Friday, March 14, 2008

Scores & Highlights:
January 2008

Welcome to our first installment of Scores & Highlights. The title is pretty self-explanatory; each month or so we'll hand out grades and, in some cases, mp3's of albums we never got around to reviewing. For this segment, we're going to focus on albums released in January, and hopefully have a February post coming soon.

Black Mountain - In the Future
(Jagjaguwar; 2008)
Grade: 81.0%
Sounds like: A wonderful hybrid of Sabbath and Neil Young. Should have been recommended back in January.

Blood on the Wall - Liferz
(Social Registry; 2008)
Grade: 75.0%
Sounds like: Every great alternative/grunge band from the late 80's/early 90's rolled into one.

Chris Walla - Field Manual
(Barsuk; 2008)
Grade: 52.6%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: Gee, I dunno, Death Cab for Cutie.

Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
(New West; 2008)
Grade: 68.0%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: Ambitious Southern Rock Opera; or, what I imagine Kevin Drew has in mind every time he writes a song with a little twang.

The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
(Sub Pop; 2008)
Grade: 60.3%
[mp3]"Keep Your Eyes Ahead"
Sounds like: A band equally obsessed with Modest Mouse and 80's pop. Still, it could be worse.

Hello Blue Roses - The Portrait is Finished & I Have Failed to Capture Your Beauty
(Locust; 2008)
Grade: 30.0%
[mp3]"Shadow Falls"
Sounds like: The portrait wasn't the only thing that failed to capture any beauty, though its a nice reminder as to how good Destroyer albums are.

Human Bell - Human Bell
(Thrill Jockey; 2008)
Grade: 58.4%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: Instrumental post-rock influenced by folk and blues. Depending on your perspective, its either as good or as boring as it sounds. I'm going with the latter.

Jeffrey Lewis - 12 Crass Songs
(Rough Trade; 2007/8)
Grade: 50.0%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: Folkie/troubadour musician covering punk rock. Not bad, but wears thin after a while. 6 Crass Songs might have been a better route.

The Mars Volta - Bedlam in Goliath
(Universal; 2008)
Grade: 62.1%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: Their most accessible album since their first, but still a little too over-the-top at times. The best songs re-affirm why you should never count them out.

Radar Bros. - Auditorium
(Merge; 2008)
Grade: 60.3%
Stream the first four tracks at Radar Bros. website
Sounds like: Grandaddy never broke up, they just ditched the electronics and made a vaguely alt/country-ish record.

Sons & Daughters - This Gift
(Domino; 2008)
Grade: 42.2%
Stream various tracks at MySpace
Sounds like: An inconsistent and overproduced mess. Some songs remind me of X, so I guess it can't be all bad.

Thao - We Brave Bee Stings and All
(Kill Rock Stars; 2008)
Grade: 77.7%
[mp3]"Bag of Hammers"
Sounds like: Exuberant pop/rock songstress that's just one commercial away from being 2008's big thing.

Xiu Xiu - Women as Lovers
(Kill Rock Stars; 2008)
Grade: 67.3%
Sounds like: Xiu Xiu with a full band. Like other Xiu Xiu albums, there are standout tracks, but it's mostly obnoxious. Stay especially far away from their cover of "Under Pressure"

1 comment:

Hackworth Artifex said...

Coolness! If this ends up being a regular deal, should we take the top-rated one (In this case Black Mountain), and do a longer review? Just a thought.