Ugh. I haven't made as many entries in this blog as I thought I would have by now. My latest excuse is that I went to North Carolina last week. Driving from New York to North Carolina takes quite a while, and that gave me a chance to listen to a lot of albums in the car. In all, I listened to 17 new albums from bands that will be at Coachella.
All of the albums had at least some good moments, but some were definitely better than others. I was hearing all but one of the albums for the very first time. (The Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible" was the exception) Based upon my first listen, here is how I would rank the albums from my North Carolina trip:
- CSS - Cansai De Ser Sexy. This album is great. It's very fun and the songs are immediately catchy. Oftentimes I'll have to listen to an album a number of times before I start getting into it, but this album requires no "warm up listens" -- it's great right off the bat. The music is pretty funky, the melodies are catchy, the beats are big, and the female vocals are superb. The singer has a cute accent that reminds me a bit of Cibo Matto. Highly recommended, and this band is now one of my "must see" acts.
- The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible. I really like The Arcade Fire's first couple albums, so it's no surprise that I like this one as well. I can't say yet where it ranks in their catalog, but I wouldn't rule out putting it first, so that's a good sign.
- Amy Winehouse - Back to Black. I had never heard Amy Winehouse before, but I gather she is pretty popular. This albums sounds like it should be popular, if it's not already. Winehouse has an amazing voice, and most of the songs are highly enjoyable. Her sound is classic R&B, updated for the twenty-first century, by which I mean that the beats are bigger. Good stuff.
- Ozomatli - Don't Mess with the Dragon. I didn't have very high expectations for this band. I had heard they were some sort of Latino fusion of funk, pop, rock, and hip-hop. But right from the get-go, this album had me hooked. The songs are really bright, and you can't help but get happy when you listen to them. Fun.
- Blonde Redhead - 23. I'm a big fan of this band, and their new album did not disappoint. However, I can't say I got a great feeling for this album yet. The songs all sounded nice, but none of them stuck out. I'm sure I will like it more upon further listening.
- Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob. Like their first album, there were a couple of great songs on here, but the rest were just good.
- Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha. Like a lot of albums on the N.C. trip, I was pretty high on this album after I had listened to the first half of it, but by the end of it I wasn't so enthused any longer. "Heretics" is a nice song.
- Gillian Welch - Soul Journey. Country-esque singer-songwriter music. She has a great voice. Some of the songs are amazing, particularly "Look at Miss Ohio". I think I could really get into her with some more listening.
- Brazilian Girls - Talk to La Bomb. This album was a bit like CSS, but not as fun. The music and lyrics are more serious than CSS. But still very nice.
- Cocorosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. Weird band. One of the female singers reminds me of the singer from Portishead and also one of the singers in Squirrel Nut Zippers. I like her voice, but its definitely strange. She sounds like a 30 year old pretending to be a 10 year old. "Japan" is a good song.
- Jack's Mannequin - Everything In Transit. I would describe this band as 'emo plus piano'. The singer is pretty earnest, too much so if you ask me. I was digging it through track five or so, but then I got tired of his whining.
- Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather. The first song is by far the best. They even mention Schenectady in that song. Other than that, I thought it was sort of blah. The lyrics are hit or miss.
- Placebo - Once More With Feeling. I remember this band vaguely from the late 90s, mostly "Pure Morning". That song is an alt-rock classic, no doubt about it. I liked a couple of the other songs ("36 Degrees", "Every You, Every Me"), but for the most part I didn't care too much for it.
- Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain. I liked the first song a lot. Nothing else stuck out too much.
- Crowded House - Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House. This band had a hit in the 80s: "Don't Dream It's Over". I only listened to the first half of this CD, and I thought it was okay. Nothing too memorable though.
- Anathallo - Floating World. I didn't get a good feel for this band. I don't think their music is very well suited for highway driving -- too quiet. I've heard them compared to Sufjan Stevens, but I don't think they are worthy of that comparison.
- The Feeling - Twelve Stops and Home. This band was pretty bad. I liked the song 'Helicopter', but everything else was forgettable.