I'm trying something new with these My Listening Hours posts in 2011: rather than a week of posts every three months—far too daunting to compose anymore—I'll trot out a much more abbreviated monthly post. Ideally I'll have written at length about most of these records already. At the three month mark I may still do a quarterly report of some sort... who knows.
I've ordered these by when I acquired them. This "month" actually stretches back to about mid-December—everything I've acquired since doing my year-end wrap-up. Without further ado...
Sam Prekop: Old Punch Card (2010)
An interesting excercise but not really a fulfilling listen. Review.
- Sam Prekop: Old Punch Card
Third Eye Foundation: The Dark (2010)
Singling out one track from this record does not do The Dark justice. It succeeds best as a whole work, listened to from beginning to end. Probably my favorite album of this month's bunch. Review.
- Third Eye Foundation: Anhedonia
Actress: Splazsh (2010)
There's probably a name for whatever genre Actress is working in—microhouse? dubstep?—but I don't keep up well enough with all the varieties of electronica to know for sure. At any rate Splazsh is a mostly great album that rewards multiple listens. Review.
- Actress: Maze
Kraftwerk: Autobahn (1974)
Despite my love of all things krautrock, Kraftwerk has been a longtime blind spot for me. Last year I started at the very beginning, picking up their four earliest records, most of which were spacey and aimless and featuring more organic instrumentation and composition. This is my first real taste of the Kraftwerk everyone means when they talk about Kraftwerk. The title track is, as anyone would tell you, spectacular. The rest is merely okay by comparison (it is, after all, hard to compare). Funny to me, though, that this gets as much praise as it does when other groups were making music as good (or better) than this at the same time. Fr'instance, Harmonia.
- Kraftwerk: Kometenmelodie 2
Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974)
I've been slowly and steadily picking up various Brian Eno albums ever since finally getting around to Another Green World a couple of years go. I've begun with his early, pop-oriented albums, this being the last one I've come across. It's not as perfect as Here Come the Warm Jets, nor as bouncy as Before and After Science, nor as ambitious as Another Green World—but it's still pretty good. I'm eager to start moving into Eno's ambient albums. Suggestions on where exactly to start are welcome.
- Brian Eno: The Fat Lady Of Limbourg
Disappears: Lux (2010)
Tim Hecker: An Imaginary Country (2009)
Belong: October Language (2004)
As I perused Pitchfork's list of upcoming releases in 2011 (which I detailed here), one word kept jumping out at me: Kranky. Feeling a little drained on rock music, I felt a renewed attraction to the label that treated me to so many great albums years back when I did a better job of keeping up with ambient and space rock. All three of these acts have albums coming up any time now. Since I didn't know their stuff, I went back and sought out earlier releases from each. Well, turns out Disappears isn't space rock so much as a fairly noisy psychedelic act—which is fine! Actually I think Lux is a pretty good album—good enough for me to want to hear the next Disappears album. The Tim Hecker album, of these three, is the highlight. It's a really beautiful ambient album. I do have a couple of other tracks by him and I feel convinced now that I am a convert who will follow him for a long time. The Belong album is also quite nice—washes of distortion that feel more peaceful than noisy.
Destroyer: Kaputt (2011)
I seem to be the only person on the internet who thinks this is a mostly terrible album. It has its redeeming qualities—the lyrics, for one—but I just can't stomach the soft rock genre Dan Bejar has chosen to take on. More about this record, and the soft rock trend, to come tomorrow. Anyway, here's one of the good songs.
- Destroyer: Poor In Love
Tennis: Cape Dory (2011)
A great story and a nice aesthetic but it only rises near greatness in spots. Not a bad record, but I think they need to become more assured songwriters. Review.
- Tennis: Seafarer
The Radio Dept.: Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002–2010 (2011)
There's still at least another disc's worth of miscellaneous Radio Dept. tracks that could be collected, and I'd happily pick that up too. Review.
- The Radio Dept.: You And Me Then
Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (2011)
I made the mistake of playing my brilliant wife this album's worst track, "Big Burned Hand," before she heard anything else. Now Kiss Each Other Clean is dead to her. I would entreat her to give it another chance were it not for my own mixed feelings. There are some great songs here, such as "Godless Brother in Love," but it's also accurate to say this is Iron & Wine's worst album. I'll have a fuller review in a few days.
- Iron & Wine: Godless Brother In Love