Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick Posting: A Hawk And A Hacksaw,

Sorry my pace has dropped off a bit... I've kind of gotten into the flow of the quarter now and OH MY GOD THE PACE. (for the eight or so of you who made it through Honors with me: remember Honors 4? It's like I've got that class. Every day. For four hours.) So... I've been a little bit busy.

Anyways: I can compensate! By posting YouTube videos, which take less time to embed than mp3s!

So, then: I've got a treat for all you lovers of violin-and-accordion duets! That's right... you guessed it... or, more probably, didn't...

A Hawk And A Hacksaw - I Am Not A Gambling Man

Kind of interesting, no? I'm still trying to figure out whether I like it or not, precisely, but it's at least something to consider.

In terms of things I do most definitely like, though, I give you Art Brut... or would have, except that they're apparently being kind of pathetic and have disabled embedding on their newest music video. So NO PROMOTION FOR YOU! (note: I'm not even going to tag them in the post! because that'll show them... or something)

I'd also like to mention that I went to see It Might Get Loud last night. That movie was completely, completely amazing - if you're interested at all in music, or more generally in the creative process, go. Watch it. Get a bucket of popcorn (light on the butter; one can never be too careful of one's arterial health), get a seat near the front, and let the sheer awesomeness of it make you dance like a spaz in your seat (with no offense meant to spazzes). Jimmy Page is amazing. That is all.

Have a great afternoon!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sarah Jarosz: Because, On Occasion, I Creep

So the other night about three AM, I was sitting by myself, in a dark room, reading peoples' facebook pages when I came across (in one particular friend's 'favorite music' section) Sarah Jarosz. Being, by nature, a curious sort of fellow, I said to myself: 'Hey! That's an interesting name!' I then clicked on the link to the lovely Ms. Jarosz's website (note: I don't have any basis to say whether she's actually lovely or not, since I'd (1) categorize that as a personality trait and (2) have never met her).

Upon the website loading into my browser (yay Firefox!), I saw that the headline item in the 'latest news' section was that Ms. Jarosz was going to perform on Prairie Home Companion on September 26. Being generally a non-Garrison-Keillor-loving sort of fellow - no offense to the man or the show, it just doesn't light me up the way it does some folks - I didn't take that as an encouraging sign that I would love her music. I pressed on, however, as I usually do - because, after all, anything's worth listening to once, right? (please don't kill me, sir... please...)

Anyways, all fear of Mr. T aside (he has a tank, you know... and so can you!) when I listened to Ms. Jarosz's music, I was pretty much blown away. There's an unusual level of virtuosity in her banjo playing (don't hold the instrument against her - she uses it well), and her voice is smooth as a velvet hand. While some of her songs - her cover of The Decemberists' 'Shankill Butchers', for example - are relatively unadorned, they never feel overly simplistic; and when, in other tracks, she chooses to go for a more multi-layered and fuller feel, the arrangements never overwhelm the songs, instead adding depth and color.

Take a listen! I think you'll like. All songs are from Ms. Jarosz's debut (and, so far, only) album, 'Song Up In Her Head', which dropped in June of this year. The album's available on Amazon and on iTunes, and you can preview every song on the music page of Ms. Jarosz's website.

Sarah Jarosz - Shankill Butchers

Sarah Jarosz - Song Up In Her Head

Sarah Jarosz - Broussard's Lament

Have a great Sunday afternoon, everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick Post!

I've gotta run in a minute here, so I'll do this quick and nasty (just the way you like it, I know... yeah, baby, that's right).

Patrick Wolf is a pretty awesome, significantly flamboyant British singer who's been putting out music for the last decade or so... one friend of mine (thanks, H) described him as a talented version of Mika.

Take a listen! hope you have a great afternoon.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Album Review

So due to this blog I've been recruited to write music reviews for my University publication, and luckily the editor is allowing me to get my hands on some pretty neat stuff. This week I listened to the new Monsters of Folk superband self titled record that drops tomorrow. Considering that I haven't really researched much new music lately, I'm going to post it with their single Say Please

