2)Violent Femmes, Hallowed Ground: This is really good--the well-known VF debut album hits higher highs (five great songs and five weaker ones) but this now-acclaimed (and allegedly very hated at the time) album is more consistent and displays more range, and what a range it is at that, a combination of dark old folk, blues, country and flat-out Appalachian tunes with Gordon Gano turning his dorky man-child persona towards alternately praising Jesus and wanting to screw and kill people. "Never Tell" at seven minutes is usually considered the highlight and it's still pretty good (and the melody reminds me in parts of the Castlevania "Vampire Killer" tune!) but the real revisits here were "Country Death Song," "I Hear The Rain" and "Sweet Misery Blues" which I'd forgotten altogether. In fact pretty much everything here is good, even the Jesus tunes, but barring possibly the messy "Black Girls" which I think has its politically incorrect lyrics accompanied by, uh, John Zorn? What other young, not-so-commercially-feasible band would have even TRIED this in 1984? They kept being angsty and "juvenile" and all, but there are ZERO cutesy remakes of "Blister In The Sun" or "Please Do Not Go" here. I might buy this! Good relisten.
3)Tortoise, Tortoise: Ever hear "Night Air"? It's an eerie little four-or-five minute tune combining creepy distorted speech clips and the sick electronic whistling noise that would pop up on Fugazi's "Version" a year later, but set against a backdrop uncannily like such Bark Psychosis tunes as "A Street Scene" or "Big Shot," which would have appeared the same year (1994) and help to coin the term "post-rock" in that one NME review. It's the only song from this album I ever revisited, but I did revisit it several times. Relistening to the album, which I once gave a reasonably high score to before forgetting completely, I'm afraid it's going to stay that way: the rest of this album is frankly boring as hell, a 45 minute load of eggheaded "angular" bass lines dragging on forever and ever ("Spiderwebbed," arrrgghhh--and that one starts out sounding kind of nice!) accompanying...what? A few polyrhythmic drum parts, a synth here or there, and at one point, for no reason, the opening of The Who Sell Out? Yeah, so? I *think* I like "Onions Wrapped In Rubber," but the rest is just...just...zzzzzzzz. The other Tortoise albums I've heard--their next two--completely destroy this.
4)Billy Joel, 52nd Street: This was a LOT better than I remember it, almost on par with The Stranger. "Big Shot" and "My Life" are easy to like hits and why Christgau called Joel a "brat," "Honesty" is surprisingly good considering Joel had already done "Vienna" and "James," which sound just like it, "Rosalinda's Eyes" was used wonderfully on Freaks & Geeks so I found it easy to like this time, "Zanzibar" and "Stiletto" have cool romantic street atmosphere to them and "Until The Night," while not a *great* tune, doesn't inspire my disgust anymore. Sheez, I might have to buy this too, though I don't really feel like it. What was my problem the first time? And why do critics all say "Zanzibar" sounds like Steely Dan when the title track is way too close to "My Old School"? And why do I like these damn Billy Joel albums more, am I getting OLD?
5)Olivia Tremor Control, Music From The Unrealized Film Script 'Dusk At Cubist Castle': I'd forgotten every single note of this one (and it was only five or six years ago that I originally listened), and for the first 35 minutes of its 74 minute running time, I was wondering what the hell was wrong with me: most of these are easy-to-like little Apples In Stereo-ish pop tunes, albeit hewing even closer to classic 1960s psychedelia than that, or Of Montreal's earliest albums (which this actually predates, oops.) In fact, of all 60s homages I've heard, this is the one that I'd be most likely to mistake for something from the actual decade. What do we have? "The Opera House," "Jumping Fences," "No Growing (Exegesis)," "Courtyard," "Can You Come Down With Us?" and my personal favorite, "Marking Time," with its beautiful aged piano? How'd I FORGET all these nuggets? Even the first two or three bits of "Green Typewriters" are really nice. Then....yep, the lame ambient musique concrete noise section, the one that sounds like David Bowie's "Moss Garden" with the music removed from it. That part's worthless. Then you hear the vocalist go "How much longer" or whatever, and we're back to the album, aaaaand....of the remaining 25 minutes of tunes, only the closer "NYC-25" is all that great. And there's another dumb noise bit in there, the 7 minute title track. So yeah, it's a 74 minute album with about 30-40 minutes of good music in there, meaning I can't give it more than a "B" even though those wonderful pop songs in the first half hour have me really wishing I could give it a higher grade. This is an Elephant 6 band by the way and Robert Schneider and Jeff Mangum are both on the album along with E6 founders Bill Doss (RIP) and W Cullen Hart, in fact the much beloved Mangum was an original member of these guys I just found out. This album used to be discussed ALL THE TIME on this board, just like all that New Pornographers and Fiery Furnaces stuff and now that we're all old and boring nobody mentions it at all. Do you like it? I wish I could love it...