The Kids from the City, Finding it Pretty, Took it Home

Some of my friends and I share music with one another while we work. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.

Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974)

We’ve had a little Brian Eno before, and quite a few things he has produced. But this is his second solo album. Brian is known for being experimental, and while this isn’t exactly normal, this is a nice bridge between where music was and where Brian has gone.

 

The Great Pretender had some GoldenEye 64 soundtrack qualities to it, so that was neat.

I liked the rhythm section elements of Third Uncle; it had a great set up but the vocals and lead guitar didn’t really take it anywhere. I generally like Brian Eno’s singing voice (although on Third Uncle, he was a bit robotic). Maybe he just has a generic British accent, but there’s something so familiar about it – even though I know I haven’t heard him sing before.

My favorite song is probably The Fat Lady of Limbourg, which was also less interesting than some of the other tunes. I did really like the horns in the middle of that song. Together with the groove, it was almost dub reggae – which I don’t really care for. But since this wasn’t dub reggae, I liked it more than I usually like dub reggae.

I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy it, but there weren’t really standout tracks. There were elements of all of the tunes which were cool, but none of it really came together. It was all psychedelic and pushed boundaries, but sometimes I felt it sacrificed musicality and listenability to do so. 3/5

Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution – A Call to Arms (2001)

The first song is an overture-esque medley of the other songs on the EP. Here’s to Life was originally off Streetlight Manifesto‘s debut album. Dear Sergio is a cover of SM’s cover (plus the addition of the last verse) of Catch 22‘s version from their debut album. It’s a Wonderful Life and the closing track are both original, but SM would go on to cover the last track in 2010.

Have you caught on to the theme? This is another Tomas Kalnoky side project. Along with a bassist, a drummer, and two saxophonists who were all in Streetlight Manifesto (plus ten other people who weren’t), there’s also a trombonist who was in SM and Catch 22. It’s like a Christopher Nolan movie.

They’ve described themselves as the “single least prolific musical group on the face of the planet.” This EP is the extent of their material, although there have been rumors of an impending full-length album AND at least one cover album since this EP came out, but the last I heard was in 2009. There are three things at work here:

  1. This is a side project and has always been a side project, so it’s never really received the attention needed to make it really awesome.
  2. I’m not sure Tomas Kalnoky has ever released a record when anyone expected him to.
  3. Remember the whole debacle described when I shared the Toh Kay album? Considering how that relationship deteriorated, I’d be surprised if any of his other albums which were planned in conjunction with Victory Records ever sees the light of day without some serious legal action.

I think I already know how Spencer feels about these guys. They describe their genre as “acoustic mayhem” and I don’t disagree. It’s more accurate than “folk rock,” anyway. I feel like Streetlight Manifesto is plays really tight, but BotAR … not so much. It’s like they were just sitting around on a porch jamming and this is what came out.

But It’s a Wonderful Life makes it totally worth it (the intro isn’t bad either). By itself it takes the album from a 3/5 to a 3.5/5. And, if you like it, you can download it for free from their website. As far as Tomas Kalnoky’s stuff goes, I may always like Toh Kay’s Hand that Thieves more than any other complete work, but each iteration has some new and interesting ideas.

Also, the EP originally had different artwork:

But I think this was only the physical version. After that sold out, they came up with different art and released it for free online.

Here’s what my friends had to say:

“I keep forgetting to read everyone’s descriptions before listening to the albums. The intro seemed nice and then once Kalnoky started singing I immediately thought, “oh this is streetlight manifesto.” And then I went and read your introduction and it all made sense.

I actually had to listen carefully to realize that it was using acoustic guitar, since all the lead parts were basically the same, in fact it really sounds like the verse of point-counterpoint or other songs where they use an acoustic. I really like Toh Kay because its a major departure from SM’s style, this to me seems really really close, to where I’m not sure why they bothered to release it under a different group. It wasn’t bad, but I’d probably put it near the bottom of my list of SM albums.” 3.7/5 – Spencer

Leave your own thoughts down in the comments section.

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