Pretty ashamed that I missed February entirely. To be honest, I haven’t done too much writing on music; occasional notes that amount to little more than “this band is from X and they’re not bad.” Regardless of this dry spell, I do have another five or so A records in the queue already, most of which I knew would make it a long time ago. I’d still say 2014 is off to a slow start—not many recognizable names have dropped albums, and I’ve retired from chasing unknowns that look moderately promising. As a result, my listening uptake is significantly lower in comparison to last year (probably, anyway; I didn’t bother to check), but overall I’m happier. Having listened to fewer records, and listening only to stuff I’m interested in, I’ve so far come up with some very nice finds I know intimately. Anyway, apologies for the big gap, and further apologies for the crap writing. Although I want to start posting more again, I imagine many of the entries will have low-caliber writing. Need to get used to it again.
THE JEZABELS – The Brink (Mom+Pop): Self-proclaimed Australian ‘intensindie’ group calms down on their sophomore album, reigning in their perpetual stream of sprinting road marathons for club pop hooks with surprisingly pleasant results. Prisoner’s unrelenting stomp induced fatigue no matter how enthusiastic one tried to remain, and while Hayley Mary and crew’s eponymous opener is reminiscent of the debut’s freeway spirit, their having found more than one tempo befits their pent-up energy. And I certainly couldn’t have guessed that this talented group was anything more than a one-trick pony. Who, for example, would have thunk Hayley Mary’s pipes could snuggle up against a slow dance track like “Beat to Beat”? Mary might still not be a lyrical genius, but her band provides sounds that more than make up for it. Here’s hoping they continue. A MINUS
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS – Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador): Even softer than 2011’s relatively soft (in comparison with Real Emotional Trash or anything Pavement) Mirror Traffic, possibly attributable to losing drummer Janet Weiss to Wild Flag or Malkmus’s easing into 50. Chock full of his lyrical pretzels, my favorite part the chorus of lead single “Lariat” switching contractions in the chorus: “You’re not what you aren’t/You aren’t what you’re not.” Most important, though, is how refreshing Malkmus always sounds in an age of statical indie rock. A MINUS