All right kids, it's time for another round-up of the great discs currently littering my living room, so strap on your seatbelts and get ready to rock.
The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. I've had this album forever, of course, but for whatever reason just recently began really listening to it. Listen to it carefully once or twice, and you'll fall in love. Its marriage of traditional C&W and rock is so unspeakably poignant and gorgeous, it really will melt your heart. This album really represents the birth of country-rock. Only two originals here (both penned by Gram Parsons), plus a collection of country and folk classics by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard, and the Louvin Brothers, as well as two more Dylan covers (those fabulous Byrd boys sure were Dylan fans, weren't they?). If you purchase this album, look for the CD reissue which came out a few years ago (which I don't have and need to pick up). I believe it features the original album, followed by a collection of bonus tracks, some of which are album cuts with Gram Parsons doing lead vocals, which had to be removed at the time of the album's release because of a record company dispute.
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds. No explanation needed here. This is up there with Sweetheart as one of the more important albums in rock history, though perhaps not my favorite Beach Boys record -- it just happens to be the one I'm listening to now as I continue my ongoing love affair with the group's late '60s/early '70s output.
Buffalo Daughter, I. I remember when I first became aware of this group, sometime in the late '90s. I'd been listening to a bunch of Cibo Matto, but their schtick had abruptly grown very old for me (partly just because I'd overplayed the album Viva La Woman), and Buffalo Daughter then struck me as warmed-over Cibo Matto. But their newest album really hits the spot. It's a really strange mix of influences -- late '70s proto-electronic, garage rock, spacey lounge, raw feminist punk, and so on -- but it's remarkably seamless, soulful, and authentic. It doesn't feel like they've cobbled together a bunch of neat gimmicks, it feels like they've created a strange, brilliant, and new kind of music.
Mary Timony, Mountains. OK, so I stashed my stereo face in my glove compartment and locked it a couple of weeks ago when I went to a bar in Echo Park, and when I came back, the glove compartment handle came off in my hand, and now I can't figure out how to get the damn thing open without just breaking it. This Mary Timony CD is in there (as is my excellent Haiku D'Etat CD -- I gotta get in there!), so I haven't listened to it much yet, but I was really getting into it. Stranger, spookier, and more spectral still than the last Helium album. I wonder what she's like in real life; her albums have gotten so deep into this kind of proggy, Narnia-esque lyrical wonderland, you've gotta wonder. I love all her repetitive, tinny vintage keyboard figures and woozy textures.
Boo Radleys, Giant Steps. Rescued from the clearance bin. An incredible mix of buzzing power pop and freakin' weird noise.
Palace, Days in the Wake. "I Send My Love to You" and "I Am a Cinematographer" are two of my favorite songs in Will Oldham's enormous and marvelous oeuvre.