I haven’t been doing too many music reviews recently, mostly because I haven’t really been listening to anything I hadn’t already been listening to for some time. Recently, however, I purchased a few albums that were…well, not new at all, but new to me. So here are a few thoughts:
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Gorilla – I’ve occasionally come across songs by them or mentions of their work in my time on the Internet, but never really checked them out. Not surprisingly, when I did, I quite liked them. This, their first LP, was released in 1967, and it definitely holds up today, at least as far as I’m concerned. It includes covers of even older songs like “Jollity Farm” and “Mickey’s Son and Daughter,” as well as original compositions like “Equestrian Statue,” “I’m Bored,” and “Death Cab for Cutie.” And yes, that latter was the source for the name of a band in which I’ve never had any particular interest. I’ve never really gotten into Radiohead either, and they’re also named after a song I quite like. Maybe there’s a pattern here. If I may make a semi-complaint, it’s that Gorilla doesn’t necessarily flow as an album, as it has comedy bits interspersed with the songs. It’s not that they’re not funny (they are, sometimes very much so), but that they don’t always stand up to repeated listens. Oh, well. That’s what the skip button is for. Overall, I rate this very highly.
The Modern Lovers (1976) – Jonathan Richman is another artist I’d seen referenced and covered pretty often, and I liked the songs of his that I’ve heard. It’s kind of hard not to, really. It’s simple, fun, non-pretentious rock music. This album includes “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso,” two songs I already knew from live recordings.
Emilie Autumn, Opheliac (2006) – I think I first heard of and became interested in her through Tumblr, although I forget who it was who directed me to her stuff. (If it’s you, come forward!) I’ll admit that part of my interest was because I thought she was cute, but it’s not like I bought her album based on her looks alone. Both her appearance and her music have a sort of Victorian/burlesque theme, which I like. From what I’ve read, she spent some time in a mental hospital in her youth, and that was part of what sparked her interest in the Victorian era. It has to do with how the period is associated so much with poor treatment of mental illness, as well as the romanticizing of female suicide. And yes, the songs are quite catchy, with a sound that reminds me of some other artists I like (I can hear a bit of Amanda Palmer in her voice), but plenty to distinguish her from them as well.
The Monkees, Justus (1996) – For the Monkees’ thirtieth anniversary, all four of them actually got together to record an album, on which they wrote and performed on all the songs. From what I’ve heard about their history, it’s surprising that this even exists. And I have to say I like it, even though it’s a little weird. I mean, they were in their early fifties at the time, and performing music that was more straight-up rock than the poppy stuff they did in the sixties. My favorite is probably “You and I,” which isn’t so much in the rock vein. Davy Jones does lead vocals on it, and apparently co-wrote it with Micky Dolenz.