Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Microphones - "The Moon"
The Microphones/Mount Eerie/Phil Elv(e)rum: what you want to call him is pretty unimportant. Having carved out his own niche in the northwest, he is one of the most brilliant and least commercial songwriters currently writing. His sound is exclusively his, which is not to say that he doesn't have influences or that he hides them, but that he fleshes out his visions to their desired ends unwilling to compromise for the sake of songwriting convention. He has a natural sense of melody and he channels his most intimate thoughts effortlessly. Here is a stripped down version of "The Moon," from the album Song Islands. If people are around, wait until you're alone. If it's light, wait until it's dark.
To learn more and buy his albums, click here and here.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Jim James & Calexico - "Goin' To Acapulco"
Todd Haynes' new Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There is something else. It's definitely a good film but I probably wouldn't recommend it to a casual Dylan fan. It's confusing by nature and highly referential to events in Dylan's life. With that said, the music on the soundtrack is mostly fantastic. "Goin' To Acapulco" is one of the few songs performed in its entirety in the film. A classic song from The Basement Tapes, Dylan's 1975 album with The Band, "Goin' To Acapulco" is given a beautiful treatment by Jim James of My Morning Jacket backed by Calexico. My view towards My Morning Jacket was pretty neutral until I saw them open for Bob Dylan this past summer in Colorado. As exhibited here, Jim James has quite the set of pipes.
To buy the I'm Not There soundtrack, click here.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Nate Henricks - "Selfish Sparrow's Old Song"
I found this song in my iTunes, once downloaded and immediately forgotten. After its resurrection this afternoon, I'm feeling much better than I was before. Nate Henricks is just a guy writing songs for the fun of it. No labels, no t-shirts, just music. This song is a playfully orchestrated pop song, kept short and sweet at barely over 2 minutes. It says something but not so much that it scrambles your brain. It's not a song to defy genres or to blow minds, it's simply to be enjoyed.
To learn more, click here.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The Velvet Underground - "Black Angel's Death Song"
I have been thinking about the relationship between music and the images that represent it. It seems that sometimes images complement their music with accuracy and beauty, but other times it doesn't work out so sweetly. The Velvet Underground and Nico is an album with such an iconic cover that in pop culture it has almost overshadowed the music within. Nearly everyone can instantly identify that goofy banana, but I'm not convinced that the same is true for the music. For me, "Black Angel's Death Song" removes the identifier of the yellow banana from my mind and replaces it with what they really were: an endlessly creative band with achingly beautiful melodies, gritty textures, and wildly new song structures.
To buy their albums, click here.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Adrian Orange - "Blushing"
Adrian Orange is a young man from Portland, Oregon. Only 21 years old, Adrian writes some of my favorite music out there today. His songs are consciously imperfect, using lo-fi recording techniques and very little backing instrumentation. There's no pretension about his songs, he claims to know no more than you or me. His philosophy is one of uncertainty, and that is refreshing in today's world. Adrian's beautiful vulnerability does a lot to remind us that fancy poetry and studio sheen doesn't make musicians any less human than we are.
To learn more and buy his albums, click here.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The Shivers - "Beauty"
Basically everything that has been said about Keith Zarriello is based on hearsay, except that he can write a damn fine song. His New York city outfit The Shivers is a group I came across recently and really enjoy. He dabbles in several sounds and succeeds in all of them. From traditional folk songwriting to piano balladry with electronic flourishes, the guy writes downright affecting stuff. This song, "Beauty" is a perfect example. It uses the word "love" more than any great song should be able to and yet the song comes off as totally believable. Zarriello sounds as if his love were going to explode from inside him, until it does.
Click here to learn more and buy their albums.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Neil Young - "Tonight's the Night"
Tonight is indeed the night I have awaited for a while now. I am going to see Neil Young at the Chicago Theatre. Neil's influence on me personally is pretty large, but his influence on songwriting and music as a whole is incalculable. His songs are full of universal truths and witticisms phrased so accurately and cleverly it's impossible not to fall prey to his words. Without a doubt, one of the best songwriters of all time (#2 on my list), Neil is one of the few "old guys" still putting out decent records. His new one, "Chrome Dreams II" ain't half bad, but the tune I have posted here is the title track from 1975's drunken masterpiece, "Tonight's the Night." A sloppily jammed elegy, the song disgusted most listeners upon its release but continues to enchant them today.
I'll get back to posting about some newer artists soon, so if you're reading this, thank you.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Phosphorescent - "Cocaine Lights"
One of the best parts of being alive is when the song that happens to be playing matches up perfectly with what is happening at the moment. These are the moments that Wes Anderson orchestrates with regularity but happen much less often in real life. Tonight I was sitting at my computer listening to Phosphorescent's new full length, "Pride," which I am reviewing this week for the Phoenix. It is a slow, mournful record of southern-gothic folk, and I am really enjoying it. While listening, I opened up my email and sorted through some junk. Coming down the line, I opened a beautiful email from a friend living far away when "Cocaine Lights" came on.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Elephant Micah - "Minors' Refrain"
Joe O'Connell aka Elephant Micah is one of my favorite songwriters functioning today. I have been pretty much obsessed with his songs since I stumbled across him around this time last year. His voice has a soft, warm intimacy like Sam Beam's but his overall sound tends to lean more towards a flowing lush country song than a whispered folk tune. Joe lives in a small town in Indiana and his songs evoke the peacefulness of nature and space with gorgeous intimacy. "Minors' Refrain" was the first song I heard by him and I think it's a great place to start. If you enjoy it, I encourage you to support him and order his albums. Most of the packaging is hand done by Joe in Indiana, and they are great looking. This music will serve you well in the oncoming short, cold winter days.
Click here to learn more and buy his albums.