In the same spirit as my August report, here's all the additions to my iTunes library for the month of September, with comments:
- Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods (1975). eMusic runs a feature called 'Dozens,' in which various people select 12 albums (available on eMusic, of course), usually around some central theme, and then write about why those albums are great/important/interesting/whatever. This album was recommended in Larry Blumenfeld's Jazz Essentials Dozen, but it's been a disappointment. It's altogether too tinged by the seventies, with the 'Afro-Cuban' elements sounding more like the Latin-tinged disco rhythms of that era than, say, Charlie Parker's late-forties collaborations with Machito (available on South of the Border, 1995).
- Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006). The standard gloss on Neko Case—country singer who moonlights with The New Pornographers—doesn't really do anything to prepare one for this album, which is lovely and haunting and strikingly resistant to simple labeling. It's not really a country album, though you can hear the influence, and it's certainly not the indie power-pop of the New Pornographers. There's something of the artsy-female-singer-songwriter here, but without falling into the "look at me, I'm so sensitive" trap. Case has staked her claim to a plot at the junctions of folk, country, and indie rock, and on this album, it sure looks like she's sitting on a rich vein (see also below).
- Fishbone, The Reality Of My Surroundings, (1991). Not really new—I've had the CD for years—but I only just now decided to rip it into my library. I had remembered disliking it when I first got it, but having bought (and having, basically, enjoyed) a used copy of The Essential Fishbone over the summer, I thought I should give it another listen. I still don't like it, and I am baffled why reviewers keep citing it as the pinnacle of Fishbone's career. There's some OK songs on this album, but I got hooked on the gleefully anarchic ska of "Party at Ground Zero," and nothing here matches what they did on that debut EP.
- "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra (from Boots, 1966).
- "Hush," Deep Purple (from Shades of Deep Purple, 1968). The last couple eMusic downloads of each monthly cycle are often an adventure. It took some hunting to come up with these two tracks, but it was worth it.
- Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982). I borrowed this CD from friends and ripped it under the if-I-have-it-on-vinyl-it's-not-stealing clause of my personal code of ethics. I remembered hating this album when it came out and was played constantly everywhere, but I thought I might be able to appreciate it now as a pop document. No. I still find half of it awful, and the other half bland. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" is the one gem here.
- The Wrens, assorted tracks from Silver (1994), Secaucus (1996), and Abbott 1135 (EP, 1998). I downloaded several older songs from the Wrens' website in preparation for their show last weekend. Since I bought the first two albums in full at that show, I'll forego comment until next months 'Acquisitions' report.
- Yo La Tengo, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics (2006). Yo La Tengo has a decade-long tradition of contributing to the annual fund drive of North Jersey public radio station WFMU by doing a live "request" show on the air. Donors request songs and the band tries to play them, sometimes with hilarious results. This album of 'best of' selections from seven years of appearances is highly eclectic (ranging from "The Hokey Pokey" to "Oh Bondage, Up Yours"), a little uneven, and probably only for the dedicated fan, but there's some real fun to be had within its 30 songs and 76+ minutes. Their cover of "Oh, Sweet Nothin'" by the Velvet Underground and a five-minute medley of "My Sharona/Mr. Apollo/Sonic Reducer/God Only Knows/If And When/The Summer Sun/Schizophrenia/Another Girl, Another Planet/Bedazzled" are my nominations for best songs on the album. I bought the CD directly from Yo La Tengo's website.
- Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Get Happy!! (1980). Another item from my vinyl library that I was able to get hold of on CD for ripping. I'd put this album in Costello's top five, and the waltz-timed "New Amsterdam" is still one of my all-time favorites: "New Amsterdam, it's become much too much / Till I have the possession of everything she touches / Till I step on the brakes to get out of her clutches / Till I speak double Dutch to a real double duchess."
- Shonen Knife, 712 (1991). This was a gift from a friend who also appreciates the infectious bubblegum pop of this Japanese trio. Features the great apologia for non-early birds, "Lazybone." I think Shonen Knife is a band you either like right off the bat or never.
- "You Faded" and "The Guard Attacks / Unreal Is Here", Chavez (from Better Days Will Haunt You, 2006). A couple of free remastered downloads from Matador Records as part of their new Chavez retrospective. I only know Chavez from a couple of compilations (School House Rock Rocks, 1996, and What's Up Matador?, 1997) and have never formed much of an opinion on them. So far these tracks have neither gotten on my nerves nor compelled me to buy the album.
- "Donna Sumeria" and "2wice," Mission Of Burma (from The Obliterati, 2006). Another couple of freebies from Matador. Mission of Burma is one of those bands I've been dimly aware of for a long time but have never really gotten to know. These two tracks have made a favorable impression on me; whether that translates into an album purchase remains to be seen.
- "So Soon," The Poems (from
In the Tall TreesYoung America, 2006). I don 't even remember how I stumbled across this free track from Minty Fresh Records or why I thought I should download it, but I'm glad I did. It's rather sad and beautiful, and it has definitely piqued my curiosity.
- "Bottom of the World," Tom Waits (from Orphans, 2006). This pre-release track from Waits's upcoming album was available for free from eMusic and I grabbed it immediately. I've been a dedicated Waits fan ever since Rain Dogs (1985), but I will admit that the last few albums have not really overwhelmed me. I like this new track quite a bit (seems like a bit of a throwback to those mid-80s Raintown albums).
- Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (2006). Look, I just love these guys, and, to paraphrase Robert Christgau, if you don't like them, why are you reading my blog? Anyway, this is Yo La Tengo's newest; and I was so eager for it, I actually pre-ordered the CD from Matador. Fanboydom aside, I think this is really good. It's a shift away from the minimalism that characterized much of their work on And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000) and Summer Sun (2003) to a bigger, poppier sound, whether in the 60s-style horn arrangements of "Beanbag Chair" and "Mr. Tough," the garage sound of "Watch Out for Me Ronnie," or the organ-and-bongos excursions of "The Room Got Heavy."
- Helium, The Dirt Of Luck (1995). I am fond of Mary Timony's earliest work in Autoclave, and I'd been contemplating some Helium downloads for a while, so I took the plunge on this one while I was ordering I Am Not Afraid....
- "If You Knew" and "Train from Kansas City," Neko Case (from The Tigers Have Spoken, 2004). Full of excitement from Fox Confessor..., I was digging around the web for more info on Ms. Case. In the process, I found these free downloads from her live album at the ANTI- Records website. "If You Knew" is terrific. "Train from Kansas City" is a pretty cover, but I prefer Superchunk's growling version (found on the Tossing Seeds collection ).
- "Twilight" and "Memory Lane," Elliott Smith (from From a Basement On the Hill, 2004). Ran into these on the ANTI- site while grabbing the Neko Case songs above. I don't think I'd heard an Elliott Smith song before that (certainly not consciously). They're not bad, but a little too neo-Simon and Garfunkle to inspire sustained interest from me.
Whew! 146 tracks. And I thought August had been a busy month. October is shaping up to be just as bad. Over a 130 arrivals so far and I've got 90 eMusic tracks to spend this month.