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2024 Album-A-Day: Week 14


April 1st: Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers by The National

I've listened to a few National albums before, but I wanted to look at their earlier work. This is a good example of how, after their first album was vaguely country-ish (I've heard some of it), the National had a very clear idea of what they wanted to be: dark, dramatic, sometimes sarcastic. You've got personal life focused lyrics like "Slipping Husband," those perfect guitar leads like on "Available," and of course, Matt Berninger's weary baritone, as exemplified on closer "Lucky You." I really like this one.

April 2nd: Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World

I chose to listen to this one because I've loved singles "The Middle" and "Sweetness" for a long time, and I was not disappointed. I love the ass-kicking riffs on the opening title track, the references to classic songs (including "Don't Let's Start" by TMBG) on "A Praise Chorus," the heart-breaking ballad about the late Weezer fan club founders Mykel and Carli Allen "Hear You Me," and of course, everything about "Sweetness" and "The Middle." I'm likely going to return to this album.

April 3rd: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society by the Kinks

I knew a few Kinks songs, and was curious about this one in particular because it's been talked up by critics as a step forward for the concept album. The concept appears to be "quaint English nonsense," which somehow translates into these light, catchy, and fun baroque pop numbers. For example, "The Village Green Preservation Society" is a fun jam about how Britain's quirks must be preserved for posterity, and "Picture Book" and "People Take Pictures of Each Other" are about taking photos of moments you want to remember. My favorite song is probably "Village Green" (Not to be confused with "The Village Green Preservation Society," repetitive titles ahoy) and I also really like "Starstruck."

April 4th: Grace by Jeff Buckley

It's impossible to divorce this album from the context of Jeff Buckley's tragic death only 3 years after this album. It's also impossible for me to say anything other than HOLY SHIT THIS ALBUM IS AMAZING. For one thing, it sounds more like Slint than I ever expected. The only song I knew previously was his untouchable cover of "Hallelujah," and I didn't expect this sprawling soulful post-rock. It need not be said that Jeff had the voice of an angel. "Mojo Pin" and the title track are the best examples of this album's sound. Also, "Corpus Christi Carol" followed by "Eternal Life" is insane. You get this hymn sounding solo guitar piece followed by the heaviest song on this album. I'm probably going to relisten to this a lot.

April 5th: Tyranny and Virtue by the Voidz

I'm a big Strokes fan, so, having heard all of their albums, I'd listen to Julian's other band. Tyranny is an album that is more interesting than it is good. These are clearly still songs written by Julian Casablancas, but smothered in a lot of weird experimentation. "Human Sadness" could be a strokes song if it weren't a meandering 10 minutes long, and "Where No Eagles Fly" starts normal before becoming heavy metal. Out of the context of Julain's other work, it's an album of experimental rock that I appreciate but maybe don't like. "Johan von Bronx" is probably my favorite on the album. Also, Julian's vocals are unintelligible. Virtue is more up my alley. These songs have better hooks, the production is better, I love "Pyramid of Bones" and "All Wordz are Made Up" and "Wink." It's the album where the Voidz solidify as an actual band.

April 6th: 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle

Albums like this are hard to review. For the uninitiated, the title of this album is a complete falsehood. There are only 11 songs, the music is neither jazz nor funk, and I'm not sure I'd call it great. The music is industrial early synth music, and the intention of the innocuous title and cover was to trick people into buying an album of shocking and disturbing music. I can appreciate the attempt at trolling, but I'm not sure if I like this album. For example, "Convincing People" is a song that I'm sure someone likes, but for me it's just... uncomfortable. I'm not saying music has to be comforting, but I don't really get a lot out of this album. I can appreciate "Beachy Head" and the title track and "What A Day" on a technical level, but I don't know if this kind of thing is for me. I don't dislike industrial, I like NIN and the like, but this album isn't really for me. My favorite song on the album is the instrumental "Exotica."

April 7th: The Unseen by Quasimoto

I first heard Madlib's pitched-up smoking goblin alter ego Lord Quas on the immortal Madvillainy (R.I.P. MF DOOM), and this album delivered on my expectations: Madlib's jazzy sample flips as he trades verses with a pitched up version of himself. Quas is a pretty solid MC, if sometimes a little bit offbeat (maybe that's just a side effect of varispeed), as is Madlib without the pitch shifting, but the best thing about this album is the vibe, best exemplified on "Discipline 99 Pt. 0" and "Low Class Conspiracy." It's a perfect "we're just two good pals hanging out in SoCal, one of whom is some kind of yellow pig-goblin, driving around aimlessly, smoking Pall Malls, and dropping shrooms" album. I mean, I don't live in California or smoke or drop shrooms, and even if I did live in California I wouldn't smoke (wouldn't be against shrooms, though), but Madlib's vibe is one I appreciate. The album is slightly longer than it should be, which is a problem a number of hip-hop albums, but I enjoy it despite that. My favorite song is either "Low Class Conspiracy" or "Real Eyes."

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