…because I have realized that my writing or chronicling cannot keep pace with all the things that I routinely find myself obsessing about I figured I would try my hand at doing a weekly roundup of things that are musically tickling my fancy. Perhaps this will help me clear out the personal backlog of discoveries and oddities I wish to share.
Something New → The Jeppettos Troubles – How I wandered into the rabbit hole that led me to the discovery of this gorgeous collection of songs by these Irish collective is unclear but what a serendipitous discovery! It was love at first vocal.
Something Blue → “Blue Moon” from Morning Phase by Beck. Like many of my peers who were born in the 70s and raised in the 80s, I was a child of the MTV generation and was first introduced to Beck via the tongue-in-check slacker anthem “Loser” that debuted as “Buzz Cut” almost twenty years ago. Though still not well-versed in literary or musical history, I recognzied and relished in the Dadaesque nature of his prose and the genre-defying quality of his bizarre lo-fi, urban, funky, folk. It was strange yet earnest. He was the Beastie Boys of Indie-Folk. Over the years, I never felt the same connection with Beck’s music as i did to Mellow Gold until Sea Changes, another sincere yet far less stylistically challenging collection of songs about loss and transformation. The album mirrored my own transitions: leaving college, working in a foreign country, and getting through a challenging end of a relationship. It felt like a fitting soundtrack to my days of alternating discovery and melancholia. The first single off Beck’s newest album in some time, Morning Phase, “Blue Moon” returns to the intimacy and introspection of Sea Changes yet with a more expanded, melodic and epic sonic backdrops. Where Sea Changes was about the day-to-day transformations, Morning Phase feels an existential reawakening. (And, no there isn’t any dogma attached, at least not that i can discern.) It recalls a similar lunar-titled record and style by the late, great folk wunderkind Nick Drake and sweet 70s grooves. It is truly worth sinking into.
Something Borrowed → Marijuana Deathsquads – Oh My Sexy Lord – Last week a friend dropped Rage Against the Machine on the turntable I found myself longing for their vocally piercing and politically incendiary sounds. Perhaps the universe sensing my need to fill the void drew my eyes to the fact that Marijuana Deathsquads was playing a show in Chicago in March. I’d heard “Ewok Sadness” back in the fall and was totally taken by their bizarre sound. Listening more intently and closely to Oh My Sweet Lord, I find myself relishing their unique fusion of artsy-metal and rock with smooth, EDM-like electronic layers. It fulfills the Rage longing along with recalling Mars Volta but this piece de resistance is the melding of atmospheric electronica provided by members of Polica and Bon Iver (see “Sunglasses and Bail Money”) and floor thumping dance beats reminiscent of araabUZIK (see “Dissolve”). It is a sonic blender of competing and seemingly contrary styles that meld into a trippy distraction.
Something Old → Whiskeytown. Speaking of sinking or drowning really, I found myself stumbling down Faithless Street after a passing conversation with a touring musician about working with Ryan Adams. After asking him whether he’d heard Adams’ Whiskeytown records, I went on the typical sycophant’s elegy of the crazy tortured genius of Whiskeytown (and Uncle Tupelo). My relapse into Adams’ early days was fueled by another new discovery (to follow in a separate past), but it made me realize that if folks have heard or listened to these albums… well they should. These guys bring a smile to my face every time. Whiskeytown from start to finish…
…if you end up on a musical alt-country bender, i’ll take full responsibility for the inspiration not the consequences or casualties.
Concert Update →fter a banner 2013 of live music, 83 shows and over 140 bands, I find myself ahead of last year’s scorching pace. So, any accusations that I’m the Brady Anderson of concert going can easily be dispelled. And, feel free to check my hat size, still a 7 1/8. Fifteen shows to date and double booking this weekend (Cloud Cult and Into It Over It) with highlights including the Flat Five at The Hideout (with the sensational Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor), stellar sets by friends Now Everybody and Sons of the West, and a reunited Neutral Milk Hotel bringing In the Aeroplane Over the Sea to life. Check out the upcoming concerts above.
Oh and who wants to join the Classixx dance party next week at Double Door?