TV on the Radio
I have to first say I was one of the few people who didn’t really embrace TVOR’s last album, Return to Cookie Mountain. Like its title it was a bit disjointed, torn between being hip and personal, serious and sarcastic. Though, I did hear a lot of promise. Dear Science fulfills that promise and is the great album I knew this band had in them.
The lyrics are extremely engaging, and the music at times either compliments or rejects, in various themes and turns, those words. This is musically the most accessible album TVOR has released as well as their most meticuously contstructed. Lyrically, and thematically its refreshingly ambiguous, though in the end carefully optimistic about the future of a broken world.
The songs are more cohesive both in their themes and in their layered musical composition, somehow staying diverse (drawing upon all sorts of musical genres), yet also sounding something like a sampler of NYC based bands (LCD Soundsytem, !!!, Gang Gang Dance, etc.).
TV on the radio is still not without a few annoying indulgences, most notably a 4 minutes “non-musical silence," which is a bit cliched, the pun-based titles are a bit much, and the closing track, while decent, doesn't really work in concert with the rest of the album up to that point.
This is one of those albums that when you first give it a listen it sounds a bit disappointing or flat, but with each listen you get more depth and a deeper understanding or the musics brilliance. With TVOR its even more interesting because for such a provocative band the beauty is quite understated. This is a near-perfect album, one of the best of the year, and will most likely be their masterpiece.
A Belated Review:
The Fleet Foxes
There are some beautiful moments on this album. But the rest isn’t anything new, just a sort of a more lo-fi, less exciting My Morning Jacket album. Not that its bad, I mean if its your thing its your thing, but it seems that every album that’s come out the last while has been some sort of variation on freak folk, or indie folk, and none of it really sounds a whole lot different.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
I was weary of the retro looking cover for their latest album, but sweet mercy, Sharon Jones is the real thing. Put to rest any preconceived notions about retro soul, here is the anti-Amy Winehouse, a strong willed, solid, deep soul voiced singer, who never really got her break when she was a younger performer, and was working as a security guard while trying to catch a break. And The Dap-King sound straight out of a late 60’s studio session with Al Green, and man their bari-sax player is killer.
Their first album, Dip-Dappin is as raw, real, and funky as soul has ever been, and though its party the albums charm, it is a bit rough around the edges.
Their 2005 release Naturally, is far smoother, and by smooth I mean smooth. What makes Sharon Jones stand out is the fact that here is a voice that is not just given off to any producer and any session musicians. Rather, here is an amazing voice with a great band to play off of her, that knows her, and is talented in their own right.
The biggest surprise? Naturally contains a version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land that I wonder if James Brown could even have imagined working out as well as it does as a funk song.