New Tunes Reviews, July 23: Mountain Goats, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Love Language

This week’s new releases are a little anemic this week but there are some of note.

I listened to:

The Mountain Goats All Hail West Texas (reissue with bonus tracks)
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros self titled
The Love Language Ruby Red 

The Goats’ All Hail West Texas was released in 2002 and is one of their more low-fi albums.  I never listened to it before this reissue (mostly because Spotify took it down recently) but it is a great album.  If you like acoustic songs that feel like diary entries, this album is for you.  John Darnielle has always been very confessional in his lyrics and this group of songs seems like a biography of life in West Texas, complete with metal bands, stories of high school football players, and teenage love. Even though I know Friday Night Lights took place in East Texas, I imagine this album is basically a soundtrack to their lives. I bet Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen would love it.

I always have such high expectations for Edward Sharpe. I loved the first album so much. And then I heard the first single off the second album, “Man on Fire.” I was so excited!  But then when Here came out, I found it sort of lackluster as a whole.  Then I heard they were releasing a new album and I was excited. But again, I am underwhelmed. Maybe that whole “massive collective baroque pop band” thing is just overdone. Maybe this album will grow on me.

I listened to The Love Language‘s first album when it came out in 2009. I remember liking it at first but it didn’t stick. I think I just wasn’t ready for their sound (I was listening to a lot of wimpy indie back then).  But now I think I am a ready.  This new album, Ruby Red is fantastic. It is lush and melodic with several edgy elements. I knew I was going to like it as the first track, “Calm Down.”  “Golden Age” utilizes those synths that I enjoy so much right now. Their previous albums, 2010’s Libraries and 2009’s self titled, also had that lush sound but this latest album seemed to refine their concept. This is definitely the stand-out of the week.

Rant: What’cha talking about [at a concert]

I go to lot of concerts. Whether they are free or paid, outdoor or indoors, general admission or seated, I tend to go to about 2-or 3 a month. To some people, this may be an overabundance.  But I really do enjoy live music. There is something about the roar of live guitars with a crowd of eager and attentive fans that really gives me joy.

However, I’ve noticed a recent trend at New York City-area concerts that I am unhappy about: TALKERS. Yes, concert talkers.

These people are the ones standing with their friends in a small circle. They always have adult beverages in hand. They are engaged in conversation about their work days, mutual acquaintances, weekend plans, that time they saw Skrillix.

Its fine.  You can talk to your friends. I don’t mind. Just please, keep it short, say your piece and get back to enjoying the show. If you must talk, please take it into the back…or to the bar…or outside. I can’t fathom how anyone can enjoy a concert if they are talking throughout the set.  Even when the music is loud, they talk over the music.

[I am not saying I am completely innocent. I’m known to make a witty remark during a band’s set or comment on banter (especially if your name is John Darnielle). I’m even guilty of texting during a band’s set.  But these vocal comments and phone vibrations only occur for a moment or two and then I am back to enjoying the music.]

The worst offenders are those who know “the single,” and momentarily pause their conversation to sign out the chorus. Once they clap and cheer, these offenders go right back to their conversation.  I’ve tried giving dirty looks. I’ve tried sighing loudly. I’ve moved to another area of the venue. I’ve even said something to these people. But for some reason, it does not seem to help.

Are people just more interested in talking to their friends than they are in seeing awesome live music?
Are we all just so jaded that we go to concerts and just say “meh” at the performance?

Maybe this whole rant is too “get off my lawn.” Maybe I’m just old. I just do not know. All I know is these “concert talkers” really get to me.  I go to concerts to hear the band, not to hear your tween conversation about how this chick you know is 23 and that is “so much older, bro.”

Follow up:  I found this article on The Spinner, outlining how to behave at concerts. Its a good read.