The writers of Hear & Now get together with a vinyl of their choice, a bottle of wine, and an open mind full of things to say about each album.
Spike brought Camera Obscura’s My Maudlin Career
JASON: This is the third week where we've listened to an album that has a Phil Spector-like song on it. Great opening number though.
SPIKE: Her voice is so sad sounding. No matter how upbeat the song is it gives a sad feeling.
NATHAN: So beachy.
SPIKE: I had the opportunity to see them three times. Coachella 2011 I had no clue who the hell they were so I skipped out on that (as well as Beach House).
JASON: Is "The Sweetest Thing" a U2 cover?
MANDI: Her voice sounds like a mix of Rubblebucket and Seacat.
JASON: Answer: nope.
SPIKE: “The Sweetest Thing” was compared to Sister Cities on a blog, which was how I found out about Camera Obscura.
NATHAN: This song sounds like it could be in a indie romantic comedy.
JASON: "The Sweetest Thing" could totally be mistaken for a lost Dusty Springfield track.
NATHAN: Does Zooey Deschanel sing in this band?
MANDI: I need more of this in my life.
JASON: Got to love them bells.
SPIKE: I love the outro harmonies on this track. They are all over the place but sound perfect together.
NATHAN: The piano part is so soothing, I could fall asleep.
JASON: Whoever did the string arrangements for this deserves a gold star.
SPIKE: Coolest piano intro ever.
JASON: The title track sounds like a mellower, beachier (Bruce) Springsteen. Like if he was raised in Santa Monica instead of Asbury Park.
SPIKE: “Forests and Sands” is my favorite Camera Obscura song.
NATHAN: This sounds like Patsy Cline smoked a blunt.
MANDI: It has a 60s country sound to it.
JASON: “Forests and Sands” is totally something you'd hear if you were riding across Texas on horseback with some cowboys.
SPIKE: It has a country beat and a little twang, but it still fits with modern indie/dream pop.
Nathan brought John Travolta’s John Travolta
NATHAN: I got this as a gag gift for my seventeenth birthday and I could never get rid of it.
SPIKE: Is this self titled? What a badass.
JASON: This totally sounds like the theme to a 70s soap opera.
MANDI: Is he trying to channel The BeeGees?
JASON: So far he's trying to sound like Michael Jackson but failing.
NATHAN: He's so flat and he doesn't even know it.
MANDI: Wait...this sounds familiar...
SPIKE: This totally sounds like Tobias Jesso Jr.
JASON: I feel like I should be on a yacht right now.
SPIKE: What year was this? Was there autotune back then?
JASON: His voice is flat but yet surprisingly tolerable.
NATHAN: The cover alone is gold.
JASON: "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" is a pleasant enough piano ballad.
MANDI: Ok, this song is a ripoff of The Turtles’ “Elenore”.
SPIKE: Good job, John Travolta, you ripped off the future, and the past.
JASON: Is it horrible that I'm enjoying this?
MANDI: That’s what she said.
NATHAN: This is the horror movie of music.
MANDI: Guys, he just called his music “vocal festivities” in his liner notes.
SPIKE: Do you think this album is played at Scientology events?
JASON: "Rainbows" is a little too melodramatic and faux Spanish.
SPIKE: “You can't have rainbows without the rain.” Thanks John.
JASON: Also there's absolutely no melody.
JASON: OK that last note was atrocious.
NATHAN: **freeze frame thumbs up**
JASON: DISCO FEVER!
JASON: HOLY WAH WAH PEDAL BATMAN.
NATHAN: I need more beer after listening to this.
JASON: Why wasn't "A Girl Like You" on Saturday Night Fever?
SPIKE: Sounds like an early Future Loves Past track, minus the horns. Future does love past, and John ripped off all of it.
JASON: "Razzamatazz" sounds like a poor rewrite of the last song.
JASON: This sounds like a Leif Garrett outtake.
NATHAN: A drink for however many songs that have baby in the title.
JASON: This song is apparently called "I Don't Know What I Like About You," Which perfectly describes how I'm feeling right now.
SPIKE: "I don't know what I like about you, but it's you," are the dumbest lyrics I have ever heard.
JASON: It also sounds like his attempts at writing a Paul McCartney ballad.
MANDI: “Baby, I Could Be So Good at Loving You” is a terrible song title.
JASON: I wonder if this played at any proms?
NATHAN: That 70s fade out though.
JASON: "Big Trouble" tries way too hard to be a party song.
MANDI: Is it over?
JASON: Thanks for sharing your "vocal festivities" with us, John.
Mandi brought Tobias Jesso Jr.’s Goon
NATHAN: Sounds like a bluesy version of John Travolta with better singing.
MANDI: God, I love his smile.
JASON: This first song sounds not unlike the John Travolta.
SPIKE: This guy is gonna be big.
JASON: The melody is very simplistic but also beautiful.
MANDI: Can you believe he’s only been playing piano for three years?
JASON: The piano also sounds slightly out of tune.
NATHAN: I love the out of tune piano.
JASON: "How Could You Babe" has a nice bluesy vibe, almost gospel.
MANDI: Weird...I first heard this song from Jason.
JASON: He's definitely cut from the same cloth as Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson.
MANDI: “Hooooooow could you baaaaabe?!”
JASON: Oh shit that bridge is Beatlesque and awesome.
NATHAN: Reminds me of a full band sound of Nick Drake.
JASON: Is "Without You" a Harry Nilsson cover?
SPIKE: The way his music hits you, it's so relatable and it feels like you're best friends. Kinda like the feeling you would get if you were Kelsey Grammar walking into Cheers after a long day at work.
JASON: Answer: again, no. But it sounds a hell of a lot like him.
MANDI: He has a string version of “Without You” on Spotify that tears me up inside.
SPIKE: Wait, did he try to rip off the Cheers theme song?
JASON: Someone like Adele could totally make this a showstopper.
NATHAN: This song sounds like Micah Dailey of Flower Festival is singing it.
JASON: "Can We Still Be Friends"? Yes we can, Tobias, when you write songs this good.
MANDI: “Wait” is such a feel-good song.
JASON: This totally sounds like something you'd hear on an AM radio station in the '70s.
SPIKE: Jason, don't fall asleep.
JASON: "Hollywood" is an absolute heartbreaker of a song.
NATHAN: That saturated cassette background noise.
JASON: "Crocodile Tears" has a very upbeat, music hall sort of vibe. It's like a mix of Paul McCartney and Elton John.
MANDI: Dat Paul McCartney ripoff though.
JASON: The rough, jagged guitar solo is a nice counterbalance to the upbeat vibe.
MANDI: Can’t wait to see him live next month
JASON: This is definitely a guy that lives up to the hype.
Jason brought Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door
JASON: In Through the Out Door is considered to be one of their lesser known records, and I want to see if it lives up to the reputation.
SPIKE: I contemplated asking my mom what record to bring since she just gave me her entire collection, and I knew she would have chosen this or The Doobie Brothers.
JASON: The intro makes me feel like I should be in the desert somewhere in Morocco.
NATHAN: The brink of 80s electronic Zeppelin.
SPIKE: This album has lots of piano.
NATHAN: This first song is really rocking.
MANDI: This sounds like something that would inspire Jack White.
JASON: I love the groove of "In the Evening." It just proves how solid of a drummer John Bonham was.
SPIKE: Did they try to go in a Billy Joel direction with this?
JASON: "South Bound Suarez" injects the right amount of '50s rock into their sound.
NATHAN: Sounds like someone dropped the mic.
JASON: If you listen to "Fool in the Rain" and don't think John Bonham is one of the greatest drummers of all-time, then you're an idiot.
MANDI: Oh hey, I know this song!
SPIKE: I love this song, which is also Billy Joel-esque now that I mentioned that earlier.
NATHAN: That was one wild transition.
JASON: That Brazilian breakdown though.
MANDI: *dances the salsa while eating chips & salsa*
JASON: Some of these songs do tend to go on for a bit too long though, and this is no exception.
SPIKE: "Hot Dog" sounds like a hootenanny carnival. Can I get a hootenanny?
JASON: OK, "Hot Dog" is a total country rockabilly throwaway that's a horrible way to end side A.
NATHAN: Led Zeppelin’s later stuff is always hit or miss.
JASON: After one side, it sounds like it's better than it's reputation, but that last song was a total buzzkill.
Nathan brought Pavement’s
JASON: "Embassy Row" totally sounds like a Velvet Underground Loaded-era outtake.
MANDI: I don’t remember if I like Pavement or not.
JASON: Holy crap I wasn't expecting it to get this punk rock all of a sudden.
NATHAN: They sound like they’re drunk in every one of their songs.
JASON: "Blue Hawaiian" sounds anything but tropical.
SPIKE: This song sounds like a high school cover band doing a bad cross between a Nirvana and a The Strokes song.
JASON: If anything, it shows how Pavement always seems to find a way to take easily assemble and melodic songs and make them slightly off-kilter and out of whack. Yet at the same time it's never enough to not be enjoyable.
MANDI: This sounds way earlier than 1997.
JASON: "We Are Underused" sounds like their attempt to add some Skynyrd twang to their sound.
NATHAN: They purposefully sabotage their own songs and it’s great.
JASON: "Passat Dream" definitely has some funk to it (and some sweet "Shaft" wah-wah pedal).
MANDI: I could maybe get into Pavement.
JASON: The "wood-ooh" backing vocals also make this sound like a creepier version of "Cut Your Hair."
NATHAN: They're always slightly out of tune like flipper but it’s part of their charm.
JASON: Pretty sure "Starlings of the Slipstream" is the closest they ever came to a power ballad.
SPIKE: I feel like this band is just super lazy.
JASON: "Fin" is one hell of an epic closing track, their "Layla" if you will.
MANDI: I don’t think I like Pavement.
JASON: Just when I thought I had every Pavement album on vinyl that I need, it looks like I need this one too.
Jason brought Aretha Franklin
JASON: Time to go to church!
NATHAN: Feels nice to hear her with some church back-ups.
SPIKE: Hi Aretha.
MANDI: DEREK’S HERE!
NATHAN: Her voice is so amazing, few compare.
JASON: Aaaand no one's paying attention to this record right now (thanks Derek).
NATHAN: Crazy how she can rock a church as hard as a bar.
JASON: I feel like we need to be listening to this record with the volume turned way up.
SPIKE: Bye Felicia.