The Whitest Boy Alive – Dreams

20 06 2010

Listened: Thursday June 17

The Whitest Boy Alive is the latest band from Erlend Øye of Kings of Convenience. Where KOC are more acoustic and harmony based, the Whitest Boy Alive is very cool, groovy, and mellow. Almost jazzy.

I love Erlend – onstage he has the most understated charisma ever. Probably because he is Norwegian; I think it’s a Scandinavian thing. He’s very deadpan and soft spoken, but hilarious and ironic (and completely without malice). He is a great musician and songwriter as well, but I would pay to watch him read the phone book, because I am sure the commentary would be great.





Elf Power – A Dream in Sound

17 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 16

As I mentioned earlier, Elf Power is a big collective of hippie musicians from Athens, Georgia who play well-constructed but somewhat tripped out music. I think A Dream In Sound is even more similar-sounding to their Elephant 6 label-mates Neutral Milk Hotel than Creatures. In a way they also sound a lot like GZM, especially in that they have some dreamy instrumentals.

This is definitely the style of music that was considered indie and cool about 10 years ago. Though big collectives of musicians like Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are still flourishing in “cool music” circles today.





Embrace – Drawn From Memory

17 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 16

This is not the American hardcore band Embrace. This is the English band Embrace. I had no knowledge of the hardcore band until I started looking for the English band and kept finding the hardcore band!

Their sound is similar to Oasis (but much less in-your-face and charming) or Coldplay. Drawn From Memory was acquired back in my years of digging for obscure British music. The songs are very catchy and sing-alongy, but they never really stick with you for some reason. They also lean a little bit towards overproduction for a rock band – lots of strings and orchestration. I don’t know why they never came to America like so many other bands of the time did. They’re even still a band – unlike Oasis or the American hardcore band!





Matthew Jay – Draw

17 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 16

I don’t remember how I discovered Matthew Jay, but I am so glad I did. Draw is brilliant and sounds so effortlessly great. His sound can be compared to Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley. Sadly, this is the only album released when he was alive (his only other release is an EP, coming later in the project).

I was shocked as I checked BBC News during a break at work in 2003 and learned that he had died mysteriously in a fall from a high rise in London. We were nearly the same age, so it was distressing to hear of someone that young dying who wasn’t known for being troubled. It was ruled a suicide, but several inconsistencies surrounding the incident throw that into question. However, nothing new has come to light since then.

This album took on even more poignancy after that. It’s frustrating to think someone this good only got to release one album!





The Doors – The Doors

17 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 16

Like any teenager, I had to buy a Doors album. I don’t think I took enough drugs (try none) to really get into them, though. Plus they love the organ a little too much. That sound can get pretty old pretty quickly.

I can see the attraction though. When they were starting out, I am guessing a guy singing as plainly sexually charged as Jim Morrison did was unusual. Also, the darker edge to their music is unusual for the time for a popular band.





Various – Doob Doob o’ Rama: Filmsongs from Bollywood

17 06 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 16

Doob Doob o’ Rama is another album of crazy Bollywood songs; this is a collection of movie music from what sounds like the 60s and 70s. The song Jan Pahechaan Ho was used in the opening of Ghost World, which is one of my favorite movie openings ever. This album will have you singing songs to yourself for hours that you don’t even understand!





Belle and Sebastian – Dog on Wheels

16 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 15

Even though Belle and Sebastian EPs are not albums, I just had to include them. I love almost every Belle and Sebastian song, so the opportunity to hear them all as part of the project motivated me to cheat a little.

I don’t know what it is about it that makes it so great, but the reverbed lighter-strike intro has to be the coolest sound to ever start a song. The bass is also great on all four of the songs.

I have always wondered about the lyrics to String Bean Jean – did her trousers really say 7 to 8 years old or just 7/8? Because those are two different things, and knowing how illogical women’s sizes are, I could see how a guy would get confused. I have no earthly idea how a normally developing female, even a really skinny one, could fit into clothes designed for a normal 8-year-old. At the very least they’d be too short.

But maybe no one else has taken their Belle and Sebastian lyric critique to this insane a level before…





Shantel – Disko Partizani

16 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 15

If you like the gypsy-chic music that has become popular in the last couple years (see Beirut and Gogol Bordello) you will like Shantel.

All the crazy gypsy horn and guitar sounds are here, plus vocals half in English and half Slavic languages, mixed into what is essentially dance music, though the electro beats are kept to a minimum. More great work music, good for keeping the concentration train going with unique sound stimulation to keep it interesting.





Underworld – Dirty Epic/Cowgirl

16 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 15

Dirty Epic/Cowgirl is an early single from Underworld. I love listening to their singles as a whole disc, since they tend to really mix up all the remixes well, such that you barely know you are listening to what is technically the same song 3 times.

This single also has one of their more famous early songs, the very minimalist “Rez”, which was my first introduction to Underworld via a mix tape someone made for me years ago.

At least at work, the more Underworld, the better, as should be obvious from my last.fm.





Amadou & Mariam – Dimanche À Bamako

16 06 2010

Listened: Tuesday June 15

Amadou and Mariam are two married blind musicians from Mali who play African-flavored blues-rock and sing in French. I found out about them at Coachella. Their performance several years ago in the smallest tent at the festival is one of my very memorable moments from all the Coachellas I’ve been to.

Everyone in that tent were shaking their asses to the beat and smiling at friends and strangers. The love and appreciation for this music from half a world away was palpable. Several times I thought to myself – where else is a better place to be right now than here, in the Mojave desert, experiencing this African music, surrounded by happy people of many races and nationalities?