While you’re all spending your whole Monday just listening to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on repeat, I’m over here fighting the good fight and trying to wring all of the possible
out of what is soon to be summer’s withered corpse. Let’s see what the first few weeks of Auggie Doggie have had for us.
Kesha – Rainbow
I don’t have a bone to pick with Kesha or anything, but I at least thought that her weird trashy party crunk-pop stuff from her debut had a sense of fun. This is just boring as hell. There’s clearly some money behind it and the string arrangements sound expansive and impressive, but the verse & chorus of this song are strangely calculated and lifeless, like the worst third-string Disney song you’ve ever heard. Weak.
Downtown Boys – Cost of Living
Pretty fun, if unremarkable, throw-back punk rock n’ roll. The sing-song shouting doesn’t become grating and it’s immediately clear that this is a group with a political agenda, in the way that great punk music really ought to. I find this very listenable, in a dirty music club kind of way, but the music swings more than it rages and the production is perhaps a tad more contained than the tunes call for. Still, not a bad piece of new punk rock if you’re into the punk rock.
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
I’ve always thought that this band should be a metal band. I think I became aware of them at around the same time that I became aware of Mastodon, and I wanted them to sound something similar. Maybe so that the two bands could play together and it could be billed as a battle between a Grizzly Bear and a Mastodon, and it would have a great poster. Alas, they’re some kind of indie art-pop thing, that has never been offensive to me and has also never been interesting to me. Like a more synth-heavy, less baritone take on the music of The National, but not quite as good as that band’s best material.
The daffy guitar tone featured on “Mourning Sound” doesn’t save it for me, but it’s pretty fun in and of itself.
Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer – Not Dark Yet
This track has a surprisingly unvarnished, off-the-cuff feel that works with the material, but also leads to a few moments that made me wince a little bit. It sounds more like an impromptu duet performance by seasoned musicians than it does a well-rehearsed album of material. There’s a charm to be found in that, and charm to spare in the voices of the two marquee singer-songwriters, but this tune manages to be scrappy and sleepy simultaneously. Were I to stumble upon this at a bar, I would certainly attest to the talent on display, but it is doubtful that I would give it undivided attention. As a recording, it is even less compelling. This is coffeehouse music, and will only be of potent interest to adherents of such things.
Steven Wilson – To The Bone
I was drawn in by the opening amalgam of arpeggiated synth, atmospherics and acoustic guitar, and I immediately began thinking to myself, “Please, don’t let this have terrible vocals”. I was right to worry! Both vocalists on this song turn in cringe-worthy performances, like they belong to utterly different genres from both each other and the song itself. The man, presumably Steven Wilson himself, exuding something gentle that borders on the nebbish, and the woman throwing on exactly the opposite, over-performing and projecting powerfully with a rasp. She’s certainly talented, but it sounds out of place and one of this song’s lyrics is “I’m sick of Facebook”. So yeah, it’s that kind of thing and fuck this music.
Cloakroom – Time Well
Do you remember the late 90s? Well, let me tell you something about the late 90s. People like to think that the only hard music happening at that time was the accursed Nu Metal plague, but that is not true! There were also many, many bands who simply down tuned their guitars, played a half-time beat and sounded exactly like Cloakroom. I thought that this song was extremely boring for the first minute or so while it was just the band lackadaisically grinding away, but the very restrained and sorrowful melodic sections of “Seedless Star” were very surprising and nice. It sounds very referential to a style that I don’t think I’m ready to revisit, but this isn’t the worst. Super boring riffs, though.
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Just in case you missed it last time, Arcade Fire have insisted that NOW is the time for EVERYTHING, and Everything Everything does them one better by just repeating that one word a couple of times and calling it a band name. I’m not sure what one would classify this music as other than “total horseshit”. This is thinking people’s music for people who would buy a t-shirt that says “Thinkin’ People” at The Bay. The vocals are unendurable.
The Cribs – 24-7 Rockstar Shit
Music aside, 24-7 Rockstar Shit is the best album title I’ve heard in ages. “Rainbow Ridge” does a few things that I like, namely existing in that quiet/loud/quiet place that all great alt-rock should, but the post-emo-punk caterwauling is nasal and whiny to a degree that prevents my total enjoyment. I guarantee you that I like this band’s list of influences more than I like them. Great early-90s vintage guitar solo section, though!
So Much Light – Oh, Yuck!
Okay, I take back what I just said. Oh, Yuck! is now the best album title that I’ve heard in a long time. Unfortunately the album title is exactly how I feel about the music.
Actually, the bizarro, terrifying keyboard part is pretty fun, and the drums and bass sound great. But the vocals sound like a 12 year old who has gotten himself locked in a bathroom and all that he has is a vocal auto-tuner. Get that kid outta there! Where are this kid’s parents?!
Matt Pond PA – Still Summer
There was a period of time where I was terribly infatuated with Matt Pond PA, a band that almost nobody has ever heard of. At the time (around 2002 for those keeping score), the band was on the vanguard of what was being called “chamber pop”, performing sorrowful yet hopeful indie pop song accompanied by string arrangements. I became less interested in the group fairly rapidly, as I was a young man and my tastes were even more fickle than they are now.
I fell off of the Matt Pond PA wagon by perhaps 2004, and I’m something akin to shocked that they’re still a group. Upon listening, my key take-away is that they are now no longer even remotely a “chamber pop” act, eschewing strings and melancholy for chugging pop-rock that sits somewhere on the spectrum between Arcade Fire’s early material and a very lofi take on Weezer’s later material. Seriously, that is what it sounds like to me.
Anyway, I don’t like it and now I don’t really feel bad for ignoring this band for 13 years.
They’re right about one thing, though – It’s still summer! Enjoy your August days, everybody!