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Sporadic posts from me in the last couple weeks. So like Jase’s recent posts, here is a quick recap of some new music I have got (in order of most listened to downward) that is sneaking in some playtime between Portishead and Flight of the Conchords.

1. Get Awkward by Be Your Own Pet

This album is great. I dug the first Be Your Own Pet album…. it was bit of a sleeper where I thought I kinda liked it, and I found I was listening to it quite a bit. The newy is 15 tracks of the same cool Punky-Poppy-ChickSinger goodness. I didn’t know it was coming out and on RRR one morning I heard the track The Kelly Affair and I was in heaven. What genius band writes a song based on one of my all-time favourite movies, the Russ Meyer classic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. Well, it was Be Your Own Pet so I was all giddy up. Sure they may be a one trick band, but when the trick is this fun, who cares?

2. Volume One by She and Him

And so we go from punk-pop to country-pop with She and Him. Normallly I wouldn’t touch anything related to an actor deciding to play music. But when I heard Zooey Deschanel was teaming up with M. Ward I was curious. Then I heard some great reviews. Then I heard a track and I was hooked. I like my chanteuse. All my friends know of my Neko Case obsession. Well, Zooey is no Neko, but this is 12 absolutely sweet tracks. And by sweet I don’t mean sweet as in cool, I mean sweet as endearing. Zooey’s voice is not the most technically great you have heard, but M. Ward has captured her strengths really well, and considering she wrote these tracks (besides a couple covers), I certainly take my hat off to her. Maybe the actor as failed musician stereotype has some exceptions.

3. Narrow Stairs by Death Cab For Cutie

This is out formally next week, but like Jase I have heard a bit. And I am liking what I hear. I thought Plans was a little so-so. Some of the tracks I have heard though hear sound like Death Cab but a little more adventurous. I heard the track Talking Bird and except for Ben’s vocals, you would not know it was DCFC. This is not to say I don’t like the trademark Death Cab sound, but it was about time to change things up a little, and Narrow Stairs sounds like a step really in the right direction. Better review once I have heard the whole thing.

4. The Age of the Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets

Who you ask? Well, a vehicle for Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys fame. I picked this up on the strength of Turner and some decent press, but not so sure it was a great move. To be fair I don’t think I have yet given this time to sink in, but I just can’t make out where this album is coming from. When the opening track started I thought I was in a Sergio Leone western. I will try and give it some more time, but I most certainly prefer the energy and wit of the Monkeys.

5. Svn Fngrs by Black Francis

Oh Charles, you frustrate me. How does the genius behind such songs as Bone Machine, Velouria, Planet of Sound and Wave of Mutilation (and even songs like Los Angeles) produce things like this. Not that it is that bad. But when (ok, unfairly) compared to a back catalogue of Pixies, this is just so lacklustre. Maybe it is because he has become Black Francis again that I get upset. Like every Black Francis/Frank Black release, there is some cool stuff in there. The punkish stomper I Sent Away, and closing track When They Come To Murder Me are pretty sweet (as in cool), but when the release has filler on it and it is only 7 tracks long, you worry.

6. Raise The Dead by Phantom Planet

Ahh, speaking of actors-cum-musicians. With Phantom Planet it is a bit grey what actually came first… the band or acting. But anyway here we are. No Jason Schwartzman in Phantom Planet anymore, the actor mantle is held my Alex Greenwald. Liking Phantom Planet is a bit embarrassing on another level. Yes, the opening song of The O.C was their track California. But I liked them before that! I swear! Anyway, we are talking about this album. Since we are at number 6 in a list of 6, you probably know what I think. I just don’t like it. The songs are pretty uninspired. Apparently this is the best of some 100 demo tracks. That’s a worry. Again, maybe I need to give it some more spins, but lots of other things are edging it out. But I should get my money’s worth I guess. Or maybe I just cut my losses.

… muttler


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