Saturday, January 30, 2016

Life - or at least Year - of Brian, Part One

Like a frenemy at work, but way more interesting, Brian Eno has this way of insinuating himself into the most unexpected places. He’s got more mentions in my blog than anyone else, except the Beatles, of course.

You don’t think you’ve heard him but you have. If not his own recordings, certainly his collaborations with Talking Heads, David Bowie, Devo, U2 and a slew of other artists. He even tried to make Coldplay sound interesting again and almost succeeded.

I have a number of his records but I hadn’t gotten anything by him in years.

And yet, he ended up being my Artist of the Year for 2015.

Let me explain.


1972:

While carefully studying the latest issue of National Lampoon, I came across an ad for Roxy Music’s second album, where I first saw Eno. My reaction was one of utter revulsion.

If I thought at the time that David Bowie must have sucked because he was acting gay (what can I say?, I was 15), or that the New York Dolls couldn’t have any talent because they dressed like women, then the made up, strutting, boa-wearing, aggressively androgynous (and on top of all that, balding!) Eno seemed like the worst of the worst.

Here he is at the time:

brian-eno-roxy-music-photo-shoot-circa-1972.jpg

As you can see, he dressed on the extreme end of the glitter rock spectrum and, like Bowie, was a prime target for anyone with an ax to grind about spectacle as a distraction from music (a legitimate concern), or effeminate guys in general (not so much).

Mind you, I hadn’t yet heard any of the music made by him, Bowie or the Dolls. It wasn’t my finest hour.


1975:

Now at college, prowling the music library I dug up some old issues Stereo Review, and came across a review of one of Eno’s early solo records. The review used the term “rip off rock”. And not in a nice way.

Now it could have been written by someone who genuinely didn’t like the record (I forget which one it was), but it sure had the stench of someone who’d made up his mind before putting it on. And it had the effect of reinforcing my prejudices, and boy did I cling to them.


1978:

It’s pretty clear by this time that Brian Eno was the kind of guy you were less likely to be into if you were into Classic Rock a la Bruce Springsteen, Boston or Led Zeppelin. You’d have had to stray to where, say, the Velvet Underground broke off in their own direction in the late 60s.

And I stayed on the main path, until I finally got curious enough to try Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food - a life changing record (all time top 25) that I don’t enthusiastically recommend to people just because I love it. It’s just a bit too weird, but exactly the amount of weird I needed at the time.

And who’s name did I find on the back? Eno, of course.

By this time, I was having trouble separating him from Bryan Ferry (his old Roxy Music bandmate), and Peter Gabriel from Genesis. (All of them weird Brits.) But his name just kept popping up all over the damn place, and always with the coolest bands.

There was even some graffiti spotted in the Village that said “Eno is God”.  Move over, Eric Clapton!


1980: 

It’s June and I’m supposed to be studying for a final but am instead at J&R Music World, in what would become one of the great record store trips of my life, picking up a sh*tload of records that would push me further down that alternat(iv)e path.

Earlier that year, there was an extensive overview of the music of 1970s in the Village Voice. It piqued my curiosity, and I made some mental notes, but like a good schoolboy, committed to doing nothing about it until finals were over.

I almost made it, too. I told myself I’d be in the store for only an hour or so. Plenty of time to study, I said. I ended up spending half the day there, and only managed about an hour of half-hearted studying in the school library.  Got an A, though!

One of the records mentioned a few times in that article was Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).  It was cited by at least two critics, who put it in their list of top ten records of the decade. So I decided that was a good place to start.

Ah kids, watch out for those gateway drugs!

I listened to this record for months - not always in complete ecstasy, mind you.  There was a lot of exasperation, too, as I tried to understand some of the weird things going on.  Friend, and then Roommate, Mike looked back on that time and said “Man, that was a terrible album.”

And I can understand his reaction. Mine was more mixed. There were several great pop moments mixed in with a lot of oddity and experimentation. I couldn’t quite love it because of this seeming inconsistency.

I may have related playing it while getting ready to go to the beach, and was pointedly told it was not “getting ready to go to the beach music”.  My first lesson in context.

But it persisted over the years. becoming a sort of go-to record. And Mrs. Jaybee would tell me she knew I was feeling a little down when I’d put it on.

