3 Out of 5 Ain’t Bad: Capsule Reviews

 

Sadly, Jim ORourkes influence is only felt on the bizarre cover art.

Sadly, Jim O'Rourke's influence is only felt on the bizarre cover art.

In the last month or so, there have been a flurry of releases that attract lots of attention, be it because the band is famous (Wilco, Sonic Youth), the band and/or record is really, really good (Phoenix, Dirty Projectors), or because the band is really good and Pitchfork gave one of its songs a 10 (Grizzly Bear).  With all of this stuff getting released at once, you may be forgiven for not knowing which ones to pick up/which one should be first in your downloads queue.  Thus, here’s a helpful consumer guide for the age where Robert Christgau gives everything an A-.  

 

 

Wilco: Wilco (The Album): Jeff Tweedy (The Increasingly Boring Frontman) and co. serve up another scoop of vanilla songwriting, complete with cutesy lyrics (I’d like to believe that “Wilco will love you baby” has some level of irony to it) and the lack of a production job by Jim O’Rourke (The Guy Who Saved Wilco AND Sonic Youth).  In addition, the death of Jay Bennett (The Foil) probably means Wilco (The Horrible Band) will only get worse.

 

Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca: The only reason it took Dirty Projectors this long to make an album this good is because their frontman Dave Longstreth insisted on doing things like covering Black Flag’s Damaged from memory and being diverse in an ADD kind of way.  Now he’s past all that, and guess what?  Bitte Orca’s great.  

 

Sonic Youth: The Eternal: Actually, there are several good things about this album.  

1) The length of the album is not in fact eternal, though sometimes it feels like it.  

2) If you’ve ever gotten depressed by listening to a Sonic Youth album because you think you and your band could never do something as great as this, this album should be a good pick me up.

3) If you’ve ever felt bad about thinking Kim Gordon is sexy, this album should be a good cure.

4) Like… cool album art, dude.

 

Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: Finally, forty plus years after the Beatles and the Beach Boys, the world produced a pop band that it’s 100% cool for everyone, from hopelessly square teenage girls to tragically hip Pitchfork bitches to enjoy.  So, yeah; it’s a really fricking good album.  

 

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest: Whenever I can’t decide whether or not I should do something, like tell you to buy Grizzly Bear’s latest album, I make a list of pros and cons.  And so…

Pros: Beautiful production, some great songs, New York band, guys in said band seem nice enough.   

Cons: Not quite as good as their last record, silly cover art.  

So the pros barely win out.  But, the cons are pretty slight.  Buy it.  

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