Rhapsody Streamnotes: December 3, 2007

This rolls up a few scattered notes from November, 2007.

Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam (2007, Domino): Rock group, have a following, get a lot of good press, but I've never managed to catch up with them before. Seemed like a good thing to stream off Rhapsody (certainly beats paying cash). The problem is that it's a tough album (and most likely group) to get a handle on. First three songs just struck me as perverse, but I started to get into the bang-bang-bang groove of the longish "For Reverend Green," then I found other appealing bits in what followed. Not a lot, and I still find them weird, unsettling, and unpleasant. It's possible that further play would kick it into place, or more likely kick it out of the house. Grade is more of a swag than a considered opinion. B+(*)

Miles Davis: On the Corner (1972 [2000], Columbia/Legacy): Most critics regard this as the black sheep in the Davis catalog. Perhaps for that reason it's escaped my attention, but puzzling over the 6-CD box built around the sessions that produced it, I figured I should go back and give a listen to what the edited, released version sounds like. Turns out it sounds much like the box, but shorter. That may not be for the best -- the music is built to unfold over time, kind of like minimalism, maybe even the Stockhausen Davis was reportedly listening to at the time. B+(***)

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss: Raising Sand (2007, Rounder): T-Bone Burnett produced, which seems as significant as anything else -- it certainly has more to do with the musical feel as either of the name artists, who are present for the mesh of their voices. (Krauss' fiddle is rarely present, rarely typical when it is.) Odd mix of songs, only a few (e.g., "Fortune Teller") all that familiar. B+(*)

Dwight Yoakam: Dwight Sings Buck (2007, New West): Of course, you could just listen to Buck Owens, whose lighter, less pained voice gave songs like "Act Naturally" an offhandedness that Yoakam doesn't have. On the other hand, the extra muscle does do something for the ballads. In any case, this sounds too classic to nitpick. B+(**)