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Mojave 3 – Excuses for Travellers

30 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 29

Excuses for Travellers is another gift from Woody. Mojave 3 play very beautiful music and the vocals are so lush and pretty. Their name reminds me of the Mojave tent at Coachella, so that’s a good association.

They’re quite American sounding, even though they’re British. This album is country-tinged (lots of piano, banjo, and lap steel) and dreamy-mellow. I would compare it to Nick Drake in energy level and tone.

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Brian Eno & David Byrne – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

30 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 29

Like The Eraser, when I heard Everything That Happens for the first time it sounded very relevant and modern. It’s a rock-gospel album for the digital age. I also love the Sims-esque artwork. It fits in well with the theme of “life in the time of digital”.

Odd then when David Byrne sings “This groove is out of fashion, These beats are 20 years old” on Strange Overtones. Famously, some of Brian Eno’s music for this album is actually that old, but at this point, when everyone is revisiting 80s and even 90s culture already, in the scheme of things does a “20 years ago” even exist?





Os Mutantes – Everything is Possible! The Best of Os Mutantes

30 06 2010

Listened: Monday June 28

Everything is Possible was a music hipster purchase – in the 90s, rediscovering Os Mutantes was all the rage in cool music circles, so of course I had to check it out.

Even though most of the songs are in Portuguese, the context is still clear – they were a bunch of Brazilian hippies on drugs making great music in the 60s (otherwise known as the Tropic├ília movement in Brazil).

They enjoy playing around with a lot of new sounds of the day (odd vocal filters, backwards instruments) but they are also very clearly influenced by more traditional sounds of their environment like samba music and jazz. If you’ve worn out all your British and American psychedelic albums, pick this up.





Underworld – Everything, Everything

30 06 2010

Listened: Monday June 28

What more can I say about Underworld that I haven’t already said? Everything, Everything is a pretty good document of an Underworld show, though you can’t quite get it all in just a CD. They are one of the few bands I still get really excited about when they come to town. Mostly because it’s a really core group of fans – they aren’t exploding in popularity, but they aren’t washed up or old hat either – that makes for a relatively hype-free, fun time. There are not too many bands around like that these days.





Fripp & Eno – Evening Star

27 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 23

Woody gave me Evening Star, which was given to him by his brother Glen. He noted that Glen used to listen to this as he went to bed and it sometimes gave him nightmares. I guess I can see that. It’s very minimalist and reminds me of yoga music. If I put it on at work it’s like I don’t even have music on – I don’t really notice it.

I’d like to explore other Eno albums. I’ve heard many times over the years that Music for Airports is good. I hope it’s a bit more engaging than this album.





Donovan – The Essential Donovan

27 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 23

Like his countryman Nick Drake, advertisers love Donovan. I’ve heard several of his songs on TV commercials. I think their love for Donovan makes a lot more sense to me than Nick Drake. His early Dylan-like songs are very beautiful and simple and thus can be very commercially appealing. Similarly, quite a few people have covered his songs brilliantly; Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Farina do an amazing version of Catch the Wind.

I have a love-hate relationship with many of his songs though. He borders upon hippie-dippie-ness with songs like Sunshine Superman, Atlantis, and Mellow Yellow. The first Donovan song I ever heard (Sunshine Superman) was from a performance in one of the Secret Policeman’s Balls. I liked the song, but I didn’t really get a sense of the depth of what I know about Donovan now.

My second experience with Donovan was the use of Hurdy Gurdy Man in Zodiac as the Zodiac killer performs his first murder. That song still creeps me out (in a good way) to this day – being creeped out apparently impressed me much more than my prior Donovan experience. At about the same time, Catch the Wind was being used on a TV commercial and Woody told me who sang it. Woody has good taste in music, so I figured if he liked Donovan, I should give him another chance.

Based on this “Best of” alone, I’d say that Donovan is really underrated as a songwriter and musician. Especially for the early folky stuff – I need to invest in a couple of early albums. Again, though, he also does risky things like using a flute in a rock song (There Is A Mountain) and depending upon what day it is I think it’s brilliant or it reminds me too much of elevator versions of rock songs (which often use flute for the melody). The most annoying of which I ever heard was an elevator music version of a Bob Marley song in Lunardi’s supermarket, which is a particular hellhole for jazzy versions of rock songs that you don’t even recognize until they burrow into your brain as you are buying milk and you think, “What the shit? How did it come to this point that I am hearing a jazzed out Stir It Up in a supermarket where old Italian people shop?? Is the world ending??” But I digress.

Donovan does get props for a sincere shout-out to Allah though (Wear Your Love Like Heaven). Which maybe was not as big a deal back in the day, but still unconventional for sure.





Thom Yorke – The Eraser

27 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 23

I can’t believe The Eraser came out in 2006. That seems much longer ago than I realized. When I heard this album for the first time I was struck by how incredibly cutting edge and modern it sounded, and I still feel the same today. When Thom recently toured with his supergroup Atoms for Peace and played this whole album live, it sounded as fresh as it did four years ago.

I love the electronic basis for all the songs. Despite how computerized they clearly are, there is a definitely warmth to them, which is hard to pull off. Plus when Atoms for Peace did all the songs live, they recreated and reinterpreted a large percentage of the songs with “traditional” instruments, not computers, which was a bit mind-blowing.

I see the songs on this album as a precursor to In Rainbows – a Radiohead album I have heard referred to as “sexy”. Which is kind of odd in the context of Radiohead, but I totally got what was meant by that. Songs like Atoms for Peace on this album are very intimate and, yes, sexy.

And who doesn’t love this classically Thom Yorke statement from The Eraser – “The more you try to erase me the more that I appear”? Thom is the master of the understated “Screw you.”