Pot Luck Review #3 - Indie Maelstrom


...This one goes out to all you wallet-chain wearin', Pitchfork readin', acoustic guitar playin', Third Eye Blind lovin', six-degrees-of-any-band namin' folks out there...


WHAT: I went through all the "indie" music m'man Sean has given me that I haven't yet been able to say I liked, hated, or cared enough about to either move into my hard drive or permanently delete yet. I threw them all in the media player, and set it up so it would spew out songs at random (this is a cool new feature to most media players called the Random button. If you've never used it, I definitely suggest checking it out. Suh-weet!). The first 20 get burned as my new mix disc and also gets reviewed "on the cuff" here for Pot Luck Review #3.

WHY: It gives me a chance to listen to a bunch of music I've had for a while and never got around to checking out. Plus it'll give me a chance to argue music with Sean, which is always a blast.

1. Does He Love You - Rilo Kiley: I like Jenny Lewis. I won't say she's my favorite artist (though that may change when I see her in concert), but she has a nice voice, and usually manages to hold my attention. I like this song if only because the instrumentation is off the beaten path, with nice arpeggios sweeping through the chorus. Bit of a Beatles-vibe goes post-rock at the end. These type of lyrics usually don't do much for me, but this is okay. 6.5 out of 10.

2. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes (BBC Version) - Modest Mouse: The bass pops, Falco meets the Pixies (or at least Frank Black). I immediately like this. Spare, in your face, a little Joy Division/Bauhaus fun going on. This rocks. 9 out of 10.

3. One Life Away - M. Ward: This sounds like it was recorded in the 20's. Which I guess is the point. Just a guitar and two voices. I like the fact that you can hear the fingers slide on the guitar strings, but this reeks a little gimmicky for me, and I'd rather listen to some old delta blues if I wanted this vibe. 3 out of 10.

4. Oh My God - Kaiser Chiefs: Kind of a cheat. I love this album, but when adding so much stuff I didn't know, I took a chance and threw this album in. What are the chances - there are 1314 songs in this mix! Anyway, these guys do the XTC thing and they do it right (unlike the Futureheads). Lot of tongue-in-cheek lyrics, up front sound that's not afraid to be played loud, and great harmony vocals. Total 10 out of 10.

5. Wasted Time - Kings of Leon: When indie bands play classic rock, they invariably sound like this to me. Kind of a bluesy, lo-fi garage sound. Little Kinks to it. Eh, I like it. May not like everything else they do, but this is okay. 5 out of 10.

6. At Least That's What You Said - Wilco: I still can't make up my mind on Wilco. They just seem so underwhelming compared to all the hype they get. I like when the music suddenly turns angry and abrupt - the lyrics again are that same old "you hurt my feelings" thing. But the music (especially the second half) lifts it up. 6 out of 10.

7. On Your Wings - Iron & Wine: Nice music, and for once, GREAT lyrics. This would pass just for the lyrics, but, unlike M. Ward, Iron & Wine takes a well-known genre of music and puts it up front and unashamed. Very sparse arrangement, quietly effective. 8 out of 10.

8. So Many Ways - Mates of State: Again, a nice change of pace in terms of lyrics. I imagine that Mates of State are just one of thousands of the "girl and boy band" duos out there, and I remember really not caring for their previous album, Team Boo. But this works for me. 7 out of 10.

9. Hate - Cat Power: Another voice with guitar and some damp-sounding reverb. I think there's something good here, but it's definitely one of the weaker tracks so far. Again, her voice and the sad lyrics (is this another trend? Are all indie people so unhappy?) push this up to a barely 5 out of 10.

10. But Now I know - Smoosh: I think I remember Sean telling me that this was two girls that were like, 11 or something. It sounds like it. And yet, this at least offers something different from all the angst in the previous entries. It bounces. And I like the image it paints of sitting on the stoop in the neighborhood watching the other kids and commenting like a typical girl. 7 out of 10.

11. Narcocorrido - Okkervill River: Shufflin' boogie in a similar vein as the Kings of Leon track, even though they sound completely different. Not bad, but nothing that makes me kick back and say "Yeah!" either. But it's over quicker, so it gets a half point higher. 6.5 out of 10.

12. Christmas Song - Joy Zipper: Insipid lyrics that sound like they were written by 11 year-olds, But Smoosh already proved they're better writers. This song sounds like a bunch of dorks who listened to too much Ride. Specifically Going Black Again. Which rocks. This doesn't. 4 out of 10.

13. Ammunition For a Bolt-Action Heart - The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers: Prize for the stupidest name ever. The music not too bad, but the lyrics once again suck, and that name is horrible, so they lose points. 5 out of 10.

14. I'm Going to Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart - Eels: Is it me, or does this sound like it should be in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie? Maybe it's just me. Like the gruff vocals, but the title of the song is too damn long. These are those guys who sang "Novocaine for the Soul?" Hmm. Not what I expected. Pretty good. 7 out of 10.

15. Not Tonight - Matt Sharp and Maya Rudolf - WTF!? Are these guys covering Tegan and Sara? WTF!!!! And is that the chick from Saturday Night Live with the awesome body? I only have what Sean wrote on the tracks to go by, but WTF!? It's not Tegan and Sara, but just for the surprise factor this rocks. 8.5 out of 10.

16. I Can't Say Goodbye - Bravo Silva: Anything would be a comedown after the last song, and this is no exception. Honestly, if this were radio, this would be off by now. 3 out of 10.

17. Ball of Twine - Louis XIV: This is a strange song. I like it, but don't know how often I would listen to it. This has got more of an authentic 70's vibe then Kings of Leon. Pretty uncompromising, and definitely not something that will be played on radio. This is a good thing. 7 out of 10.

18. Lover's Spit - Broken Social Scene: This does absolutely nothing for me, despite the lyrics about oral sex. 3 out of 10.

19. Allison Krausse - The Stills: I always confused the Stills with two other great bands I was introduced at the same time, Spoon and Stars. This is definitely the least of the three bands. Song's okay, but really in a one-trick pony. 5 out of 10.

20. Ringing in the Dark - Minus Story: And this is where it ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. 5 out of 10.


Well, all on all it wasn't too bad. I found a couple songs I will definitely be playing more of, and maybe a couple songs I'll be deleting forever.