Saturday, August 22, 2009

In the Mail!

Do y'all know how awesome labels here in the northwest are? They're staffed by people who really care about the bands they have on their rosters and continually release interesting albums (some have been doing it for decades!). They also pass along some of these albums to my mail box and, for that, I am eternally grateful; I love mail. Here's a few things I've got in the last couple weeks...

Ramona Falls- Intuit (Barsuk)- When the fine folks at Barsuk sent me this album, the first solo release by Brent Knopf of Menomena, I gave it one listen and pretty much wrote it off. But, after sticking with it for a couple weeks, I have decided this album is much too interesting to write off. While the sound doesn't attract me, the composition, instrumentation, and song structures are beyond cool, so well-crafted. The album is an all-star introduction to Portland musicians, too, with 35(!?) guest artists. A couple songs sound like they have charango (a Peruvian folk instrument) on them, which is pretty exciting to me, since it's one of my favorite instruments and I almost never hear it used. This is one of those albums that I'm like, "ok, their studio budget wasn't wasted." They went into the studio and had a lot of fun and they walked out with something they could be proud of. Definitely worth checking out.
Ramona Falls- Russia

Panther- Entropy (Kill Rock Stars)- This album is so on the verge of being really incredible. Panther has a lot going for them- piano in a rock band, cool harmonies, really rad's just that a lot of it just doesn't take the leap I look for in a rock band. Let it be said that I am a little harder on rock bands... I don't want them to sound like a rock band very much. I grew up on a lot of rock music and am now kind of bored with it. While for a lot of people this is a pretty innovative and "out there" kind of album, I want more. More weirdness, less rock. And Panther definitely has the skills to do it, too, if these folks pass through your town, you should probably check it out; they sound like the kind of band that blows minds live. Maybe predictably, I liked the remixes at the end of the album best, especially the Lips and Ribs track, what a jam. (release date: 9/29/09)
Panther- Love is Sold

Fruit Bats- The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop)- while I can't find anything I dislike about this band, I can't rightly find anything I like, either. To me, this is the kind of band that makes Seattle's KEXP fairly boring these days (i grew up with its more exciting previous form, KCMU). There's so much on this album that's been done before that it's hard for me to hear what this group actually sounds like. So, on the one hand, it's a cool album because they mix a lot of different styles together, but, on the other, all these styles have been done like this so many times, it's hard for me to hear it.
It should be said that Sub Pop is surely still on top of their game, despite my feelings on the Fruit Bats' album; they also sent me the Tiny Vipers- Life on Earth album, which I won't rave on about since I have already done so (see below).
I also got a preview of the new Thao and the Get Down Stay Down album, Learn Faster Know Better, which is incredible. More to be said about that, perhaps when it gets a little closer to the October 13th release date.

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