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The Avalanches – Since I Left You

21 04 2011

Listened: Thursday March 10

In 2001, I waited patiently for the domestic release of Since I Left You for two reasons. Firstly, Frontier Psychiatrist was part of that magical soundtrack on my trip to Wales, with Desmond Dekker, Gorillaz, SFA, and Basement Jaxx.

Secondly, it was a conversation piece and artifact from the time when building an entire album with extreme sampling was unusual and pretty difficult. I’ve just learned from Wikipedia that it was constructed from 3500 vinyl samples. Dear lord, that must have taken forever.

Further, unlike unashamed crowd-pleaser Girl Talk, the samples are for the most part unrecognizable to all except the most studious music fan. Awesome music is created from songs the listener probably hasn’t heard before.

I’m not sure an album like this will ever be created again. Well, certainly not from a fully vinyl library, but also I think we’re moving towards the Girl Talk style of sampling versus the Avalanches style of sampling these days. Which I’m not sure is a bad thing. Extreme sampling is becoming a lot more mainstream these days, and the artists will give the masses what they want to hear, which seems to be crazy combinations of recognizable songs.

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Zero 7 – Simple Things

21 04 2011

Listened: Thursday March 10

Simple Things is a relic of the early aughts space-lounge style (see Air). I bought it in college, but I haven’t listened to it much since. It’s good background music, but not terribly emotionally affecting. Maybe being French makes puts you more at the top of this genre?





Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

21 04 2011

Listened: Tuesday March 8

What was I thinking back in 2005 when Silent Alarm came out? It’s brilliant and I totally missed it. I also totally missed seeing them at Coachella 2006. Regrets, I’ve had a few. “Something glorious is about to happen” – I should have listened.

I didn’t even actually own the album until the project. I had (possibly illegally) downloaded a bunch of tracks and had tried to build the album, poorly. I’m glad I got it all legal and sorted out now.

Every song is a shoutalong, leg-bouncing good time. There have been moments at work that it’s been the only thing keeping me sane, even just in the few times I’ve listened to it in its complete form.





Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

21 04 2011

Listened: Tuesday March 8

Someone was asking how I would describe Mumford & Sons, and the only think I could think to say was “Well, they’re like Fleet Foxes in the harmonizing neo-folk sense, but instead of being American sensitive-poet types, they’re more like intense English bros.” Seemed like a good description to me.

The singalongs at their Coachella 2011 set were epic, particularly on Little Lion Man. Their music is the kind you could sing in a pub or in a field with thousands of people. They noted that show was “easily the largest” they’d ever played. Good for them!





Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

21 04 2011

Listened: Tuesday March 8

Siamese Dream is one of those iconic albums from my youth. I remember my friend Rachel dubbing a tape of it for me in middle school. I liked the music, but I was never a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. I think I resisted their popularity a bit and when living in the modern moment, it’s easy to dismiss things for that reason.

I hadn’t listened to this album in years, but I figured I should buy the CD, since indeed it had been such a part of middle school and high school for me.

Now that I’ve listened to it a number of times, I get it. It’s an amazing album. The guitars on Rocket, the balladry of Disarm, the obvious shoegaze influence of many of the songs, they make Siamese Dream still listenable almost 20 years later. The nostalgia I feel probably is part of it, but certainly not all of it.





DJ Cheb I Sabbah – Shri Durga

21 04 2011

Listened: Tuesday March 8

Shri Durga was a purchase from my college-era Indian music period. DJ Cheb is a kind of well-known local DJ doing world music mixes. This isn’t so much dance music as temple music. It isn’t even yoga music or work music for the most part; it’s a little too wail-y for me and not relaxing. Maybe it hasn’t been Westernized enough for my tender ears, or something!





The Tallest Man On Earth – Shallow Grave

21 04 2011

Listened: Monday March 7

Even though Shallow Grave is Tallest Man’s first album, I heard it second, after The Wild Hunt. I’d say Shallow Grave is more a bit more folkie than The Wild Hunt. I love Kristian’s finger-picking guitar and his Dylan-like voice. The only area of criticism is the occasional ESL (he’s Swedish) word-salad lyrics. But I love them anyway.

He’s an amazing live performer as well, with that rare trait of low-key, soft-spoken charisma. When I saw him at the Fillmore, I’d never heard a San Francisco crowd show so much unrestrained non-ironic love for a performer. Numerous women propositioned him, including one who shouted out her entire phone number, to his amazement and bemusement. At his Coachella 2011 performance, the crowd shots on the video screens showed both women and men gazing up at him with love in their eyes.

He’s one of my favorite recent discoveries, and one of the first NPR Music helped me to find. This discovery alone makes me think they’re amazing.

In writing this post I discovered the Tallest Man once sang lead for an entirely different type of band. Prepare to have your mind blown.