As life works in waves, crests and troughs, so does new music in our lives. Every so often some sort of fateful even takes place where I am once again flooded with new music. In this case I just happen to have great friends that continually share with me new music. I would like to highlight some of the recent amazing artists that I have been turned onto through friends, with baseball opening days all around the country I'll use a batting line up to separate the artists.
MUSICAL ARTISTS OF THE WEEK:
Leading Off: ALBERTA CROSS from the short album "The Thief and a Heartbreaker." My good festival friend Matt S. of Seattle (more lovingly referred to as Space Cowboy) made a suggestion on facebook to check this band out. He was right in that the voice of the singer has that ethereal cosmic sound similar to My Morning Jacket but also a whining sustain like Blind Melon. But, they have a distinctly upbeat melancholy that is southern rock in luster. "Hard Breaks" is the clear favorite song but other more spacey cuts such as "Lucy Rider" are also very enjoyable.
On Deck: My favorite greek piece of larbage, Queen Larbs of Strumpet Valley, recommended the band HORSE FEATHERS on her website last week. I immediately went on iTunes and purchased "Words Are Dead," their 2006 effort (her opinion is one that has consistently been a solid one). At times I feel like they possess a Nick Drake feel capturing that sentimental heartshaking quiver, but at other times they really shine their bluegrassy tones inspiring the feeling of a serious need to be lying in a bed of moss in the olympic rainforest, either way it makes for a perfect sunday driving or walking soundtrack and would accompany any dinner with wine nicely. The more I listen to it the more I feel like this band will be a favorite of mine for years to come.
In the Hole: Thanks to Randy who told Sydney who told me I have been enjoying some cerebral massages in the form of an all instrumental band called EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY. Their album "How Strange, Innocence" definitely takes a page from Modest Mouse's broodiness in "Willful Suspension and Disbelief" but with out the Isaac Brock oddity lyrics. Instead they create 5 to 10 minute mini rock symphonies that build and crescendo with the best of emotions. A great band for cooking a serious dinner.
Batting Clean Up: My brother got me a Relix Magazine Subscription where I discovered these next two little gems, so the credit should go to him.
When I saw the cover of the new LES CLAYPOOL brand new album "Of Fungi and Foe" I knew that this album was going to be a big deal. Former and still part time Primus frontman has long been known as pretty much the most talented bass virtuoso of all time. There is just one problem when it comes to him getting more industry credit for it. He's a freaking scary ass hillbilly psycho. Often outfitting himself (and his band of freaks) in pig masks and various frightening outfits he's played with several band combinations backing him: Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Les Claypool and his Fancy Band (with Skerik on sax), and Oysterhead (with the Police Drummer and Trey Anastasio of Phish). This time I don't know who's in the band because they are all wearing freaking masks. Last week I saw them on Jimmy Kimmel's late night show and they were absolutely terrifying, naturally I had to own the album. The song is a cross between kentucky holler stomp and a serious fungal psychedelic experience. Most of the songs are about mushrooms and the plucky plodding stomping sound is funky and freaky and fungal in every way. It still retains that Les Claypool essence but pushes boundaries to new levels previously unattained in his other efforts as the band takes on a more 4 string quartet feel. Cellos and violins as well as Claypool's 5 different types of bass instruments really make this a serious musical experience...check out "Red State Girl."
When I read about an interview with this next artist in Relix I was truly blown away with his coolness (his beard is what I imagine my brother growing someday...if he ever suddenly gains the ability to grow a beard). I saw him in a little known indi movie called "Old Joy" that says so much about what will probably happen to most of us aspiring hippies (this movie is amazing please find it and watch it). I didn't even know that he was also an extensively hard working folk/rock/whatever you call it musical artist recording under many names but most notably BONNIE "PRINCE" BILLY. His newest effort "Beware" is apparently his strongest yet (I can't imagine him making something shitty). I hate entering into prolific artists careers this late in the game but the guy is very remarkable and I will definitely do some back tracking. His voice is strong and haunting as well as sweetly endearing at times. The melodies are unconventional and diverse and a lot of the folk and country undertones make it a peculiar listen the first time through. I has infected me however, and I find myself slowly learning the intracacies of this fantastic singer songwriter...whatever he goes by.
Should I keep going...
The Designated Hitter:
My new good friend Brian suggested I check out an awesome free music podcast. SO now I'm passing it on to you.
NPR's ALL SONGS CONSIDERED podcast and NPR'S LIVE CONCERTS FROM ALL SONGS CONSIDERED PODCAST (both are free and can be found on iTunes). Through these podcasts I have been able to enjoy free music, interviews and performances from amazing bands such as:
Bob Dylan, Bonnie Prince Billy, Franz Ferdinand, Bon Iver, Neil Young, Buena Vista Social Club, Tom Waits, Sigur Ros, Dr. Dog, Ratatat, Mates of State, Portishead, Billie Holiday, Vampire Weekend, Magnetic Fields, Iron and Wine, John Vanderslice, The Polyphonic Spree, Neko Case, Blitzen Trapper, Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, Kaki King, Doc Watson, Wilco, Bjork, and Fujiya and Miyagi, and so many more I haven't even been able to deal with.
Personally I would check out the Kaki King Live show and the Doc Watson Live show first because they are both amazing personal performances.
DOC WATSON at the age of 70 something (blind since the age of one) is a bluegrass legend and the stories in between songs is priceless, his old voice and young fingers are a real treat for people with a sweet tooth for pickers and grinners.
KAKI KING the hammering, looping, drumming female guitar virtuoso (saw once open for someone) puts on her first show with a band and kicks the shit out of it. This girl can destroy things.
THE POLYPHONIC SPREE sports near 25 members in the band recording and touring and often dons matching choral religious style robes. Their epic choral gospel rock sound just like a religious music revival but isn't exactly about anything traditionally religious, it is something you either love or hate. Either way they are worth checking out and I have known about them for a while, it just took hearing them live to force me to go back to their first album "The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree"
LASTLY BUT NOT LEASTLY: Its up to you as to what you do with all these musical suggestions, but for a reasonably cheep or free investment you can soak up the last remaining sentiments of winter and spring. Most of the music I have recommended will be seasonably out of fashion and favor when the hot summer waves and sunrays start to come around, as Bob Marley, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffet, Sublime and other summertime favorites start to take over as well.
I hope you all enjoy these suggestions as I have from the people who gave them to me.
I'm gonna forgo the other weekly novelties of the Weekend Update as I think you all have enough to digest.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!!!!!