Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Music (Relatively)

I got around to purchasing two albums from two of my favorite artists. You know who they are (most of you)...Damien Jurado and David Bazan (aka Pedro the Lion). The new albums are: Damien Jurado "On My Way To Absence" (Released in April or May) and Headphones "S/T".

"Absence" is a great record for Damien. His last full-length release "Where Shall You Take Me" was a little off...I should say a little awful. There were a few redeeming qualities, "Matinee" "Intoxicated Hands", but it didn't have the usual PUNCH that was present on even the sedated "Ghost of David".

"Absence" picks up where his 1999 album, "Rehearsals for Departure" left off. Looking back, this was a fitting title, because none of his subsequent albums were similar style to "Rehearsals"...i.e. departures. But now he's back, doing what he does best, rocking a simple song about complicated issues of love/jealousy ("A Jealous Heart Is A Heavy Heart"), friendship ("Simple Hello", previously issued on a Made in Mexico EP), and revenge ("Sucker").

Don't expect to throw "Absence" in to the player and immediately "get it" like the accessible "I Break Chairs" (probably considered his "best" album), but after two plays through, you won't want him to stop.

"Headphones" is a new story. Anyone who has been following David Bazan knows the name T.W. Walsh (collaborator on "Achilles Heel"), but most won't recognize new bandmate Frank Lenz. Frank is a member of the former biggest Tooth and Nail band Starflyer 59 (great noise-pop, really ahead of their time, check out "Gold").

David Bazan, T.W. Walsh, and Frank Lenz got together to form a little side project. Bazan calls the record "heavily influenced by...Low." I think that is a terrible comparison. The best comparison I can come up with for Headphones is, well, Pedro the Lion. Bazan sings and writes all the songs, therefore it comes across very Pedro the Lion-y. The new addition of Frank Lenz (and his synth) adds a nice dimension of diversity to the sometimes droning Pedro sound.

All things considered this is a GREAT favorite this year. I guess I just don't see the need to call it a new band, especially considering the fact that Pedro the Lion changes lineups nearly every record. From the original lineup of four bandmembers, Bazan kept the title and ditched the bandmates. Created an album completely alone (Winners Never Quit), one with Casey Foubert (Control, who appears on Damien's new record), and then added T.W. for Achilles Heel. What's one more change...?

Ok, so the album. We've come to expect Bazan to wrestle with issues of politics, spirituality, humanity (fall of man), etc. The Headphones album is no different. The first track tells a story (another thing we're used to from Bazan) of two friends being tied to chairs and burned alive by their "friend" that they have bullied. Is this a Palahniuk novel?

On "Natural Disaster" Bazan sings, "I know we disagree, but soon enough we will all be free, to worship any way I choose. But you would wait on the rapture, or a natural disaster, to come around. Maybe a couple of airplanes would crash into buildings and put the fear of God in you. Now we're taking over, no one is the wiser, with Mexican and Negro cabinet advisors."
Uhh, wow...

Some of you watched the transition of Bazan with his hesitancy to use profanity in songs to coming to embrace strong words...this album is no different in that regard (reference song #2, "Shit Talker").

Read the rest of the lyrics here.

No comments: