Geof’s New Music: 27 Jul – 2 Aug 2008

Hallelujah and praise the Lord! I’m on vacation!

Last week was pretty disappointing.:

  • Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. Okay, so the Led Zeppelin that I love is the rockin’, bluesy stuff. And to quote Wikipedia on Houses of the Holy, “This album was a stylistic turning point in the lifespan of Led Zeppelin.” And, well, on “The Song Remains the Same”, I was confused for a minute, thinking that maybe Geddy Lee had replaced Robert Plant or something. [I’m sure that several people broke things after reading that sentence.] Admittedly, it gets back to sounding a little more like Led Zeppelin as the album progresses, and I am the person that did say, just two weeks ago, “I’m a firm believer that bands have to experiment lest they [and/or their fans] become totally bored with the thing.” But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. So, yes, I should rate this now, right? Three stars, mainly on the strength of “Dancing Days” and “D’yer Mak’er”.
  • The Cardigans’ Super Extra Gravity. The phrase that I was going to use for this album was “solid, but boring” until I got to “I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer”. I have a lot of friends who are excellent singer/songwriters, so I say this with a bit of trepidation, but … man, The Cardigans rock way too damn much to try to do the singer/songwriter+backing band thing. Sadly, that and a fusion of quasi-country stuff [although it felt like Nina Persson was channeling Sixpence’s Leigh Nash for the first few tracks] made for a boring start. But it picks up in the second half of the record, which is good. Three-and-a-half stars.
  • Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Egad. Jacob said this about Coldplay on a forum I run: “The best way I can put it is that I like simpler Coldplay. It just feels like they’re trying to be something that they’re not right now. The indie-rock/prog-rock (good call Adriene) feel just doesn’t fit what Coldplay was. Sure that sounds like the old fan wishing their band hadn’t grown up and changed their sound…I’ll cop to that. But some of their earlier songs made me want to cry. Now their new stuff does that but for different reasons.” I can’t say it any frickin’ better. One-and-a-half stars, and if any of my friends wants it, I’ll give it to them. I don’t want it back. One-and-a-half stars. I haven’t bought an album that I’ve actively hated in quite some time, but … this is it. Gah.
  • 25 Oct 1997 [Utica, NY, USA] concert bootleg of Blues Traveler. I’m surprised that a SBD sounds this poorly-mixed, but then I probably shouldn’t be. Sound board operators don’t have time to give tapers jacking into their boards the time to give perfectly-mixed feeds. The mix is very definitely pushed towards the treble and towards John’s voice standing out above all others. For people that crap on me wanting to do SBD/AUD matrices, well, suck on this. Two stars. [Sad, because Bob Sheehan was really on this night. And before Chris Smith says crap to me … suck on it, LC.]
  • 1 Sep 2007 [Denver, CO, USA] concert bootleg of Wilco. Gah. Another week of getting burnt by a stealth rig. Venues that don’t allow tapers suck. This sounds pretty good despite being stealthily done. Two-and-a-half stars.
  • 26 Apr 2008 [Dayton, OH, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. It’s a rare case when I’m disappointed by a matrix [well, other than my own, heh], but I am by this one. Karin’s vocals are too hot in the mix, but I fear that’s probably a fault of the sound board op [which shocks me, because this typically isn’t the case with CST shows] than the taper. [After all, if she’s too hot in the SBD feed, she’s probably too hot in the mains, and you can’t compensate with the AUD part of the feed to get more of the band.] I mean, it’s still a decent recording, but I only give it three stars. I expected four-plus.
  • 27 May 2008 [Milan, Italy] concert bootleg of Feist. Feist bootlegs are hard to come by, so I was willing to chance it on a recording made by a Zoom H2‘s internal mics. [Hey, I own and use a Tascam DR-1, so I’m understanding. It’s just that internal mics aren’t going to get a big band’s sound, especially not in a room like that.] So it’s not terribly surprising that the recording is muddy and distant, but hey, it’s free, right? Two-and-a-half stars.

Geof’s New Music: 13-19 Jul 2008

This week has two new studio releases: one that everyone has, and the other one that BMG sent me when I missed the chance to reply no. Hey, I’ll take the chance.

Last week was a very good return to form:

  • My Brightest Diamond’s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth. Nothing on A Thousand Shark’s Teeth ever grabbed me like “Golden Star” off of Bring Me the Workhorse did, but “Ice & The Storm” comes close. There’s no doubt that Shara Worden is quite ridiculously talented, but it feels on this one that she’s so there and I’m so … here, with little connection. All in all, it’s a solid effort, though. Three stars.
  • Sigur Rós’s Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. Brad asked me what I thought of the new Sigur Rós pretty quickly after GNM went up last week, so I sat down and listened to it on Sunday night [which watching baseball, which was quite the dissonant experience, I assure you]. It’s … definitely quite different from what I have of their catalogue to date. I understand the criticisms of it in terms of why people don’t like the more straightforward pop direction this album took, but I’m a firm believer that bands have to experiment lest they [and/or their fans] become totally bored with the thing. Style changes notwithstanding, it’s still very much Sigur Rós—I’d recognize Jónsi’s vocals anywhere—and that’s a good thing. Bands that don’t experiment don’t grow, and bands that don’t grow die. [Unless, of course, you’re the Rolling Stones, but then Keith Richards has to be pickled from all the crap he’s ingested over the years.] Three-and-a-half stars, and it could grow on me even more.
  • 21 Apr 2002 [Toronto, ON, Canada] concert bootleg of Wilco. The set starts off with “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, which is weird given their current sound. It’s also pre-Glenn and pre-Mikael, so it’s just an overall different feel—more straightforward than present-day Wilco [my favorite incarnation of the band]. This is a fine-sounding audience recording, which is great given its age [and how blessed we Wilco fans are with the fine rigs folks bring to shows these days]. I give it three stars.
  • 14 Nov 2003 [Los Angeles, CA, USA] concert bootleg of Death Cab for Cutie. Thin, reedy, and distant. Two-and-a-half stars.
  • 22 Apr 2005 [St. Paul, MN, USA] concert bootleg of M. Ward. The show starts out slow, and the recording is about a B-, but it’s enjoyable. Three-and-a-half stars.
  • 5 Nov 2005 [Dayton, OH, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. The Canal Street Tavern is where I first saw OtR live, in a city I used to call home, so all those shows hold a special place in my heart. [I want to see a CST OtR show in 2008 or 2009 with Lara if she’s still in Ohio then.] This is a fine, fine recording. Four stars.
  • 2008-05-04: Derek and Sandra 4 May 2008 [Birmingham, AL, USA] concert bootleg of Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken. I wish that I’d gotten a board feed of this show, because the AT2021s don’t really get lows. Of course, this works fine for acoustic singer/songwriter-y stuff, but the end result still sounds a little thin. But it sounds pretty great. Three-and-a-half stars.