Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Reviews:: The Broken West and M. Ward

I’m still trying to keep with the idea that if everyone else has already blogged it to death, there’s not much point in adding to the mix unless I have something genius to say, but a couple of releases getting lots of love on other sites are worth a mention on herohill as well.

The first is The Broken West record – I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On – which is a nice slice of power pop. It’s the type of CD you just picture playing as you are wedged in traffic on the 405, looking out into the hazy smog on yet another sunny LA day. It’s full of nice hooks that never feel rushed or too over-the-top.

I hate to tell people what they should like, but after hearing the bass line and riff of Hale Sunrise, I have to wonder how anyone could not like this this tribute track to the Hollywood landscape. It would be easy to make the obvious Teenage Fan Club, Brian Wilson, Big Star comparisons, but it’s just as easy to talk about the churning guitars, handclaps, tambourines, and harmonies. The single – Down in the Valley – is another great track pushed along by a nice organ.

This record – which I don’t think is as great as a lot of other bloggers do – is an enjoyable listen. It’s not splitting the musical atom, but I think that is part of the point. To those who aren’t there, life in LA is never supposed to be taxing; the sea, the valley, the celebs, the life. The effortless style this band creates helps you let the lyrics slide by unnoticed (or maybe without judgment). Just like the area they sing about, their songs have a nice sheen on the surface, and it’s not until you get really close that it becomes a little less pristine.
MP3:: Down in the Valley

M Ward can essentially do no wrong in my humble eyes. The follow up CD single - To Go Home - to his latest LP Post War, is backed by a new version of one of my favorite album tracks (and a Daniel Johnston cover) – To Go Home. The three new songs are typical Ward; amazing. The ragtime guitar and piano on Cosmopolitan Pap fit nicely with Ward’s trademark voice and the emotional piano ballad – Human Punching Bag – is as beautiful as it is depressing.

The single closes with a Jimmie Gilmore cover – Headed for a Fall – which is a fantastic 5 minute journey, built upon a catchy strummed acoustic, Nels Cline doing some guitar work and nice horn work. Throw in some Wilbury-esque harmonies from Jim James and Neko Case and this song makes this single a must have for any Ward fan. Four songs, 7 bucks; you do the math.

Posted at 12:42 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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