For more than a year, some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
Piglet – Lava Land (2005)
This week Spencer shared some instrumental math rock. You can find the whole six song EP on their bandcamp site here.
If you’ve never heard of math rock, just know it’s not for everybody.
I haven’t listened to much math rock, and as a rule it’s not for me. Bug Stomp has some great parts, but it’s a bit much as a whole. And not really a friendly introduction to the genre. It’s like a prog rock group wrote a program to enable a computer to compose music based on algorithms, and then they print it out and play it. So it’s technically very demanding, if sometimes lacking in some radio friendly qualities.
That’s not to say there isn’t some beauty in it, math rock is just more cerebral than … well almost any other kind of music you might ever listen to. Caramel, for example, is some of the best written/performed rock music I’ve ever heard.
Little Bubble, Where You Going? is better than the opener, with some impressive sounding bass licks. And just when I thought it was getting long, it stopped. Rather abruptly. I can never decide whether I really like that sort of thing or not. The rest of the album is similarly musically impressive – complication with occasional moments of polyrhythmic, polytonic awesomeness. Maybe if I were being purely quantitative I’d give it less, but I think this album deserves a 4/5.
Carly Simon – No Secrets (1972)
I think the only thing I’ve heard hers comes off this album. And who hasn’t heard You’re So Vain? But who has heard anything else of hers either? It’s a good tune, but I’m not convinced it’s her best. I mean, I love the backing strings on the chorus and the overall minor groove, and maybe because it just isn’t new to me, but I feel like the song gets old. And for the record, I have never thought that song was about me. Vanity isn’t really my go-to vice.
Waited So Long was a fine pop rock tune, with maybe too little diversity throughout. The bridge/solo was good, but I wanted more of a change in the chorus. The highlight for me in that tune was the piano vamp. It was a nice foundation, I just wish it had gone more places. Embrace Me, You Child did great in places, but in others she would drop it and kill the energy.
Her cover of James Taylor’s Night Owl was better. The piano was well done, but everything else took a step up from Waited So Long. She added a little more energy to the funkyness inherent in The Flying Machine’s original, and seemed to spend more time rockin’ out. Her bass was mixed better, but they had some sweet harmony I didn’t hear in her version.
It Was So Easy has a sweet little country rock tune feel to it and was a nice change. I think it was the best original tune on the record.
Overall, it’s a bit more chill than I’m usually in the mood for, but I don’t know that I’ve ever really appreciated how good her voice is. There’s nothing really bad on this album. At worst it’s just a little blah. 3/5
Red Elvises – Lunatics and Poets (2004)
I had already shared some Red Elvises about a year ago, but nobody offered a review, so I decided to share something else of theirs.
One of my favorite songs of theirs, Winter Reggae, is on this album. Other highlights include Venice, USA and This Music is Wasted if We Don’t Dance.
I should also give you a fair warning: Juliet has two f-words in the chorus, so they use it maybe a dozen times in the song. And there are a couple of tracks that are just nature sounds. Feel free to ignore Ocean, Wind and (on some versions of the album) track 13.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“I appreciated the humor in this, and most of the music was quite good, but it didn’t really hit the spot this week for whatever reason. My favourite parts though were the Pink Floyd references that just made me laugh every time. Ticket to Japan I liked the music the best. Maybe on another week this would have gotten a higher score.” 3.6/5 – Spencer
“Man oh man did I not enjoy this one. Seriously, this is the kind of music that just gets on my nerves. I honestly rolled my eyes every time they lifted lyrics from a song that was way beyond their talent. It felt to me like a group of guys that played in the high school marching band who thought they were better than they were. Only two things kept this album from getting a one from me this week: 1) there were a couple fun/good/unique songs in the middle of the album, and 2) some of the lyrics were funny giving me an occasional chuckle. So yeah, not going to seek this band out anytime soon. You know it’s bad when you wish Chris had shared RadioHead this week to make this one seem better by comparrison.” 2/5 – Tim
Feel free to share your own thoughts about math rock, singer-songwriters from the ’70s with underrated songs, or surfabilly Russians in the comments below.