I always forget how good this album is…

May 1, 2009

I always forget how great this album is until it comes on shuffle on my iTunes and I become totally transfixed…

It’s weird because the first few times I heard it I thought it was un-listenable noise, but in reality it’s probably the best album since Radiohead’s Kid A (which coming from me is saying a lot. Hah…)

It’s a shame that such a great studio band is so terrible live… I saw them in Vancouver… but with a great disc like this who cares.

Liars – Drum’s Not Dead


Winter Listening Part 1

January 5, 2009

I like to think that I have a fairly diverse taste in music, even if it is selective, but for some reason I have a tendency to become obsessed with certain CDs and listen to nothing else for months. Over the winter break this has meant that I have only really listened to two CDs: Matthew Good’s new live album, Live at Massey Hall; and Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of The Goldberg Variations. I’ll try to discuss both of these recordings here over the next few days, and I’ll start with Mr. Good’s live album:

Matthew Good – Live at Massey Hall

I distinctly remember Matthew Good writing in a blog post several years ago that he prefers live albums to be “raw” sounding to better capture the spirit of the moment and I have to say that I love this CD for this very reason. Nothing is buttered up for the occasion in any way. This is Matthew Good as really he is, live, with his shaky vibrato-laden vocals, off-topic (often profane) stage banter, and incredible stage presence included. Real gems on this two CD set include Weapon, Giant, a 10 minute version of Avalanche, and, surprisingly, two new songs that I was formerly not fond of; Champions of Nothing and Devil’s in the Details.

However, the album does have two flaws, the first being subjective, and the second being my objective opinion. The whole album was mastered with loudness, which not only causes listening fatigue, but does not allow for the true feel of a live concert to come through. Secondly, the fact that this CD was released in 2008 instead of 2003 means that one has to listen “through” a lot of his newer writing to get to the “Good stuff” (pun obviously intended.) Now, I’m not opposed to an artist changing his style, but to me change for the better typically means becoming more experimental and daring as an artist. I happen to find Good’s newer writing lacks the seemingly more inspired, often abstract, metaphorical lyrical style of is older work, but I know of people who prefer these new tracks for the very fact that they are fantastic live, which makes this live release perhaps more pertinent than ever before.

So although it’s a bit of a catch, and I don’t mean to be so critical as it’s a fantastic recording that I will be likely be “spinning” for a while longer, I’m sure, but it would have been nice to have a record of some of the older tracks that I myself experienced live back when Mathew Good (and Band) was my favourite group. Tracks like The Rat who Would be King, Near Fantastica, Tripoli, and Suburbia would have really made this album for me.

-Sean.

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