09 February 2011

2010: Doug Paisley, Drake

Doug Paisley
Constant Companion
Released October 12, 2010 (No Quarter)

Short Notes: Confirmed Nelsonville Music Festival act (yay, SE Ohio) makes a sparse, mellow alt. country record that evokes Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Brandon: B+

A bunch of records in to this little project, I’ve learned a little about new music, and a lot about how my way of relatinhg to and consuming music has changed over the years. Case in point: I like Doug Paisley’s Constant Companion record quite a bit. It’s a short, mellow but enjoyable piece of folky-sounding alternative country, with decent songs, just enough variation in arrangements (from guitar/vox up to a more lush full acoustic combo with piano) and tempos to keep me engaged. There’s a number of tracks I’ll be re-listening to in the future--the slow shuffle of the opener, “No One But You,” the delicate “End of the Day,” the Big Star guitar riff-jacking “Always Say Goodbye.” But why can’t I get more excited about it? If listening to this record wasn’t a musical chore, relatively speaking, I think I’d bump it up a half-grade. But this project has really cut into my back-catalogue time, and I’m writing this review late at night after a three hour guilty binge of old Richard Thompson and Mountain Goats records, avoiding another new record by skipping through to the old favorites. I’m guessing that, of the records I hear during this project that I eventually come back to, my initial impressions will be pretty subject to change. At 4 or 5 new records a week, there’s not much time to let things sink in. Sorry, Doug. But I’ll catch your set in May, I promise.

Lin: B+

Don't tell my 16 year old self, but I've really grown to like the classic Nashville country sound: your George Jones's, Conway Twitty's, Tammy Wynette's and so on. This Doug Paisley album hearkens back to that era, fitting closer to a Charlie Rich or, surprisingly, even a Nick Drake. As such, there's nothing particularly revelatory here, though "O' Heart" comes the closest. It's a solid set, though, the type of thing I could see throwing on when I'm in a particularly indecisive mood. But Brandon's exactly right: with so much other music, it's hard to get particularly excited about repeat listens. Still, it's worth checking out if you're into the genre.

Thank Me Later
Released June 15, 2010 (Cash Money Records)

Short Notes: Technically proficient (and occasionally pretty good) pretty-boy hip-hop.

Brandon: B

It’s not hard to like Drake. He’s a great technical rapper, there’s not a ton of misogyny in his lyrics (his guest stars, on the other hand...) but his relationship tales (which make up the bulk of the album--this one’s for the ladies) are reasonably engaging, and he's absolutely not trying be anything (read: gangsta) he’s not. So why am I not in love with this record? It got rock solid reviews in the mainstream and indie presses, who stressed the above qualities, as well as his versatility--he’s equally comfortable on club tracks and slow jams as on more standard rhyme-heavy joints. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the issue for me is that it’s hard not to compare him to Kanye, and I think he comes up short. It’s not just because Kanye is a stone genius, whereas Drake is merely good. Rather, it’s that ‘Ye is just so much more interesting--he’s genuinely fucked up, and his contradictions and embarrassing emotionalism are what he puts right up front in his music. He’s confrontational, where as Drake is merely confident (and this is a very confident record. Drake knows he’s hot, and as they say, he acts like he’s been here before). I like the weirdness and the self-doubt in Kanye’s rhymes as much as I love the adventurousness in his production, where as Drake’s album sounds straightforward and cocksure. But most people who like contemporary hip-hop will like this record, and should check it out. Don’t let me rain on your parade.

Lin: B-

Let me start by saying that this isn't my type of thing and that I'm having a difficult time trying to figure out what kind of "thing" it is. The inevitable comparisons are to Kanye and Lil Wayne and I guess that's a good starting point. But, the thing is, I generally don't much care for Mr. West and Wheezy tends to be really hit and miss, the hits being more of the glorious weird style. Drake lacks this humor, leaving the story telling (as good as it may be) still fairly straight-forward. And it's auto-tuned, which usually is just grating. (And, side-note, the woe-is-me-I'm-rich-and/or-famous style lyrics have seriously started to offend me in the "I'm a good liberal" sort of way. So, there's that.) This describes the music, too: it's solid and will appeal to those that like the modern mainstream rap sound, but ultimately leaves me a little cold. The slow jam "Shut It Down" is surprisingly good considering what it is, but the Nicki Minaj-featuring "Up All Night" is the clear highlight, followed by "Find Your Love" and it's electronic-dance-music backing track. Outside of those, though, there's not much that'll bring me back.


it's the hippy undertones said...

"Don't tell my 16 year old self, but I've really grown to like the classic Nashville country..."
My boyfriend and I have both talked about how we "came out" as country music fans after being "in the closet" about it for a long time (and I mean this kind of country not the shitty, poppy weirdness on most FM stations that claim to play country). I was definitly in denial about it for a long time before I admitted to myself that I liked any twangy music (except for Johnny Cash, cuz that was ALWAYS cool). But it's amazing how much good Americana there is out there. Opens up a whole new world...

the scarlet varlet said...

spot on with your drake review, h.

apcandre said...

when are you going to review that debut Hot Mo EP? har har har...love, Andre

Brandon said...

As soon as we get to the H's, my friend...as soon as we get to the H's. Hot Molasses bows to alphabetization.