Initial Thoughts Album Review # 3 Unpretentious album reviews that forgo the big words, analogies and obscure music-references to simply voice some initial thoughts and gut reactions.
I have long suspected that professional music review writers are idiots. It appears that my suspicions were warranted. Everything I have read about the new Death Cab for Cutie album, Narrow Stairs, goes on an on about how weird, raw or daring the new LP was. Now that I have had my first full listen, I disagree. Ben and the boys have stated in various interviews that this album is a little less polished than Plans because they recorded a lot of it in relatively few takes with minimal tweaking afterwards. This, I can hear. However, I don't see the album as too much of a departure for the band. I hear elements of much of their previous work. I don't get why all those early reviews were saying that this album was so different and would either garner widespread acclaim or alienate DCFC's entire fan base. What garbage! The album is great and it sounds very much like a DCFC album. Maybe some reviewers just needed something to talk about. I suspect that some of them had only listened to the album first single, I Will Possess your Heart, and little else.
Honestly - growing up in the promised land (Bellingham, Washington) I new there was a good music scene in the area, but was unable to catch many live shows due to the utter paucity of all-age venues. How tragic! Death Cab for Cutie was playing some of their first shows while I was in town, but I never caught them live. Yes, I have strolled Railroad and Holly, and still do every time I go back, but I regret that I never caught them live during those nascent years.
Now that I am far removed from the NW, it appears that all age venues abound and the local/regional music scene is as strong as ever.
One group that I am particularly excited about is Common Market. Made up of the Kentucky-raised(fried?) MC "RA Scion" and Blue Scholars DJ Sabzi, they blew me (and many others - including KRS ONE) away with their self-titled debut album in 2006. RA Scion already had a couple of solo efforts under his belt and Sabzi had received critical acclaim with his Blue Scholars project with MC Geologic.
Both members of the Baha'i faith, RA Scion and Sabzi market a brand of socially and spiritually conscious hip-hop. Just wait - it gets better . . . . they have new releases coming out soon!
Since when do good bands come to Lincoln, Nebraska! I have lived here for 4 years, and so far have seen only a handful wander through - never to return! OK, enough exclamation points. On Thursday night, David Bazan and Grand Archives came and played a free concert on UNL campus. Bazan was good, but the room was ill-suited acoustically for his set. Furthermore, I am more familiar with his early Pedro the Lion days, and didn't recognize many of the songs. This said, he was sporting a nice sports jacket.
Grand Archives took the stage around 9:15 and played a great set. Here is the set list:
A Setting Sun
Southern Glass Home
Torn Blue Foam Couch
Once they got the band EQ'd and balanced correctly a few songs into the set, they cruised through them and sounded really good. 3 guitars all jamming at once, 4 of the 5 band members singing harmonies. The music was very layered. And, when, in Torn Blue Foam Couch, the LP features some great horn parts, the band substituted by yelling "Ba Ba Ba Da Da." Great touch! Another highlight was their version of Southern Glass Home - a great track which didn't make it onto the LP. In the middle, they transitioned into a cover of the Bee Gee's "I started a joke," then the Zombie's "Care of Cell 44," and then a 3rd cover which I didn't know. Very funny. Great harmonies. Some of my friends who came, but were unfamiliar with the band compared their vocal harmonies to Simon and Garfunkel or the Beach Boys. I think the band should take that as a compliment.
I have high hopes for this band. Their self-titled LP has a lot of high points, but also a few mediocre points. I hope that their upcoming Southern Glass Home EP (which according to the band on Thursday, was going to feature the title track plus a few new ones), and subsequent sophomore LP effort takes off where those high-points direct.
Below are some videos I took at the show. We recently got a new camera, and I wanted to test it out. The lighting and acoustics weren't the best, but the videos turned out fairly well.
forgive my amateur cameraman-ship (I know, thats not a word)