Paul's Tomb: A Triumph is releasing today from Frog Eyes and it's absolutely a wonderful triumph. I spoke at length about the band and the album here, and as I've explored their back catalog since that post, I'm more amazed at what a monster leap forward the latest album is. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of wonderful songs among Carey Mercer's rambling career as Frog Eyes, but nothing this unified, spirited, and flat-out kick-ass awesome as Paul's Tomb has come out of his catalog before, and in fact, nothing from any other band this year has approached it (although the new National might be its first serious challenger). I highly urge you to check out the album as soon as you can. It will blow your mind.
Because you were always unnoticed
You were always the flame that dies
Bastard with a flat-top singing "The Cloud of Unknowing"
Bastard with a flat-top singing, "The flame never dies"
Because you were always unfocused.
Jinxing the photograph with the pain in your eyes.
Bastard with a flat-top singing "I will wait for your love, I shall wait for your love all days."
Bastard with a casket singing, "I shan't wait for her love, I shan't wait for her love."
But you were always:
A saint, a flower in a glove, a night made for the raising of your glass,
The night's going to be a foolin' and a foolin', but still
Judith ain't sure,
Toil away, play in the sand, gross out your heart,
The night's going to be made for the la-la-la, but still
Judith ain't sure.
You were always unloading,
Soft on the weight of your palm and your hand,
Bastard with a passport to the old destinations,
Bastard with a map of the palm of your hand.
You were always, "Shut him out."
You were always:
Sun, dash of white light,
A night that has passed, has passed into the records of all
That the little record keepers fear,
Dear Mary-Anne, Bastard of Light
I swept your flax bang, I swept into the currents of the river where Judith ain't sure.
You were always...
Oh man, it was you, oh it's you, and did you ever think of a bad idea?
Because the river is bad, the river is cold.
How was the King, was he sad, was he cold, was he low?
Put your hand on my face, row away from the grief-stricken man,
Put your trust in my fate, I shall track that abrasive wasteland:
We are richer in love, but you know:
You just can't have it.
Speaking of The National, I did get a copy of High Violet shortly after my New Music Tuesday post last week and it's absolutely wonderful. It's not out for a couple more weeks, so no more mp3s here yet, but it quickly restored my faith that 2010 would indeed be as great a year in music as I'd hoped. And I may have been a little early to judge the new Broken Social Scene record. While there do seem to be a shocking number of duds on the album, at least three songs are slam-dunk BSS wonders -- "World Sick", "Meet Me in the Basement", and "Sentimental X's". So I'll keep listening to Forgiveness Rock Record and forgive me if I was a little premature in my lack of praise.
Back to New Music again. The Radio Dept. released a long-awaited new album last week, a few years after their last full album release and I've had a copy so long that I forgot that its official release date had come and gone. Clinging to a Scheme is one of the better albums of the year, a collection of short, poppy, and incredibly catchy tunes from the Swedish band that are among the best songs they've ever made. The only downside to the album is that (a) it's barely 30 minutes long, and (b) two of the tracks ("David" and "You Stopped Making Sense") were present on previous releases, the latter in a slightly altered form. But it's still good to hear from the band again. Check out the new album. The 6th track on it, "The Video Dept." below, is one of my top 5 favorite songs released in 2010.
Congratulations to MGMT for selling 60,000+ copies in their first week of release for their second album, titled, um... Congratulations. I didn't think I'd like it, because Oracular Spectacular didn't really have legs for me -- lots of catchy dance tracks but they didn't last, except for maybe "Kids" but I like the new album more than I thought I would, so congratulations again. Any time an indie band sells a bunch of records is a good time for music. I mean, do you have any idea what's on the pop charts today? Or the rock charts? How are people listening to this crap? Did the nation's eardrums burst some time in the last decade and they just think Rihanna singing with a random rap star is good music because she's hot? They can't actually hear the songs, can they? Howard Stern, sort of as a joke, regularly plays a clip of the "top 5" selling records of the week and every one sounds exactly like every other one, every single week, and it's all just so horribly bad. Really, really bad. You could do better than MGMT, but fuck, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
I recently received the Merge re-releases of Dan Bejar's first three "band" albums as Destroyer -- the remastered City of Daughters, Thief, and Streethawk: The Seduction. I hadn't really heard much from the first two (released about a decade ago) and while they are both good albums and well worth owning, it's the one I'd owned already that really shines here -- hearing Streethawk again reminds me of the brilliance of the album, which Bejar has perhaps equaled in subsequent releases (Rubies, for instance) but has certainly not surpassed. From Pitchfork's glowing review...
But then there's Streethawk, a record of practically nothing but graceful abandon. Each line seems immaculately crafted, every note falling into perfect order, every word sung with the proper bite and bile. This is what Bejar was building to, why he became a songwriter in the first place, and he reaches quite a precipice. Songs move effortlessly between bits of received wisdom, the drama is amped up to almost unthinkable levels, and these tunes feel like a long series of exclamation points. The guy got really good really fast, and he knew it-- his wit is sharp, his observations are keen, and his gaze is withering.
Um... yeah. Check it out.
Goddamn your eyes
They just had to be twin prizes waiting for the sun.
And goddamn your eyes.
They just had to be twin prizes waiting for the sun.