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Flight Of The Conchords – Flight Of The Conchords

5 07 2010

Listened: Thursday July 1

I don’t think FOTC get enough credit for their musicianship. Yes these songs are funny, but they’re also very well crafted musically. Inner City Pressure could easily be a legit 80s revival song on the radio right now. Boom is super-catchy, and actually isn’t that comedic if you read it straight.

My introduction to FOTC came from my co-worker Kristine several years ago on a company retreat. We were singing Robots for the rest of the trip. I quickly caught up on all the episodes when I got home and was in love.

Bowie never fails to crack me up – Jemaine’s impersonation of him on the show was one of the more surrealistic moments that somehow managed to be totally captivating in its bizarreness. Plus for some reason the idea of the “freaky old bastard” having nipple antennae is off the charts funny to me.

I’ve seen FOTC live a couple times now, and they’re some of the most audience-responsive performers I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. Audiences yelling provocative things at them end up making the show even funnier, as they are very quick with hilarious responses to everything. I definitely get the impression they’ve found their calling in life.

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Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

5 07 2010

Listened: Thursday July 1

The only way I can describe my first experience with the Fleet Foxes album is that it felt alive. From the opening notes I knew it was something special; only a handful of albums have had that effect on me in my life. The harmonies and reverb are breathtakingly beautiful, and the music feels warm and fuzzy, like it was recorded on old fashioned equipment.

Once I put this album on, it’s very hard to stop it until it’s finished. It draws you in and doesn’t let go until the last strains of Oliver James. This song is very central to their live show, as it’s usually performed acapella without amplification.

The Foxes are currently recording their second album, and I can hardly wait for more, though really this album hasn’t gotten old at all; it’s still as fresh as it ever was.





Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left

5 07 2010

Listened: Thursday July 1

I first heard of Nick Drake about 10 years ago when Pink Moon was on a Volkswagen commercial. I liked the song but I never quite got over the hump of investigating more. But I remember that was the beginning of the great Nick Drake popular resurgence amongst music writers and fans.

Woody loaned me Five Leaves Left and right away its quiet, lovely folk music blew my mind. Nick was only 20 years old when he recorded this, but you would never guess – his voice and the music are so mature sounding. The music is very timeless too; it’s not easy to tell this album is 40 years old.

The man only lived 6 years after this album was released, which is stunning. What else could he have done?





Cornelius – Fantasma

5 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 30

Cornelius gets his name from a character in Planet of the Apes and his production group is called the Orangu-Tang Clan, which is kind of a cute play on the Wu-Tang Clan. He’s like the Japanese Beck – lots of grooving samples with light rapping in Engrish laid down over them.

I bought Fantasma back in college because it was the “in thing” at the time. As with Beck, I never really became a huge fan though. This album is fun to listen to, and decent to work to, but I never got hooked. It walks the line between art project and music, and sometimes things like that are hard to become a true fan of, since they’re not one or the other.





Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

5 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 30

The top of my head was blown off when I first heard Girl Talk. Firstly, there is the shortest-attention-span-ever samples (an exhaustive catalog of all the samples is here) constantly challenging you to identify all the sounds you’re hearing (as a music nerd I can recognize most, if they’re longer than 1 second). Then there are the vulgar rap samples laid over the top, which beg you to sing along even though you can’t believe what you’re singing.

This album convinced me even more that normal rap production blows. I can’t get into too many rap artists because what they’re rapping over is such crap or distracts too much from the lyrics. Much of the lyrics here are the usual boasts, but I was able to appreciate the poetry some of it because I could actually understand it.

Girl Talk is great live. I saw him at the Treasure Island fest, and his live mixed music is the epitome of giving the audience what they want; everyone screams when they recognize a new sample, and especially when it’s mashed up with something unexpected, which is most of the time. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again for a longer set.





The Sea and Cake – The Fawn

5 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 30

The Fawn is another gift from Woody’s brother Glen. It’s very groovy and of high musical quality, but at the same time very mellow. A great “soundtrack for being busy around the house” and good for working, since it’s both mellow and groove-attention-holding.





Marianne Faithfull – Faithfull: A Collection Of Her Best Recordings

5 07 2010

Listened: Wednesday June 30

Marianne Faithfull is an acquired taste, and I’m not even sure I have acquired it fully. Before the project I don’t believe I had listened to Faithfull all the way through; it was just too hardcore. Marianne’s voice is not what could be called pretty in any sense of the word. Amongst female singers, a voice so clearly expressing hard living ways is unusual (though not for men – modern Bob Dylan and Tom Waits come to mind and I’m sure there are others).

I do love the song The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – it’s such an evocative story sung very convincingly and the ragged voice adds to the effect. Marianne’s interpretation of Working Class Hero is also quite affecting, especially odd considering she is of noble birth.

The most jarring is the final track As Tears Go By – a song from a time before Marianne’s voice was ravaged by drugs and poor health. You can’t believe it’s the same person, the voice is so clear and innocent sounding. It’s a beautiful song, but I think I prefer the ugly realism of the rest.