Danger Mouse and Sparklehouse – Dark Night of the Soul

11 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 9

If ever an album could be said to be haunted, I think Dark Night of the Soul could. Since this album was made in 2009, two of the participants have committed suicide: Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and Vic Chestnutt, who appears on one of the tracks. Just listen to the track called “Dark Night of the Soul” and tell me it doesn’t give you the heebie jeebies!

This album was supposed to be released in conjunction with a book by David Lynch illustrating the songs. The book was released, but the CD holder in the book held a blank DVR, due to disputes with the record company. Then it was leaked to the Internet and was available to download if you could find it (like other famous albums in similar situations – The Grey Album, In Rainbows, Girl Talk – it was pretty easy to find if you looked, easier than the usual illegal copies of released or soon to be released albums).

Other participants on the songs include: The Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Susanne Vega, and James Mercer (this is how he and Danger Mouse decided to collaborate on Broken Bells). It’s a pretty good album, and I love the “old movie” cover. Whatever dispute the record company was caught up with, they should have let it go. I think they’ve lost a lot of revenue in the last year due to the downloading; apparently it’s finally going to be officially released as a CD in July of this year so maybe someone got a clue.

Soundtrack – The Darjeeling Limited

11 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 9

It’s very serendipitous that The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack follows Crouching Tiger in the project, since it’s both completely different and similar at the same time. It’s totally 20th century rock and Indian-music based, as opposed to a classical score, but it too makes the movie complete. Without carefully selected songs, the film would not be the same in the slightest, as is true of all Wes Anderson’s films.

This soundtrack also reminds me of the early days of PBwiki, since we used to play this album on the public sound system. It’s still a reference point for the music fans in the office.

I have an insecure relationship with the opening song Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) – I love it, but it borders on overly romantic and cheesy. I have to work hard to turn off the critical part of my brain (which is most of it) when I listen to it.

Soundtrack – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

11 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 9

I don’t buy many soundtracks, especially those consisting primarily of scores. However, Crouching Tiger’s music was a big part of the film – it was epic and noticeable without being over the top (Though the very Celine Dion-esque vocal theme tacked on the end, once in Mandarin and once in English, kind of ruins the mood).

I saw the movie on opening night, in the original Mandarin (later releases were dubbed, admittedly pretty well), entirely by chance, and not knowing anything about it. It was definitely one of those big-screen movie experiences that I’ll never forget. The whole audience was gasping and applauding at the opening scene of the masked fighter leaping effortlessly over the rooftops and the music played a big part in the excitement of that sequence.

I saw the film 3 times in the theater and I haven’t seen it for many years, but just hearing this album brings back that feeling of excitement.  I”ll add it to the Netflix queue, but it’ll probably never be as stunning as that first time.

Crosby Stills and Nash – Crosby Stills and Nash

11 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 9

After I nagged my dad in my teenage years to fix the long-dysfunctional family record player, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, along with Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, was two of the first albums I put on.

According to my several years of rabid consumption of Rolling Stone magazine, CSN was one of the more famous albums they owned. My parents’ taste seems to have been rather indie and eclectic, trending more towards blues and jazz, plus I think the collection had been picked over by my dad’s older children many years before, so there weren’t too many albums left that were recognizable by a 90s teenager.

Needless to say, I somehow knew what I was doing, as Surrealistic Pillow and CSN turned out to be life-changing, mind-blowing albums that had been sitting in a cabinet for years waiting for me to play them.

Clearly when these three guys got together, the timing was right creatively and they weren’t too overwhelmingly blasted on drugs such as to render them unproductive. Unlike some of today’s artists, they were also good editors – it stands to reason that 3 very experienced guys could have written and released a ton of songs, maybe made a double album, but they trimmed it down to 10 really great ones, though admittedly several of the songs are quite long, so maybe that was part of the compromise.

I’m a sucker for good harmonies, so this album completely satisfies that preference. The musical skill demonstrated here is also very impressive. Songs like Marrakesh Express help you see why these guys were tight with Joni Mitchell at the time – it very much resembles her painterly songs.

This is yet another random discovery that pushed my tastes forward and I love it for that reason as well.

The Roots of Orchis – Crooked Ceilings

11 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 8

I was introduced to Roots of Orchis by Woody’s good friend Sean. Crooked Ceilings is not album I was introduced to, it was The Red House in Winter, which I’ll get to later.

I liked Red House so much I tried to find all the Roots of Orchis stuff out there, which actually was quite hard, since they seem to be a band with a small footprint. Since they are a San Francisco band, I figured the SF Amoeba would have their albums, but it really didn’t. I had to order most of them used from Amazon.

It seems ROO is evolving from a more traditional sounding instrumental band (Red House) to a very atmospheric post-rock sound. They’re still keeping some real drums and other more traditional rock instruments in the mix, but are sounding much more electronic now; even the beats they play on the real drums are electronic influenced. Despite my love of Red House, I am enjoying that evolution!

Crooked Ceilings has 2 discs – one regular album and one remix album. Listening to them back to back on iTunes makes for one long, pleasant groove.