(Many of these purchases were made possible via a challenge grant from the Klein Foundation.)
**Mike Doughty**, Haughty Melodic. This album is not very good. I usually really like his stuff, I’d put Doughty in a top-ten of working songwriters today, but this album is overproduced and suffers as a result. Plus, Dave Matthews sings on a track. *Dave fucking Matthews*. I don’t care if he runs the label or not, he shouldn’t be on this album. If you want to sell your album to a lot of guys in white baseball caps, you let Dave Matthews guest on a song. If you’re interested in making good music, you turn the lights off in the studio and get under a desk when he drops by. I should have bought the “Clem Snide” album instead.
**Marc Ribot**, Spiritual Unity. This album is hard to listen to. This is Ribot in his lesser-fun “skronky jazz” mode which to be frank I don’t care for as much as his “dime-store Santana” mode. Also, honestly, I don’t know why I keep buying albums of this type. They get one or two listens, and then they just take up hard drive space.
**Jon Hassell**, Maarifa Street. This is good stuff. Very mellow, except for the first track which is a slightly upbeat. Hassell tends to use individual sounds that date poorly, but his trumpet playing is as cool as ever. Recommended specifically for outdoor summer listening.
**Fridge**, Happiness. Hey! It’s Four Tet before there was Four Tet! There’s a stronger emphasis on guitar here but the basic Four Tet template is already clearly audible. Good stuff, if a little dryly academic; it doesn’t have quite the joy and exuberance that the more recent Four Tet albums have.
**Orthrelm**, OV. I think it’s possible, with enough time and training and a friend who plays drums, that any of us could have made the mistake of creating this album. I’m still not sure why I ordered it. It’s math-rocky, but more in the metal Melvins/Fantomas vein. OK, honestly, I listened to five minutes of it in the mall parking lot before I started feeling weird about myself and turned it down. It might very well be great — I’m going to try and work out to it tomorrow. We’ll see. I thought Hella was great for about five minutes too. UPDATE: This entire album reminds me of the world’s longest and most annoying car alarm, thus I award it one star — unless you are looking for a replacement for your current car alarm, in which case, FIVE STARS.
**Sam Prekop**, Sam Prekop and Who’s Your New Professor. These are great albums. I always tried to get into Sea & Cake (Sam’s older band) but never could, no matter how hard I wanted to impress that indie record store girl. I tried, I tried, but Tortoise was always, I dunno, more interesting. But these albums are great, very mellow. They’re both about equally as great, Jim O’Rourke plays guitar on “Sam Prekop” and John McEntire plays “Synth Percussion” (whatever that is; it’s likely one of those unsatisfying electronic don’t-wake-the-neighbors Yamaha fake drum pad kits I always fiddle with at the Guitar Center, but whatever — he actually knows how to *play* it). Both albums are great, I think I like “Who’s Your New Professor” slightly better.
Also, the “Believer 2005” music compilation is still growing on me. The Shins track is good and fun, even though I unfairly dislike the Shins for that plug that they had nothing to do with in that movie I hate “Garden State”. I just think it’s kind of way uncool when a movie takes time to *point out* how cool its own soundtrack is. Also, for the life of me, I can’t see what people like in “Scrubs”, it just doesn’t make me laugh. But I digress.