Monday, May 18, 2009

trying too hard

Wilco - Wilco (The Album) (available at their website) I think I like it, but I find it sliding right off me. Jeff Tweedy's voice squarely hits my default "like" setting, as do the searing guitars of this configuration of Wilco, but outside of that, I can't relate back what I've heard. I thought the same thing about A Ghost is Born, though, and that is probably the Wilco album I listen to the most anymore.

Michael Kaulkin's string quartet City Walks (available at his website, via aworks) This was just lovely. I've made a habit of dialing up contemporary classical music when I take a walk to the library over lunch; the pretentiousness and inquisitiveness of this conjoined activity is a perfect balm, like the icing in an Oreo, like the restrained melodies ribboning out of Mr. Kaulkin's quartet.

Willem Maker - New Moon Hand At first listen I would have lain Maker into the bin marked "trying too hard" - fussy blues-esque, rock-tinged, yet coffeehouse folk-ready arrangements, over-tended backwoods growls; I suspect there will be few reviews of this album that do not contain the words "Tom" and "Waits" despite Maker being after something a little more specific and a little less grand.

Having listened to the whole album with relish, devouring it like a perfectly burnt hot dog (also with relish), I would instead use the words "Greg" and "Brown", another singer-songwriter who tries too hard to grab the wiggly truth squirming right there before him, yet I dig the way they contemplatively eye their prey, waiting for the right moment to pounce on it with a shocking roar. I suppose there are worse traits than trying too hard. He will be up at the Dragon's Den in New Orleans with the irrepressible Bob Log III on May 26.

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