Advertisements

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!

Advertisements




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.





Ben Kweller – Sha Sha

21 04 2011

Listened: Monday March 7

I got into Ben Kweller as a result of loving Ben Lee; Kweller was another indie boy around at the same time, so I figured I’d check him out. Some years later Kweller and Lee even formed The Bens with Ben Folds, so apparently I wasn’t too far off base connecting the two.

As much as I love Lee, I think Kweller probably has more popular staying power in the long-term. His songs are a lot more effortless and less self-reflective to me. The upbeat energy and obvious natural musical talent on his songs never fails to make me smile. I need to check out his later albums.





The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

11 04 2011

Listened: Monday March 7

I have to admit that I heard Joe Cocker’s version of With A Little Help From My Friends before I heard the Beatles version. I was almost 9 when I saw the the premier of The Wonder Years, which used his version as the theme song. I was young enough that I didn’t understand the premier episode was only the start of a weekly television show. I thought Winnie’s brother dying and Kevin kissing her in the park was the end of the whole thing!

Back to the song – it definitely held my attention every time I heard it, but it’s a completely different song (and as good or better) than the Beatles version. I was a little sad when I heard the “real version” years later. It’s a bit sillier in tone than Cocker’s fantastic freakout version. Ringo singing it doesn’t help disabuse¬† me of that opinion.

It’s a bummer to hear Sgt Pepper for the first time in the modern world instead of in its time; it’s been imitated and influential for so long, those of us who didn’t experience it when it was released can’t really grasp how amazingly groundbreaking it must have been. It’s still a great album, but I feel a bit robbed.





David Gray – Sell Sell Sell

11 04 2011

Listened: Monday March 7

Even though I love White Ladder and David Gray’s later albums, I hadn’t gone back to his earlier ones until I bought Sell Sell Sell recently.

I’ve always loved the album cover – the price tags are not a common motif. The tags on his face and the title, in concert with the anguished expression are also topical – up until this point, David had been writing very stripped down folk music, and this album was his attempt to write something that would be more likely to “Sell”. I think he did a great job, but he didn’t see commercial success until his next album, White Ladder.

The seeds of that fabulous album are definitely clear here, though. “Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today” could fit right in on White Ladder.