//oakland, calif.
//age 33
//permanent mp3s

//tour photos
//the daily photos

(!)ad sandwich chronicles
(!)road noms
(!)listen missy
(!)daily irkutsk

Blogger: The One-Man-Company

© 2000-2010

:: 12.22.2001 ::

#05 //best of 200!

The Shins
Oh, Inverted World
MP3: Know Your Onion! / New Slang

Another one of my New York City finds, Oh, Inverted World grabbed my attention sometime in late September and has yet to let go. I listen to this record every single day, letting the songs soak their way into my head, allowing them to cheer me up, bring me around, and make me feel good about music all over again. As a band, The Shins are easy to love. Calling dry and generally scenester-free Albuquerque, New Mexico home, this "American Pop" quartet have been playing music more or less as a group for more than seven years. Even though, Oh, Inverted World is the first Shins record.

And what an record it is. Some call them the new Beach Boys, a claim merited in the sweet sounding, harmonic pop ditties vocalist James Mercer puts forth with glee. But the Shins never come off as a 60s retro band or fashion-in-place-of-music, just a group with solid, simple instrumenation and stellar songwriting influenced by great bands. It's the influence factor that draws the retro comparisons. Thankfully, there there isn't a shred of mimicry on the record, and the band has found their own niche sound. From the acoustic balladry of "New Slang" (the song that caught SubPop's attention), to the playful childish teasing on "Know Your Onion!" the band show their knack for silly pop as much they reveal their serious and at times, somber side. With lyrics so nonsensical they seem like lines of pure genius, and charming personalities (their press photo includes the caption "yes, this is really what we look like"), what's not to absolutely adore?

Finally, a record for everyday, anytime, each and every mood, Oh, Inverted World impresses as much as it entertains. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to say, without a doubt, that I was in the best band in New Mexico. Would it be not saying much, or saying everything at once?

(11:01 PM) :: (link)

:: 12.20.2001 ::

#06 //best of 200!

Papa M
Whatever, Mortal
Drag City
MP3: Roses In The Snow

I read once that David Pajo did nothing but sit at home with his wife in Louisville and collect royalty checks from Slint’s influential Spiderland album, as well as the Tortoise records Millions Now Living Will Never Die and TNT he played on. What he was doing during that time was inventing the M persona, building his own studio, learning how to record, and learning how to sing. David Pajo has been busy since 1981, and that wasn’t about to change when success showed up.

His first two solo albums where entirely instrumental, the first under the name Aerial M, the second under the modern Papa M moniker. Pajo played all the instruments (except drums), did the recording, and organized all the artwork himself on a shitty computer at home. The songs sounded like snapshots of the days in his life, perky, sad, optimistic, a full run of emotions appear within the loops, echoey guitar, and Casio keyboard moments.

While touring, Pajo realized that what he wanted more than anything was to sing. So, he began practicing in his kitchen, recording little songs, both covers and originals, and committing them to tape. What came out was the disappointing Papa M Sings EP, six songs done in a deep country accent, executed clumsily with a warbled, scared voice. You can hear the refrigerator humming and cars driving by as he sings his heart out.

Luckily his third full album, Whatever, Mortal, takes a big step forward in the “I can sing” department. Strong, convincing, and at times chilling, here Pajo plays both instrumentals like those on Shark Cage, and sings countrified dirges that tell stories and attempt to sort out problems like the material on Sings. What really makes this record work is his partnership not only with Will Oldham (who plays bass and sings backup throughout), but with banjo-tweaker Tara Jane O’Neill. The three of them combined give the songs multiple layers, all worth listening to separately, but best enjoyed as a combination. Pajo deserves the credit for breaking with his own tradition of playing all the instruments himself. Without Oldham and O’Neill, this could have been an uneven mess.

The album ends with an incredible full band version of “Arundel,” the song that both began and ended his second album. A gruff harmonica plays the melody beautiful, like it’s trying to part rainclouds all by its lonesome self, the drums kick in, and everything seems...perfect.

(3:58 PM) :: (link)

:: 12.18.2001 ::

#07 //best of 200!

Dismemberment Plan
MP3: Superpowers / The Face Of The Earth / Time Bomb / Ellen and Ben

(An expanded version of my review from 75 or Less.)

There's a big black cloud over the Dismemberment Plantation that will have the indie bootyshakers crying in their Rolling Rocks. "There's no heaven, and there's no hell" croons Travis Morrison on the opening track, and the pessimistic lyrical attitude reigns supreme from there on out. Although the tone and subject matter is precisely and unavoidably on the downer-tip, this album, more than any of their previous releases, proves that their sound is malleable and well thought-out.

The frantic energy of Emergency & I is mostly replaced with a rolling groove, yet The Plan impresses with an amazing ability to convey feelings of sadness without writing morbid music. Here, Morrison culls subject matter from personal experience. Even during “Ellen and Ben,” a song told from his point of view about a couple friends and their relationship, I have a sneaking suspicion the story might be about himself. Sometimes it’s mind-boggling how easy it is to relate to his stories, and his presentation cuts like a razor, directed with pinpoint accuracy at anyone who has felt lost and unsure

Change, more than anything is a noble attempt to sort out issues: disaffection, loneliness and most of all finding oneself jaded as all hell with life.

(2:21 PM) :: (link)