CD Review – Django Django, Django Django, Ribbon Music, 2012

Django Django, Django Django, Ribbon/Domino, 2012

Library Classification: Rock / Electronic
File Under:  D

Artist:  Django Django
Title:  Django Django
Label:  Ribbon Music

Date(s) Recorded:  2012
Date Released: 09/25/12
Date Received: 09/07/12

Clean:  All
Indecent:  None

RIYL: Bear In Heaven, Yeasayer, Clinic, Grizzly Bear, Alt-J, Primal Scream
In a nutshell: British Art-School Psychedelia
Play: 3-Default, 4-Firewater, 2-Hail Bop, 10-Storm

Comments: The band formed in Edinburgh in 2009. This album came out in the UK in 2011, and in the US in 2012. NPR has featured them on First Listen, and the album is heaps of fun. Touring with Hot Chip (duh) in the UK. Fun fact: they have nothing to do with Jazz Guitarist Django Rheinhart, but get asked about him all the time. Cool harmonies over sometimes glitchy beats. Good guitar work. Nods to 90s & 70s UK Pysch, but in a decidedly electronic way. Solid debut.

-DJWB

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Review – Menomena, Moms, Barsuk Records, 2012

Menomena, Moms, Barsuk, 2012

Classification: Rock
File Under: M

Artist: Menomena
Title: Moms
Label: Barsuk

Recorded: 2012
Date Released: 09/18/2012
Date Received: 09/10/2012

Clean: All
Indecent: None
Play: 1-Plumage, 8-Tantalus, 3-Pique, 4-Boton, 5-Heavy Is As Heavy Does, 9-Don’t Mess With Latexas

RIYL–Morphine (sax solos), of Montreal (art school rock), Neutral Milk Hotel (bodily imagery-bones & teeth)

Their fifth album and first without Brent Knopf, who really balanced out the band with a kindness. Sure, there are still plenty of airy piano lines, but the whole album is waaay more sexual, almost uncomfortably so. Album opener “Plumage” begins “Animal. I’m just an animal. Looking for another animal.” It continues on like an episode of Nature on the mating habits of the Pacific Northwestern Male Hipster.

Boton (4) is a somewhere between a twisted Hail Mary prayer and an airing of grievances. “I Wish I didn’t have to rob a grave to hold you near…. I wish that codependence could sustain us thru the years. I wish that wrecking fantasies could pass for a career.” It’s sad, funny, dark, but kind of sweet all at the same time.

To be sure, this is an album of longing. On Heavy Is As Heavy Does (5), “Among six billion people, I want the ones who never wanted me.” But maybe the standout track is Tantalus (8) a retelling of the Greek myth. Tantalus was cursed to stand in a pool of water under a fruit tree for all eternity. Whenever he bent to drink, the water would recede. Whenever he reached to grab the fruit, it would extend away from him.

In a nutshell: still plenty of drum loops, ripping saxophone, disfunctional relationships, existentialism, dark humor, and clever wordplay.

Review – Pet Shop Boys, Elysium, EMI/Astralwerks, 2012

Pet Shop Boys, Elysium, EMI/Astralwerks
Pet Shop Boys, Elysium, EMI/Astralwerks

Classification: Electronic
File Under: P

Artist: Pet Shop Boys
Title: Elysium
Label: EMI/Astralwerks

Recorded: 2012
Date Released: 09/05/2012
Date Received: 09/07/2012

Clean: All
Indecent: None
Play: 3-Winner, 1-Leaving, 4-Your Early Stuff, 7-Ego Music
RIYL: Junior Boys

Comments: I’m honestly trying to remember the last Pet Shop Boys album that I thought was essential, or that I really loved. Maybe it was Alternative, their B-Sides from the 90s. Maybe it was Bilingual. But it was sometime in the mid-90s that my love affair with their discography broke off. I still respected them as artists, but I just didn’t want to listen anymore. Kind of like U2 about the time Atomic Bomb came out.

So, giant step back. The Pet Shop Boys have been doing this for 31 years. They’ve sold 100 million albums. They played the freaking Olympics. Their 80s catalogue is pretty amazing, and probably earns them the right to put out whatever they want, or at least enough royalties to put out whatever they want.

Plenty of reflection on getting older: 12-Requiem in denim and leopardskin, 11-Everything means something, 10-Memory of the future. They look back on early success in 4-Your early stuff, maybe directly back to “Left to my own devices.” 7-Ego music, genuinely confuses me. I can’t decide if Neil is completely earnest here, laughing at us, or trying to make a parody of Flight Of The Conchords’ version of them (Inner City Pressure). A parody of a parody wouldn’t be beyond him. It’s probably all three, and more.

At the end of the day, PSB will probably leave the club bangers to a younger set, but this is music for the morning after, as you nurse your Monaco hangover and ask yourself if it was worth it.

-DJWB

Review – Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, Theater Is Evil, 8 Foot Records, 2012

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Classification: Pop / Rock
File Under: P

Artist: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
Title: Theater Is Evil
Label: 8 Foot Records

Recorded: 2012
Date Released: 09/11/2012
Date Received: 08/07/2012

Clean: 1, 4-14
Indecent: 2, 3, 15
Play: 4-Do it with a rockstar, 5-Want it back, 9-Lost, 13-Melody Dean
RIYL: St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, Dresden Dolls (obvs), Cabaret

Comments: You can’t just put out records or singles anymore. To make it in the music industry today, you have have give fans videos, contests, assurances via social media that you love them, exclusive content, and most of all reasons to buy your music instead of steal it. In that sense, Amanda Fucking Palmer continues to give the people what they want. This album (her second solo LP) is a culmination of relentless touring, side projects (Evelyn Evelyn) and ruling Twitter along with her husband, Neil Gaiman.

But how does it sound?

It sounds pretty great, actually. It skews poppier than her work with the Dolls, or her last album “Who Killed Amanda Palmer.” There’s still nods towards cabaret, high drama, and plenty of naked emotional confessions. Her latest videos feature plenty of actual nudity: “Want It Back” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” (not on this album), which shows just how much she’s willing to do to put herself out there, or at least try to get your attention.

It’s not hard to see some of the songs as modified love letters or unspoken conversations with Neil: 4-Do It With A Rockstar, 6-Grown Man Cry. 12-Massachusetts Avenue is a nice tribute to her address / Boston / whatever passes for home these days. For me, the emotional poles of the album are 9-Lost and 5-Want It Back, which center about what’s lost and what’s never really left you. There’s plenty of high drama, but I get the feeling that there’s even more raw stuff left on the cutting room floor. Who’s to say it won’t end up on the internet, or part of the next project? One thing’s for sure, after all the expectations and build up, AFP’s fans still want more. -DJWB