The Byrds: Ballad of Easy Rider
This album has only grown in my estimation since I last wrote about it, to the point that it just might be among my three or four all-time favorite Byrds albums. Of their overtly country albums, I like this more than Sweetheart of the Rodeo. That said, it only ranks that high when I do a little re-jiggering to the track list—not exactly re-ordering things, but substituting here and there. Here’s my recommendation to you should you pick up the version of this album that comes with bonus tracks:
Ballad of Easy Rider
Fido Oil in My Lamp [alternate take]
Tulsa County [alternate take]
Mae Jean Goes to Hollywood [bonus track]
Jack Tarr the Sailor
Jesus is Just Alright
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To
Way Behind the Sun [bonus track]
Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)
Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins
- The Byrds: Ballad Of Easy Rider
The Fall, Hex Enduction Hour
My first Fall album! I’ve always meant to dig into the Fall but have never really understood where to begin with their fairly impenetrable discography. This turned out to be an excellent recommendation and now I’ve got four more Fall records saved at eMusic for future consumption.
- The Fall: Hip Priest
Harlem Shakes, Technicolor Health
I think every six months or so I need one new catchy indie guitar pop album. Last year it was Vampire Weekend and Dr. Dog; the year before that it was Peter Bjorn & John and the New Pornographers; and before that the Little Ones and I can't remember who else. But the thing is, I can't have too many of these kind of bands at once. I just want to sink my teeth into one and revel in all the melodies and harmonies and bouncey rhythms. So right now it's the Harlem Shakes (who, unfortunately, just broke up). Technicolor Health is one of those albums that had, on one listen, one outstanding song and the rest solid but hard to discern from each other. And with each listen that ratio shifts in the other direction. As of today I think it's about 50/50, and I feel optimistic that it'll continue to turn since there are no out and out duds to be found. It's just a terrific little record.
- Harlem Shakes: Strictly Game
Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs
Despite thinking And Then Nothing Turned Inside Out is one of the best albums of the decade, Yo La Tengo is not a band I typically get excited about. I'm not totally sure why that's the case. At any rate, Popular Songs magically came into my house through no effort on my part. What was I to do but put it on? It's not on the same level as And Then Nothing... (not even close, really), but it's good. Good enough to underline how irrational my relationship to Yo La Tengo has been all these years. All of the shorter songs—the first two thirds of the record—are great, with at least a couple of truly fantastic tracks (like the opener, "Here to Fall" or the fun duet "If It's True"). Things kind of drift off the rails with the last three tracks, each around ten minutes or longer. Any of them would've made a good closer, but all three feel like overkill, especially in light of how effervescent the preceding tracks are. I'd imagine that Popular Songs might work better on vinyl, where each side of the record could show off its own personality. Played straight through, it puts a drag on an otherwise pretty solid album. But the first nine songs are enough to make this an album I continue to return to.
- Yo La Tengo: If It's True
Cass McCombs, Catacombs
Though I still stand by everything I said in my original review of the album, Catacombs has stalled for me. I don’t know if I just wrote it out of my system or if I simply acquired too many new albums since then, but it’s fallen out of rotation. When I consider putting it on I reflexively think “that record’s a bit of a slog,” but if I do put it on, or if the songs come up on shuffle, I get way into it. So, mixed feelings but a good record nonetheless.When I bring my self to listen to it, I remember that it's one of the better 09 albums I've heard thus far.
- Cass McCombs: Harmonia