Curtis Mayfield – Superfly

20 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 9

I always knew of Curtis Mayfield as a person, but I wasn’t familiar with his music at all until a few years ago when I saw SuperFly on BET (it was a double feature with Blacula). The film itself was edited for TV in a truly bonkers way – because it’s about a cocaine dealer, all the cocaine use was openly shown, since the story wouldn’t make any sense otherwise, but any marijuana use or sexual content was blurred out. This was a major distraction throughout.

I immediately appreciated the music, though, and it was anything but a distraction – it fit right in. I bought the deluxe version of the album immediately after I saw it. Despite some of the glorification of the drug and thug life throughout the film, the lyrics of the songs actually speak directly against glorifying drugs, thugs, the ghetto, and does a good job explaining a lot of the hopelessness that makes people want to glorify them.

Strange that such a low budget movie had such an amazing soundtrack; I expect that it’s a large part of the reason it did so well.





A Band Of Bees – Sunshine Hit Me

20 06 2011

Listened: Friday May 6

I don’t even remember buying Sunshine Hit Me, though I’m pretty sure it was a cheap used CD. I assume I did so because it was released back when Astralwerks were really on their game and were releasing tons of varied, awesome stuff (see KOC, Audio Bullys, Basement Jaxx).

I really hadn’t listened to it until now. It definitely fits into their aesthetic of that time. It’s a mix of jazz, electronica, and rock and all are catchy. Nothing struck my fancy intensely, but it’s enjoyable for sure. I love the lucha-mask-like cover.





Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant

20 06 2011

Listened: Friday May 6

Despite being released earlier, I only discovered Sun Giant after loving Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut. The songs on Sun Giant are as amazingly good as any on the debut album. Robin Pecknold’s voice tugs at your heart and pleases your ears like no one else’s. EPs aren’t always worth buying unless you’re a superfan, but Sun Giant will make you one, if you aren’t already.





Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

17 06 2011

Listened: Friday May 6

I’m ashamed to admit the Suburbs got lost in my listening project. It was released in August of last year; by then I was already deep in the project, and therefore barely listened to it. Even after they won the Album of¬† the Year Grammy, I still was slacking. It took seeing their mind-blowing performance at Coachella 2011 to kick my butt into paying attention.

The Suburbs is a fabulous album that really speaks to where I am right now. “Businessmen drinking my blood, just like the kids in art school said they would” strikes to the core of my being, as does “You never trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount. I used to think I was not like them but I’m beginning to have my doubts.” The entire mournful, nostalgic, Luddite tone of We Used To Wait blows my mind every time I hear it.

Not only are the lyrics amazing, the music is very impressive. Some songs sound very influenced by 60s pop, others perfectly weave in 80s keyboard touches and flourishes like it’s no big thing. The fabulous mixture of Win’s and Regine’s singing is dead on, as usual.

To be honest, before I heard this, I didn’t believe Arcade Fire could keep their finger on the pulse as well as they so totally have. For shame, for shame.





Joy Division – Substance

17 06 2011

Listened: Friday May 6

I’m not sure it’s necessary to include Substance in the project, since Heart and Soul pretty much covers its contents. I had this album long before I had my Joy Division awakening, and hadn’t listened to it much. Anyway, it does a pretty good job of giving a Joy Division newbie a glimpse of their progression from a down and dirty punk band influenced by the Sex Pistols to a better produced band making real art.





The Swell Season – Strict Joy

17 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 2

I was totally bummed to find out that Glen and Marketa from the Swell Season, who became a couple during Once, broke up. However, they got a hell of a beautiful breakup album out of it in Strict Joy.

Lyrics like “I wanna sit you down and talk. I wanna pull back the veils and find out what it is I’ve done wrong. I wanna tear these curtains down, I want you to meet me somewhere tonight in this old tourist town… I wanna drink with you all night till we both fall down” communicate that strain very well. The cover art is also brilliant.

Lest you get the idea it’s all struggle and sad-sack here, there are peppy songs like “Feeling the Pull” and beautiful love songs like “In These Arms” as well. It’s a well-done album all around.

I was lucky to see Glen and Marketa perform some of these songs at an intimate KFOG studios show. At their show the year before, they had walked right by Woody, who was waiting outside the Grand Ballroom for me to arrive, and then they tried to walk in the front door, but security didn’t even know they were the performing musicians until they pulled out their passes. I was sorry I missed this amusing event. Before the KFOG show (which I attended alone) I entertained a momentary fantasy that the same thing would happen this time. It was one of those cinematically perfect moments – with no attempt to manufacture it, I walked right by them as they went into the building. Glen was softly singing to himself just as one would imagine he would be, and I gave them a big grin. I love it when that kind of stuff happens.

 





Agents Of Good Roots – Straight Around

16 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 2

Straight Around reminds me of a more sax heavy Dave Matthews Band. This is another album my friend Jim loaned me, therefore the excessive sexy sax doesn’t surprise me, since Jim is a saxophonist.

It’s catchy and enjoyable, but I’d say it’s not really my taste. Jim’s introduced me to a bunch of life-changing albums, but this wasn’t one of them!





Belle & Sebastian – Storytelling

16 06 2011

Listened: Monday May 2

Storytelling is from that weird Belle and Sebastian period after Fold Your Hands Child when Isobel Campbell was leaving the band and no one knew if there would even be a Belle and Sebastian anymore. Needless to say, it didn’t really help allay fears, considering it’s quite instrumental in nature, due to being a soundtrack (to a movie I’ve never seen), and not a very cohesive “Belle and Sebastian album”.

Until the project I really hadn’t listened to it much. I enjoyed it, but I doubt it’ll be in regular rotation.





The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

14 06 2011

Listened: Friday April 29

I love The Stone Roses’ first album. I liked it when I was a teenager (sadly, I really was too young to remember it when it originally came out in 1989), but in the last couple of years I have fallen deeply and madly in love with it. I could listen to it literally thousands of times and not get bored.

The guitar, the drumming, the singing and the lyrics are all brilliant. The magic contained therein simply oozes from the speakers. One can tell it’s not a modern-made album, but at the same time it’s not dated yet it reminds me of a time that’s definitely past. Nostalgia and longing washed over me as I fell in love with it. Without this album I’m sure Britpop would never have happened and many diverse bands would never have gotten together or created anything of substance. Every song makes me want to crank the volume just a little louder.

Do lyrics get any better than “I can feel the earth begin to move. I hear my needle hit the groove and spiral through another day”? ¬†Waterfall is in up there in my Top 100 Songs Ever list. I love the way it morphs backwards into Don’t Stop, too. This Is The One is probably also on that list. Strangely for a British band they reference driving quite a bit. This album definitely makes me drive fast, and just the sound of it makes me imagine someone driving down a freeway. The momentum holds on and doesn’t let go.

For the longest time I didn’t look super-closely at the album cover and I thought the green black and white spatters were some kind of green-tinted road map of a dense city. Which kind of works with the lyrics “Don’t these times fill your eyes, when the streets are cold and lonely and the cars, they burn below me.” I imagine someone in a tall block of flats looking down on the city’s patchwork of streets.





Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light

14 06 2011

Listened: Friday April 29

Au Revoir Simone’s music makes me imagine understated sexy librarians crooning in the stacks. At times, they remind me of a non-comedic Garfunkel & Oates. I downloaded their album cheaply from Amazon during a sale, and I’m glad I did.

I love that their name references Pee Wee’s Big Adventure – obviously they have a sense of humor. The album cover is also really pretty. Everything about it screams “indie”.