Music of the Week
By Lauren Harris
If ever there was a band worthy of the amps-to-11 mantle, it's Dinosaur Jr. Started back in 1984 in Western Massachusetts, lead singer and guitarist J Mascis combined strained vocals and incendiary guitar lines to pioneer college radio rock with bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph. After splitting in 1997 due to intra-band tensions, the trio reunited in 2005, but folks are calling Farm the true return to form. Tuneful yet dissonant, difficult yet catchy, Farm's lyrical content charts very little new territory for Mascis (apathy, anger and despair still comprise the bulk of his thoughts), and yet, 25 years after their debut, still sound like the voice of youth.
There's something to be said of Regina Spektor's timing. The Russian-born, Bronx-raised chanteuse cut her teeth at open mics on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the century, and came up with bands like the Strokes and Kings of Leon. Breaking onto the scene with her self-released Soviet Kitsch, it was 2006's Begin To Hope that cemented the piano-playing singer's status as the foremost purveyor of quirky pop. It would seem Spektor's going deeper into the territory of the strange on Far, sampling from David Byrne's recent art installation in New York City, yet retaining her pop leanings by having ELO mastermind (and patron saint of pop) Jeff Lynne produce four songs on the album.
Beacons of Ancestorship
Chicago outfit Tortoise have been plagued by the term post-rock for the entirety of their nearly twenty year career, and it seems they've decided to clear this up with the title of their 10th album, Beacons of Ancestorship. While their earlier career was characterized by a largely palatable fusion of free jazz and noise rock, the band continue to push the bounds of sonic territory, journeying into nearly every genre, which makes perfect sense given the band member's many projects since 2006's A Lazarus Taxon. The band seem to have shifted their focus to the rhythms that comprise their albums, concentrating largely on synth-heavy techno and dance beats.