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Best of the 00s: Fennesz, Girl Talk & Grizzly Bear

Posted by February 25th, 2011 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 16: Fennesz, Girl Talk & Grizzly Bear

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Fennesz – Endless
Pitchfork #26

Gabe: When I first tried to listen to Endless Summer I thought that the mp3 files were corrupted. Imagine how surprised I was to discover that the files actually sounded the way Mr. Fennesz intended. For me, listening to Endless Summer recreated the frustrating experience of driving along in the middle of nowhere and trying – but always just barely failing – to tune into an A.M. radio signal. Once in a while you’ll catch a tantalizing snippet of melody as you hit the peak of a hill, but it always fades to static within seconds. Maybe those sophisticated ladies and gents at Pitchfork find that kind of thing fun, but I don’t. Grade: DNL

Matt: The fact that I had to look this up on the Internet to even know what I’m listening to must be a sign of age. Wikipedia says producer Christian Fennesz, on Endless Summer, has a  “…much stronger emphasis on melodies and pop-like composition than on his previous releases,” which makes me instantly know I don’t want to hear any of dude’s other albums. This one opens with the sound of tuning in a TV or radio and, what follows, are ten tracks featuring all kind of inexplicable blips and swirls. “Shishedo” gives us something like a song, with a computerized melody, and the whole thing does create a kind of eerie, post-apocalyptic vibe, but it’s too boring and just abrasive enough to hurt these old ears. Grade: DNL

Girl Talk: thumbing his nose at copyright infringementGirl Talk Night Ripper  
A.V. Club #47

Gabe: The stats: 42:05 minutes; 167 artists sampled; 1 fun album. Girl Talk layers sample upon sample of mostly familiar bits of rap, rock and pop hits to create a seamless party jam.  I’m guessing maybe people who listen to a lot of this sort of thing might find the samples a bit too obvious, but man this is more fun to listen to than any of the serious albums I’m plodding through. (I’m looking at you Green Day and Elbow.)  I like it when Girl Talk crosses shmaltzy classic pop with rap, like when he jumps back and forth between 2 Live Crew (“We Want Some Pussy”) and Wings (“Silly Love Songs”).  (A quick check on wikipedia reveals that Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” is also in that particular mix.) But the part that keeps me humming is an extended bit that mixes the first verse of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” over snippets from Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”  If a merciful God exists, some day we’ll all wave our hands in the air and sing along as Biggie and Elton recreate this live on heaven’s stage.

Matt:  Night Ripper plays like an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever liked in one tidy, danceable package. On this 2008 release Girl Talk (producer Gregg Michael Gillis) weaves his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music together in to a hyper-kinetic sampling of dozens of reference points set to ass-shakin’ beats. Pixies guitar lines? Neutral Milk Hotel samples you can dance too? Biggee and the Pharacyde smoothly smashed together with Elton John’s“Tiny Dancer?” Check, check and check. A decade ago, I can imagine being floored by this as I sit in a dingy basement playing video games and try to call out the samples quicker than my fellow music dorks. Today, I listen to music most often by myself – on the bus or laying alone on the  futon – so more likely I file this one away for the rare occasion that I’m sharing music with trivia buffs.

ZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzGrizzly Bear – Yellow House  
#41 on Stereogum’s list

Gabe: The best thing I can about Yellow House is that it has exactly 10 tracks. Which I like. Unfortunately it’s 50 minutes long, which means that if you went to dub your friend’s copy of Yellow House utilizing his dual cassette boom box’s high speed dubbing feature, it would not fit on one side of a standard 90-minute audio cassette tape. Instead, you would need to use a comparatively more expensive 60-minute audio cassette tape. However, using a 60-minute audio cassette tape would result in 10 minutes of extraneous tape. You could either just leave the extraneous tape blank or you could fill it in with miscellaneous bonus tracks, neither of which is a satisfying solution. If you went through all the trouble to dub Yellow House, you might be disappointed when you finally listened to it on regular speed.  It’s sort of psychadelic folk rock that reminds me of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” or Nick Drake. There’s a thin line between dreamy and dreary, and Yellow House falls on the wrong side. Grade: DNL

Matt: Track three, “The Knife,” is just memorable enough to warrant the patience Yellow House’s soft, gentle melodies require. Unfortunately, the other nine tracks don’t. Aside from some nice, pretty Beach Boy vocals, this is a complete snoozer. Critical praise says “gorgeous” and “ethereal.” Maybe, but it’s so mild and unassuming that it fades into the ether without commanding attention. Fancy hipster background music. Grade: DNL

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