Thursday, July 28, 2011

Listening Notes: Los Lobos, Archie Bronson Outfit

Los Lobos - The Neighborhood, Kiko

I was looking to get CDs of How Will the Wolf Survive? and By the Light of the Moon (and, really, does anyone need my recommendation for either of those?) and the only way was through a cheap British import that included the first EP and The Neighborhood and Kiko. I'd never heard Kiko entirely before - it came out the year I was between degrees and mostly unemployed. It's a little too atmospheric for my taste. The surprise is The Neighborhood, which I remembered as being too much like a conscious attempt to be like The Band - Levon Helm sings on a song etc. It doesn't sound that way at all. It just seems like a natural continuation of the first two albums. (Okay, there was a Spanish language album in there, plus the La Bamba soundtrack, but you know...) The songs aren't quite as good, but they're good enough. I'll take it over Kiko any day.

Archie Bronson Outfit - Coconut

What a lot of clatter. And forget trying to figure out what they're saying - it might as well be in Finnish. Yet, when I don't think, when I let it wash over me, it's fun for minutes at a time. Then the clatter starts up again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is That The Fat Lady I Hear?

In the course of my job, I sign the library up for electronic access to journals and magazines we receive in physical form. To do this, I have to give a an email address, so I give my work email address. Sometimes a magazine think this means that I'm the subscriber, as opposed to the library being the subscriber. This leads the magazine to appeal to me as if I care about the magazine's contents. The worst of these is Opera America. "Read by all the decision makers in the opera industry" - if that doesn't have the keening ring of desperation I don't know what does. They keep importuning me to buy ad space in their magazine. Good business model, folks. If I were a real subscriber, I wouldn't be any more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Listening Notes: Introduction, Battles, Buddy Miller, Loudon Wainwright III


I need to write more and not be so precious about it. So I'm going to write about what I'm listening to. I don't pretend that what follows is brilliant, insightful or even clever. Some of it is going to be flat out wrong. I'll change my mind after a few weeks or months or whatever. The point is to write without worrying about being brilliant, insightful or clever. Since no one is going to read any of this.

Battles - Gloss Drop

I once called Battles Yes for the 21st century. I'm not sure I want to take that back. Gloss Drop is much better than Mirrored, but it's still art rock. There are two roughly two distinct kinds of art rock - art rock by virtue of conceptual stance and art rock by virtue of technical virtuosity and knowledge of the European art music canon. Battles are art rock in the former category, as are TV on the Radio, Roxy Music, Brain Eno and Talking Heads to name only a few. Yes have elements of the conceptual within their work, but they sold records and arenas on the basis of their technical virtuosity. God knows, some people like that endless noodling. Battles's noodling is sharper and more driving, but it's still noodling.

Buddy Miller's Majestic Silver Strings

Buddy Miller's Majestic Silver Strings is a meeting of four hot shot guitar players. Since only two of them sing, neither of them all that well, they have all sorts of guest vocalists. I have nothing against hot shot guitar players or guest vocalists, but the result just doesn't work. I mean, Dang Me is supposed to be a funny song. Taking it slow and serious is an idea, just a bad idea. Buddy's carried off decent albums both as a solo singer and with his wife, so I'm not sure what the problem was here. Was he intimidated by Ribot and Frisell? Or did he have to leave space in the music for them to solo?

Loudon Wainwight III - 40 Odd Years

Bill Frisell's best album of the last 10 years is Loudon Wainwright's Here Come the Choppers. Loudon's box set, 40 Odd Years, is both too much and not enough. His prep school Warren Zevon act is best experienced in shorter doses, but there are serious song omissions on the 3 CDs he's chosen to represent his 40 years. Which is to say that serious acolytes can assemble their own playlist. I like him almost as much as I like Zevon, which is high praise. I like the box set's disc of collectorama and love the notes. But then I like box sets...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Long, Long, Long Goodbye

I was moving earlier this year at about the same time as my subscription to The New York Review of Books was up for renewal, so I thought I'd let let the subscription lapse, buy a few issues at the local good works store and then subscribe at my new address. Big mistake. I should have realized that whoever handles the subscriptions for the magazine has no way of realizing that there's only one Chris Hurst in Brandon and he has a subscription to their magazine. The pitiful notes asking why I've abandoned them keep coming to my old address - the fourth one arrived yesterday. Worse, they now have two addresses to sell to the Economist and the Folio Society (overpriced reprints in ugly covers) and whoever else is going to clog my mailbox. Rea Hederman "writes" in the latest computer generated mailing that she hopes this is not goodbye. I should be so lucky.