By Alex Brenner
Sometimes I feel like I could talk about records for days, about the sonic orgasms I had while driving in my car, or talk about who played on what record and how much I love the producers’ work and get all geeky. But sometimes ladies and gentleman when I ask someone if a record is any good, I just want to cut out all the musical foreplay and get down to it. That brings me to our first installment of The Short and Skinny.
With so many records out and such little time I’ve decided to touch on a few new releases or recent releases you might have missed.
Rhett Miller - Rhett Miller
On his third release Rhett Miller continues to travel the less graveled country road and writes well crafted pop songs. If you are a fan of his other band The Old 97s you may not like his solo records at all. The voice and the charm remain but Rhett’s obsession with jangle pop and the British Invasion really come out here. Great hooks like “I need to know where I stand” and “If It’s Not Love” really drive this record along with some great aching ballads. As a whole I found this record not as strong as 2006’s The Believer. Still Rhett Miller proves once again that he is a true tunesmith and not just another pretty face.
Regina Spektor - Far
I know, another girl with a piano. Wrong my friends. Don’t even think about throwing this girl in the Tori Amos and Fiona Apple arena, she is an artist in a category of her own. With her third proper release Regina Spektor expands her sound while keeping the charm 2006’s Begin to Hope. The songwriting is almost child-like using vowels as choruses such as “Eet” and singing about making computers out of macaroni pieces. Her voice is an instrument of its own; sometimes a sweeping falsetto or a human beat box or a dolphin (you have to hear it). Her inflections sound like a cross between Ella Fitzgerald and Bjork. From slow tracks like “Blue Lips” to the “Chopsticks” feel of “Folding Chair” Far keeps the listener’s attention all the way through. While not as memorable and poppy as Begin to Hope there is still plenty of melodies that will still keep you singing along.
Sleeping in the Aviary – Expensive Vomit and Cheap Hotels
[Sleeping in the Aviary will visit the 529 on August 22 and be joined by our own It's Elephant's and Vegan Coke.]MP3: Sleeping in the Aviary – Write On
Son Volt - American Central Dust
This has got to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2009 for me. While Jay Farrar and Co. definitely have returned to form circa Trace with a fuller sound, the songs just kinda go nowhere. Listening to Farrar sing “Down to the Wire” over and over again almost sounds like he is bored with himself. Songs like “Roll On” sure do remind me of “Windfall” but it’s not enough to carry this album as a whole. It’s just one slow country shuffle after another. It’s not even debatable that this band is one of the most imitated amongst the Americana genre. While Farrar’s voice sounds as strong as ever and his lyrics much more personal than any album, his slow drawl is this album’s weakness. There are some great tracks such as “No Turning Back”, “Strength and Doubt” and the closer “Jukebox of Steel” which kept my interest briefly. A vast improvement from their last album The Search, but as a super fan I’m still waiting for Son Volt to make the album I know they are capable of.