Monday, April 02, 2007

New Music

Three months into the year, and I've bought just eight new cds, only three of which are 2007 releases: Panda Bear's Person Pitch; LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver; and Deerhoof's Friend Opportunity. It's completely unheard of for me to not have already bought new albums by certain old favorites, such as Modest Mouse or, especially, Kristin Hersh, not to mention a whole slew of other interesting looking releases, but time and money are an issue, so they'll have to wait.

Person Pitch is gorgeous. I especially like the 12+ minutes of "Bros"; this is the kind of song I could easily listen to all day long. Since 2004's Sung Tongs, reviewers have repeatedly (and lazily, it seems) cited the Beach Boys as a point of reference for Panda Bear's group, Animal Collective. The comparison is more conceptual, I think, than anything else . People are more reminded of the Beach Boys than really claiming that Animal Collective actually sound like them (I could be wrong; I don't hear it, in any event). But with Person Pitch, the sound of Panda Bear's voice comes through very much like one of the Beach Boys (if I cared about the Beach Boys, and could thus differentiate their voices, I could tell you which one). (See Simon Reynolds on Person Pitch in the Observer: "Like Animal Collective, Lennox [i.e., Panda Bear] pulls off the trick of being simultaneously poppy and abstract, winsome and deranging.")

Sound of Silver is pretty good. People seem to be talking most about "Someone Great", but after a handful of listens my favorite track is easily "All My Friends". On a number of the other tracks, James Murphy's vocals are a distraction from the otherwise enjoyable music. Once again I feel that all too often Murphy sounds like he's suffering from a major head cold when he sings (see "North American Scum"). Check out Tom Breihan's entertaining feature about LCD Soundsystem and interview with James Murphy in The Village Voice. Interestingly, Tom seems to think (and appears to reflect a general consensus, not that I've followed up on it) that the slower songs (like "Someone Great") are more central to this record than the last one, which surprises Murphy. It surprises me, too, since the two albums don't sound all that different from each other (though I like the new one more, I think), but also, as with previous LCD Soundsystem music, all of my favorite songs are the faster songs ("All My Friends", of course, but also the opener "Get Innocuous!" and "Us V Them"). They're the songs on which the vocals are the least distracting, for one thing, but also, as with Panda Bear's "Bros" (or Animal Collective's "Banshee Beat"), the kinds of songs that have a kind of repetitive beauty that I can just get lost in.

Deerhoof's Friend Opportunity has, so far, alas, failed to click with me. It has some great moments, but despite its brevity, it seems diffuse. I have been unable to zero in on any particular track.

I expect to buy Bill Callahan's first non-Smog album, when it comes out later this month. And I think I'll post something about the other new cds I've acquired this year. They're all 2006 releases, and I think a reassessment of my favorites from last year may be in order. . .

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