If I was smarter, I’d give up on things when they first perplexed me. But instead, later that summer I’d double down on Eno and get Another Green World. This turned out to be one of my rare good decisions because it became one of my top five all time favorite albums.

During that same record trip, I’d finally broken down and gotten David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spider’s From Mars. (What, no New York Dolls, you ask? That's another post.) And now having had David break my cherry, I remembered how Childhood Friend Doreen told me how great Low
was way back in 1977, so at the end of 1980, while trying to repeat the great June record store trip and coming pretty close,  I picked it up, along with “Heroes”.

And I turn the record over, and who’s name do I find? Eno, again.

It turned out that Eno collaborated with Bowie on both records, with Bowie dedicating most of side two (remember side two?) of each record to the tracks that were very Eno-ish.  They would turn out to be a among my very favorite records. Definitely top 100.

Over the next few years, I’d move on to his other 70s records and some ambient stuff, but as time passed I heard Eno the same way you did - as a producer.

Oh, there were the occasional knockout pull-the-car-over-and-just-listen moments, like “Ms. Sarajevo” with U2 and Luciano f*cking Pavarotti. in 1995, but otherwise I decided there were other artists who deserved my attention more, and stopped buying his records.


2015:

So he starts throwing spitballs at me via Shutter Island and Ocean of Sound, with “Lizard Point”, which I still can’t hear.  But you now know how I react to exasperation.

So I thought, okay dude, let’s see what you (still) got, and got Wrong Way Up, which turned out to be one of the musical highlights of the year.

And then I read the liner notes to Yellow Moon and there he is again.

So in the fall, I’m in a record store - I don’t have enough records, you see - and spot a leaflet for a show called “Music for Enophiles” which turned out to be a tribute band doing covers of Eno’s solo work from 1974-1979 - his prime pop period.

Now, one of the things I love about Mrs. Jaybee how she always surprises me. I thought I’d have to drag her to this show, but she reminded me that she liked Brian Eno, too. He was, after all, the soundtrack to our lives when we first started dating.

The band came on and reminded us how powerful these forty year old songs were. We had a great time but I didn’t recognize the last song. So I asked one of the singers, and it turned out to be the title song of his first record Here Come the Warm Jets. How did I not recognize this song? I’d clearly been away too long.

So I decided to give him another try and got The Pearl.

And another, and got Apollo.

And finally, decided to pick up Taking Tiger Mountain on CD.

Oh, and I also got Roxy Music’s second album - For Your Pleasure -  on CD because he’s on that too.

To the point that I came to realize that it’s Brian world and I’m just living in it. Or may he’s still God, and when he loses a sandal, half of his fans get rid of one of their’s, too.

And in case the earlier picture has frightened you off, here’s a picture of him now:



See?  He turned out just like you and me.

Next, I’ll give a quick roundup of his music - limited by what I know, which is at most 30% of his overall output - and make some recommendations.

See you then.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fifth Annual Jaybee-bies, or, 2015, I Want My Money Back

Looking for My Receipt:

I’m finally getting around to my 2015 round up. Just before people forget there was a 2015, I hope.

It was a long, frustrating year, where I got about forty albums and very, very few of them managed to bowl me over. I was beginning to think I was losing my taste for music.

And other things. It took Mrs. Jaybee to remind me of that wonderful trip to Italy and Son Michael’s graduation (more on him later) that it wasn’t such a bad year after all.

But still, musically, I’m left a little less than ecstatic, and I’m looking for my receipt for 2015 so that I can return it.


My Ears Are Bigger Than My Head (Literally True!)

Dear 2015, it’s not you, it’s me.

You see, I’m in a cycle that goes like this:

I buy a lot of music.
I lean towards exploration instead of the familiar.
Then I complain that nothing hitd me right away.
So I go and get more music to make up for that.

This is dumb. (And may be a poem, too.) I mean, what did I expect?

But then I think about an individual song or album I have that I feel very lucky to have. Then I think about how many records I have that fit that description. You’d think there would be enough of it by now. Apparently not.

And really, how much do I need? I still haven’t answered that question satisfactorily. And even if 2015 was disappointing, I can’t imagine not getting new music in 2016.


Lack of Resolution:

So How Did I Do with My 2015 Resolutions?  Great, because I didn’t make any, having so resoundly failed on my 2014 ones. I even repeated those failures in 2015:  More new music than ever, 75% of it CDs (thanks to my amazon.com boycott) which now having taken over the CD rack completely, are expanding blitzkrieg-like into the bookshelf,

I did manage four records from 2015, two of them thanks to son Michael. One he bought and one he made!

So, no resolutions. They - along with self improvement in general - are way overrated.


Second Thoughts, or Regrets? I’ve Had a Few:

I gave all my 2015 records another listen to see if I’ve changed my mind about anything. Especially the ones that disappointed me. Mostly no.

Ex Hex: Rips - Expertly played punk/hard rock I could swear I heard before and probably did so why bother?

The Smiths: The Queen is Dead - Thanks guys, but I had all the good songs already. link

The Clean: Anthology Almost ditto link.  Every (well, almost every) cut is unique and worthwhile, but by the middle of the second disk I feel as though I’ve been left to wander the wilds of New Zealand without a guide. It can be fun, but there may be better things to do. (Ocean of Sound is kind of like that too, but since the whole point of that record is to get lost, it wouldn’t be fair to criticize it for that).

Music from the HBO Film As You Like It - A lovely main theme sprinkled repetitively throughout “movie music”. I probably would have been fine with getting the individual track. (An idea whose time has come, by the way. Buy more individual songs, thus avoiding disappointing albums. Hey, I've got a resolution after all!)  Not bad, mind you. Just nothing I’d reach out to because I’m never in the mood for it.


Top Tens(e):

While patting myself on the back that I managed a handful of actual 2015 albums this year, it’s still pretty paltry compared to Nutboy’s list. He to 2015 and managed seven (7. Josh Ritter - Sermons on the Mount, 6. Blur - Magic Whip, 5. Craig Finn - Faith in the Future, 4. Wilco - Star Wars 3. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit, 2. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell, 1. Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge . Vol.12)

He did the same with movies, too.  (10. Inside Out ..  9. Sicario  8. Love and Mercy  7. Steve Jobs  6. Creed  5. Spotlight   4. Amy   3. The Revenant  2. The Big Short  1. Mad Max - Fury Road)

I only managed to see two movies this year. (Another resolution. Get out more!)

I’d hit back with a top ten list of books (none from 2015 though) but I suspect he just didn’t bother to show off. The man really ought to have a blog, but he’s too busy with current year music and movies (ie, having a life, hmmm, another resolution here?)

Anyway, here are my albums of my 2015:


  1. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie and Lowell  (2015)  
  2. Various Artists: Ocean of Sound (1996) 
  3. Howlin’ Wolf : Howlin’ Wolf  (1962)  
  4. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967) 
  5. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Just Sit and Think…. (2015)  
  6. Michael Burns: Mountain Mover EP  (2015)
  7. Yo La Tengo: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000) 
  8. Brian Eno & John Cale: Wrong Way Up (1990)  
  9. Howlin’ Wolf: Moanin’ in the Moonlight (1962)  
  10. and tied for tenth place Various Artists: Music from Shutter Island (2010), Yo La Tengo: Fakebook (1990), Withered Hand: New Gods (2014), Brian Eno/Harold Budd: The Pearl (1984), Wussy: Attica! (2014), Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois/Roger Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983)

Top Songs:
Mike Burns: “Mountain Mover”
Sufjan Stevens: “The Only Thing”
Sufjan Stevens: “Fourth of July”
Coutney Barnett: “Debbie Downer”
Courtney Barnett: "Nobody Really Cares If you Don’t Go to the Party”
Brian Eno/John Cale: “Lay My Love”
Brian Eno/John Cale: “Been There, Done That”
Dinah Washington/Max Richter: “This Bitter Earth/On the Nature of Daylight” 
Yo La Tengo: "The Summer"
Yo La Tengo: "You Tore Me Down"
Yo La Tengo: "Deeper Into Movies"
Massive Attack: "Hymn of the Big Wheel"
The War on Drugs: "In Reverse"
Patrick Doyle: "Violin Romance"


Some Observations:

Familiar music suffers in comparison to new music simply because it can’t have the same impact on me any more. Otherwise Aretha and Howlin Wolf might be all over the top of the list.

Very good music in my favorite genres (pop, rock n’ roll) outdoes obviously great music in other genres (R&B), again impacting Franklin and Wolf.

I’m getting more and more music for less and less money, but have a sneaking suspicion that the musicians themselves are getting less and less a share of it..

I’ve prided myself on opting for the new - getting an album by a new artist rather than one by one I’m already familiar with. This is educational, and leads me to new discoveries. But dang it, it’s not always as much fun.


The Year of What?

So what was 2015 the “year of” for me?

In a way, it was the Year of Music to Go to Bed To. Not Music to Have Sex By mind you. Music to listen to while reading in bed and about to go to sleep. There was a ton of stuff that fit this category : Ocean of Sound, The Pearl, And Then Nothing…, Stuff Like That There, Neu!, As You Like It, Shutter Island The list goes on.

The Year of Aretha? You’d think so.  I got five Aretha Franklin albums in a single shot. (For $10 no less) They range from classic to very good.  That’s pretty good, right?  But those first two observations above knock her down a bit.

The Year of Yo La Tengo? Three albums ranging from nearly great to very good. And an almost transcendent show.  Christ, I even met them. But not quite.


The Year of the Tribute Band? 

Here’s my original take on why I find tribute bands - in principal - appalling.

The bottom line is, why would I want to pay to hear something like the music I like when I could listen to exactly the music I liked for free? If you want to hear a band, go put the record on. (Oh, come on, I know you have them!)

But I was underestimating the communal aspect of things. How better to enjoy music than with other like-minded people?

And besides, in two instances it inspired me to get more music by the artist. Once with a happy ending and once not so much. But the good more than made up for it.

  • The Smiths - A cover band that inspired me to get The Queen is Dead. Good show. Disappointing record.
  • PJ Harvey - Various artists did a tribute to Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - A great album to hear played live, but since Mrs. Jaybee can’t stand Harvey I had to see this one alone. 
  • The Beatles - The Fab Faux at the City Winery on New Years Eve. It could have been a big let down and even boring, but it was neither. A very emotional musical highlight of the year. And let’s face it. Every year since 1963 has been the Year of the Beatles, as far as I’m concerned. So that wouldn’t make 2015 unique, would it?
  • Brian Eno - Music for Enophiles, covering Eno’s semi-poppish 1974-79 period.  Me and Mrs. Jaybee had a great time at this show. We were hearing songs live that we hadn’t heard even on record for years. And it inspired me to go even deeper into Eno’s catalogue.

Which made 2015 the Year of Brian Eno, of course.

We'll talk.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Very Good Will Just Have To Do

Unless you yourself are perfect, I suspect you’ve heard the phrase the perfect is the enemy of the good.

My variation on that would be searching for a masterpiece will distract you from a lot of excellent music.

Sometimes I just don’t appreciate the situation I’m in.  Here I am searching for great music, and end up disappointed if it’s only really good.

I’m getting older (that means “closer to death” kiddies) so I want every record to “count”, whatever that means.

Maybe that I’m humming it all day at work, that it jumps into my head and takes over randomly (not good while driving, by the way). That it makes me feel good about being alive. That it changes my life.  Don’t laugh. It’s happened.

So I aim high, get overly ambitious because I don’t stay in my comfort zone, and get disappointed, at least at first.

I end up putting too many really good records aside, only to have to them creep back up on me to convince me how good they really are.

And it happened again.

And I feel bad about it because I’m sure the Neville Brothers have been worried about how I’d react to this album. Which came out about thirty years ago.  You can rest easy now guys!




The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon

The last time I’d gotten a record by the Neville Brothers, they were hiding amongst The Wild Thcoupitoulas, playing quintessential - earthy, tuneful rhythmic - New Orleans music.

Flash forward a decade or so, and they’re being produced by Daniel Lanois (U2 before to this, and the Dylan resurgence afterwards) I was fearing that this might go a little too atmospheric, which would not be a good fit at all.

No need to worry, though. They manage to keep things down to earth for most of the way through,

One way was to do some heavy duty cover songs,

I typically don’t like artists doing covers. It can distract you from what is unique about the artist, and it can be a cheap shortcut to actually writing your own material.

And it can be a bad idea in the very practical sense . I mean, how often do you hear a cover and say, “Hey, That’s Even better than the original!”.  And it doesn’t happen here, either. But they come close enough.

