Each month, I build a playlist of songs downloaded from emusic, newly purchased from other places, or drawn from my current music collection. At the end of the month, I review that playlist.
- The Decemberists, The King is Dead — Another solid outing from the erudite songsters. The songs don’t have quite the plaintive quality that other albums have had, but they’re all good. The opening number, “Calamity Song,” has a nice jaunty start; “Down by the Water” highlights the way this new album combines Colin Meloy’s distinctive style with female singer Gillian Welch to provide a more pop sound (which Wikipedia tells me Meloy felt inspired by R.E.M.). It lays off the sea shanty for a little hint of country, as with the violin on “All Arise!”
- Rodeo Ruby Love, Rodeo Ruby Love vs. The Great American Cities — Another very good album from RRL. It’s much like the other music I’ve gotten from this band, with upbeat guitar licks, a pleasant middle-of-the-road vocal style by lead singer Zachary Melton (I think?) and solid indie-pop style. I like the up-and-down feeling of “Shhhh…” and “A Wedding” is a nice song even if it is a bit shmoopy and more religious than I usually prefer. The jaunty “Cancer and Lonliness” takes you by surprise, and the best song is “A Small House in the City,” which captures a lot of the mid-twenties mid-Western angst, I think. (ASIDE: the ID3 tags in the tracks I downloaded from emusic use the word citys instead of cities in the album name. How annoying!)
- Lead Belly and Woodie Guthrie, The Roots of Bob Dylan (second half)- This is a gimmick album, alternating songs between Guthrie and Lead Belly. I love Guthrie’s “Blowing Down that Dusty Road,” which feels like a soundtrack to The Grapes of Wrath, and “Ranger’s Command” documents the struggles of the Rangers against varmits and ne’er do wells. Lead Belly’s songs in this section are equally good. The lower half of piano of “My Big Fat Woman” works really well, “New Orleans” is an old version of “The House of the Rising Sun” that’s almost unrecognizable. He also sings “Blue Tail Fly” with a bit of “Gimme cracked corn,” which always reminds me of veteran character actor Carmen Filpi, who played the hobo on the train in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. To be fair, though, Lead Belly’s version of the song is far better.
- Colour Revolt, The Cradle (part of Supply Drop 1) – The opening track of The Cradle is infection. The gravelly, grinding voice of Jesse Coppenbarger (or Sean Kirkpatrick? I can’t tell) pulls you right in, and the line “One man’s limo is another man’s hearse” sticks with me. Other notable songs include “Heartbeat” and the title track. I also like the light touch of “Everything’s Is the Same,” and the Hendrixian “She Don’t Talk.” I can’t quite place it, but I feel like the bass lines and some of the guitar work reminds me of the more quiet moments from Chris Cornell’s music. I hear this most in “Brought to Life.”
- Doc & Merle Watson (Cover Lay Down) – Country / folk music, good harmonies. I like “Anniversary Blue Yodel” and “Got the Blues (Can’t Be Satisfied)” quite a bit, but my favorite song is the fast-pickin’ live version of “Don’t Think Twice.” Doc introduces it, saying “That Bob Dylan wrote a whole batch of good songs.”
- Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Let’s Face It – Some old school third wave ska, eh? Delightful. About what you’d expect. I particularly like “Let’s Face It,” along with the over-played but excellent “The Impression That I Get.”
Humor songs — a couple tracks from albums sprinkled in to clear the palate:
- Car Talk, Born Not To Run (xmas gift) – three songs. I enjoyed the moderately amusing “We Talk About Cars” and “If She Wasn’t on Blocks,” but I really like “Me and My Automobile” by Jack Williams. It’s a great song, with a funny line too. Reminds me of how Jeff and Bradley always used to mutter “Well, there’s your problem. The Confabulator’s busted.”
- Flight of the Conchords, I Told You I Was Freaky – I’m not overly fond of “Sugalumps,” though it is a funny take on songs about sexy raps, but I laugh every time I listen to “We’re Both in Love with a Sexy Lady,” especially when they disagree about whether her name is “Barbra” or “Brabra.” The best song from this month is “Hurt Feelings,” about rappers who get hurt feelings. When Jemaine complains that his family forgets his birthday, he says “The day after my birthday is not my birthday, MOM.” A bit later, Bret laments that his family went to see Maid in Manhattan without him. Check it out below: