Aftermath II: Tunes to do Grand Rounds by

Grand Rounds XXV is now in the history books, and I'm glad it was as well-received as it was. Hopefully my frivolous way of arranging the posts didn't distract anyone from the quality of the posts submitted (and, in a couple of cases, appropriated by me). My only regret about how it came together is that I just couldn't think of a good way to work in my two favorite shows: Deadwood (given that this is more or less a PG-13 blog at its worst, the unbelievable level of profanity in the show would have made it difficult to give those of you not familiar with the show a flavor of what it is like--although it would have made it fairly easy to parody); and, of course, 24 (discussed previously here), which I was actually watching as I was putting this together Monday night. Unfortunately, this week 24 irritated me for the first time this season with a clumsily inserted subplot about Arab shopkeepers who patriotically risk their lives to help Jack Bauer and prove that not all Arabs are terrorists. It was so obviously and unsubtly designed to blunt criticism that the show was unfairly portraying Arabs as terrorists this year and so badly written (I've never seen such cheesy dialogue on 24, even for Kim Bauer in previous seasons) that it landed with a big thud. Fortunately, CSI:Miami, which followed on CBS, was suitably over-the-top and cheesy to get me inspired again. (It's one of my guilty pleasures, a show with really corny dialogue that's still hard to resist.)

After all the work it took to put Grand Rounds together (including trying to figure out how to work in a couple of last-minute submissions and one late submission), my brain is a bit fried; consequently there will be no substantive posts on medicine today. Since it's been a while since I've played music critic, I thought I'd mention some new music that was playing as I was starting to put Grand Rounds together this weekend:

1. Some Cities (Doves). I love Doves. Not the bird, the band. I first discovered them in 2002, when their last album, The Last Broadcast, took up residence in my CD player for several months. Their music is lushly produced, Brit-pop-sounding rock, and they have a knack for very catchy tunes that build to a satisfying crescendo. Now they've released a new CD, Some Cities. The first time I listened to it, I was taken aback. The first song, Some Cities, is more stripped down than their previous efforts, and more muscular-sounding, with a heavier backbeat. However, the more I listened to the album, the more I realized that it was evolutionary, not revolutionary. The sound is just slightly more stripped down than their previous efforts, but the tunes are tighter, shorter, and more focused. Several are just as compelling as anything on The Last Broadcast or Lost Souls (their debut album), and a couple may be their very best work ever. This one is really growing on me. It looks like Doves will be taking up residence in my CD player again for several months in 2005. These guys deserve to be the next breakout band. If The Killers and Franz Ferdinand can hit it big in 2004, Doves deserve to hit it big in 2005.

2. Frances the Mute (The Mars Volta). I had never heard of these guys until a couple of weeks ago. After hearing samples of their stuff, I took a chance and bought their latest, Frances the Mute. As much as I like punk and other stripped-down rock, I still have a weakness for prog, and Frances the Mute is prog rock just the way I like it: bombastic and pretentious, with long, oddly-named multimovement suites of songs that nearly fill the 80 minute CD. It reminds me of Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick and Passion Play or perhaps early 1970's Emerson, Lake, and Palmer or Yes, perhaps with a little Dream Theater thrown in for good measure. Heck, a couple of the songs are even in Spanish! But they also have the chops and imagination to pull it off without degenerating into Spinal Tap territory. As in my comments on Comets on Fire's Blue Cathedral and their mind- and speaker-melting acid rock, I didn't think there were any bands that made music that channeled the early 1970's in such a satisfying way, but Mars Volta takes early 1970's prog and updates it for 2005, just as Comets on Fire did for acid rock. I'm going to have to check out these guys' back catalogue...

There's more, but I haven't listened to the entire CDs yet, which means I can't review them properly yet: The Great Destroyer by Low, which is awesome, as far as I can tell so far; and Who Killed...The Zutons by the Zutons, which sounds lightweight but fun. (One of the Zutons' songs, Pressure Point, was featured in a Levi's ad.)


  1. Now I remember what tipped me off that your blog would be good - a post a while back with some of your favorite music. I've been a fan of Doves for a little while. I get to see them in a couple of days here at SXSW.

    You would have seriously lost points if you had done Deadwood and not used Swearingen's favorite word! Hehe..


  2. Which favorite word? I think it's a tie between two words Swearingen uses constantly. At least, I can't tell that he's using one more than the other; he seems to work them both into almost every sentence...

  3. Ok, so I wasn't the only one that thought 24 was flat this week. Whew!

    I love CSI Miami ... you can't beat Horatio saying "I promise you, the next time you look in my eyes, we'll have found the killer"


  4. Doves are superb. I purchased the latest album a few days ago, but haven't had a chance to listen all the way through. I loved the last broadcast, more so than lost souls. The Zutons are rather fun, and are nicely varied.


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