From Matador: “Shortly after he began working with Matador Records, Jay Reatard with cohorts Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes set up shop at Matador’s downtown New York City office to play tracks found on “Singles 06-07”, “Matador Singles ’08”, and “Blood Visions.”
The Ponys are, yes, quite underrated. They did some touring with Black Lips in 2007, released albums on In The Red and Matador, and have had some songs appear in commercials and video games. Still, though, I (and others as evidenced in YouTube comments) feel they’ve been under-appreciated. Here’s to hoping good fortunes to The Ponys.
Band: Kurt Vile
1. “Baby’s Arms” – A-
2. “Jesus Fever” – A-
3. “Puppet to the Man” – B
4. “On Tour” – B-
5. “Society Is My Friend” – B
6. “Runner Ups” – C+
7. “In My Time” – B+
8. “Peeping Tomboy” – B-
9. “Smoke Ring For My Halo” – B-
10. “Ghost Town” – B
Comments: Vile’s live show (with the Violators) has always been one of noise and layer. On record, however, the childish prodigy has excelled at displaying a softer side that, while layered in realms of noise, is more delicately catchy and intriguing than the in-person experience. Following the KISS [Keep it simple, stupid…not the band] principle that I’ve always been fond of as a fan of music, Vile can really do a lot with a little. Unfortunately, this record is a continuation of a trend I’ve noticed in Vile’s music over the years: lack of differentiation. I don’t really blame him, but just about every song flows and sounds quite similar to the previous/next one. “In My Time,” which was first released as the title track of his 2010 EP of the same name, belongs in the category of Vile’s stronger set of songs. It features a prominent electric guitar and more memorable melody. In the end, this album don’t impress-uh-me much (to quote Shania Twain), but there definitely are some good listens to be enjoyed in the sea of repetition.
Grade: B (84)
Congratulations to Matador Records for taking the cake in this one. The three Matador/True Panther albums that I noted below were securely in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So, good job, Matador! Keep it up and here’s to 21 more years! Sub Pop and Fat Possum, two other large independent labels, put out some great records as well. On the smaller scale, Goner Records, based in Memphis, released a handful (probably even more) of quality records and I can only guess that 2011 will be another great year for that label and store. Burger Records, which has garnered national attention for its release of cassettes, is small as well, but their devotion to music and the bands that they put out is overwhelmingly large. As far as “better luck next year” labels go, we’ve got In The Red. In The Red has been a consistent favorite for me, but nothing that they put out this year really floored me. It was a bit of an off-year for Domino Records as well. Of course, that can go out without saying the year after releasing two stellar records, Merriweather Post Pavilion [Animal Collective] and Humbug [Arctic Monkeys]. EMI did pretty awful, but that’s expected too…it is a major label after all. Warner Brothers was a mixed bag; Devo’s LP was pretty good, but nothing else really tickled my fancy. I know a lot of people were feeling Dr. Dog and the Black Keys (especially) this year.
1. Matador/True Panther Records – Notable Releases: Hippies [Harlem], Gay Singles [Hunx & His Punx], Memphis [Magic Kids]
2. Sub Pop – Notable Releases: Teen Dream [Beach House], I Will Be [Dum Dum Girls], Everything In Between [No Age]
3. Fat Possum Records – Notable Releases: King of the Beach [Wavves], Lisbon [Walkmen]
4. Goner Records – Notable Releases: First Blood [Nobunny], Melted [Ty Segall]
5. Burger Records – Notable Releases: Cum Stain [Cum Stain], Shame, Shame [APACHE]
1. EMI – Un-notable Releases: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky [OK GO], Sea of Cowards [Massive Attack]
2. Domino – Un-notable Releases: There Is Love In You [Four Tet], Hidden [These New Puritans]
Yeah I know we’re about six months behind on this ditty, but better late than never. Congrats to Matador for 21 years of magic.
A top tune off their 2007 Matador Records debut Turn the Lights Out.
1. “LSD Saves” – A
2. “Mood Ring” – A-
Comments: How did I not hear about this one? I don’t know! “LSD Saves” is a psychedelic (shocking for Harlem, I know!) rock and roller that sounds quite like a Brit invasion oldie or something. It’s quick and fun.. as driving fast on acid while getting your wing-wang squeezed. “Mood Ring” isn’t quite on the same level of “LSD,” but it’s vintage Harlem. You know? It’s cool.
Grade: A- (93)
I can’t really type this out all over again so head over to the Matador Records blog and read about this vast assortment of record label brilliance.
The one Jay song included on there is a remastered version of “There Is No Sun,” which as you all know was released in 2009 on Watch Me Fall. The blog post says that the artists agreed to have the royalties donated to some good charities. I’m not sure how Jay agreed to that, but it happened.
Label: Matador Records
1. “Success” – B+
2. “Memory Serves” – B
3. “Summer Well” – B
4. “Lights” – B+
5. “Barricade” – A-
6. “Always Malaise” – B-
7. “Safe Without” – C+
8. “Try It On” – B-
9. “All of the Ways” – B-
10. “The Undoing” – B
Comments: I started listening to Interpol a few short years ago, a few short years after their so called glory days. Paul Banks’ crazy voice was really great and the band basically shit out a bunch of excellent tracks over a two year span. Then they signed to Capitol and people accused them of sucking. The songs on their major label debut didn’t suck; they just weren’t as good. Now, the band is back on Matador. Last year Banks recorded a solo album Julian Plenti Is Skyscraper, which had a couple of really awesome songs. I think Interpol have had their day by now. They’ve already gotten to the outer reaches of their musical limit. If you can’t stand this band to begin with, good luck trying to like this! Fans will probably find a few songs particularly worthy of attention. It’s not as terrible as the online community is making it out to be. It’s exhausted and boring with a few somewhat catchy hooks here and there. It drags. I’ve always been able to tolerate Interpol at their weakest, which may be why I’m attempting to stick up for them here. “Lights” has a good build-up and becomes pretty solid. “Barricade” is the most memorable and most catchy tune on this album.
Grade: B- (83)
Kurt Vile – “Freeway”