Monday, March 14, 2011

Grails release Deep Politics

I've been finding it difficult to get excited about new music lately. I used to enjoy separating the wheat from the chaff, but it's become too tedious and the payoffs so few and far between that I've fallen into the wretched habit of turning off.

I hope giving my ears a sonic vacation will help as I've long considered my ears a great, unrecognized national treasure. Lately, however, I feel they've been abused; relentlessly assaulted by cheap, disposable music at every turn. How I long to go into a shop somewhere and have it be free of an incessant, pounding soundtrack. But I digress.

2010 was a disgustingly disappointing year for music. Two of my favorite bands, Belle & Sebastian and The Books, released crap records. What's strange is, the two bands couldn't be any more different, yet they both took five years to make equally utterly disappointing records.

I was especially disappointed with The Books. Pop bands are bound to leave a turd in your sink every now and then. Call me naive, but bands like The Books just aren't supposed to do that. Especially after waiting five years and being titillated by what seemed a genius move-- signing to the Temporary Residence label.

There are very few labels from whom I'd buy a record sound unheard. Temporary Residence is one of them. But after the Books incident of 2010, I could be forgiven for thinking they were losing their edge.

I bought Burning Off Impurities by Grails when it came out and though I liked it OK, I always thought of it more as a sketchbook than a fully-formed statement-- that this was a band with what you might call "potential."

However reluctant a curmudgeon I might be, old habits die hard. So when I saw the new Grails record on Temporary Residence, I bit. And I'm happy to report it's a vast improvement over the previous record. The vision thing seems to have coalesced around the kind of post-rock-soundtrack-for-an-as-yet-unmade-film thing that I'm such a sucker for. Full review coming after I listen a few more times.

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed, that was really good. I liked Burning Off Impurities a lot, so they would have to screw up pretty bad to make something I didn't like. The acoustic guitar was a nice surprise, it seems that they've taken a bit less "doom and gloom" route with this one.

    The video was really nice as well. It's funny, as I was watching it I was thinking to myself, "Wow, whoever made this is really into Stan Brakhage", and what do you know, it was actually made by Stan Brakhage.

    I'm kind of with you about the state of music right now. That Belle and Sebastian was a major disappointment,they've always successfully walked that cliff edge between good, thoughtful songwriting and schlocky easy listening. But with this one, they fell off in a big way.

    I haven't heard the new Books, that is TRULY depressing.

    Also, I was hoping that I would like the new Radiohead better than I did because "In Rainbows" was such a pleasant surprise when it came out. I'm not offended by their new record, it's just that there isn't a single song on it that stands out in my memory.

    Rob recently picked up the new Albert Van Veenendaal mp3 on Evil Rabbit records and I have to say that I am pretty impressed by it. It is all prepared piano and it sounds like he is multi-tracking himself. The John Cage references are inevitable, but I think he does a pretty good job of separating himself from that by taking the music into more of a groove-based, out-jazz avenue.