Weekly Obsessions: 6/27/2016



sunflowerbean-humanceremonyHappy last week in June, rock fans! For those of you keeping score at home, it is a scant 86 days before my lady love and I embark on our trip to Paris. Is mid-September so far away that a countdown is inappropriate? I have a specialized iPad Countdown App that certainly doesn’t think so. Speaking of apps, I’ve been hitting the DuoLingo pretty hard in an effort to not look like a douchebag abroad, so the French language occupies significant real estate in my tête these days. It’s almost amazing that I found time to listen to music between French lessons and my usual ultra-boring podcasts, but here we are, rock fan!

This week I’m really enjoying Sunflower Bean’s album Human Ceremony. The Brooklyn trio has perfectly synthesized the best parts of dream-pop and post-punk to create a warm and inviting record. “This Kind of Feeling’s” devotion to rhythm recalls VU disciples like the Feelies, but don’t dismiss Sunflower Bean as Velvet Underground runoff just yet. At least, not before you hear the delicate beauty of “Easier Said.”

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There are a lot of influences bouncing around on this record. Jesus and Mary Chain and (especially) Yo La Tengo are nodding in approval. Yet, Sunflower Bean  feels fresh, rather than derivative. Despite all the bands I’ve mentioned, the group never relies on one influence for too long. They’ve whipped up these styles into a brand new delicacy that may creep its way onto my “Best-of” List before long. It’s already made Rolling Stone‘s list of “Best Albums of 2016 So Far,” for what that’s worth.

Oh yeah. Jack shit.

As for something older…

I listened to Sonic Youth‘s 1987 album Sister the other day, and that record still rules. It often gets overshadowed by its successor Daydream Nation, but both albums are rightfully hailed as classics. Sister has a bit more credibility, being (very loosely) based on the work and life of Philip K. Dick. In fact, the title “Sister” supposedly refers to Dick’s twin, who died in the womb. Sonic Youth always does everything a little cock-eyed, and their approach to popular culture is basted for hours in irony, so everything they say is highly dubious, particularly with respect to their own work. That being said, the album works terrifically, regardless of the source material. Here’s their cover of the obscure Crime song, “Hot Wire My Heart.”

Wow, that dog on the album cover is long dead, isn’t it?

See you next time! Try not to let the dread set in. Go jogging if you must!

 

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