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.





DJ Spooky – The Secret Song

11 04 2011

Listened: Monday March 7

Until writing this entry, I didn’t realize that all of the songs on The Secret Song are remixes of existing songs. I knew about the Radiohead song and Led Zeppelin, but not the Coup (5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO is a great song). The flag mash-up album cover is also a nice touch, considering all the styles of music and clips of sound that make up this tasty stew.





crumb – Seconds Minutes Hours

11 04 2011

Listened: Friday March 4

I remember when Seconds Minutes Hours came out; I was disappointed. It has a very different sound than Romance is a Slowdance, an album that was very important to me in high school. It’s a lot less indie sounding and more rawk sounding.

Now that I’m very beyond being disappointed by the difference, I really like it. It’s pretty 90s sounding, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Apparently the singer, Robby Cronholm, is now in a band called Taxes. Cool that he’s still doing music after all this time.