Today I'm pondering what I think about the new albums from Built to Spill (one of their least annoying efforts in the past few years), The Church, The Submarines, and a few others.
I first heard about The Submarines from a friend who works at a well-known indie label after she heard their demo; they didn't sign with her employer, but with Nettwerk instead, which seems a better fit. The Submarines are pretty innocuous and sweet, for all that the songs on the album are about a messy breakup (though recording the album together led them to tie the knot, quel heartwarming); Declare a New State seems to succeed in some ways where the new offering from Mates of State, Bring It Back fails for me. (The comparison is inevitable, sadly -- even outside the superficial similarities.) MOS' Kori and Jason really shouldn't try to sing; I hate to be all crumudgeonly, but I liked it better when they were all about the hollerin' in unison and the funky harmonies and all harsh aggravation and angry chords (as on Team Boo, Our Constant Concern, and My Solo Project). Bring it Back's lead single "Fraud in the 80's" preserves some of that, but the rest of the album is, in my opinion, a little overambitious and really drags when things get prettified. However, I seem to be the only person that feels this way -- the prevailing opinion among friends and other music bloggers is that Mates of States' new direction works, but I really can't agree.
The Submarines -- Peace and Hate
Mates of State -- Fraud in the 80's
Mates of State -- The Kissaway
On a wholly unrelated note, here's a song I've meant to post for a few days, since before SXSW, when I wrote about Martha Wainwright for See You In the Pit -- it's Rufus Wainwright's version of the Gershwin standard "I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise" (which appeared in one of my favorite Gene Kelly pictures, An American In Paris) from The Aviator soundtrack (you know, the best part of that film outside of Jude Law's appearance as Errol Flynn).
Rufus Wainwright -- I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise
Now then, will someone come do my work for me, so that I can get some sleep? That would be grand.