The other day I learned a bit about folk music. As I understand it, folk music came to be a type of layman’s music that the normal person could play on their front deck and not have to become a legitimate recording artist to enjoy when records began to explode into general life. Folk music passed down different stories that were easily translated through song as well. Some people describe folk music as “old songs with no known author”; well, if that is our working definition then Monsters of Folk need to find a new genre. Monsters of Folk is a superband consisting of well known musicians including Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Mike Mogis, as well as the well noted Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, and M. Ward.
Alright, now that all the logistics are in place, let’s get to talking about Monster of Folk’s self titled freshman album.
When I think about folk music I generally think about people sitting on a porch with a guitar and just singing about what has happened in their lives, and while this album definitely evokes that feeling, it evokes many more. While listening to Monsters of Folk I went through feeling like I was riding horses looking for bad guys with John Wayne, to riding in a rusty old Ford truck through crop fields, to flashing the peace sign at an anti-Vietnam war rally. This album covers a ton of area within the folk region. Some of it feels very Elvis-ish and poppy, and some of it feels very Blitzen Trapper indie folk. The majority of songs have a very grooving beat that makes one tap their feet without realizing. Losin’ Yo’ Head stands out on the album as one of the stronger songs. Losin’ Yo’ Head is one of the more up-beat songs on the album, it is very full sounding and is closer to the poppy Elvis sound I mentioned earlier. I like it.
One thing I really enjoy about this band is their wit. The song Baby Boomer strings together backhanded slights very craftily at (presumably) the American government for things such as the Vietnam War and September 11th with lines such as “we don’t agree about September, can we agree on Vietnam”. Songs like Baby Boomer keep the album moving very quickly. Next on the album is a song entitled Man Named Truth that exemplifies why the band is called Monsters of Folk. This song contains just about every sound from a cowboy movie. I keep expecting to hear a whip crack. The song is written as a traditional folk song keeping the lyrics very wordy to explain things such as “fell in love with identical twins/lived 34 summers between the two of them”. This keeps old tradition strong and makes one really think about the lyrics, which aren’t hard to decipher.
The first three songs on the album are a tiny bit different from the rest of the record. The first song – Dear God (Sincerely M.o.F.) – sounds like what Monsters of Folk would expect the next wave of folk music to sound like. It’s very minimalist feeling. And by that I mean there is a lot of picking guitar chords, a constant, somewhat boring drum beat (which reminds me of Sublime’s Summertime) and lots of low bass hits that just create an odd, yet still folky song. The next song – Say Please – sounds very 70s, but feels like a song written for movie credits. Next third song – Whole Lotta Losin’ employs a synthesizer with a classic driving folk beat and piano that mesh to make a great song. All three songs seem to be experimental before the album really jumps into full folk swing.
All in all I feel like Monsters of Folk have done a good job creating a much hyped folk album. I do feel as though some of the music falls a tiny bit short of being “traditional” folk, but they definitely hit on the “contemporary” scale. I’ve got to say, I did not enjoy this album on first listen through. I am not a huge folk listener generally, but I do have a taste for it when in the right mood. Monsters of Folk is just upbeat enough that it keeps you very into it. The songs go by very quickly, and the lyrics are great to actually listen to. This album is definitely for people with a taste for folk, but it is possible that some more mainstream listeners may warm up to it if they give the record a chance.
Monsters of Folk, in my opinion, has successfully brought back an old sound and cultivated it enough to sound appealable to many different people. This begs the question though, if this music has been created as such, is it really folk music? I say who cares, buy the album and enjoy it.
Monsters of Folk - Say Please

Grynch: Not such a mean one...

As I wander (neither weak nor weary) through Seattle, I keep coming across hip-hop music with which I'm unfamiliar, but which strikes me as being, for lack of a better descriptor, very cool.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about hip-hop, rap, or whatever other nomenclature you choose to append to the rapid-fire pronouncing of rhymes over (preferably) dope beats... but I know quality when I hear it.

One hip-hop artist whose name keeps coming up when I approach DJs with questions on the level of, 'pardon, sir, but might you enlighten me as to the name of this artist? I find his work to be fly' is (once I get past the glares and the occasional smackings upside of haids) is Grynch. Having run into his music on no less than three occasions - including one at a Korean barbecue restaurant - I decided to search him out on the internet.

After suffering fruitlessly through literally four Seuss-related pages due to my lack of knowledge as to the unconventional spelling of his artistic pseudonym, I chanced upon a page which broke down a number of local hip-hop artists, Grynch among them - and I from there found his MySpace. Cradled in the venerable arms of that most scorned of social networking sites, I found a link to his actual website... upon which was and is (and is to come?) available for free download a veritable plethora of his music - including the tracks which I'm sharing with y'all this beautiful evening.

