Stack Project Update, October, 2015

See this post for information about the Stack project.  This is another update covering the last two months, consisting of mini-reviews for a bunch of albums.

  • Death Cab for Cutie.  I have several albums, mostly early material, which I got from a friend years ago.  I can easily understand how a great Death Cab fan is made — there is a particular sense of style that I could easily imagine latching on to.  However, I don’t particularly latch onto it.  As a result, I find the majority of Death Cab for Cutie to be similar and relatively boring.  Apologies to all the fans out there, but it’s not really for me.
  • Deep Dark Woods.  I have their eponymous album.  In all regards, this is an album I should like more than I do.  It feels like my musical tastes are exactly the target audience of this band and this album.  And I do like the album, just not that much.  It’s enjoyable but forgettable.  
  • Depeche Mode.  I have the album Construction Time Again.  I don’t think I’ve every really listened to it before — it felt like an entirely new experience.  A new and very enjoyable experience.  I really like this album.  I don’t know much about the history of industrial and related movement in electronic music — I understand that there is derision for Depeche Mode in parts of that community.  I’m not sure if they are inovative or derivative, but I like the light electronic/industrial aesthetic.
  • Destroyer.  I’m already a fan, but I recently acquired a copy of City of Daughters, a much older Destroyer album. Listening to it was an adjustment after the very polished Destroyer albums of the last few years — City of Daughters is much more raw, much younger and more quizical.  The poetry is the same in general principle as his later material, but more exposed and even more chaotic.  I don’t like it as much as the later material, but I did enjoy it.  It’s also fun to see where he started and how his ouvre has developed.  
  • The Dukhs.  This is a pop/celtic band which I’ve seen at folk fest once or twice.  We have the album You Daughters & Yous Sons.  For some reason, sometime in the past I wrote them off as boring and derivative celtic-light easy listening music.  I’m glad I went back to this album, since this old mental assessment it quite unfair.  I really liked this album.  It has a neat mix of styles and influences, a great ambience and solid musicianship.  
  • Echo and the Bunnymen.  There has been a series of interesting 80s entries in this project already (Depeche Mode, The Cure), so I guess this is the next.  I listened to the album Ocean Rain.  Even though I was a child in the 80s, I have no personal memories of any of this music.  I’m approaching it all for the first time.  In any case, Ocean Rain is great.  It’s a neat poppy aesthetic with interesting (if sometimes strange or cheesy) lyrical content.  I like it.
  • Elliott Smith.  I have Either/Or, Figure 8 and X/O, the last three of the five albums released during his life.  Of the music on this project, these albums are some of the most familiar to me.  I did listen to them in some depth many years ago.  I put them on the stack, so to speak, since I have few specific memories of the tracks.  Having listened to them again, the reason is obvious: it all blends together smoothly into a single sound and single memory.  I still like it, if I’m in a particular mood, but it is all very similar and uniform.  
  • Elvis Costello.  I listened to his very early album My Aim is True, and really like much of it.  It took a bit to get over the voice: there is a very bright, shrill male pop/rock voice style that I have a hard time with and Elvis comes very close to that voice style.  (Think Van Morrison — I really can’t stand his voice.  I doesn’t make sense, since I like plenty of other strange and somewhat ugly sounding voices, but who can explain aesthetic sense?)  I like the goofiness of the album, and the points in between where it is sincere and moving.   Some of the tracks got old very fast, and I don’t think I’d like the album on repeat for hours, but I’ll fondly remember many of the catchy songs.
  • Eurythmics.  More 80s content, though I didn’t like this as much as much as Echo and the Bunnymen.  (Not that it’s really a reasonable comparison, but whatever).  I listened to Be Yourself Tonight and a Greatests Hits collection and found little that I really enjoyed.  I found it curious, since I quite liked the Ani Lennox solo offering earlier in this project.  Maybe she needed time to mature, maybe the group had other influences, maybe it’s just not my taste.  
  • Feist.  I’m quite familiar with Let It Die and The Reminder.  We purchased Metals when it came out, but I never took to in on first listen and forgot to return to it. Now that I have, I really like the album.  I like how Feist has worked on her particular style — refined and polished it.  I miss the loungy feeling of Let It Die, but the more crisp metallic sounds on the appropriately named Metals is something I could also grow to enjoy.  There’s good stuff here.
  • Franz Ferdinand.  I loved the eponymous album when it first came out a decade or so ago.  Somewhere along the line, I got a copy of You Could Have Had It So Much Better, but (as with other on this list) never gave it much attention at the time.  That’s a shame, since it’s a solid album, nearly on par with their first disc. I really like the two or three quieter tracks and the effect they have on the rocky feeling of most of the music.  For the rest, it’s awesome just like the original Franz Ferdinand album was, for the simply guitar-based catchiness of it all.