Ray - M.Ward, A Wasteland Companion (2012) Embarrassingly, the eighth solo LP by Matthew Stephen Ward has been sitting in an inbox awaiting a download and listen for almost two months now. No worries, though, as the latest material from the 38-year-old singer-songwriter better known as M. Ward is timeless in every sense of the word. Clocking in at well under 40-minutes, A Wasteland Companion plays more like an EP, but the brevity of the 12-track effort is a just another wrinkle in its palpable charm.
Ward's vocals – sunny, seasoned, and always seemingly filtered through ancient mics – makes him sound like some kind of AM radio savant on tracks like "Me & My Shadow" and "Sweetheart" (which both feature his She & Him partner Zooey Deschanel), and while Wasteland's upbeat cuts ("I Get Ideas," "Primitive Girl") are good, the long-player really shines on its second, slow-crawling half. "The First Time I Ran Away" (video below) features cascading harmonies on top of wistful synth textures that bleed into the fluttering strings and plucked nylon acoustic of the title track. "Watch The Snow" then provides a slightly more up-tempo bump before Ward delivers a four-pack of quiet tunes that are equal parts heart wrenching and warming. The man is either "losing his marbles one marble at a time" ("There's A Key") or on his knees chasing the object of his affection then watching her fly away ("Crawl After You," "Wild Goose"), but album-closer "Pure Joy" is a happy parting shot.
"Thought my heart was in a recession…like I was falling fast to the bottom of the ocean," Ward sings over an ephemeral arrangement, "…now I'm coming up for air I see my angel on the sand – it's joy, honey, pure joy.” Indeed it is, and it’s making this Monday feel really good. A Wasteland Companion is streaming now at the Merge Records for a limited time.
Shae - Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (2012) Before I went to bed last night, I saw someone posting on Facebook that NPR is streaming Fiona Apple's latest album, The Idler Wheel..., so as soon as I got into work this morning, I put it on. I've listened to it twice in full now, and honestly, I'm underwhelmed. The album opens with the single "Every Single Night," which starts off with crystalline piano and Fiona's soft, sort of mumbling singing, but quickly and menacingly veers away from being a simple little lullaby as Fiona doubles her vocals in a tribal wail — an effect she uses often throughout the rest of the album. These overdubbed vocals, piano, drums and a questionable recording of a mob screaming make up the album's sonic palette.
Latency is the main feeling I get from The Idler Wheel...; the album roils just below the surface, wanting to break free, but failing to do so. Fiona, with her talent and vocal abilities, could have made this bigger, bolder, more arresting. Though one of my favorite aspects of the album is that the production makes it sound as though everything were recorded in an empty warehouse or a cave, I don't know if this is what the songs themselves needed. How would they have fared had they been let out to see the light of day? If they'd been given a clear blue sky to fill, instead of a damp, dark dwelling? That is an album I'd like to hear.
Joel - Hot Water Music, Exister (2012) I can't help but compare Hot Water Music and Against Me!. Both bands share Gainesville roots, and I was late to the game in discovering how awesome both are – with Against Me!, it was 2007's New Wave that caught my attention, and this most recent Hot Water Music set gets credit for my current appreciation. I grew up mainly listening to metal so New Wave, at the time, sounded very unique to me. Now that I've finally spent serious time with Chuck Ragan, I easily hear Hot Water Music's influence on Against Me!. Also, Exister is a fantastic record – a relentless half-hour of raw, boozy punk rock highlighted by "State of Grace" and the title track. This is my favorite album of 2012 so far.
Leilani - Man Man, Life Fantastic (2011), Phish June 7-8, 2012, Worcester, MA, and Phantogram, Eyelid Movies (2009) I've been jumping between these discs all week. Phish is back on tour, which means I'm listening to soundboards of their latest shows in Worcester; I've been totally addicted to the latest Man Man since before interviewing frontman Honus Honus for this week's music story (click here to read) and am getting pumped for their show of wildly absurdist art/gypsy rock at Crowbar tomorrow night; and Phantogram provides a very nice electro rock groove break from both.
Infinite Skillz - Auditorium, "Brand New Heart." Ask Joran Oppelt about it for details. This song owns me right now.
Find out what the CL Music Team is jamming this fine Monday to rocket launch the work week. Click here to check out previous entries.
Gabe - Joey Ramone, Ya Know? (2012) Brand new collection of never-before released material from the inimitable Ramones lead vocalist, Joey Ramone. Various guest artists lend their talents to this collection and only enhance a very fine album. Joey always had a weak spot for melodic, harmonic vocals and he tried to incorporate those components as much as possible during his tenure as lead Ramone (most notably on the 1980 Phil Spector-produced End of the Century). He gets his chance to show off his vocal chops on this posthumous release and they sound better than ever. For those who long for the unmistakable vocals of Joey Ramone, take comfort in knowing that there's some new material to enjoy. Oh, and as it the correct protocol for any Ramones album, PLAY IT LOUDLY!!
Taylor - Regina Spektor, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (2012) It's so good to have her back. Check out the video for first single ""All The Rowboats" after the jump along with the rest of this week's entries.
I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...