Monday, March 22, 2010


The short version:
Flight of the Conchords—I Told You I Was Freaky: quite amusing
Electric Light Orchestra—All Over the World: 7/10
Owl City—Ocean Eyes: 6/10
The Fray—The Fray: 4/10
Bassnectar—Cozza Frenzy: 3/10
Coldplay—Parachutes: 4/10
Shpongle—Are You Shpongled?: 5/10

I've been listening to a lot of music recently, starting with I Told You I Was Freaky from the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who apparently also have a TV show—I'm not really sure of the details there. The CD is rather funny, though, and several of the songs would stand on their own perfectly well without being funny, which puts it ahead of most musical comedy. My three top favorites would work well even if they didn't make me smile: Hurt Feelings, Carol Brown, and Sugalumps (one of several songs on there with the general theme of "genitals"). But there's a wide variety of styles (80s German techno, weird Russian... thing) making each song sound fresh and unique. I can definitely recommend it.

Then I went back in time a few decades and picked up a greatest hits album from Electric Light Orchestra, All Over the World. It's got a song I really enjoyed as a kid from Disney's D-TV: Pop & RockEvil Woman (warning: loud) the Disney video for which featured Cruella DeVille and other villainesses. I suppose it's not the only CD I've ever bought based on a childhood favorite cartoon. As it turns out, it was a good purchase—I have a soft spot for pop music with pianos and strings, and there's a lot to enjoy on the disc, especially given that I'm not usually terribly fond of older music. Mr. Blue Sky and Don't Bring Me Down are also solid. It makes me wonder how well a lot of these songs could be adapted to a more modern style: they're a bit happier than most of today's hits, but remove the occasional 70s falsettos and add a modern beat and I'd definitely buy the CD a second time.

I also picked up Owl City's Ocean Eyes, with the smash hit Fireflies. That track's pretty fantastic, and the rest is pretty catchy, but it's hard for me to call most of it "good" music. Most of it sounds really lazy. Still catchy for the most part, but I don't get a feeling that it took a lot of effort. It's less creative and interesting than The Postal Service, the most similar band that comes to mind (a friend described it as childish, and I can't deny that). The lyrics are less poetic and simpler, and chock-full of puns ("I've been to the dentist a thousand times so I know the drill"). Nothing on the disc is as awesome as Fireflies; the rest is merely decent, including Cave In and Hello Seattle. If you liked any of The Postal Service it's worth checking out, and most everyone seems to like Fireflies, but I can't recommend the rest of the album to most people.

Merely decent is still a little better than what I think of The Fray's self-titled album, which is more in mediocre territory. The best song on here is You Found Me, and unfortunately the rest is fairly forgettable as far as I'm concerned. It's not bad; it just all blends together and seems rather painfully generic. I'd pick out Syndicate and Where the Story Ends as the two next best tracks, but honestly if I played them right now I don't think I could tell which one was which.

I got Cozza Frenzy by Bassnectar as a Christmas present. It's very bass-heavy experimental electronic music. And myyyyyy goodness it is bizarre. It's hard to listen to the whole album in one sitting; most of the tracks are quite grating on the ears. I can see some parallels between Basement Jaxx (whose music I adore) and this, which is worth bonus points for the giver, but where Basement Jaxx focused on being danceable and fun, this album is focusing on being "big" and loud. Probably the least insane and most pleasant are the title track, a remix of When I Grow Up by Fever Ray, and Window Seat. (That remix is definitely of the "add a heavier beat and call it done" school of remixes, which admittedly does improve it, but it's not a terribly inventive change.) I'm adding about half of the tracks to my main playlist, but I don't think I'll mind if it's a couple weeks before one of them pops up.

But wait, there's more! I also rounded out my Coldplay collection with Parachutes, and it is very much my least favorite of their albums. My feelings toward it are quite similar to The Fray; it's all forgettable and none of it really grabs my attention. This album is a little more artfully constructed, but I don't quite like the sound of it as much as The Fray. The best stuff on here is Trouble, High Speed, and Shiver, but I'm pretty glad that I only spent six bucks on this CD.

Finally, I picked up the first album by Shpongle, titled Are You Shpongled?. I'd heard one of their songs (Around the World in a Tea Daze) many years ago and absolutely adored it, but this CD left me feeling disappointed. It's good background music, but Tea Daze had great sounds and a wonderful melody, and nothing on this album compared. I guess I'm going to try some of their later music to find more of that. Still, I do like Shpongle Spores (with a neat sci-fi soundtrack sort of vibe), Behind Closed Eyelids, and Divine Moments of Truth.

I'm slowly making it through my queue of music, but I'm finding that I'm listening to music less than I was a few months ago. Jason and I have fairly different musical tastes, so I tend to play my music less when I'm at my computer, and when I'm away from my computer I tend to listen to mixed playlists rather than new albums at a time, so I end up going through new music at a lower rate. I'm not sure if it's a problem or not. I'm still thinking about it.


Unknown said...

The Flight of the Concords show is definitely worth checking out. The music is slightly different than album versions, but it's still hilarious.

<3 ELO. Borrowed that CD, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Crosby, Stills & Nash from my friend's dad in high school. One of my better decisions.

Louise said...

Fireflies (the only song I listened all the way through from Owl City), is cute and a bit catchy. I half listened to some of the other songs on the disk via the Zune Marketplace, and I felt that if I listened to that group for any long period, my brain would start oozing out of my ears. Something about the just screams "Bubblegum pop"

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, bassnectar is _not_experimental, though it is trendy. It's actually surprising how long dubstep has stayed just underground enough to be hip, despite its somewhat tiring sound.

And I can also readily say that Fireflies made me stop going to the gym. I could not stand the obtuse way they spray the saccharine and people just eat it up. Ugh, gotta stop thinking about it now.

Travis said...

Yeah, I'm... not really good with music categorization vocabulary, especially with electronic music. (And really, what small minority of music these days ISN'T electronic music anyway?) I defer to your wisdom.