Monday, April 17, 2006

Built To Spill - You In Reverse

Built To Spill, "Conventional Wisdom"

Built To Spill, "Mess With Time"

Mang, yesterday was such a great day, beautiful weather, got to spend the day with MC, EC, JN, MA, Rittenhouse Square wasn't too crowded, I didn't make an ass of myself at Scrabble. Yes indeedy. In the spirit of such a nice day, it seemed fitting to look at Built To Spill, one of the most melodic, joyous sounding bands ever.

I didn't grow up listening to indie rock, and so the last few years have oftentimes seemed like a crash course on this music. Built To Spill was one of those bands that I had never heard of, a seminal, important band that never crossed my path until I began to look. When I did find them, I really felt like I had found the template for the stereotypical indie band that I had in my head when I wanted to complain about the music. I felt like I had found the band that others had been trying to copy. Doug Martsch and partners put together amazing, melodic, eccentric, guitar-centric pop songs with obtuse lyrics, a sort of outsider/nerd's take on rock.

After a 5-year hiatus, the band is back with a new album, You In Reverse. It is a bit of a departure, especially from the band that I first heard and came to love. The two things that leapt out at me are the length of the songs and the production. These are really long, meandering songs, featuring long solos and intros. Each song has a fuzzier, more unclear sound than normal, adding to the feeling that this was a loose, spontaneous type of album. I'm sure it wasn't made that way, but it's doesn't have the same intensity and crispness that their classic albums of the 90s do.

This is not to say that this is a bad album, although it isn't going to be on the Most Played list. It sound a lot like Martsch is developing something different, and that he hasn't quite put it together. Some of the songs seem to lack direction, including the one above, "Conventional Wisdom," which never gets the second verse that seems so necessary to me. Curious to hear what long-time fans think. Kwaya Na Kisser, An Aquarium Drunkard, A Slice of Class, Villains Always Blink and girlspants have more mp3s and thoughts on the album. Buy the album here, and see what you think.

-An interesting editorial in the Times today by Adam Cohen, looking at one of the most interesting and underreported stories of the past few years, the Republican phone-jamming scandal in New Hampshire.

-I am thinking of getting real serious this week, doing some intellectual posts on Philadelphia and the future. I know that these posts might not go over well, but it's where my head and heart are. I hope that they can spur some discussion, and will appeal to all of us living in cities and trying to bring them back to rightful place as the only important centers in the world. I will also be dropping plenty of music and other less-serious things, something for everyone.

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