July 21, 2012

Playlist Week of 7-21-12

Baroness - Yellow & Green

* Jordi Savall & Rolf Lislevand: Cadogan Hall, London, England 8-18-08 (FM CDR
* Purcell: Fantasias For The Viols (1680) (Hesperion XX/Savall) (Alia Vox SACD)
* Dusapin: Quatuors à cordes & Trios (æon 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Solo Piano, Volume 1 (Improvising Artists CD)
* Sun Ra: St. Louis Blues: Solo Piano, Vol.2 (Improvising Artists, Inc. CD)
* Henry Threadgill Zooid: Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp (Pi CD)
* Derek Bailey: Guitar, Bass And Drums (Avant CD)
* Gram Parsons: GP (Reprise/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (Reprise/Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Grateful Dead: History Of The Grateful Dead, Vol.1 (Bear’s Choice) (Warner Bros./Audio Fidelity LP)
* Deep Purple: Shades Of Deep Purple (EMI/Odeon LP)
* Deep Purple: Deep Purple (Tetragramaton LP)
* Deep Purple: In Rock (Warner Bros. LP)
* Deep Purple: Machine Head (Warner Bros. LP)
* Deep Purple: Burn (Warner Bros. LP)
* Van Der Graaf Generator: The Least Could Do Is Wave To Each Other (Charisma/4MWB LP)
* Van Der Graaf Generator: H To He Who Am The Only One (Charisma/4MWB LP)
* Van Der Graaf Generator: Pawn Hearts (Charisma/4MWB LP)
* Roxy Music: Avalon (Virgin HDCD)
* Can: The Lost Tapes 1968-1975 (selections) (Spoon/Mute 3CD)†/‡
* Porcupine Tree: Stupid Dream (KScope CD/DVD)
* Porcupine Tree: Lightbulb Sun (KScope CD/DVD)
* Porcupine Tree: Recordings (KScope CD)
* Porcupine Tree: In Absentia (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Deadwing (Lava/Atlantic CD)†
* Porcupine Tree: Fear Of A Blank Planet (Atlantic CD)
* Porcupine Tree: Nil Recurring (KScope CDEP)
* Porcupine Tree: The Incident (Roadrunner CD)
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* Anathema: We’re Here Because We’re Here (KScope CD/DVD)†
* Anathema: Weather Systems (The End CD)(†)
* Evoken: Atra Mors (Profound Lore MP3)†/‡
* Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse CD)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2CD/2LP)
* White Hills: White Hills (Thrill Jockey LP)
* White Hills: H-p1 (Thrill Jockey 2LP)
* White Hills: Frying On This Rock (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Astra: The Weirding (Rise Above/Metal Blade CD)
* Astra: The Black Chord (Rise Above/Metal Blade CD)
* Dusted: Total Dust (Polyvinyl MP3)†/‡



Now that I have lived with the new Baroness record for several days (and I have listened to it every day since Tuesday—sometimes twice), I have to comment further on my “published” review over at Spectrum Culture. I pretty much agree with everything I said, but I would amplify it thusly: 
  • Despite its faults, this is a four-star record, surely one my favorite records of 2012 so far. I hate giving numerical ratings to records to begin with (something I’ve never even attempted on the blog), but surely my middling score had more to do with my frustration over not being able to hear it properly than with the music as such. 
  • The vinyl absolutely slays the CD in terms of sound quality, even though my copy has a fair amount of surface noise. Don’t get me wrong, the CD sounds fine—I  don’t hear any nasty digital compression artifacts or anything like that—but the LP beats it in just about every way: dynamics, tonality, high-frequency extension and, most surprisingly, bass response. This thing just kicks ass, despite the clicks and pops—and maybe a super-deep cleaning will take of that. 
  • Perhaps I didn’t stress just how different Yellow & Green sounds from everything else in their discography—not even the slicker stuff on Blue Record would remotely prepare you for what they’re doing here. Some fans are crying “sell-out”—but I have to ask: “To whom?” Not you obviously! And the rest of the world has no idea they even exist. Such a radical change in sound and approach does not always work out to mainstream success, no matter how pure the motive—or how good the music. Baroness should be commended just for stretching so far so fast. There are no half-measures on Yellow & Green; they are committed to this material, even when they are overreaching. 
  • I said nothing about the continuing color theme and John Baizley’s Mucha-meets-Pushead cover art—an obvious hook that I’ve heretofore avoided. Well, it’s all part of that punky, DIY thing and makes for brilliant branding: each Baroness record has a unique yet unifying look that is very cool—but only in that teenage boy kind of way. Now that the primary colors have been covered—and one mixture—one does has to wonder how far they can take this trope. What next, Orange? Purple? Rumor has it this is their last record for Relapse—so it wouldn’t surprise me if their next record takes on a whole different graphic design (for a major label). But who knows? Given their history, their next record will come out sometime in 2016; we’ll find out then. 
  • “Sea Lungs” may be another bit of “by-the-numbers arena rock,” but, damn, that chorus is catchy. It’s been running through my head all week.                                               

I excised over a thousand words from my original review (a long digression on the “metal ghetto”) and that stuff may be re-worked someday, but my point was that Baroness had broken out in a big way—yet because the world-at-large sees them as a metal band, they will likely fail as a crossover and, moreover, their core audience will be disappointed. This has to be a frustrating situation for a forward-thinking band like Baroness. If you like rock music—and think it can continue to reinvent itself—check out Yellow & Green. It’s a great record. Then, who knows? Maybe you’ll work your way backwards to the Red Album and become an overgrown metal-head just like me.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Rodger, you continue to expand my horizons. I can't keep up! Oh well, back to my Beatles and Beach Boys....
here are my lists for last week!

Playlist 2012-07-23:

*Gregg Bendian’s Interzone: Requiem for Jack Kirby
*Boris Bobby Jr.: 2012-06-12 Ghost Print Gallery, Richmond VA (wav)
*Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief: The Madness of Crowds
*Nine Strings + Pilesar: The Sincerity of Non-Sentient Things
*Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Solar Research Arkestra: Helsinki 1971: The Complete Concert and Interview
*Sun Ra: Solo Piano Volume 1
*Beach Boys: Good Vibrations box set (discs 1, 4)
*Beatles: Hard Day's Night (2009 mono remaster)
*Beatles: Rubber Soul
*Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
*DJ Spooky: Synthetic Fury
*English Beat: Special Beat Service
*Flight of the Conchords: Flight of the Conchords
*Buddy Holly: The Buddy Holly Collection (disc 1)
*King Crimson: In the Wake of Poseidon (40th Anniversary Series) DVD
*National Health: National Health
*National Health: Of Queues and Cures
*National Health: D.S. Al Coda
*Prince: 1999 Homemade Deluxe Edition (boot CDR) disc 1
*Rolling Stones: Hits and Stuff (CDR compilation) vol. 2
*Various artists: District of Noise Vol. 5: 20x20 Second Fragments (mp3)
*Various artists: Doob Doob O'Rama: Filmsongs from Bollywood
*Various artists: Pet Sounds Revisited (Mojo)
*Various artists: You Got to Have Soul, vol. 2: Soul Party! (CDR compilation)
*XTC: Black Sea
*XTC: Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol. 2)
*Yo-Yo Ma/Edgar Meyer/Mark O’Connor: Appalachian Journey

Reading List 2012-07-23:

*Barthelme, Donald. Sixty Stories (in progress)
*Dumas, Alexander. Count of Monte Cristo (transl. Robin Buss) (in progress)
*Link, Kelly. Stranger Things Happen (in progress)