While “With God on Our Side” goes on a bit too long, they do stirring versions of “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (but really how do you f*ck those up?). And there’s a pretty haunting version of “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”.

It helps when the singing and playing are spot on.

And how about their originals?  Just fine! Not too generic. Topical. And well produced. "My Blood" being my favorite.

So there’s an excellent balance of elements here. Nothing brilliant, mind you, but overall the songs, playing, singing and production come together enough to let this one rise above mere genre.

When you put this one on you know you’re going to enjoy the next hour.

B+

“My Blood“

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I Shall Be Relieved!

“I like this one better”, says Mrs. Jaybee.  Sacrilegious! But I’ve already gotten ahead of myself.


It was the low point of the year. When I was huddled up inside the house because the weather was so oppressive and I was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The Summer.

I was grudgingly enjoying the music I was listening to but nothing was hitting me over the head immediately. And by this point I was now sort of desperate to get to something that would hit me in my bones. All I wanted was something that would grab me from the very first listen. Was that so much to ask? Why can’t I ever just put a new record on and get blown away from the get go?

So I went with a band that had done exactly that back in oh, 2006, with their last decade's almost best debut album Funeral Dress.

Alas, this one is barely in the top ten of this year.



Wussy: Attica! (2014)

This is a very good record, but a disappointment in the way that a band that’s made a great album in the past can disappoint you when they only make a very good one.

Funeral Dress was an obviously great album from the very first listen. This one isn’t and as such I was very disappointed. But over time it’s showing it’s strengths, which are many. And there are even a couple of new classics. It just took time to believe they were genuine. They are.

So back to Mrs. Jaybee.

It had been a couple of months since I got Attica!. I was liking it by now and giving it another perfunctory try so that it might move from like to love.

That’s when she told me she preferred it to Funeral Dress. I mean, what the f*ck? I know we’re in this “for better or worse”, but I wasn’t counting on a musical difference of opinion of this magnitude!


So, who are these guys, anyway? Allmusic.com is no help, with barely a bio or an album write up.

But what I do know is that Chuck Cleaver came from a 90s rock band called the Ass Ponys, and Lisa Walker sprung from the head of Zeus for all I know. But she sings and writes like vintage Neil Young.

And herein may lie my problem. Funeral Dress managed to be simultaneously rough and beautiful a la the aforementioned NY. But Attica! ups the ante with the rough - the guitars are even louder than before - and it takes time for the songs to catch up.

But I have no doubt that someone who gets this record without having heard anything else by Wussy will be quite happy with it.

And with Neil Young no longer in his prime, we could do a lot worse than Wussy.

Lisa would do him proud. I hope he gets to hear her.

A-

"Home"

Sunday, December 13, 2015

You're Welcome, World!

Having done the world a favor in my last post, my noble (and Nobel) thoughts moved on to another musical genre - this time the blues.

And to my great embarrassment I realized that, until about ten years ago, most of my blues records - or rather most of the individual blues songs I owned were performed by that well known oppressed minority - white guys.

Cream, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin (whose confusion would occasionally make them forget to credit actual songwriters, but I’m sure that was all an innocent mistake).  Christ, even Steppenwolf!

So my first foray into blues - really a half-step - was Duane Allman’s An Anthology, where actual African Americans played the blues (and soul) but - in a blow against that major problem we all face: Reverse Racism - with the white guy (admittedly that GREAT white guy) on guitar.

Eventually I’d get Robert Cray’s Strong Persuader - a record that some purists don't consider the blues anyway - in 1986,

But it wasn’t until the late nineties when I got the box-set Chess Blues that I got to delve deeper.

I went little deeper still, getting best-ofs by Allman Brothers fave Elmore James and Eric Clapton fave Buddy Guy, having more and more fun as I went.

Then, during my amazon.com boycott I noticed that Barnes and Noble had a decent $5 CD section, where I came across this two-fer:



Howlin’ Wolf: Howlin’ Wolf/Moanin’ in the Moonlight

It would be perfectly understandable to mistake this two-album single-CD set as a Best-of, but it’s not. It’s just the Wolf’s first two records for Chess recorded in 1962.

And they are just incredible.

