Come and see

There's been a lot of hype about the new Decemberists' album, The Crane Wife. I wouldn't call myself a huge fan of the Decemberists. Not any more so than I am a fan of any other mainstream indie rock band that I listen to a lot. But I will say, this album was somewhat of a disappointment. There was nothing amazing about it. A few of the songs struck me as well produced, but it wasn't as if every song was great. Are my standards too high? I wouldn't think so. I mean, if Stephin Merritt could manage to never make a bad or even half-good song, I don't think it is too much to ask for bands who cannot live up to that just to not put out their mediocrity. Who wants to listen to a 12-song album of bad songs? This is all to say that I did think the Decemberists' 2002 release of Castaways and Cutouts was pretty excellent. Last year's Picaresque was pretty good, too, although it had a lot more energy than I wanted to hear from them (yeah--I know that sounds weird but if you listen to them both enough times you'll know what I mean).

My favorite song from The Crane Wife is probably "The Island," which actually kind of starts out painfully bad but ends up sounding a lot better a few minutes in.

You can find a couple of other songs elsewhere. I won't bother to put them here.

However, here is a nice little diddy from the band that is actually quite nice to listen to, whether you're a Joanna Newsom fan or not.

This week, as I get to them, reviews of the new Anti-Flag, Yo La Tengo, and Nina Nastasia. Maybe Xiu Xiu. We'll see.


on the L-train in the morning I was sure I saw Will Oldham

Now that I am back from my month of awfulness, I just wanted to mention a new album I've been listening to. You'd have to be stupid not to notice that I love love love antifolk. I've reviewed Kimya Dawson, Regina Spektor, and I think briefly mentioned Adam Green's new album, but here's another of my favorites. Jeff and Jack Lewis seem to be a bit everpresent in the antifolk movement, having recorded with Kimya and done a few of their own.

The Jeff Lewis Band is Jeff and Jack. Their new album, City & Eastern Songs got a decent review from Pitchfork.

Since I couldn't have said it better myself, here's there review of "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror," probably the best song on the album:

Why do we even bother? Such questions keep Jeffrey Lewis up nights. On rambling urban-bohemian fantasia "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror", an L-train-riding Lewis asks Bonnie "Prince" or a sunglass-clad doppelganger whether e-mail interviews and polite critical notices merit turning our dreams into hobbies-- i.e., "Is it worth being an artist or an indie rock star, or are you better off without it?"-- and receives his admittedly lame, possibly sexist answer only after getting violently fucked, Palace-style. This song is witty, self-aware, and preposterous, like Art Brut set loose on hipsterdom with back-porch acoustic guitars.

Lately, I've also been listening to a lot of old stuff. The Distillers, as always. Some Yo La Tengo and Teenage Fanclub.


Flowers in the Attic

Has anyone read it? You remember, it's that book from the 80's about the kids who get locked up in the attic by their mom and her fascist parents. The book is so oedipal that it hurts, with tons of incest and other bizarre stuff. I found my copy recently and re-read parts of it. Poorly written does not even begin to describe it, but one thing I did notice was the repeated reference to the Dresden Dolls (the kids, not the band). I happen to really like the band, but the darkness of the reference is somehow lost in the book. The band, however, really brings it to light with their sort of gothic undertones and low, bold melodies.

At any rate, I have to write a paper about the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, and the Dresden Dolls won the paper writing music lottery. Here are a couple of links, though:

Official Dresden Dolls website

Their myspace with a couple of new songs you can listen to.