Listening Log: March 12th thru March 15th, 2010

Matador 1999


Album of the Day: Pavement “Terror Twilight”

This has been on my turntable for the last three days. I just keep flipping from side to side. I bought the vinyl used at Love Garden years ago, back when it was still the old upstairs store. The near-mint copy was only six dollars. Nowadays, with vinyl being how popular it is, I bet “Terror Twilight” would go for at least double that amount. Hell, maybe even triple, what with their reunion tour coming up later this year. That is part of the reason I was listening to Pavement, actually—I just paid $54 for my GA ticket to the Uptown show on 9/11/10, and even though the show is still six whole months away, I feel myself getting more psyched for it all the time. I never got to see Pavement live. They are one of those bands that first turned me on to great rock music, and I came along just a little too late to actually witness them.

I love that I have “Terror Twilight” on vinyl. I think it works much better sequentially. On CD, getting through all eleven of the songs in one uninterrupted sitting can be challenging. A lot of the songs are kind of mid-tempo or slow, and everything flows much better when split into sides A and B, like two little EPs. When I bought this album on CD back in high school, I always considered this my least favorite Pavement album, but now I am not so sure. The production is the closest Pavement ever got to immaculate (thanks to the impeccable work of Nigel Godrich), and musically, the band seemed to finally be stumbling upon that much sought-after balance of loose weirdness, giddy experimentalism and pop sensibility that could have made them unstoppable. Also, it helps that the entire record is sandwiched between two of the best Pavement songs ever (“Spit on a Stanger”, “Carrot Rope”), and that almost every song in between (especially haunting wonders like “The Hexx” and “Major Leagues”, companied with the cerebral stomp of “Folk Jam” and “Speak, See, Remember”) fires on all cylinders.

Sire 1985

The Replacements “Tim”

The Replacements are probably one of the three most important bands in my life. They taught me that while it is important for music to be powerful, raw and of-the-moment, it also needs to have heart and sincerity. In listening to “Tim”, it seems that not a lot of takes were done in the making of this album, an assumption that could be furthered by the fact that original Ramones drummer Tommy Erdelyi was its producer. It’s okay, though, because while “Tim” is not the blueprint of technical perfection, that is only one of the many aspects that make it one of the greatest rock albums ever made. I will say that as a record geek, I bitch all the time when a band sounds out of tune or if they mess up a lot, but it never really bothers me when the Replacements do it. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s more the fact that they do it so well—the fuck ups, the wrong notes, the dropped beats, the fudged lyrics…it’s all so real, and on top of it, the SONGS are really, really, really great. Not just good, but great. Awesome—with the exception of two, that is. The Mars/T. Stinson/Westerberg penned “Dose of Thunder” is lifeless and forgettable, as is the side two throwaway “Lay it Down Clown”. But literally every other track is a consistent winner. No one can live without “Bastards of Young” or “Left of the Dial”—two college rock classics to this day—and they are both here, on the same side, no less! My personal favorite, “Swingin’ Party”, has some of the best lyrics ever written. “If being afraid is a crime, we hang side by side,” Westerberg sings. There’s something in that statement I really relate with—I feel like everyone is afraid of something, and it’s those who can’t accept their fears that really struggle with them. Pretty deep for some old alt punk record, eh? That’s why Westerberg is the man.

RCA Victor 1967

Harry Nilsson “Pandemonium Shadow Show”

This second album from Harry Nilsson caught the attention of The Beatles, which subsequently helped to jumpstart his career. In listening to “Pandemonium Shadow Show”, it’s pretty easy to tell right off the bat why Nilsson and John Lennon got along so well. Surely, Lennon related immensely with the song “1941”, a whimsical yet awfully sad story about the trajectory of one’s life. It tells of a boy whose father leaves him while very young, and in turn, he grows up to leave his son as well. I don’t know about Nilsson’s story, but that pretty much details Lennon’s life to a T (according to legend, he listened to this album for 72 hours straight once). Lennon’s love for the album may have had something to do with the fact that it contains two killer Beatles covers; one of which, “You Can’t Do That”, being more of a collage of about 20 different Beatles tunes. All of the probable ass-kissing aside, “Pandemonium Shadow Show” is a glorious album which showcases the innumerable musical sides of Harry Nilsson, equal amounts poet, interpreter, and incredible musician. Plus, his paying of tributes does not stop with the Beatles—everything from old-style Vaudeville to Phil Spector, and probably anything else that ever inspired Nilsson up to that point, is contained within.

C/Z 1993

Albums to Revisit: Built to Spill “Ultimate Alternative Wavers”

I really like a lot of songs on this album, but still find it hard to make it all the way through in one listen. The last song, “Built Too Long”, may be the most honest song title in history, for example. But songs like “Three Years Ago Today”, “Revolution” and “Nowhere Nothing Fuckup” have really stuck with me over the years. I got this album back in high school, right around the time I got “Perfect From now On”, I believe. In a way, “Wavers” is a cross between that album and “There’s Nothing Wrong with Love”, the album that got me into Built To Spill in the first place. “Wavers” contains longer and jammier songs more in the vein of “Perfect”, but its production is raw and lo-fi like “Love”. Though not as solid as either of those albums, “Ultimate Alternative Wavers” is a more-than-satisfying debut from one of our time’s most influential rock bands.

Lovepump United 2009

Health “Get Color”

This album has a lot of cool stuff going on, and it most certainly contains many things I have not heard before. If Health are anything, they are sound innovators. But, they’re not really songwriters. They definitely know how to meld sounds together into pummeling behemoths of white noise, and at times, that’s pretty cool. For me, it just kind of gets old after awhile—I’m all about loudness, I just like a little more structure to a song. Call me old fashioned, I guess. I’ve given this album a few chances already, and I still haven’t grown fonder of it, but sometimes all it takes to like a song or an album or whatever is the right moment. Maybe that will come at some point.

The Replacements “Tim” ****1/2
Harry Nilsson “Pandemonium Shadow Show” ****
Genesis “Selling England by the Pound” ***1/2
Mark Kozelek “What’s Next to the Moon” ****
The Merry-Go-Round “The Merry-Go-Round” ****
Health “Get Color” **1/2
Butthole Surfers “Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac” ***1/2
Screaming Trees “Dust” ***1/2
Julian Casablancas “Phrazes for the Young” ****
AC/DC “Let There Be Rock” *****
Yo La Tengo “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” ****1/2
Sebadoh “Bakesale” ****1/2
Titanic Love Affair “Titanic Love Affair” ***1/2
Super Furry Animals “Mwng” ****
Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti” *****
Built To Spill “Ultimate Alternative Wavers” ***1/2

Total Alums Heard (over 3-day period)=16

***** Classic
**** Amazing
*** Good
** So-So
* Nope

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