haha, come on people, it's Speak in Rounds. I've seen that title messed up so many times over the past few weeks. Solid review, though.
You guys been following the Albini/Palmer thing? Amanda Palmer seems like a bitch, and people still don't read Steve Albini's writing with the requisite sarcastic snarl, so he always comes across more bitter old man than caustic goofball.
A solid review for the new Calexico album. I think it's their best work since Feast of Wire but i've only heard a twice all the way through at this point so take that for what it is.
By Stephen M. Deusner; September 17, 2012
Calexico Find it at:
Insound Vinyl eMusic Amazon MP3 & CD
.Music from this release
Calexico: "Para" (via SoundCloud)
Geography has always played a big role in Calexico's music, even back when they were apprenticing with Howe Gelb in Giant Sand. Since going duo in the 1990s, Joey Burns and John Convertino have evoked the Southwest United States in heady, careful detail-- not only in sad stories about border crossers, doomed drivers, and restless wanderers, but in slyly adventurous music that combines Latin American traditions with North American rock'n'roll sounds. Impossibly, they showed such a keen facility with those styles and such a commitment to that sound-- and, by virtue, to that place-- that these two gringos never came off as exploiters or tourists. So it makes sense that Calexico would be involved in immigration reform efforts: For one thing, how could you live with yourself in Arizona and not be involved? For another, their music has proved that the borders between styles can be as blurrable, as mutable, as porous as those separating countries and cultures.
Burns and Convertino have recorded nearly every Calexico release at their WaveLab Studio in Tucson, which has proved popular with acts like Amos Lee and Neko Case as well. They've been so associated with those concentric locales-- the studio within the city within the state within the region within the country-- that it seems especially significant that they chose to record their latest album, Algiers, elsewhere. The duo, along with producer Craig Schumacher, trekked east across New Mexico and Texas and set up shop in perhaps the most storied and tragic city in the United States: New Orleans. The album is named for a neighborhood on the southwest banks of the Mississippi River, home to krewe dens, Catholic churches, jazz clubs, and more than a few Katrina-flooded homes.
It doesn't sound like they left Tucson at all, which is slightly disappointing but which might actually be their deftest trick: Algiers carries very little of the city's baggage. No one is going to argue for this as a post-Katrina album (or even a post-Isaac album). There are watery allusions peppering these songs, as when Burns exhorts, "Take it all the way down/ below the water line," on first single "Para", but that has more to do with burying the past than reviving it. There's something refreshing about this approach, as it opens up the city to new ideas and new moods and new meanings, placing that horror into a larger historical continuum.
On the other hand, if place defines Algiers as much as that album title signals, it must have done so in the creative process, as these songs never sound too far removed from Tucson or from the raft of Calexico's catalog. On one hand, there are no Mardi Gras trinkets on this album, no street bands or zydeco flourishes, no Quintron or Trombone Shorty or Dr. John, no hoodoo charms or Saints gear. Burns and Convertino went east to make another western record, one that even indulges Spanish-language lyrics and songs about sacrifices to Quetzalcoatl ("Puerto" may be the most overcooked thing Burns and Convertino have set to tape). Algiers sounds great, with a noticeable sensitivity to instrumental interplay and an emphasis on Burns' conspiratorial vocals, but the album is haunted by the missed opportunities to absorb the particulars of this neighborhood and reflect that in the music.
What we're left with, after a few spins have dispersed expectations, is another solid Calexico record, impeccably conceived and imaginatively crafted. Such consistency may gnaw at any excitement over a new installment from the band, which means Algiers never sounds quite as momentous or as immediate as 2003's Feast of Wire or even 2008's Carried to Dust. But that may only be a way of saying that the record demands more time and more spins before it burrows into your head. There are certainly enough moments to hook your interest: the dissonant cascade of strings that ends "Para" and hints so vividly at something horrible; those lovely ghost vocals on "Fortune Teller"; the sparkling tango theme on "Sinner in the Sea" that rises into a tense and fractious crescendo.
