Thursday, October 25, 2007

iPod Roulette

I know I know...I'm sorry for not keeping up with this better. I've been fairly busy with school and all that...but I suppose that's not much of an excuse. I apologize. I'm working on a couple of reviews that should show up within the next couple of days. I'm pretty backlogged, so they won't necessarily be brand new releases.

That being said, I hope this round of iPod Roulette will be something nice to read while you wait. If you want to join in on the fun, you can post your own results in the comment section.

Here we go:

1. "A Killer Idea" - Bill Hicks
This is actually the first time I've ever listened to Bill Hicks. You know what? This is a fantastic introduction. Tasteless? You betcha. But the idea of using terminally ill patients for better stunts in movies is pretty funny.

2. "A Quiet Little Place" - Seven and Seven Is
It's not a bad song. In fact, it might even be a good song. But, after the kind of music the 77's used to put out, I just expect something better from them. I suppose you could say it disappoints me a little bit, which is sad, because I think that, if you have never listened to the 77's before this, you might actually really enjoy this song.

3. "Mountain Halo" - The Appleseed Cast
How can anyone hate these guys? They have been releasing solid album after solid album over their (going on) 10 year career. This song can pretty much sum up what I love about them: noisy and delicate and huge, all at once. (If anyone is still calling these guys "emo", I will kick their heads off of their bodies.)

4. "You Will, You Won't" - The Zutons
This sounds like a song that The Zombies or The Animals would've recorded. I can definitely seeing myself stomping around to this in a club somewhere.

5. "Golly Sandra" - Eisley
This song just so happens to be my least favorite song from this album (Room Noises, their first). That's not to say that I hate's just that the rest of the album is full of such amazing songs, that this one, less-than-amazing song doesn't sound quite as good. Still a fairly good song, though.

6. "A Better Song/Daughter" - Rilo Kiley
The more I listen to Rilo Kiley, the more I realize that I think I really like them. I can't put my finger on what it is about them that I like, but, apparently, that thing I like is the same exact thing that made me not like them at first (if that makes any sense at all). This song is fantastic, but I can't necessarily put my finger on what makes it fantastic.

7. "Soul Power" - The Smashing Pumpkins
This song is like some sort of metal-funk. It sounds like an old James Brown song that they remade...only they threw a whole bunch of huge, nasty guitars on top. Does it makes me want to shake my rump? You betcha.

8. "Martha" - Tom Waits
One of my all-time favorite songs. No one sings a song about lost love as perfectly as Tom can. If you think Tom Waits is nothing but a growling, snarling maniac, listen to this song five times in a row. This song is perfect.

9. "Mantra Slider" - Soundtrack of Our Lives
I think if this group was around in the '70s, they'd be a lot more popular than they currently are, and this song is a perfect example of that. A slow-starting rock song, that grows and grows into a borderline psychedelic/rock bloodbath by the end.

10. "Waiting" - The Rentals
One of my favorite synth/fuzz-pop bands. This song reminds me of driving on a sunny afternoon with the windows down.

Okay, now it's your turn...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

I know there have been over a thousand reviews written on this album, each of them pretty much saying the same thing. I’ll try not to rehash everything you’ve already read, but I can’t promise anything.
Iron & Wine has been a fascinating band to track through their career. It has not been a long career, but they have come a long way in such a short time. Iron & Wine has shown more musical growth in five years than Nickelback would be able to show in a million years. Over the course of their albums, they have steadily added more instruments and have spent more time with production.
That growth certainly shows on The Shepherd’s Dog, their latest album. No longer are Sam Beam’s vocals sung in barely a whisper over a quiet guitar. This evolution was hinted at on the Woman King EP, and further explored on In the Reins (this release could easily be written off as a collaboration, and, therefore, not a real Iron & Wine album).
If you were asked to pick out a trademark characteristic of a previous Iron & Wine album, most people would point out the whispered vocals and soft, gorgeous guitar lines. They wouldn’t be wrong. But those are not the first things that spring to mind when thinking about this album. If I could sum this album up in one word, it would be this: percussion. There is an amazing amount of varied percussion on this album, all of it adding to the songs and overall feel of the album. Songs like “Lovesong of the Buzzard”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)”, and “Boy With a Coin” (to name three) are extremely heavy with percussion. It never detracts from the songs, though, which is quite amazing, seeing as how there is so much going on.
He can still have his tender moments, too. Songs like “Resurrection Fern” and “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” sound like they could have been recorded for Our Endless Numbered Days.
More than anything, this album shows off Iron & Wine’s range. No longer are they a band to put on the background. This album demands your full attention…and, after a listen or two, you’ll be happy to give it.

Rating: 9.3

Favorite Tracks: “Innocent Bones”, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)”, “Boy With a Coin”, “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”

Check our their website here, or buy it here