indie-rock of her band's stellar 2004 album More Adventurous. Honestly, I don't have much of an opinion on this, as I don't enjoy the type of music. A couple of the songs are solid, but it's tough for me to get into an album like this. Check it out if you're a big fan of Lewis or just curious.

I've never listened to Belle and Sebastian before, but their new album The Life Pursuit is releasing next month, and it's leaked rather early. Belle and Sebastian make light indie rock that updates the kind of music our parents might've listened to when they were our age (that's such a broad, sweeping statement; sorry). I've listened to it a couple times, and it's definitely pleasant music, but it's not exactly the type of music you'll sing along to. But I like it, so I'll likely play it several more times and try to form a better opinion on it.

The only other record is Say Anything's Was a Real Boy EP that is to be packaged with the re-release of Is a Real Boy, which could happen at anytime. It was delayed from last fall after Max got sick again, but it was leaked several months ago. It's an incredible set of songs, as is damn near anything they release. I'll make a mention on here when it hits stores. If you don't already have the Say Anything album, hold off until the re-release comes out. Is a Real Boy is one of my top five albums of all time (that's the second I've mentioned in the last few posts -- what could the other three be?!).

On my 2006 playlist are two other songs: "Monsters" by Matchbook Romance and "Sure Thing Falling" by Yellowcard. The Matchbook Romance song is really solid... everything I've heard about their upcoming record suggests that it will be entirely different from Stories and Alibis, with some reports even making comparisons to Muse. Clearly, my interest is piqued. The Yellowcard song is alright... I have a feeling the album will be decent, but I just won't be drawn into it like I was their last two albums. I think that's what happened with the Rufio album last year. It was a very good album, but I just wasn't as interested in them as I used to be. We'll see. I'm expecting great things from Matchbook Romance, though.

The next post will likely discuss literature, as I've been reading quite a bit lately. Until then...