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Random Roundup - February '10
I've picked up a solid six CDs worth of music this past week, including a few sickeningly expensive (but entirely necessary) imports from Japan. I haven't had a chance to go through all of them yet, and the ones I have listened to I haven't gotten through enough times to render any deep judgment on. Out of the six albums, I'll probably write a few full reviews, but the ones that don't get that treatment still deserve some mention, I think. As such:

toe. - Songs, Ideas We Forgot - This was, unfortunately, not among the two discs that I imported from Japan. It's out of print, much like toe.'s first full-length album, The Book [...], which is an even greater travesty, as that album is fucking amazing. It's a shame that Songs, Ideas is out of print, and you'll likely have to turn to torrents to get it, but the world isn't suffering greatly as a result of its absence on virtual store shelves (as it is for The Book). toe. sounds more like a rock band on this EP, with more straight-forward structure, riffs, and rhythm. You can see the incredible progression from it to The Book, but Songs, Ideas, by itself, is not that amazing.

toe. - For Long Tomorrow - toe.'s second full length album, and so far it has fucking blown me away. These guys are fucking amazing. I dearly wish they would put full albums out more than once every five years, and that they'd come visit the wonderful continent of North America on tour. The band's remarkable progress is apparent in their use of new instruments, like vibraphones, piano, and synthesizers, as well in how (seemingly) effortlessly they pull off poly-rhythms. If this album has an absolutely crushing single, as Everything Means Nothing was to The Book, it's probably Esoterikku, which has some killer riffs and incredible arrangement. I'll write up a full review on For Long Tomorrow at some point, but I'm going to need more than a few listens to digest it. Regardless, this is worth whatever cost you have to pay to import it - for me, it was roughly $30. More than worth it.

Hammock - Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow - According to the internets, Hammock is a two-member post-rock band, but judging by this album, they are a two-member ambient band. There's even a tie-in with Jonsi & Alex / Riceboy Sleeps, who did the artwork for Maybe They Will Sing, and at whose art-showing they played their first gig. The music is quite lovely, though it's composed primarily of guitar swells and heavily-reverbed washes of sound. The songs all sound fairly similar, too, and the album sort of runs into one track. Not that I'm complaining, really - I quite like the album. It's just very... ambient.

Tom Waits - One From The Heart - This is probably the weakest Tom Waits album I own, possibly because it's a movie soundtrack. It's not very Waitsean; it's pretty standard, without any of the crazy, off-kilter singing or instrumentation that marks most of Waits' albums. The songs are mostly piano-based bar croons, similar to Closing Time, but with more polish and less heart. It's not bad, it's just not great.

Recent additions

Ni no Kuni - Worst. Demo. Ever.

Tales of Graces - Why Must JRPGs Have Such Dumb Writing?

Xenoblade Chronicles - Why Must JRPGs Have Such Dumb Writing?

The Mistake That is Inferno and the Auction House

Diablo 3 - Improvements, Changes, and Problems

Glen Cook - Chronicles of the Black Company

Dark Souls

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys

Okkervil River - I Am Very Far

Explosions in the Sky - Live 4/11/11