On this first track, "My Volvo," which was the first of Grynch's songs that I heard, he waxes lyrical about the virtues, not of b*tches and bling, but of the sort of beater we've all driven at some point in the past: "I've laughed in that car / I've cried in that car / knock on wood, I'll probably die in that car," he says, between listing the eccentric charms of his whip's shortcomings - and I kind of believe him.

Grynch - My Volvo

This second track, "Time," is perhaps a little bit more conventional in terms of hip-hop tropes, focusing on the changes Grynch sees as he moves through Seattle; but if the trope is a bit famiiar, the self-assuredness of the MC's flow, complete with some truly slick multisyllabic rhymes and a laudable willingness to deviate fom a predictable lyrical rhythm when necessary, make the track a more than enjoyable listen.

Grynch - Time

If you like what you hear from these two tracks, I'd urge you to check out Grynch's other work - it's good, it's fun, and it's free, and, really, who could ask for more than that?

Have a great Monday night, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another Quick Post!

Free time comes rarely now in these parts. I apologize for the lack of updates. I was playing guitar a few minutes ago and stumbled upon one of my favorite bands whom I haven't listen to in far too long. Kings of Convenience are great. Here's one of my favorite videos ever of one of my favorite songs of one of my favorite bands. That's a pretty legitimate favorite!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oxytocin: Funky Beats And Nice Harmonix

...I'm sorry for the pun. Really, I am. It was just there. I couldn't help myself. THE PEOPLE WHO MADE ROCK BAND HAVE A REAL BAND. And it's awesome - some of the funnest hip-hop I've heard in a while (though I would note that Seattle has an amazing underground hip-hop scene... more on that, hopefully, in my next post).

Anyways - because nothing says 'hip' like a hip-hop group that has one black guy, that is composed entirely of employees of a video game development company, and that's named after a neurotransmitter - I present: Oxytocin.

Awesome poster, isn't it?

Anyways, from the first moments of the pseudo-gothic intro to the first song, "Ludlow", you realize that this isn't going to be a typical hip-hop album. By the time the narrator is finished talking to an alien in the same track, you realize that, hey - this isn't just out of the ordinary, it's really frickin' cool.

Oxytocin - Ludlow

If there's one flaw to this album, it's that it's a little bit self-indulgent and near-schizophrenic... then again, the entire thing is available for free from the band's website, so it's not like they're costing themselves income. Case in point: the album's fifth track, 'Cathode Rays' which is done in 8-bit. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I mean, it's pretty good as an 8-bit track - and it's definitely got some funk to it, but it doesn't, to me, fit the tone of the rest of the album. (note: if you've been reading AAH for a while, this isn't the first 8-bit track we've posted...)

Oxytocin - Cathode Rays

So... yeah. When Oxytocin stick to what they know, though, they do it really, really well - as evidenced by the final track I'm linking to this afternoon, "Do it for me", which spotlights Nay (AKA The Beatles: Rock Band Lead Producer Naoko Takamoto)'s vocals over a bugged-out, syncopated synth-orchestra beat, and which unequivocally kicks the stuffing out of a lot of more commercial work.

Oxytocin - Do It For Me

So there's a nice sampling of the sound that Oxytocin puts out in their self-titled debut album... if you like it, you can, as I've mentioned, get it for free off of their website. Hope you enjoy!

Have a great Thursday evening!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quick Post!

So I heard this the other day and it blew my mind (I say that a lot it seems). Friendly Fires has dropped a new single entitled Kiss of Life. This song came out just at the end of august so you may have heard it, but here's the video. Man, can't wait for their new album - whenever that is. Check this out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back In The Day

As I promised in my last post, we've got an artist today who some of y'all might remember from his time at Stetson.

Violinist, guitarist, vocalist, and pianist Marques Toliver lived in Nemec Hall for a little while, which was where I met him - and, though the period he spent at Stetson was far too short for the tastes of anyone who knew him, he made a strong impression during that time.

Lately, he's been out in The Real World (not the MTV version), making music: busking in the New York subway system and, now, performing in England. Starting mid-October, he'll be performing on the Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson tour, which goes from New York down through the South, then swings up the West coast (including a November stop in Seattle).

Toliver's music strikes me as an eclectic mishmash of influences - Southern gospel, acoustic folk, and jazz maybe the most prominent of those. It's a mix that strains sometimes at the edge of expectation, but tends to retreat before stepping into dissonance or imbalance, meaning that it winds up being a very pleasant listen.

But you don't have to take my word for it!

