Friday, September 29, 2006


The new Scissor Sisters release hit stores this week. It's called Ta-Dah; the absence of any punctuation, such as an exclamation point, is a very conscious decision, according to frontman Jake Shears. I appreciate this attitude from the start: the Scissor Sisters do not care whether you decide to bash the album or not. This is merely their idea of a good time, and they hope you enjoy it too. So far, I do enjoy it very much.

With some albums, playing spot-the-influence is more depressing than interesting, largely because it only underscores how some acts are so devoid of ideas, they have to consciously cannibalize the past (though I suppose every act does this at one point or another). Ta-Dah is a different story, though, if only because its source material is so unlikely. Have you been hankering for the best Bee Gees disco album since 1977? Do you wish Pink Floyd had stuck to watery, Meddle-era prog? Do the lyrical sentiments of the Magnetic Fields' "It's Only Time," with its passionate plea for acceptance of same-sex marriage, ring true? It's all here, folks. "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" and "Lights" are pastiches of "Jive Talkin'" and "Stayin' Alive", respectively, yet each seems completely developed in its own right. "Kiss You Off", which, sadly, is Ana Matronic's only number, has a bass part straight out of "One of These Days". The climactic "Everybody Wants the Same Thing" is impassioned and anthemic -- it reminds us that no matter our gender or orientation, love is the greatest thing. It's rare to find an album with influences like this; to me, it's a refreshing change of pace and I'll probably be spinning Ta-Dah until kingdom come. Sure, consistency has never been the band's forte, and sometimes the influences are a bit too pronounced ("Ooh" might as well be called "Around the World Pt. II") but this is a fun album that I very much enjoy. The band may be blase about getting people to like them, but they didn't have any problems swaying me over. Ta-Dah is a worthy follow-up to their brilliant debut.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Evening Ruminations

This afternoon, I had a (rare) day off from BBV, and I didn't have to come into work until 10:30 tonight, so I took the opportunity to catch up with new music. I fired up Tony La Russa Baseball 3 and plugged Tony II.V into my amp and enjoyed a quality afternoon of baseball and music.

  • The new Thom Yorke is growing on me, slowly but steadily. Initially, a few songs jumped out at me, like "Analyse" (which is up there with the best of Hail to the Thief) and the appropriately harrowing "Harrowdown Hill." Yorke is fantastic with electronic countermelodies, the effectiveness of which makes the songs even more haunting. Little touches like these make songs like "Analyse" echo in my head for hours afterwards. Also, it is quite weird playing a computer game from 1995 while listening to "Atoms for Peace."
  • Get Lonely, the latest Mountain Goats release, is actually a lot like The Sunset Tree in that while it is high-caliber work, it's also tough going. Regardless of the quality of the songs, I found it difficult to say to myself, "Yay! Time to sit down with the domestic abuse concept album!" But I suppose John Darnielle is not concerned with our pop sensibilities (except for a few choice numbers) and is focused on baring his soul instead. Get Lonely is stunning, although, like Oh, Inverted World, at first listen it runs together into a single song. After first listen, the standouts are "Wild Sage", "Woke Up New", the strangely catchy "Half Dead" and the closing track, "In Corolla." Seemingly throwaway lines about watching a flying pelican seem like life-affirming observations.
  • OK, I am on the air at 89.3 The Current right now, playing the Dandy Warhols' "Smoke It". I realize now that yes, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars is as terrible an album as I'd remembered. I listened to it for the first time driving back from Morris in August 2005 (taking a break between listenings to Twin Cinema for the first times) and I couldn't believe the drop-off in quality. Courtney Taylor-Taylor needs to stop taking bong hits and just quit, either that or he & Pete Doherty and Craig Nicholls can start a band together. Watch the egos fly!!!
  • Joseph Arthur's new album, Nuclear Daydream, is indeed his most song-based. I don't have enough observations at the moment, but it's on par with his best work.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Merritt's Prolificism

According to Pitchfork, Stephin Merritt is working on the next Magnetic Fields album, with a target date of spring 2007. This means that in the first half of 2007, we can look forward to new albums from Wilco, Radiohead, the Shins, and the Magnetic Fields. This is almost too good to be true! (and it probably is; I'll wager money that either Radiohead or Wilco's album will be delayed until late '07) It's nice to see that Merritt is putting out a Gothic Archies album this fall, in collaboration, apparently a Lemony Snicket-related project with Daniel Handler. But their bookstore tour is not coming to Minnesota, which is completely inexplicable because I think everyone would go absolutely cuckoo if the Gothic Archies were to come to town.

Also, I've been thinking about the new Shins album. It wouldn't surprise me to see this one get hyped into the stratosphere. You thought they had expectations to live up to going into Chutes Too Narrow? Now, instead of merely the entire indie community watching them, they've got every kid over the age of 16 watching them to see if they can make more cool songs like that were in Garden State. I have a knack for hyperbole when it comes to these things, but I don't think it's outrageous to say that Wincing the Night Away is one of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 2007. Just so you know, folks: I've heard one of the rumoured tracks for the album, tentatively titled "Won One Too Many Fights," from a live James Mercer bootleg from 2004, and it's a nice tune. Hopefully things will work out, because I think Mercer is the type who could easily suffer a breakdown a la Brian Wilson or Rivers Cuomo if the public is unreceptive to the new material. At least if the Shins break up, it would give hope to a musical collaboration between Mercer and A.C. Newman...or maybe that's just my own personal fantasy.

An Awaited(?) Update

I figured it would be best if I resurrected my music blog, if I am going to link to it in the Current Music Blog. So here it is!

Again, my name is Mac Wilson. I am a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota-Morris who has somehow managed to get a job with 89.3 The Current, which is member-supported music from Minnesota Public Radio. I have no set shifts at the station; I usually appear Sunday evenings from 2-5am and Monday evenings from midnight to 5am, though I may appear between midnight and 5am up to six times a week. It depends on the week. But my hours shouldn't matter, because you should be listening to The Current all the time anyway. At least during the hours when you're not tuned to KUMM, the Prairie's Only Alternative.

So what am I up to lately? I will probably think of brilliant music rants to write in here as time goes by. I'm working on my big project, my top 250 songs ever; I have capsules written for more than 60 (not very far, but still good progress) and I will hopefully have it online within a month. I should set a target date.... I encourage all of you to keep checking back to see when I get it posted. Browse through my old entries, too; there's some good stuff about the Streets.