Sunday, December 16, 2012

My 2012: Cloud 2, or Return of the Downloads

Summertime, and the Downloadin's Easy:

So I keep going back and forth on my preferred method of music acquisition. A trip to the record store give me an opportunity to browse, and I get to hold something in my hand, which is important to us guys.

But the trouble is that the only thing downloading requires is for me to be sitting on my ass (I'm an expert) at a computer, while going to the record store involves, well, going to the record store.  

Thankfully the download gods became more forgiving as the year went on.

I’m still not sure these albums really are. And what better start with than an album of music that’s barely there? 

Eno Music for Airports:
It’s been about 30 years - and a zillion records he’s sold for other artists - since  I’ve gotten an Eno record. This one is from his prime and I wasn’t disappointed.  Without going into a whole lot of detail that will mean absolutely nothing to you, I’ll just say that it’s the ambient music you’d expect. Just done better than anyone else, and with the beauty more out front than on Another Green World.  A-
Here's the whole thing.

Bob Marley: Legend:
More music for specific occasions, like a hot day by the pool (do you actually have a pool? Why don't you invite us over?). Funny but this doesn’t sound that much better than Natty Dread, which leads me to suspect that I’d really love some other stand alone albums. (I wonder if I could say the same about Blur?)  But as it is, this one flows by flawlessly. A-
Dig the audience participation on "No Woman No Cry".

Postal Service: Give Up
A mere side project for Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, and another guy. Said other guy sends BG some tracks that are kind of electronica in nature, and BG adds the voice, melody and guitar. And it all adds up to a very pleasant record. Which finally makes me interested in DCFC. A-
"We are Silhouettes"

Best of the Monkees:
At $2.99, another bargain. But the sound is crappy,and my version would have been a little different. I miss the liner notes, too.  B+
"Sometime in the Morning"

The Small Faces: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake:
Who’da thunk an obscure sixties album with bonus material would be so great? I’ll admit that the first spin was almost painful, with the limited sound quality, quaint narration in spots and some music that’s aged just slightly (hmm, just like me!).  But the tunes emerge, the band proceeds to rock, and we catch Steve Marriott at just the right amount - a wee bit before all that swagger in Humble Pie.  Wonderful. A

Imperial Teen: On
I always root for a band with women in it. Here the boy/girl breakdown is 2/2, with the gals handling the bass and drums, quite well, thank you very much. This one hits you softly, but immediately. The spare but decisive instrumentation, the quiet yet expressive vocals and the words that are still waiting to get into my brain. It’s the great tunes that keep getting in the way.  A-
"Million Dollar Man"

Stone Roses:
I’m liking this more as time goes on, but I must admit that at first it sounded like phony poseur pop music that could only come out of England. Everything was just too perfect - the jangely guitars, the echo - and the vocals far enough back to suggest that they had nothing to say. Now that I’ve given it time, the sound is sticking better than fake stuff normally does.  B+

A Pre-Thanksgiving Strike That Didn’t Quite Work Out:

Right around early November, I begin to play for my holiday music link, and reach out, hoping for gentle pop/ songwriting/textures/emotion, hoping for nothing too harsh.

But the critical thing is that it’s got to kick in right away, or at least before Thanksgiving Day.

Los Campesinos!: Hold On Now, Youngster...
What I get instead is frantic, but very fun pop (even if it doesn’t fit the holiday mood at all) music. But hey, it’s not their fault I didn’t buy it in the summer, when I can better handle the overflow of words, instruments, beats and hooks. B+
"You! Me! Dancing!"

Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production of Eggs
So I was hoping that Andrew Bird might save the day. Well, he kind of did, eventually, which really isn’t saving the day at all when you really think about it. Now that it's mid-December, and he’s having the calm, soothing effect I was hoping for. I just needed it a month ago. B+
"Tables and Chairs"

Overall, not bad, huh?  A lot of really good records, with an ever so slight misfire at the end, which has a lot more to do with my needs and expectations than the quality of the music.

One might think that downloading would be the way to go from this point on.

Uh, well...

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