Marques Toliver - Moth to a Flame

Marques Toliver - The Wishing Song

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Felice Brothers: No Weathermen Needed, Thanks

Do you remember the first time you heard Bob Dylan singing? The nasal drawl, the guitar, the lyrics that, at their best, hovered just on the edge of intelligibility?

Take a listen to The Felice Brothers, and you'll remember that feeling. I'm not saying that they're the second coming of the honorable Mr. Zimmerman, but the similarities are unmistakable - especially in the voice of lead singer Ian Felice and the general folk/blues veritas that the group enjoys.

The brothers performed on the New York subway system before they began touring - something they have in common with the next artist I'll talk about (teaser! you'll have to wait until Sunday to read about him... but if you went to Stetson in 2005, you know him very well). Lately, they've been touring across the southern United States; pretty soon, they'll be heading over to Europe.

I've been listening to these guys pretty consistently for the last couple of months, as anyone who worked with me this summer at Stetson can attest; it's just really solid music.

I've uploaded a song from each of The Felice Brothers' two mainstream albums:

First, from their eponymous debut album, "Frankie's Gun"

Second, from their sophomore album "Yonder is the Clock" (which came out in April of this year), "Chicken Wire"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Voodoo Economics: Dude. Trippy.

What, you say? Yup. Mmhmm. Yarly. Anyways - Voodoo Economics. Formed in 2005; one EP and two albums out - and available for free on their website - currently on hiatus.

Not enough information for you? Try this: they're a high concept band. What's the high concept?

Megatsunami hits; dead bodies reach critical mass, and meat wakes up. Girl talks to meat; meat talks back.

Yes, meat. Red stuff, tasty? Yup.

Weird enough?

All that aside, though, they've got a really cool sound - kind of like a bluesed-out, slowed-down Nine Inch Nails, but with a female lead vocalist. And since (as I might have mentioned) all their music is free (!) it won't cost you anything to check out.

I've loaded two of their tracks here; the first one (hit soft like a featherload of bricks) is from their first album, if::then::iminami. The second one (Meathook) is from their second album, Nighttime Sabbaticals.

Voodoo Economics - hit soft like a featherload of bricks

Voodoo Economics - Meathook

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Dodos: An Intersting Avenue of Folk

My homework assignment was to check out the band The Dodos. Homework for a blog? Thanks a lot Jack. But this was a great band. I looked up these guys online and several sites described them as psychedelic folk. (WTF is that?) But after listening to them for a while, it really seemed to describe them well. You'll hear throughout their new album, Time to Die, the chimes of a Keaton Snyder playing vibraphone. Their repetitive and syncopated drumming and the interesting instrumentation (xylophones, vibraphones, and the occasional toy piano) give folk another new direction to explore. I'll leave you with Fables, off the aforementioned album, Time to Die. Let us know what you think. (Personally it reminds me of The Shins, but if you disagree tell me off!)

The Dodos - Fables
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Sunday, September 6, 2009

MYMNKA: The Icarus Account

     So it’s finally Labor Day weekend and we’ve all got a little time off. Can’t beat that right? Talk about needing it too, it seems like this day off always comes just when we’re beginning to get overwhelmed, doesn’t it? Anyway today I come to you with a very exciting Music You Might Not Know About. This is exciting firstly, because the guys in this band are not only awesome individuals, but good friends. Secondly, because the music is mind-blowing. Third because these guys are going to be blowing up (already are). And lastly, because I’ve had the privilege of playing on the same stage with them, and that’s pretty exciting.
The Icarus Account
     Ok, so let’s start at the basics. The Icarus Account consists of two guys, Ty and Trey. They’re twins, believe it or not, and both massively talented. They’re Christian and not afraid to show it. They hale from Fort Myers, Florida and have been playing music for a while now. The Icarus Account plays intense acoustic music and when I say acoustic, I mean all sorts of acoustics. I dare you to listen for all the different instruments one can hear within their record. Though fret not, there are full band songs, and if you thought the acoustic songs sound great, then get ready for some ear-delightfulness. Their debut album, Mayday, has been well received around the country and considering they were unsigned at the time the album dropped, it was an impressive release. I bought the album from Trey one night after seeing them play at a local venue and it was definitely a smart move. Mayday was on repeat not only on my computer, but in my head, for a few weeks. These songs are catchy! I have not had a single person hear this band and have anything but positive words to say about them. And rightfully so.
     The most insane aspect of The Icarus Account is that while doing all the above mentioned items, these guys have been in college. Talk about a busy life and some crazy multitasking! Personally, I also have to add in that Ty and Trey are just about two of the nicest guys I've ever met. Not to mention probably some of the most talented musicians around right now. Trust me, you'll realize this quickly upon listening!
     I spoke with The Icarus Account the other day to get a little update on what they have been up to the past few months and there’s some pretty awesome developments in their camp. The guys have been working on a brand new album and will shipping out to LA to finish it later this month. Love is the Answer will be recorded over the next few months and should be released on December 1st, obviously making it the best stocking stuffer this Christmas season (I’m already excited). Love is the Answer will be a split album with five acoustic songs and five full band songs. The Icarus Account will be touring through October and November so visit their Myspace and check out some dates. You’ve got to see these guys live, I promise you won't be disappointed and c'mon, have I ever let you down? Now listen to some of this music!
The Icarus Account - Proud
The Icarus Account - Closer to You
The Icarus Account - More To Me

