Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Another Tuesday, Another Three Records to Review

The Breeders - Mountain Battles Three Hundred Twenty-Eight Words: It's been like 15 years since Last Splash, The Breeders' breakout monster of a record, was released. Maybe they drank too many PBR's or maybe they're old and tired, but Mountain Battles is a bit of a drag at times. Sometimes it reminds me of the crush I had on Kim Deal circa 1994, but it mostly reminds me of 2008 Kim Deal, post-rehab.

What does that all mean? Well, I still hear those melt-y, Deal sister harmonies, but now it's over mid-tempo thuds and twang instead of the surprising tings and poppy bass lines of their grunge-era work. It's as if The Breeders will relapse into a life of heroin busts and nights slumped over the bar at Walnut Hills if they rock too much. Luckily, the sisters from Dayton haven't lost their penchant for nontraditional song structures, which makes the tracks interesting at least. However, this does make much of the record difficult and tiresome.

The best demonstration of the highs and lows in which MB reaches happens between tracks 8 and 9. "Walk it Off" is a classic Breeders rocker where Kim hollers and the bass is chunky and out front. The beat is simple, but it leaves room for some fun guitar play. Then the next song begins, "Regalame Esta Noche". No one from Dayton, OH should sing Latin standards. Bob Pollard should not sing "Feliz Navidad" and the Breeders should have never taken on "Regalame". The track falls flatter than any previous Breeders' track ever. The song requires an accent that does not come from anywhere near the Miami Valley.

Although I am glad to see The Breeders release another record, I am saddened that they may have lost that edge that made them so important to me. It's similar to the Stephen Malkmus record, if you may recall. I guess that's part of growing old or whatever. Your heroes lose what made them great before you realize your own youth is gone.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "German Studies"

Pitchfork Says: ???

Tapes 'n Tapes - Walk It Off
Two Hundred Twenty-nine Words: So, I was out of the loop (or Loon) when Tapes 'n Tapes were first a buzz band, or more specifically, a blog band. And when I did catch on, I was told that it was too late. Tapes 'n Tapes were a disappointment as soon as their record was released. Well maybe if stupid bloggers didn't use hyperbole in every sentence when describing every band who ever played a nightclub, the bands might have time to develop and mature in some sort of obscurity. Alas, that is no longer possible, but I digress.

I actually liked The Loon and I like Walk It Off. That's it. That's the review.

I'm not going to wax poetic about back in ought-3, before Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork made Tapes mega-indie stars. I won't tell you that the wildness of the first record has been tamed into a more coherent sound that borrows less from Pavement and Pixies and more from...I don't know, maybe their own heads. I won't write about the possibility that the hype created by the blogosphere that both raised the band to stardom and crushed it may have allowed Tapes 'n Tapes certain freedoms that allowed them to make a solid record.

Nope. I'm just telling you that it's not too late to pick up Walk It Off (or The Loon) despite what Brooklyn Vegan says.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Say Back Something"

Pitchfork Says: ???

Colin Maloy - Sings Live!
One Hundred Thirty-One Words: Anybody who listens to The Decemberists knows that what keeps them coming back for more is Colin Meloy's voice and the band's lyrics. Here, you get just bare bones Decemberists. Meloy has released a collection of songs from his solo tour in 2006. It's not the most complete or even best set list ever, but it gives Decemberist fans what they want: Colin Meloy singing about pirate ships, espionage, gay teenagers, and Dracula's daughter (well, not that last one). While it's probably only essential for die-hard fans of the band, it should be noted that your dollar does go to Meloy's indie label, Kill Rock Stars. KRS is one of the few labels from my generation to stick to its indie roots. For these reasons, it might be worth a listen.

The one song that makes it worth $17.95: "Barbara Allen"

Pitchfork Says: 6.5


gemmanuel said...

Thanks for the heads up on three records that I'm looking forward to checking out. I haven't even heard any of them yet, but I feel as if I will agree wholeheartedly on all counts. (Kim Deal crush included...what was it about those female bassists in the early 90s?)

gemmanuel said...

Also, love your word count headers. Nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Although I've never listened to a Tapes N Tapes album, I can say that they were awful live when they came to the Note about a year ago. Plus, they had this song featured on MLB 2k7 for my Xbox 360. It played over and over and over again, fueling my hatred for that song (their single, I would assume), and subsequently fueling my bias against them. But I may give this new one a listen.

comoprozac said...

gemmanuel, I review records once in a while. The word count thing was started in December. I counted down the best 31 records of 2007 for each day in December. (You can find the reviews somewhere in my archives.) To make writing 31 reviews in a month (while keeping my day job) a possibility, I decided to limit my reviews to 31 words. I liked the word count thing so much that I decided to make it a permanent part.

Now I'm debating whether to drop the Pitchfork thing or not and to possibly add some silly rating system. I dunno.

Jake, I can see why one would not care for T'nT. They have a little bit of that love/hate thing going on. Plus, I'm not sure I could give any band a chance after hearing a song repeated over and over.

I remember a radio station played "Stairway to Heaven" for something like a week straight, 24/7. I never want to hear that song again.

Thanks both of you for supporting the blog. Both of your blogs are currently among my favorites, the blogs I look for on my reader every day.


gemmanuel said...

I'm plowing through Walk It Off right now. It doesn't seem to have that same jittery, Talking Heads charm as The Loon. Hmm.

comoprozac said...

Yeah, I agree. There is that something that's missing from the last record. However, what I hear is a more cohesive rock record that, like most sophomore releases, could go either way. The next album could be OK Computer or it could be Our Love to Admire.