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Heavy Rotation #27

The second half of September saw these five albums get a lot of play...

Destroyer/Poison Season - The album opens with strings and a tinkling piano on the first of three times we hear the song "Times Square" (this one adds "Poison Season I" to the title; the last of the three adds "Poison Season II" and the middle one adds nothing) and it reminds me a little of "Pure Imagination." It's over in 2:33 and gives way to a blast of sax and pounding drums. Really, "Dream Lover" comes on like Springsteen and the E Street Band. Unsurprisingly, I like it a lot. Speaking of Springsteen, there is a song here called "The River." It's sultry and slinky and has some great horns. The middle "Times Square"is built around an acoustic guitar, piano, drums, bongo, and a sax and it bounces along perfectly. "Archer on the Beach" brings back the slink with a groovy bassline and drums offset by a squalling guitar before bringing back the sax. Do you see a musical theme to this album? Oh, it works so well. I know I haven't talked about the lyrics yet but it's a typical Destroyer album in that regard - the lyrics are more imagistic than linear. Here's the opening to a personal late album favorite, "Sun In The Sky" - "You don't start the fire/You just turn it on/Yours is to always know not why/Just turn your head and walk away/Dinosaur on the eyes/Buffalo on the plain/Sun in the sky still rising/Children lost in the grain." Awesome. I love this album and it will show up in my top ten for the year without a doubt.

Foals/What Went Down - This album starts with a note on the organ (synthesized organ?) and we hear "I buried my heart in a hole in the ground" then the guitars crash in and I am completely onboard. I got into Foals with their last album, Holy Fire, after hearing "My Numbers" on KEXP. That station's morning DJ, John Richards, is a big fan on this band and with this album I've realized that I'm now a fan too. This is indie rock with danceable beats and big guitars and emotive singing and it's such an attractive combination. I really like "Mountain At My Gates," which is a more thunderous track and "London Thunder," which is a bit more moody and contemplative. The album finishes strongly with the last song I mentioned plus "Lonely Hunter" and the almost 7-minute "A Walk In The Ocean," which closes things out with a big drum sound.

Foo Fighters/Foo Fighters - It all started with "This Is A Call" randomly popping into my head one afternoon at school. Of course, I had to chase the song down and listen and from there it's easy to listen to the album. And when I say listen, I mostly mean air drum and air guitar like the 44 year-old man that I am. I'm actually listening to it as I type and took a break between sentences to wail away on the imaginary drums. It's hard to believe this album is already 20 years old. I remember wondering what would happen to the other two members of Nirvana after Kurt Cobain died and I was rooting for Dave Grohl to do something good. He certainly did. This is a great rock album. Period. Do the lyrics always make sense? No. Can you always understand them? No. Doesn't matter. Try not to scream along with "I don't owe you anything" or "Hate it!" It's impossible. I think it's also highly possible that this will start me on a run through the rest of the Foos catalog, so don't be surprised if The Colour and the Shape shows up in Heavy Rotation #28.

Josh Ritter/The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter - Josh Ritter has a new album out next week and I decided I would dive back into his catalog in the run-up to Sermon on the Rocks. However. I started with this album because it's one I don't actually own and I ended up just getting stuck because it's so darn good. The first four songs are fantastic - "To the Dogs or Whoever" is a gallop with electric guitar and piano; "Mind's Eye" brings some slashing guitar and piano to a song that's filled with musical tension; "Right Moves" is a pop song that bounces along on the strength of its bass line before giving way to some groovy horns and a guitar solo; and "The Temptation of Adam" starts with some mournful horns and leads into some folky acoustic guitar. All 4 songs feature melodies you'll want to sing along with and lyrics that will stick in your brain, such as "I said won't you tell me where you been/You put a finger to my lips/And then you kissed me once and once again/The crickets all leapt up and met the moon with a standing ovation" and "Don't pity the bullet but pity the man/Who both find their place in the same sad plan/Who both are like the barrel going over the falls/Crying all the way down I never asked to be involved." The whole of "The Temptation of Adam" is like a short story about a couple in a missile silo falling in love during a possible apocalypse and the way the lines build upon previous's so good. Plus, I haven't even mentioned the late album highlights like "Still Beating" and "Empty Hearts." This album is so good that I'm sorry I've missed out on it for the last 8 years.

Telekinesis/Ad Infinitum - I've been a big fan of Michael Benjamin Lerner ever since he put out the first Telekinesis album in 2009. The first two albums are power pop goodness and the third record started flirting with some electronic textures. This album takes a deep dive into synthesizers and drum machines and MBL knocks it out of the park. Why? Songs. Glorious pop songs. "In A Future World" grooves woozily along and provides a great chorus. "Sleep In" is one of my favorite songs of the year and not just because there's a Speak 'N' Spell involved; it's a total earworm in the best possible way. "Farmers Road" starts with piano and a steady pulsing beat underneath and eventually blossoms into gorgeous "ohs" while the synths provide a cool counterpoint. The album closes with the romantic "Ad Infinitum, Pt. 2," which has a rock solid beat to hold down Lerner's plaintive "I love you" vocals. This album is also bound for my year-end top ten.


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Sunday Shuffle #448

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5 X 10

I've recently found myself listening to albums that came out 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years ago. Here are some thoughts...

The Broken West/I Can't Go On I'll Go On (2007) - "Down in the Valley" hooked me the first time I heard it streaming on KEXP. At the time, the band was still called The Brokedown, but that would soon change to due copyright issues; that's okay, I like The Broken West as a name better anyway. To get back to "Down in the Valley," what grabbed me were the ringing guitars, layered harmonies, and the organ that weaved in and out. And the lyrics, of course - "I had my feelings like the Dutchman has his gold/Deep in the canyon by the river that runs cold." Speaking of The Dutchman's Gold, that was the name of the EP that I learned had already been out and used my eMusic credits to grab it. "Down in the Valley" was the lead-off track, but there were six other great power pop songs and I was both in love and even mor…