Friday, September 4, 2009

There Are No Words

...and I mean that quite literally about the music I'm featuring today. No words. Instrumental. Well... sorta. Read on.

First off: a guy with a guitar. James Blackshaw. There's been a ton of hype on this guy ever since he dropped his first album, 2005's Sunshrine. He's one of the biggest rising stars in contemporary acoustic guitar, and with good reason: drawing on (according to both his Myspace and my own sadly unlearned ears) influences as wide as Alfred Schnittke (warning! dissonant violins!), Philip Glass, and Mark Rothko, Blackshaw's often-unaccompanied 12-string guitar is absolutely hypnotic at times, weaving massively intricate patterns that never lose sight of the simplicity at their cores. Amazing stuff.

James Blackshaw - Running to the Ghost

Second: a guy with a guitar, and a guy with a lute, and the guy with the guitar is the same guy who I just talked abou, so there are some similarities, but it's a different project. Brethren of the Free Spirit - a completely awesome band name, by the way, if only because of its historical context - is a collaboration between James Blackshaw (go up one paragraph to read about him) and, I kid you not, lutist Jozef van Wissem. Adding the lute to Blackshaw's guitar brings another dimension in, centering the sound while at the same time removing a layer of gloss, stripping away some of the occasionally ostentatious detail that can keep Blackshaw's music from connecting with the listener on an emotional level.

Third: a girl singing, and a guy with drums. But wait! you say. Didn't you say that you were focusing on instrumental music? I can explain. It'll make sense, I promise. Wildbirds & Peacedrums is a band from Sweden, composed of a girl, Mariam Wallentin, and her husband, Andreas Werliin. Mariam does the singing; Andreas hits things with sticks. But Mariam's singing strikes me just as much as an effect as anything conventional - for lack of a better explanation, it's almost like she's doing a breathless, pseudo-postmodern reinterpretation of scat-singing. In general, it's awesome - and leads me to classify the band's music as something approaching instrumental, rather than in any other category.

We all good, then? Cool. Take a listen - it's pretty solid stuff. Visceral. Makes you dance like an idiot.

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - There Is No Light

Awesome. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pastiche Genius in the 24th Dimension

I'm almost embarrassed that I haven't posted the music of The Kleptones before now - they're a completely awesome group (okay, so one guy with a computer, but who (other than (whoo! nested parentheses) me) is counting?) Anyways - if you're a fan of mashups or remixes, to any extent at all, you need to check this stuff out.

Eric Kleptone (and I doubt that's his real name) is a remixer / mashup artist from the UK who's done some quality danceable stuff - check this track -

Caper vs. DJ C & Zebra - Body Jump (Kleptones box clever remix)

But The Kleptones put out some majorly, majorly ambitious mashup albums, too, the most impressive of which (to me) is A Night At The Hip-Hopera, a complete musical journey in which every song is based off of a different Queen sample. The album is really a continuous, 80-minute piece of music, but it's split for convenience's sake into 23 different tracks... two of which follow:

The Kleptones - (2) See

The Kleptones - (22) Stop

Okay then.

In other news, my 21st birthday is less than a week away! And that's something I'm very excited about. No, silly, not because I'll be drinking massive amounts of alcohol... because it'll, as I illustrated in my last post allow me to get into a lot of shows that I currently can not attend. I'll try to get some concert reports up as I can.

Hope y'all are well back in Florida, and wherever else you're reading from! Have a great afternoon!