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R.E.M. – Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011 (Warner Brothers)
A perfect starting point for curious newcomers and a nice parting gift for fans, this double disc set is exactly as advertised. It covers their entire 30 year career beginning with “Gardening at Night” and ending with recordings the band planned to issue themselves before deciding to call it a day in September. In between, every era is covered from the amazing I.R.S. period to every facet of the Warner Brothers years as well with weaker albums like 1998’s Up, 2001’s Reveal and 2004’s Around the Sun represented by only one song each. This works really well as pretty much the ultimate R.E.M. mixtape and though one could quibble with the exclusion of the essential “Pretty Persuasion”, this is its only flaw.
John Wesley Harding and The King Charles Trio with The Minus Five – World Cafe Live (Philadelphia) – November 15, 2011
Office of Future Plans with The Young and Bells – Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia) – November 13, 2011
Bells – There are Crashes (Cultural Society)
Although not quite as great as their intense live show, this is still a fine instrumental, heavy post-rock record in the vein of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky from the band that features monster drummer Zach Barocas (formerly of Jawbox) and guest Gordon Withers (of Office of Future Plans) on cello and guitar.
Real Estate – Reality EP (Kemado/Mexican Summer)
This is a limited edition (only 1,000 made) 12” EP released last year on the Kemado label. These 6 songs differ sharply from Real Estate’s newest material. Much more cheaply recorded (on an 8-track cassette recorder), the music itself is also slower, lazier-sounding and hazier-sounding as well, reminding me of slow-core stalwarts of the past like Codeine, Mazzy Star and especially Beachwood Sparks and Acetone. Only a few tracks have vocals and on those, one can hear the brighter, poppier direction where they would go next.
Bush Tetras – Boom in the Night (ROIR)
Now hopelessly out-of-print on CD and going for big bucks, this excellent compilation is truly the best of this great early ’80s New York band and features “Cowboys in Africa,” “Too Many Creeps,” “You Can’t Be Funky” and the title track, amongst other great songs. It’s on the list this week because founding bassist Laura Kennedy passed away. RIP Laura!
Jeff Buckley – Grace (Columbia)
Jeff would’ve been 45 this past week. Whether that makes one feel old is less relevant here than thoughts of what he could’ve achieved would he still be with us today. Regardless, his only full-length Lp is the greatest achievement that he left us with and has been hugely influential on lots of musicians since then.
Zounds – The Redemption of Zounds (Broken Rekids)
Only the second Zounds album overall and first since 1982’s incredible The Curse of Zounds, I’m happy to report that this one is a winner. Although not quite as embittered-sounding as he was in the early ’80s, singer-songwriter Steve Lake (the sole returning member here from the older lineup) is still concerned mainly with social issues as evidenced by songs like “Make Love Not War”, the anti-big bank “Follow the Money,” the pro-immigrant “Deportee” and the self-questioning and Jimi Hendrix-referencing (at least in the subtitle) “What Makes a Man Today (Slight Return)”.
Wooden Shjips – West (Thrill Jockey)
This San Francisco’s band new record and first for Thrill Jockey is heavy psychedelic rock with a modern edge ala Black Angels or Dead Meadow, but with more groove than either and a bit better, too.
Turning Violet Violet with Bedroom Problems – Paley Library (Philadelphia) – Wednesday, November 16, 2011
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