Friday Music and Hockey Talk

We're coming up to another weekend and that means me sitting down and putting together another couple of album reviews.  As always my goal is to provide a flavor of an album rather than break the album down into pieces and analyze the life out of and every song.  It feels like respecting the music as art, but it could also just an excuse for a little bit of laziness.

After tonight we'll finally know which two teams will be meeting in this years Stanley Cup Finals, and that means I'll have to right my last round of predictions for the summer.  Still, I think that the safe pick is Vancouver in any number of games.  Over the past few days I've been going back and forth between the pair of Eastern teams that will battle tonight for the Prince of Wales trophy.  Neither of them seems entirely well suited towards beating the Canucks.  On one side you have Tampa Bay with questions in goaltending and questions in the defensive zone.  Their 1-3-1 system that got them to the Finals isn't standing up to hard forechecking of the Bruins, and their goaltending is not bailing them out of the bad situations.  As for the Boston Bruins, it is amazing that they have made it this deep into the playoffs with such a terrible powerplay.  They have been so solid defensively and play well five on five and they have Tim Thomas in net.  While he hasn't been spectacular in this round, it doesn't mean he won't be if he is in the finals.  Which of the two teams have a better chance against the Canucks?  I'm leaning towards Boston even with their anemic powerplay.

Now that the hockey talk is done let us move on to the music for today.

Mischief Brew - The Stone Operation (iTunes)

A friend of mine shared this album with me, and he told me that after I'd heard it that I'll be cursing myself for not listening to Mischief Brew sooner.  He was right.  Right off the bat one make mistake Mischief Brew for being a simple folk punk band, that was certainly my initial opinion.  Instead these Philly natives burst to the seems with the sounds of European and gypsy folk music.  With a few exceptions, Nevada City Serenade and Drinking Song from the Home Stretch, every song on the album has an manic edge.  I enjoy a banjo played at break neck speeds, but never did I hear banjo music that sounded down right belligerent.  The lyrics are pro-working class from top to bottom, with lyrics that read like they are might have been written in the last 1800s at the height of industrialization.  It certainly creates an interesting effect since the same lyrics are not afraid to acknowledge the current world.

Will most of the songs are densely arranged with unique instrumentation, there are a few tracks that help to break up the album.  Stuff's Weird offers a simpler punk arrangement while the two songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph offer a laid back sound.  Two tracks that really stood out to me on the album were Dallas in Romanina and Lucky 31, a pair of songs that are packed with some beautiful, raw intensity.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong (iTunes)

This is one of those albums that I love to have around.  While listening to Belong I made a number of notes about how the music sounded and felt.  Among the descriptors are emotionally raw, romantically honest, and sexy in a melancholic manner... almost sensual.  Still, at the core of The Pains' sound is a heart of pop that loves a fun hook.  The whole album is fuzzy guitars, keyboard synth, and hushed vocals.  The vocals really grew on me after a while because it really felt like the singers wanted to whisper the words right into my ear, which lends to an intimate feeling record.  That intimacy is a grounding force among the powerful instrumentation that could've gotten out of control and crushed the vocals.  The third track Heart in Your Heartbreak emerged as one of my favorites because the lyrics are so endearingly cliché.  The lyrics are really where I love this album.  There is a sweetness in almost every song, and that sweetness is usually just barely hiding a current of pragmatic cynicism.  I can also hand this album a distinction that I don't often hand out, it is complete cuddle/make/sex album.  It is, I promise you.

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