Category Archives: Roundup

July 2012 Consider/Avoid

The two young rock bands atop the consider column this time around benefit from an exuberance that seems to have abandoned the once-atomic Hives and always eluded harmfully harmless Beach House. For hooks, I favor relative old hand Rufus Wainwright over relative upstart Nicki Minaj. For New York-centric chamber pop, I favor Rufus over Magnetic Fields, too. “Andrew in Drag” makes it a close fight, though. Video most definitely NSFW.

The Men: Open Your Heart (“Please Don’t Go Away,” “Open Your Heart,” “Candy”)
Japandroids: Celebration Rock (“Fire’s Highway,” “Adrenaline Nightshift,” “Continuous Thunder”)
Rufus Wainwright: Out of the Game (“Sometimes You Need,” “Candles”)
The Hives: Lex Hives (“Come On!” “Go Right Ahead”)
The Magnetic Fields: Love at the Bottom of the Sea (“Your Girlfriend’s Face,” “Andrew in Drag”)
Spiritualized: Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (“Too Late,” “I Am What I Am”)
El-P: Cancer for Cure (“Works Every Time”)
Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (“Champion”)
Santigold: Master of My Make-Believe (“The Riot’s Gone”)
The Walkmen: Heaven (“Song for Leigh”)
Perfume Genius: Put Your Back N 2 It (“Take Me Home”)

Beach House: Bloom

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April 2012 Consider/Avoid

More to avoid than consider this time around, much of which I’m told I’m supposed to like. The subtle (though often slight) beauty of Grimes did grow on me. Same with the skillful hedonism of Schoolboy Q. But the relentlessly frenetic (and wearying) Sleigh Bells? The needy earnestness of Alabama Shakes? With apologies to that taste-maker Brian Williams, I’d rather listen to Lana Del Rey. But avoid her too, if you still even care (and, really, why would you?).

Grimes: Visions (“Oblivion,” “Symphonia IX (my wait is u),” “Skin”)
Schoolboy Q: Habits & Contradictions (“Sacrilegious,” “There He Go,” “Blessed”)
Tennis: Young and Old (“Origins,” “Petition”)
Mark Lanegan Band: Blues Funeral (“Gravedigger’s Song,” “Harborview Hospital”)
Cate Le Bon: Cyrk (“Ploughing Out Part 1”)

Lana Del Rey: Born To Die
Damien Jurado: Maraqopa
Beth Jeans Houghton: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
Nada Surf: The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
K’Naan: More Beautiful Than Silence
Frankie Rose: Interstellar
Sleigh Bells: Reign of Terror
Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls

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January 2012 Consider/Avoid

If the waning weeks of 2011 hadn’t gotten away from me, I’d have given Girls and Los Campesinos! the full B+ reviews they deserve, but my reservations about both records (Girls made a theoretically admirable move towards Big Rock that led them to the actually tedious land of flutes and seven-minute run times, while the unsurprisingly clever Los Campesinos! album was unsurprising in most other ways too) were serious enough that I decided to include both in this final nod to the year just passed. Elsewhere, The Roots affirm my uneasy feelings about concept albums, but still turn in their second admirable record in as many years; Fallout Boy front man Patrick Stump uses his Micheal Jackson impression to put across some disarmingly articulate songs about pushing 30 in the lower reaches of the 99%; and Coldplay, a band I don’t hate on for sport, spends the better part of an hour in search of a memorable tune.

Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (“Honey Bunny,” “Alex,”“Jamie Marie”)
A$AP Rocky: LiveLoveA$AP (“Wassup,” “Demons”)
Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire (“Dirty Rain,” “Lucky Now”)
Phonte: Charity Starts at Home (“Everything is Falling Down”)
The Black Keys: El Camino (“Little Black Submarines”)
Florence + the Machine: Ceremonials (“Shake It Out”)
Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto
The Weeknd: Thursday
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October 2011 Consider/Avoid

Same format as the last time, with some surprising names falling in the avoid column. Laura Marling improved a quantum on her second album, and the Joni Mitchell-lite of her third is a letdown I didn’t see coming. Speaking of letdowns, Lil Wayne’s turgid post-prison comeback album—for me, the most disappointing of the year—doesn’t even sound like the work of the same freewheeling genius who gave us all those free mix tapes a few years back. Notable from the consider column: Steves Merritt (his album a collection of outtakes) and Malkmus (his a proper studio album) honor if not improve their own legacies, Bill Callahan’s pomo folk both impresses and grates, and truly evocative singers Feist and St. Vincent still leave me wanting more in the song department.
Stephin Merritt: Obsucrities (“Forever and a Day,” “Plant White Roses,” “Take Ecstasy With Me”)
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: Mirror Traffic (“Brain Gallop,” “Forever 28,” “Fall Away”)
Cymbals Eat Guitars: Lenses Alien (“Definite Darkness,”“Another Tunguska”)
Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (“Drover,” “Baby’s Breath”)
Feist: Metals (“Graveyard,” “A Commotion”)
Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge (“City of Refuge”)
St. Vincent: Strange Mercy (“Champagne Year”)
Matraca Berg: The Dreaming Fields (“South of Heaven”)
Laura Marling: A Creature I Don’t Know
M83: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Earl Sweatshirt: EARL
Lil Wayne: Tha Carter IV
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July 2011 Consider/Avoid

A few words about what does and doesn’t get reviewed on this blog. If you’re going to regularly review music, there’s nothing more exciting than loving an album. Therefore, any record that, by my own highly subjective standards, deserves an A- or better will get reviewed. So will a strong B+. And since the second most exciting thing about reviewing music is hating something, you’ll get some outright pans from time to time too. Of course, most albums aren’t deserving of love or hate, and these in-betweens, for the most part, won’t get reviewed here. There are exceptions, of course; formerly great or currently overrated artists doing B- work are often worth the blog inches. But one more Brooklyn band named after an animal whose album I’d give a B? You’ve got better things to read. The same goes for C-grade music I would roll my eyes at but that does not actively offend me. In short: if something doesn’t elicit a strong response in me, I won’t review it. Still, lots of music that doesn’t grab me might grab you. Likewise, just because I don’t totally hate something doesn’t mean I won’t try to steer you away from it. To that end, I’m putting together this list, as I will periodically, of albums I think might be worth your time (Consider), and others I’m quite sure are not (Avoid). They are in descending order of my own affection/admiration for them, and the albums in the Consider column include tracks worth previewing, though if you need to preview Adele you probably haven’t walked into a Starbucks this year.
Steve Earle: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (“The Gulf of Mexico,” “Meet Me in the Alleyway”)
Gang Gang DanceEye Contact (“Chinese High,” “Sacer”)
Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo 
(“Puppet to the Man,” “Runner Ups”)
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
Moby: Destroyed
New York Dolls: Dancing Backward in High Heels
Anna Calvi: Anna Calvi
Wild Beasts: Smother
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