So incredible I didn’t get kicked out the house for playing it on a beautiful Sunday morning, which is a tribute to Mrs. Jaybee’s tolerance. But then again once you hear Wolf’s voice (and harp and guitar) it might be a good idea to go to church.

How can I convey how important these records are? How about if I list some of the songs here that have been covered by others?

“Shake for Me” - John Hammond, with Duane Allman
“Red Rooster” - The Stones
“Wang Dang Doodle” - KoKo Taylor
“Spoonful” - Cream
“Goin’ Down Slow” - Duane Allman
“Back Door Man” - oh, I don’t know, but somebody
“How Many More Years” - LIttle Feat/Led Zeppelin
“Smokestack Lightnin’” - The Dead
“I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” - Lucinda Williams
“Forty Four” - Little Feat

And that’s just off the top of my head! These are all very good covers but rarely better than the Wolf versions. Which were all from just these two albums. You’d have to go to the Beatles to find an artist who attracted so many cover versions so fast.

Which makes these two records, in my limited and humble opinion, the two best blues albums I own, and are probably  among the greatest ever made.

One caveat: I’m annoyed that they dropped a song to fit these two albums onto a single CD. What was it with those old CDs? Did they only fit 65 minutes? What the hell!?  White people problems.

Another caveat: Dilettante that I am, I’ll move onto another genre by the time I finish typing this.

Otherwise these would be my top two albums of the year.

Howlin Wolf:  A
Moanin’ in the Moonlight: A-

“Moanin’ in the Moonlight”

Well it’s time for me to move on to redress yet more of society’s ills. What to do? What to do? Maybe I’ll try to bring more attention to overlooked artists like Miley Cyrus or Beyonce...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Doing My Part for the Underprivileged

One day, while pondering the many iniquities of our society, it occurred to me that I didn’t have a single jazz album by a white person.

I guess I should thank the amazon.com’s $5 mp3s for helping me address this historic injustice but I’m still mad at them for being so horrible to their workforce, so f*ck them.

Anyway, while waiting for the phone call from the Nobel committee I decided I should actually play the record.


The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out

I find this very precisely played music - West Coast Jazz , they called it - less than thrilling. Less than passionate. And yet, quite durable.  I’ve played it many times and haven’t tired of it yet. Weird, huh?

In theory I should hate music that’s meant to be spontaneous but is in fact very precisely composed and played, But you know there are worse things that a fusion of classical and jazz. I’m sure they’d hate me saying that but it’s the best analogy I can come up with.

So while it doesn’t have the weird brilliance of the best Monk, or the furious spiritual searching of Coltrane, I can’t find any fault with it. Plus, my version has several live cuts added, where the band lets loose a bit.

So, I’ve concluded that, with the guidance of their superiors, white people might actually have some potential in this area. Not that I’m advocating giving them a helping hand, mind you. That’ll just make them dependent upon the (musical) (welfare) state.

If they hope to overcome the many disadvantages they face, they’re just going to have to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and apply themselves.

Now pardon me while I write my acceptance speech.

B+

"Blue Rondo Ala Turk"


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Music To Do the Bills To

So far that street fair used record bin was turning out to be a big disappointment.  So I turned to my third choice, expecting the least.


Massive Attack: Blue Lines

Ah, the sound of 1990s Brits getting high and playing slow. Quiet storm, kind of, only on drugs with hip hop added in. (I can totally relate to all this!) Well, good luck to them.

Every heard of trip hop? It more or less starts here.

It’s not the best trip hop I’ve ever heard. That’s Tricky. So I was all set to dismiss this one based on my first listen, but these (no longer) young men won me over. They’re more fun, more funky and less arty than Portishead. And when they’re not fun, their misery is well earned. They’re also more tuneful than Burial. And not as scary as Tricky. Tricky can be very scary.

It’s ironic that music that’s most likely meant to be heard at night while in a trance in a dance club sounds better to me in the morning. Especially on a crappy day when I’m not in a good mood, like when I’m doing the bills. I’m sure they’d be appalled.

At first I thought there was no song here as good as “Protection” from their second record. But I take that back now. “Hymn of the Big Wheel” here is just as good. And despite it’s downer lyrics, the music is quite hopeful.

So these (no longer) young Brits with whom I have almost nothing in common made that time spent in the used-CD bin worthwhile.

B+

“Hymn of the Big Wheel”