Friday, February 01, 2008

Month In Tunes Administration: Now Is The Winter Of Our Psychedelic Indulgences

In "Month In Tunes Administration," World's Biggest Corporation will sample the music we virally market to our own employees via disposable Zunes issued in our 2,000 break rooms across the globe.


We at World's Biggest Corporation didn't suck up a ton of records this month, due to the unexpected clusterfuckery of daily operations, the shit-ass Wisconsin weather, deteriorating attention spans, re-allocation of resources, and that pesky competition.

Hell, at one point early in the month, this place even had some guests: Louisville, KY band People Noise got caught in a bad pileup on the way into Madison, made it to the venue that night, and played a solid set for about, oh, 20 people. They crashed here while awaiting repairs and were very friendly, then made it out in time to bolt to a gig in Minneapolis. Last year's Ordinary Ghosts is a fine debut, slathered in glistening keyboards and mega-fuzzed guitars. Currently, the band has to sample the keys live, but that somehow doesn't make things stiff or awkward.

Dead Meadow, Old Growth (Feb. 5, Matador): Who knows, maybe this one will fall to the side after a couple weeks. It's a battle between how blatantly this band reaches back to all manner of olden psychedelia and blues-rock, and how sweet and earthy it all sounds.

Which brings us to...

Black Mountain, In The Future (Jagjaguwar): I won't even pretend that I've learned my way around this one yet, but I do think singer Amber Webber is one of the main reasons this record sticks. Whether she's on backing vocals or taking the lead, as on "Queens Will Play," she's got this frightening shudder in her voice--one of a few things that keep the band fresh as it stomps and riffs through some very familiar pleasures.

Drive-By Truckers, Brighter Than Creation's Dark (New West): Another one that's gonna take a few months to sink in, or maybe all year. "Self-Destructive Zones" is gonna have to be WBC's song of the month. If it's got any competition, it's another highlight from this album, "The Righteous Path."

The Magnetic Fields, Distortion (Nonesuch): The Magnetic Fields' habit of packaging albums with gimmicks really strikes me as a form of self-deprecation. "Let's write a batch of solid pop songs and give them a vaguely country-ish feel (The Charm Of The Highway Strip), make sure they all start with 'I' (I), or just release 69 of them for no reason (69 Love Songs)." This time, the band cheeses itself up with buckets of feedback and fuzz, arbitrarily paired with songwriting that, at heart, doesn't seem much different from anything else Stephin Merritt's ever done. "Old Fools" is just a step away from Highway Strip's "I Have The Moon," both unabashedly maudlin and affectionate songs. They're those moments where Merritt isn't afraid to lay down something universal, a little less disposable. If he weren't so self-conscious, kitschy, and clever, his body of work would make people cry themselves to death. (In a good way?) Hell, I know this is beside the point, but I'd almost like to see him do a completely humorless, gimmick-free record, just for the sake of experiment. At any rate, at least two songs on Distortion--"Please Stop Dancing" and "California Girls"--are new Magnetic Fields disposable-essentials, almost up there with "A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off" and "Two Characters In Search Of A Country Song."

Protest The Hero, Fortress (Vagrant): Imagine Dillinger Escape Plan backed up by a choir of magical horseys, and the mystical glitter-dust that implies, but rammed up against the staggering tightness of super-technical post-hardcore stuff. Weirdly enough, the most tricky-sounding shit here--the operatic vocals and classical-inspired guitar flurries on "Sequoia Throne"--adds a dreamy layer of lightness to the crunch and drudgery. Plus, it's really too bad this blog doesn't have a headwear-design award:

Dub Trio, Another Sound Is Dying (Ipecac): I still think New Heavy is better and more well-rounded, but this new one is pretty gratifying, too, especially for those who favor the instrumental band's brutal, smart-assed side. Also, album cover of the month goes to Martin Kvamme:

Wow, I didn't know you could leave them in the microwave that long. I'm here all week, folks...

Future Of The Left, Curses (Too Pure): The only record I heard this month that's snotty, bratty, and scary enough to excite me on that level.

...And it turns out they're a tad boring to look at. I guess I expected someone with more visible bones, and maybe some boils.

Vampire Weekend, s/t (XL): Review here. It's pleasantly underwhelming, I guess. VW's show in Madison this summer was fun as shit. Outdoors on a warm, breezy night on campus, with sailboats in the background--can't imagine a more ridiculously appropriate venue for it.

Random-ass surprise: The utterly perplexing, primal, and enticing Japan-funk of Yamasuki, as unearthed by Soul Sides.

Shows of the month: The Black-Eyed Snakes and Decibully at the High Noon Saloon, Madison, 1/5; People Noise, High Noon Saloon, Madison, 1/6; The Walkmen and White Rabbits, 1/19 High Noon Saloon, Madison; El Valiente, 1/11, King Club, Madison; The Runners-Up and Patchwork, 1/17, High Noon Saloon, Madison; Editors, 1/29, Majestic Theatre, Madison.