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Posts Tagged ‘Recommendations’

Mumford and Sons – The Cave

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s a tidy, little performance of a standout song from Mumford & Sons, one of my favorite new folk acts.  Their album ‘Sigh No More’ has been on almost constant repeat in my car for the last week.  Enjoy…

(action starts at :30)

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The War on Drugs – A Needle in your Eye #16

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Kurt Vile rocks.  I want to make that very clear.  And quite frankly, his solo work – especially the careening opus, ‘Freaktrain’ – says more than enough about the intensity of his talent.  I had already been a fan of said work when I was turned on to The War on Drugs – his pet rock band with Massachusetts native, Adam Granduciel.  No doubt both sides of Vile are similar.  Both have a haunting, desert drone and a propulsion that weigh heavy on the general vibe.  But, and many Vile fans may disagree, I think War on Drugs’ ‘Wagonwheel Blues’ is a much more concise, and ultimately fully-realized offering than anything in Vile’s solo catalogue.  It’s all balls – rock star stuff, and I’m a shameless sucker for a good hook.  But I’m also just a normal dude from the ‘burbs.  It’s so interesting to me that Vile, a guy – unlike me – clearly in touch with a ‘Freak’ element, can curl up next to a juicy hook as well.

p.s. – Don’t miss ‘Wagonwheel Blues’ 10-minute swan song ‘Show Me the Coast.’  It’s one of those songs that strides easily in the weighty shoes of a potentially-grandiose title.

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Stephen Stills – Manassas

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

“A sprawling masterpiece, akin to the Beatles‘ White Albumthe Stones‘ Exile on Main St., orWilco‘s Being There in its makeup, if not its sound. Rock, folk, blues, country, Latin, and bluegrass have all been styles touched on in Stephen Stills’ career, and the skilled, energetic musicians he had gathered in Manassas played them all on this album. What could have been a disorganized mess in other hands, though, here all gelled together and formed a cohesive musical statement.” – Allmusic

How nobody ever mentions the tune ‘Colorado’ as a touchstone of the alt-country genre is totally beyond me.

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She Keeps Bees – Stand Where I Can See You

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I know very little about this duo beyond that one’s a dude, one’s a chick, one’s a drummer, and one’s a guitarist.  But as any credible write up will tell you, they’re much more Cat Power than they are the other folk in their musical niche – The White Stripes, The Black Keys.  Their tunes are short, and there’s clearly growth that needs to occur, but I’ve found the moody vibe of their stuff consistently fulfilling.

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What’s new in bedroom folk?

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

As will happen in January, my go-to music has become more and more stark.  Now, as January tightens her grip, I will enter perhaps the darkest hour of my listenership.  While I love winter, I just can’t get over the intense bleakness of January and February.  The early snow is what really killed this winter for me.  Quite frankly, the later our snows come, the better.  Now I’m sitting here, staring at barren trees, not really caring if it snows again or not.  At least if the snow had held off, I’d be sitting here wondering when those marvelous first flurries would appear.  Nope.  Now all I have to look forward to is the coming thaw.

Anyway, back to the music.  I’m a sucker for a mood, and nothing has typified – or manifested – my mood this winter better than the following albums.  Each could easily be bunched into a category I would call ‘bedroom folk’, that – thanks to poppa winter – has become my genre du jour as of late.  If you’re like me, and you become a reclusive, pale, schlubby mess in the chilly months, then I suspect the following cuts will help to ease the tension…

Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un M’a Dit

I don’t speak French.  I have no idea what themes Bruni, the first-lady of France, is touching on, or if there’s an arc involved, or anything.  However, the music is so soothing and open, that it’s easy to create whatever type of dreamscape you wish.  Whether it be a jaunt to the Riviera, or a lazy autumn morning in the hills of the French alps, this pressed-velvet gem lets you have it all.  Sarkoze is truly a lucky man.

(note* not the album cover, but I hope we can make an exception because… ok, I have no excuse.)

The Be Good Tanyas – Chinatown

Maybe this winter chill is getting me lonesome, but for whatever reason women like Bruni, and this Canadian trio are my second line of defense, after a good down-comforter.  While it may be too-bluegrassy for some, Chinatown is an album whose understatement and gothic charm are enough to win over any folk fan, or just music fan for that matter.  If Tim Burton were to make a movie about the Dust bowl, these ladies would be the ones singing slave hymns in the unemployment lines.  It’s really haunting stuff.

J. Tillman – Year in the Kingdom

Anyone can play guitar.  More accurately, let me say that anyone can play ACOUSTIC guitar, or at least that’s what ‘the scene’ may lead you to believe.  Don’t be fooled.  A lot of these would-be, nouveau-Neil Young’s are nothing but trash.  J. Tillman, Fleet Foxes’ drummer, is everything but, and has produced one of the best folk albums I’ve heard in months.  While every sensitive dude out there is trying to sound like Nick Drake playing Elliot Smith tunes, Tillman does something that’s totally fucking wild: he sounds like J. Tillman.  His work is beautiful.  All of it.  Remember the first time you held someone, and thought, ‘Now this is true romance.’?  Yea, that’s what he sounds like.

James Blackshaw – The Glass Bead Game

While it’s tempting to say that Blackshaw is simply a guitar player’s guitar player, I say resist it, and try to see him more as a man making orchestral pieces using only piano and 12-string guitar.  I say this because his virtuosity is not overwhelming.  You never get the sense that he’s playing his pieces because he wants you to see how good he is.  Nope, leave that for the jazz guys.  Blackshaw is the last of a dying breed of folk guitarists, and one of the few popular, young musicians who cites names like Fahey, Jansch, and Kottke as principal inspirations.  Only Blackshaw has erected his own totem in their woods – even having a clear homage to Philip Glass in ‘Game’ – his most recent album.  He’s darker, more brooding, and much more mood-evoking than any of those dudes, save Glass.  Give him a listen, but before you close your eyes, just remind yourself it’s only one man.  Truly fantastic stuff.

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Ninja Assassin

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Got a ‘Rain’y day?  Go see this flick.  It’s absolutely one of the best mindless action movies I’ve seen in a long, long while.  Imagine a classic Arnold movie… only Asian.

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Ghost of Tom Joad

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes you throw on an album – preferably one that hasn’t had much rotation in a while – that perfectly matches your mood in that exact space of life.  It’s a rare occurrence, no doubt.  With so many passing moments in life, and so many albums out there in the ether, to fit that cosmic puzzle piece is truly a sublime slice of humanity.  Right now, with the darkness of winter looming, I can’t find another album more appropriate than Springsteen’s ‘Ghost of Tom Joad.’  I highly recommend giving this an evening listen at some point in the near future.  It’s always good to remind yourself that the Boss isn’t always bombast and revelry.

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