Archive for July, 2007

Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

July 31, 2007

I bought this album this morning.  Just finished listening to it now.  My first reaction is that the whole thing may well have been just one really long song.  Sure, I was working while this was playing, but still.  Nothing stood out.  All very similar.

Having said that, it was all one very good song.  If it was all similar, it wasn’t a BAD similar.  Even when I wasn’t really paying attention, I caught myself tapping my toes and bopping up and down.  Fun times.

I am a delight to work with, as you can tell.

So what then?  Well, this nicely illustrates why I came up with this whole plan of revisiting old albums that I used to love.  Even if I haven’t heard them in years, I am very familiar with those albums.  I dare say I know them.  And that takes time.

For right now, I say that the new Modest Mouse is “perfectly fine.”  Should you buy it?  Well, I found it new for $9, and I figure it was worth that, so if you find the same deal, then yeah, go for it.

But I can’t tell you how I’ll feel about this album in six months’ time.  “Perfectly fine” is my initial reaction to a lot of albums.  Sometimes I get distracted by something else and I never wind up going back to give a CD a second chance.  Other times I play the album again – mostly out of guilt, since I spent good cash moneys on it – and after a few spins, something just clicks and it becomes a favourite.  That’s how New Pornographers albums generally work for me.  I listen, they’re good, but nothing stands out.  A few more listens and everything suddenly sounds distinct and delightful.  Maybe that will happen here?  I can’t tell you.  But I enjoy tapping my toes and bopping up and down, so I am hopeful.  I’ll make a point of giving it a second chance.

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The Refreshments: Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy

July 23, 2007

It was a noble idea.  Through the power of love the iPod, I would travel backwards in time about ten years and revisit some of the albums that I loved to death. By which I mean albums that I overdosed on. 

You know the ones.  You heard them, you loved them, and then… well, it’s hard to say what happened, really.  Times change, tastes change, and some songs just have a shelf life.  I’ve thought a lot about songs and albums that love (or those that I used to love), and wondered what would happen if they came along for the first time today.  There are some albums that I really enjoyed and some that meant a lot to me, and I list them, and people say “…really? That?”  And that’s where this all began.

The idea was to pick a bunch of albums that I loved in the 90s but haven’t heard in full for a very long time.  I could do a series of reviews or just write them all up in essay format.  I hadn’t decided and as I write this, I still haven’t.  I imagine I’ll do individual album posts since there are at least a few that I could expound upon at great length – lucky you.

The first one I listened to was Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy by The Refreshments.  Around these parts, they were never that popular, and their fifteen minutes of fame seemed to last only literally that long.  If you’ve heard anything by them – apart from the theme song to King of the Hill – it was their single Banditos:

Now give your ID card to the border guard
Yeah, your alias says you’re Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets
‘Cause they don’t speak English anyway

This, in essence, was the catalyst for this project.  A friend of mine brought up the song when recalling how a sci-fi-loving mutual friend was obsessed with it.  I tried to explain that the whole album was actually really good, but stopped myself – did I really want to endorse this album from over ten years ago?  Was it still awesome?  Was it ever?

So here we are.

The first thing I noticed was that pretending that I’d never heard this album before was impossible.  The start of each song brought about a nice little feeling of recognition.  “Hey, this one!  I know this one!”  Of course I do, that’s the point, right?  But still.  Makes it hard to determine if I’d still like it if I was hearing it now for the first time.

The album is as it was.  90s rock music infused with some southwestern and Mexican influences.  Lots of songs about Mexico – enough that after a while, you might want something else.  There’s a definite sense of humour at work here, which is a refreshing change from a lot of the music coming out today, but humour in music can also limit an album’s longevity.  You can only hear the same joke so many times.

In the end, replaying this album was kind of like seeing an old friend again for the first time in a long time, only to have them overstay their welcome just a little bit.  You’re excited when they arrive, and though you secretly wind up a little bit glad when they leave, you’ll forget that feeling pretty quickly and be glad to see them when they show up again – as long as it isn’t TOO often.