Okay. So it’s been a while since I brought you the first set of reviews. I’ve just been trying to absorb a lot of music for you all. Some of it goes back into the earlier part of the year, so I won’t be reviewing those in this segment, but who knows, maybe we will see those down the road? Without any further delay…
Artist: Dinosaur Jr.
Album: I Bet On Sky
“I Bet On Sky” is unmistakably Dinosaur Jr. That’s a good thing kids. I don’t mean to imply this effort by J. Mascis, Murph, and Lou Barlow is stale by any stretch. It isn’t. This is the bands 10th studio album, and they sound as fresh as ever, even when re-using well tested formulas and song structures. ‘Watch The Corners’ could easily have been penned in 1993, while the bouncy ‘Rude’ is no doubt heavily influenced by Barlow’s affection for hooks. ‘I Know It So Well’ is a funky slice of heaven that knows how to jam out as well. ‘Pierce The Morning Rain’ is a full frontal assault to those that like peace and quiet, and it’s easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Dinosaur Jr. owns a storied history. From being a little bit ahead of their time in the mid to late eighties, to breaking up because of personal conflicts, to re-uniting in 2005. All the while, the talent of these gentleman has always been unmistakable. “I Bet On Sky” is probably their best effort since getting back together, and hopefully they will garner themselves a whole new generation of fans.
Hopefully one of the things we do here at West Michigan Indie is open your eyes to new artists, either through the song of the day, or through our podcasts of mostly local talent. Citizens aren’t probably going to be widely known in our little corner of the world as they hail from across the pond in Britian as they say. Let me start off by saying, there is nothing innovative about Citizens. It’s hard to be innovative in today’s music. They know their way around a hook though, and if the song ‘True Romance’ doesn’t get the hips shaking a little, I would be surprised. ‘Reptile’, the second track on “Here We Are” is likely to be a hit for the band as well, and it’s very much in the vain of fellow Brit indie dancesters Franz Ferdinand. I must confess I still have a certain fondness for Franz, and Citizens arouses that memories of “Take Me Out” blaring on my stereo. As “Here We Are” progresses, there are Hot Chip influences to be found as well, however, the album slows down the further you dig into it. The hooks aren’t as catchy as ‘Romance’ and ‘Reptile’ by the end of the album. But if you don’t over complicate things, “Here We Are” is a listenable album with some uplifting moments.
I haven’t been keeping track, but so far, “Long Slow Dance” is in the running for my highest rated album review thus far. In effect, I believe this album is a dark horse for album of the year. Well, at least the ones that I have heard anyway. The Fresh And Onlys have been around long enough to have a following, and for the most part could have been described as psych-pop, or 60’s retro-garage in the vain of The Byrds, or even The Zombies. With “Long Slow Dance”, the Fresh And Onlys have begun a freshening of their sound. But what they have done different than some bands is, they are easing their listeners into a new pool, using subtlety and a softening of their edges as the tools to change their sound. What’s left is a truckload, or an album full, of eminently listenable songs.
’20 Days and 20 Nights’ starts off the album with a breezy up-tempo acoustic strum, with lead singer Tim Cohen and his band mates harmonizing beautifully, adding bass in all the right places. ‘Yes Or No’ is epic, catchy track, where the Fresh and Onlys reach a little higher for a more arena sound than they typically have in the past. Title track ‘Long Slow Dance’ is a lilting beauty that has Cohen opining about true love “dragging you out into the road, and setting fire to your soul”. ‘Presence of Mind’ is a mid-tempo gem, that is simple, but in that straight forwardness, you realize Cohen and crew are like great chefs that only add the necessary ingredients to a great dish.
I could literally go through every track on this album and say something good about it. I don’t have unlimited space, and you probably get the hint already. “Long Slow Dance” has all the elements. Well crafted songs, savvy if not clever lyrics, and the songs are sure to put your mind in some location or mood that your fond of. Whether that place is the soundtrack for wonderfully odd and twisted Quentin Tarrintino movie, a day on the beach, a road trip through the west, or a cold Midwestern city out on the town and finding a joint with a fireplace, “Long Slow Dance” has something for you.
The only issue I have with this album is I wish the “Dance” was a little bit longer.