Sunday, May 29, 2011

Listening: 5/29/11

I was sorely tempted to avoid turning on my computer today and just listen to music, but I decided to limit my listening to three CDs.

1. Killing Joke, Night Time (1984)
This, it turns out, was the English postpunk band's most successful album. It just happens to have their most dated song ever, called, of course, "Eighties". I heard the other relatively big hit from the album, "Love Like Blood", earlier, and liked it; I have the original LP of their next album after this, Brighter than a Thousand Suns, and I hear that album's whole style in that one song. But "Love Like Blood" is track 3. At first, keeping "Eighties" in mind, I thought the first strains of the first song did sound a bit dated. Maybe it was the electronic drums that were the vogue in the mid-'80s (Van Halen comes to mind). But the New Wave Revival brought this kind of style back with a vengeance. And though they went through some personnel changes and went on hiatus a few times, Killing Joke never broke up. They're still around, and still recording.

Anyway, this was my chance to hear one of the postpunk classics. This is not one of their weaker albums. It did not disappoint.

2. Devo, Something for Everybody (2010)
I had heard that Devo's first album in years turned out to be their best album in years. I was already a fan of the video for "Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)" since they released it months before the album. So when it popped up on the library's CD rack (along with the Killing Joke album above), I snapped it up. I had to hear the whole thing for myself.

They were right. The band proved they had recovered from their years of de-evolution in the late '80s and the '90s. They're back to their old form. Their style has evolved, but it remains true to the classic style of Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists. They even have a bitterly ironic song title like the latter album's last song, "Beautiful World" ("It's a beautiful world for you/But not for me"), in the new album's penultimate song, "No Place Like Home" ("No place like home/To go back to").

I'd say Devo are back at full strength at last. So, judging from what little evidence I've seen so far (the video to "Sad Song"), are the Cars. But I'll have to get my hands on their new disc before I can tell you whether or not the Cars have really roared back...

3. Tegan and Sara, So Jealous (2004)
For a change, I found this at a thrift store rather than the library. In the seven years since it came out, somebody already got tired of it and dropped it off at Goodwill. But I remember hearing on the radio apparently two versions of their breakout single, "Walking with a Ghost", and getting excited on the second listen when that synth line kicked in, thrilling the New Wave Revivalist in me. So when I found their complete first album, So Jealous, I picked it up.

Color me impressed. These girls are two of the cleverest songwriters I've ever heard, and I pride myself on the cleverness of my songwriting. I'd say "Ghost" was the breakout single because of its eccentricity, which of course is guaranteed to appeal to New Wave Revivalists as well as indie rock fans in general. Turns out it was the weakest track on a very strong album. There's a reason I see these two on late-night TV a lot...

In Future...
So now I've shut off my home theatre system with its five-CD changer and gone back to the computer to do some important things (edit my novel, practice my instruments, relearn German, blog). But I've picked out some CDs out of my collection to listen to tomorrow. I figure they're worth a future post...

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