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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.

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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.”





Black Box Recorder – England Made Me

27 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 23

Black Box Recorder is an underground indie band, even in the UK, where they originate. I would say their levels of irony even blow away most of the classic British ironic artists (Belle and Sebastian, Morrissey, Pulp, etc). A single from England Made Me (Child Psychology) has the very singable chorus “Life is unfair. Kill yourself or get over it.” Not surprisingly, this got the song banned from UK radio.

On top of all that, they are good musicians and I love Sarah Nixey’s voice, despite not usually being a fan of the breathy female crooning style. BBR also does a killer version of Jacques Brel’s Seasons in the Sun, which somehow overcomes the straight saccharine tones of the original, perhaps because of the context of irony the rest of the songs provide.

A favorite.