Posts Tagged ‘Civil Wars’

A Few More Odds and Ends from 2011

December 30, 2011

A couple last random thoughts that didn’t make it into my last post:

  • Following up on my mini-rant about Spotify, I did have a little back and forth with customer support on email that resulted in a suggestion to try downloading their new Beta version.  Not exactly fixing the existing problem, but for now it seems to have done the trick.  The new beta seems to be functioning well; still puzzled what happened with the production version I was running.  As I said before, I like the huge library they have and the ease of use, but I’m worried about the long-term viability of their service.
  • This week I started my Google Music account and downloaded a few free songs from their for sale collection on the Android Marketplace.  There’s some decent songs for free download that you might not have in your library.  It moved out of a beta version in November, I just hadn’t had the time to check it out until now.  The interface was easy to jump into and the ability to store up to 20K songs is intriguing.  I haven’t yet uploaded my music library, but probably will at some point, if for no other reason than to have it stored somewhere else than on my computer.  A good introductory how-to guide is on CNET.
  • In my thoughts on best of, I probably should have put another album that has gotten a lot of rotation in our house since it came out, the Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow.  It’s become a go-to album when you just want to relax and be soothed by some great voices accompanied by spare but beautiful guitar.  And the Cults self-titled debut is top-to-bottom filled with some really good tunes, try Bad Things for a track you probably haven’t heard from that album.
  • I’m just finishing up another Rough Trade music book, this one was called The Best Music You’ve Never Heard.  I really enjoyed this; while there are quite a few names that I recognized (though hadn’t necessarily listened to a great deal), there were also quite a few new singers and bands that were covered that I had never heard of.  Skewing a bit heavy on 60s era bands, there is still a lot to find for lovers of most music genres in here (section titles range from “I Write the Songs” about singer-songwriters to “Not for Export” covering reggae and world music).  I found enough stuff in here that I would at least like to check out to cover all of 2012.
  • I haven’t written much at all about soundtracks in this blog, but I recently bought my first full soundtrack in awhile.  I grew up with the Muppets: the TV show, the first Muppets Movie is the first movie I recollect seeing in the theaters, and I distinctly remember collecting the souvenir glasses from McDonald’s that were a tie-in to the Great Muppet Caper, I even dressed up as Animal for Halloween this year.  I recently went and saw the movie, and it was very good, suprisingly so.  Part of why it was so good was the music, which has always been an integral part of the Muppet experience.  Jason Segal and Amy Adams both have some good numbers and we’ve definitely been singing Man or a Muppet around our house.  My personal favorite is Fozzie’s bastardization of Rainbow Connection for a Reno casino lounge act.    Waka waka!
  • Leave you for the year with a track from the new Roots album (still digesting this one, not sure if it measures up to Things Fall Apart as a whole, but definitely some good grooves):

Spotify My Soul – September 27

September 27, 2011

I’ve been traveling the past few weeks for work, and my blog output has suffered accordingly.  I have a bunch of things in the hopper, including a long overdue record review and my contribution to the 20 year anniversary celebration of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind (boy, that makes me feel old).  In the meantime, here’s a quick look at some of what I’ve been listening to when I’ve had a chance to log on to Spotify.

  • The Horrors, Skying.  I’d seen some billboards for this album around the neighborhood and an ad on Spotify touting some English music mag’s (NME?) proclamation that this was an inventive album convinced me to give this a listen.  I didn’t know that aping The Church and Disintegration-era Cure was inventive, but I’m not the writer for a major music mag.  As you can tell, I wasn’t impressed.
  • DJ Shadow, I Gotta Rokk.  Newish EP from DJ Shadow, more of a return to some of his earlier work in my opinion.  I had already heard the title track and loved its combinations of guitar riffs and drum fills that evoke memories of the headbangin’ 80s.  I also really liked the track Def Surrounds Us.  It combined some of the atmospherics of Entroducing with some of the more uptempo beats from his last album.
  • The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow.  This is a collection of some really pleasant songs.  Really enjoying listening to this, Joy Williams and John Paul White both have great voices and they work well together.  The spare accompaniments rightly let their voices shine, but are a nice complement.
  • Scott Walker, various songs from his self-titled 1 to 4 series.   I had never heard of Walker until I saw a documentary about his fascinating career and reading about Lou Reed (see below) for some reason reminded me of him.  Rising to fame with the Walker Brothers singing pop ballads, he left the group and forged out on his own, with a series of albums that continued to produce ballads, though the subject matter veered toward more adult topics that typical pop fare.  His velveteen voice is not for everyone (my girlfriend found him “creepy”), but I like it.  The voice and subject matter are often incongruent, it’s like if Tony Bennett was signing Trent Reznor lyrics, but I find the contrast likeable.
  • Lou Reed, Metal Machine Music.  I recently finished a very comprehensive history of the Velvet Underground from the Rough Guide series.  Based on this volume, I’d recommend the other books in the series if you want a completist account of a band.  Not only did it chronicle the history of the band, but had a thorough look at each of the VU records as well as the solo careers of each band member.  Lou Reed has had a prolific, though sometimes spotty, career that I didn’t fully appreciate.  One album in particular caught my eye.  Metal Music Machine is an instrumental album, a seemingly odd choice for a talented lyricist like Reed.  Not only it is an instrumental piece, but an experimental one at that.  Broken up into four “songs” lasting sixteen minutes apiece, this is all feedback and noise.  I made it through in one sitting (I’m sort of surprised I made it), and I’ll say that theoretically it was interesting as an artistic statement, but I will probably never listen to it again.  The last of the four pieces, in particular, verged on unlistenable, a repeating sound that reminded me of a dentist’s drill almost drove me over the edge to hit “STOP”.  Reed claims this wasn’t the big FU to his record label that it seemed, but even if that wasn’t his original intent, that’s what I see it as.  And to think that only a few years before, he had created a song like this: