Belle & Sebastian – Jonathan David

27 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 9

I’m a bit ashamed as an English major that I didn’t get the biblical reference of Jonathan and David on this Belle and Sebastian single until this review. It works really well with Belle and Sebastian’s normal subject matter, as it seems to suggest a homoerotic love triangle. I love it when music helps me learn something!

The violins and Stuart’s voice on Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove it are achingly beautiful too.

John Lee Hooker – John Lee Hooker

27 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 9

I think I checked out John Lee Hooker because someone recommended that I’d like his music. And I do! His accent reminds me of my Southern relatives, so I’m automatically drawn to it.

I can see how his style of blues singing influenced rap. He is basically rapping in a lot of the songs. It’s also still somehow modern; it’s hard to believe some of the songs are more than 60 years old.

Then there’s the elephant in the room – the sexual nature of the lyrics and how much they influenced rock and rap. It may not have been as clear to the average person back then, but in our less innocent times, many of the songs obviously have a sexual component.

“”‘John Lee, I need lovin’ and I just can’t help myself. Love me, love me, love me daddy, love me all night long'”

“Cause you got the best darn stinger any queen bee I ever seen”

“I’m a lonely boy, baby, looking for someone to love. Please come have a drink with me”

“I’ve been drinkin, you’ve been drinkin too. I know you’re ready baby, cause I’m ready for you… ready as a man can be”

Despite it being “blues”, John Lee’s music makes me really happy. Obviously, he’s a charming man in many ways!

JJ72 – JJ72

26 08 2010

Listened: Monday August 9

I never listened to JJ72 much after I bought it. I can’t even remember why I did; the CD might have been really cheap somewhere.

JJ72’s music is very soaring and dramatic, and now that I think of it, it has a little bit of a grungy edge to it. The singer can sing very sweetly, but when he wants to, he can have a very noticeable gravelly edge to his voice. It’s an unusual combination.

I ended up deciding their music is a little too angsty for me. It’s pretty clear how young they were when they made this. It’s music for young people.

Jimmy Cliff – Jimmy Cliff

26 08 2010

Listened: Friday August 6

Finding Jimmy Cliff was one of those random happenstances that makes life worth living. This album was on sale at Tower Records about 5 years ago for cheap and so I thought I’d check it out.

From the opening strains of “Time Will Tell” I absolutely loved it. The music has great rhythm, Jimmy’s voice is beautiful, the backing vocals are tight, and his songs are more literate and erudite than your average reggae songs.

Jimmy’s music and its positive messages have gotten me through many roadblocks in my life. I would describe him as being the polar opposite of Bob Marley. Rather than the Marley political struggle and love songs, Jimmy sings about very personal struggles, self-reliance, and responsibility.

I still haven’t seen The Harder They Come (Jimmy stars in it); I clearly need to bump that up the old Netflix queue.

Kailash Kher – Jhoomo re

26 08 2010

Listened: Friday August 6

I first heard a Kailash Kher song on a CD a friend brought me from India. His song stood out as the best in a collection of “#1 Hits”.

The songs on Jhoomo re are very energetic, catchy, and still contain a lot of traditional Indian instruments, even though they are pop songs. He also has a great voice – he can sing ballads and rapid fire lyrics that are at times almost rapping. This is an autotune-free zone.

Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis

26 08 2010

Listened: Friday August 6

I love what Jarvis is wearing on the cover of Jarvis – it’s pretty much the same as what he was wearing in 100 degree heat at Coachella 2007 when we saw him walking amongst the unwashed masses.

Jarvis the album is definitely stronger than Further Complications. I love singing along to Black Magic at the top of my voice in the car – it’s a song that begs for the raised pumped fist (which needless to say you need to be careful about doing in the car). “You only get to see the light just one time in your life.”

From A To I is a beautiful song musically, but also touches on classic Cocker issues of the meaning of life, where civilization is going, and where one fits in. It might be taking it a bit far, but I would say Jarvis is one of the true philosophical essayists in music at the moment. See also: hidden track Cunts Are Still Running the World.

Janet Jackson – janet.

25 08 2010

Listened: Thursday August 5

Janet was one of the first CDs I ever had, when I was about 14. The songs were huge at that time, all over the radio. I also had Janet’s prior album Rhythm Nation 1814 on cassette, which was the soundtrack of much middle school tomfoolery. Soon after starting high school though, I started to lean in a much more rock-oriented direction, so I really haven’t listened to this album much since.

Listening to it now, as a much more experienced adult, I’m a bit shocked at how pretty much every song is relatively sexually oriented. I don’t remember really absorbing that at the time, though I did know Throb was about sex; I wasn’t that clueless.

I do remember really enjoying the songs (and how annoying the skits/interludes are; I still can’t abide by that style of making albums). I discovered that the songs are still really good; I love all the musical styles and samples.

When I’m listening to all my albums in my library back to back, often when I leave one album and go to the first song on the next album, there’s quite a shock as the wildly differing styles exchange. I have that experience just listening to this album; I keep thinking the album must be over and I’m hearing the next album, but no, it’s still Janet, experimenting with some other style. That’s pretty cool and a rare thing.

Noise Addict – it was never about the audience

25 08 2010

Listened: Thursday August 5

It was never about the audience was a free download from Ben Lee, and I really wasn’t expecting much, since I haven’t really loved his music for a while. I didn’t even listen to it until this project.

While I have to say that it’s still a little bit too much “famous musician navel gazing” in points, it’s actually pretty catchy. It helps that the songs are quite short; you don’t have a chance to get too down in the weeds. I like the intimate home recording aspect of it, and the experimental feeling of the music.

I don’t think I’ll listen to this on my own much, but I’m glad I heard it and cut Ben a little slack.

Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You

25 08 2010

Listened: Thursday August 5

Even though Lily Allen’s first album was pretty strong, I wasn’t expecting much from her second. Apparently I should have been.

It’s Not Me, It’s You is full of even more family portraits (her sister, mom, and dad this time instead of her brother Alfie and nan), cultural commentary (drugs, George W. Bush, women’s roles in society, God, and, of course, sex),  hilarious boyfriend beatdowns (the first time I heard “Not Fair” – on NPR’s All Songs Considered no less – I laughed my ass off), and touching breakups.

Not to mention, the musical styles – dance, jazz, pseudo-country, piano ballads. Definitely impressive. I love that I can actually hear her smiling on some songs; I didn’t realize how rare that is to hear until I heard it!

She’s now pregnant with her first child and supposedly doesn’t want to do music anymore. Still I wonder what she would have to say about being a mother; I hope she puts out at least one more album so I can find out.

Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That

24 08 2010

Listened: Thursday August 5

I know it’s been said before by many people, but Phoenix does not seem French. I think it’s that they seem too casual and cool – in an American way, not the French way. Plus their English is good!

In a way they remind me of the Strokes. They are fun music for the times, but I’m not totally convinced they will last. But that’s not necessarily a horrible thing. Some things last, some don’t. People get enjoyment from both.

Phoenix’s show at sunset at Coachella 2010 was a great time, as sunset slots usually are. Everyone was singing and dancing happily; lots of chicks sitting on dudes’ shoulders. An all-around positive vibe and a strong performance (which is unlike the Strokes).