Opener "Epic" even manages to live up to its title, beginning with a single, steady, insistent acoustic strum that just hangs in the middle air, suggesting a kind of weightless motion-- as though Burns and Convertino were positioning the listener just out of the way of song's action. It's a sound and technique they've used on nearly every Calexico album, and as such it's become instantly recognizable as Calexico. While it may sound familiar, it's nevertheless effective, ushering you you into the world of this album. And ultimately, it is a different world from those evoked on previous albums, one thoroughly shaken by the tectonic cello rumble that undercuts the violent squalls of electric guitar. Perhaps this is the power of New Orleans working on a musically subatomic level, determining decisions made just out of earshot. The result is an album that never sounds settled or still, defined not by one or another place but by the tumultuous spaces in between.
My favorite part:
What other aspects of Palmer’s scheme strike you as ‘absurdly inefficient’?
Given that the typical budget for albums I work on is less than $10,000, you can take your pick of line-items in her budget, divide by ten and still have an order of magnitude worth of waste from my perspective. I haven’t looked at the breakdown since I first saw it so don’t quote me on it (haha, “don’t quote me,” I just said something funny), but I recall that she skimmed a couple hundred grand off the top for her pleasure prior to beginning to make the record. That alone is enough to make the record of your dreams a couple times over and seems like a straight-up “fuck you” to everybody who pledged money to the project.
It’s crazy that I have to explain to you how ridiculous it is to blow a million dollars. More than a million dollars. Just say it out loud and think about how much fucking money a million dollars is. That’s several really nice houses with a Jaguar in each garage. A lifetime’s wages. It’s just an incredible sum, enough to make a hundred records. Palmer had more than that at her disposal and now claims not to have enough left to pay musicians. To pay them for gigs she is also being paid to play. This coming from someone who already had a successful career before she had her audience begin paying all her expenses in advance. A millionaire pleading poverty and asking for additional charity. It’s fucking ridiculous and it mocks all the bands who genuinely need their audience to help them conduct their business.
So that’s what I think. Nobody’s an idiot, some ways of conducting business are just uglier and more exploitative than others.
Some were discussing the Palmer/Albini beef here yesterday.
Palmer blogged about it all today. I think she makes some fair points. I don't see what she did as trolling either.
I think I like reading all the bad reviews on Pitchfork rather than the good ones.
We're here to play some Mississippi Delta Blues. We're in a horrible depression, and I gotta admit - we're starting to like it.
Gave Alt-J's An Awesome Wave a 4.8. I was under the impression that the record was pretty well received.
Yeah I don't get that one. I like that record.
It seems like their main gripe with the record was that other people were comparing to Radiohead..
Mutual Benefit (1/28) ~ Lucius (2/3) ~ Austin Leonard Jones (2/7) ~ Hospitality (2/13) ~ Four Tet (3/6) ~ Stephen Malkmus/Speedy Ortiz (3/28) ~ Factory Floor (4/17) ~ Sasquatch (???)
I have not heard Alt-J, and I like Wild Beasts, but I want to punch the reviewer in the face for writing that sentence. Priapism? jesus.Alt-J have also been compared to Wild Beasts, and while there's a superficial similarity between both bands' oddly voiced singers, when Wild Beasts hold back-- as they did on the majestic Smother-- it's because they know that priapism would be inappropriate at that particular moment.
non sunt in coeli, quia fvccant vvivys of heli
Sorry for the late "lurker" reply, but I just wanted to mention that.
Any misgivings about the writing for that Alt-J review are forgiven with the last line, which I feel so fucking frequently about hype bands:
But if this is what's getting tagged as an "innovative" success these days, then heaven help the weirdos.
pitchfork was generous to give alt-j a 4.1..that album is seriously the worse thing i've heard all year,i've listened to 3 full times and do not get it,it's different but i have no idea what the hype is about...anyone who likes that crap is a square
I think their guide to upcoming releases would be a lot more interesting if it identified which of them had leaked already.
There's plenty of shit I don't like. I listen to a stupid amount of music, obviously there is plenty I don't like.
Cohen nailed the new Muse review. Full of lulz
He's soon surrounded by a mock Greek chorus, hamming with operatic haughtiness, "I'll light the fuse, and I'll never lose." And you cross your fingers, sincerely hoping, "please Lord, make him rhyme it with Muse."
but this is still a pretty fukkin awesome video:
9.0 for the Aussies.
Tickets for both LA shows start at around $100 on StubHub. This won't make getting an affordable one any easier.
Pitchfork is starting to think like me. First The Mountain Goats and now Tame Impala, I'm on a role
The new Tame Impala is not worthy of that score...or all the hype. It's a clear step down from their debut. Not even close to how good that is. What's wrong with you people?!