Please don’t kill Theodore
Beavers! The little rascals. I’m not going to put up with this. I’ll fix them!
Um, sorry, never mind. Bad joke. Guess you had to be there.
A couple of discs that did cross my desk late in the year were On Time Travel and Romance by Agent Ribbons (Are You Alive Records) and Days on End by Scott Rodell (Wood Street Records).
On Time Travel and Romance steers a course somewhere between Tom Waits‘ barroom-to-rescue mission secular-gospel aesthetic, at least as interpreted by Los Angeles singer Eleni Mandell, and the shambling instrumental dynamics and occasionally startling chord changes of the Pixies. The breathy alto singing voice of Agent Ribbons’ singer Natalie Gordon sounds eerily similar to Mandell’s, but her songs are a whole ’nother animal. Current faves are “Chelsea, Let’s Go Joint the Circus,” “Obituary” and the beautiful “Ars Moriendi.” But all 10 songs are gems, and if you like this kind of stuff, you owe it to yourself to find a copy.
Days on End got reviewed a while back in these pages by Christian Kiefer, but it’s a good ’un and deserves a year-end mention. It’s a 10-song long-player in the California-classic mold, with echoes of the (pre-Michael McDonald) Doobie Brothers, Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac and post-Smile Beach Boys, filtered through a more modern Americana (think Wilco) point of view, with banjos and other rural instrumentation added for flavor. Rodell’s songs are fully realized pieces, and this is no field recording. If you love California rock, chances are this will be right up your alley.
And finally, Adrian Bourgeois: This the last time I’ll mention Bourgeois in 2006, I promise. Nevertheless, his forthcoming album (which cheats 10-song long-player status by adding a bonus track) is the kind of swell pop that easily would have made my best-of list this year, but then he signed a new management deal and his managers decided to hold the release of his album, either called Pop/Art or Adrian Bourgeois, until late winter or early spring of next year.
Speaking of which, see you in 2007.