Matt Pond PA - Halloween
David Bowie - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!
Elvis Presley - Witchcraft
Oh No! Oh My! - I Am Not A Monster
The Unicorns - Tuff Ghost
Ryan Adams - Halloweenhead
Bonus: a recording of Stuart Murdoch talking about trick or treatin'
from a concert in 2003.
The song begins warmly, an invitation to sit in the corner and rest your tired feet, close your blinking eyes. Justin Jones' voice never tells you what to think, but by the end you'll know how to feel. It's - I won't hesitate to say - beautiful, and tense, standing on the edge of something so terrifying you can't help but ache for it.
Passing through MississippiJustin Jones is a fellow Virginian, hailing from the Shenandoah Valley; currently, he's based out of DC. He'll be floating around Virginia through November and December, playing at JMU on November 14th. More dates here. Fans of Ryan Adams will find solace in Justin Jones' music.
Swerving like a whirling gypsy
The calm in me I have not felt before
There was something on that summer breeze
It held me close and kissed the trees
Tell you I will never know for sure
Justin Jones & the Driving Rain - Let's Stay Together [download or die]
Justin Jones & the Driving Rain - Long way down
Buy ...and I am the song of the drunkards
Justin Jones' Website/Myspace
Despite having the opposite problem of Daniel Tashian in terms of city versus country, I've been enjoying "The Country Life." The Silver Seas' music is pure '70s nostalgia, and I'm sold. Popity Pop Pop Pop.
I should also note that this is one of those situations where it's worth buying the whole album, because the more low-key tracks have the better lyrics, and the upbeat and catchy tracks are just that.
The Silver Seas - The Country Life [highly rec'd!]
The Silver Seas - Ms. November
Buy High Society (eMusic and iTunes also have it)
The Silver Seas' Website/Myspace
I’m not sure what takes "New Paltz Waltz" from just okay to wow: the overlay of old-school country instrumentation or Roberts’ deep, unhurried vocals. If there wasn’t so much cold fog outside, this song would peak my desire to hang out on the porch, sit in a rocking chair, and watch the river flow. "Where We've Been" sees Roberts' trying on the coat of a lonely bluesman (example: Bob Dylan's most recent albums). Fortunately, Roberts has got the voice for it, and his finger-picked guitar gets half the work done. Somewhere in the song a brass section comes in, and there’s a moment – it’s Hootie and the Blowfish!
Then the moment's gone.
Don't let the description I just gave mislead you: Owen Roberts is a folkster, all the way. He's from San Francisco and based out of New York (like all those other aspiring singer-songwriters I get e-mails from). Clearly the message here is: move to DC, people.
Back to Owen Roberts: Bay to Maples is his debut, and if this is what he sounds like now, I can't wait to hear more. He's also been really nice, as I've been going through submissions very slowly lately. If this bothers you, please remember, I am not THE MAN who's keeping you down. That would be Columbia/Sony.
Owen Roberts - New Paltz Waltz [highly rec'd!]
Owen Roberts - Where We've Been
Buy Bay to Maples from...iTunes, wherever
Owen Roberts' Website/Myspace/Blog!
Bonus: Canned Heat - Rollin' & Tumblin'
Come back. You make proclamations to the moonlight, you tell the rain - it's an order, you see. The autumn leaves gather at your feet while you stare,
and stare. You laugh at the absurdity of it all, the kind of chuckle that begins in your throat and echoes upwards till nothing's funny anymore. The leaves blow in through the open door, yes? Wet, moldy, in with the chill running up your back. I never notice my hands are cold until someone tells me so. Of course, the person to tell me would be
It's too bad that trains of thought don't run on railroad tracks.
Buy the Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter's Website/Myspace
MGMT opened the night and, as I'd hoped, they put on a great live set. Just a note: the guys in MGMT have the cute/awkward thing going on in a '70s psychedelic sort of way. Oracular Spectacular was released on October 2nd, and well...you could get it on iTunes.
See previous post on "Time to Pretend."
MGMT - Electric Feet [highly rec'd!]
MGMT - Weekend Wars [highly rec'd!]
Repost: MGMT - Time to Pretend
Grand Buffet came on and went off, and then it was time for...Of Montreal!
...which turned out to be a pretty big disappointment. I'm fairly sure the balance was off during the entire show (the band showed up late), and Kevin Barnes' strutting across the stage didn't quite do it for me. However, they did play some songs from Skeletal Lamping (to be released in 2008), which made for the most energetic portions of the show.
Of Montreal - We Can Do It Softcore If You Want (live, new song)
Of Montreal - Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider [highly rec'd!]
Buy Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? at amazon.com
Of Montreal's Website/Myspace
The past month, my playlist has returned consistently to three great albums all released this autumn. The first two, Grand Drive's Everyone and Band of Horses' Cease to Begin are perfect sing-along-in-the-car pop records, but with a slower and more melodic side more similar to the third release, Chris & Thomas's debut Land of Sea.
Grand Drive: Everyone
Grand Drive is a band that lives up to its name. Pretty melodies and simple lyrics, backed with surprisingly complex instrumentation, make a road trip album like I haven't heard since I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. The first time I heard the album, it filled me with energy like only well-written pop music can. The second time I heard the album, I realized that the lyrics are pretty shallow, and I was annoyed that they didn't live up to the music. By the third time I'd listened through the album, I realized that the lyrics couldn't stand to be any deeper and still match the cheerful whistling tone of the music, and I was happy just to sing along.
As with the other two albums in this post, it was hard to reduce the album to one song for an example. The style varies enough and there are enough excellent songs that I almost want to give ya'll the entire album. But you should buy it instead--music this good ought to be encouraged. My favorite song is the simple and heartbreaking "Plain Sailing," with its two-chord verse and delicate organ counterpoint, but a better example of the overall style here is the midtempo "I'm an Echo." Building from a music-box synth to a chorus swelling with feedback and driven by a clap track, the song could well play over any indian summer afternoon sitting out on the lawn, any lazy drive South. Keep the windows down and enjoy the album with the days as they turn toward fall.
Grand Drive - I'm an Echo
Buy Everyone at amazon.com
Grand Drive's website/myspace
Band of Horses: Cease to Begin
On the subject of clap tracks, I've got to hand it to Ben Bridewell that he's got the style down. Probably my favorite of these three albums, Cease to Begin can be explained by the song "Lamb on the Lam (In the City)". Insistent and infectuous, the music curls up in the back of your head and stays there. While writing, I've been listening to the album, and realizing how many of those not-quite melodies that I find myself humming lately have been from this album. Great stuff. However, there's too much to say, and I can't communicate it nearly as well as the Band can, so just listen to the song, and I hope you'll go get the album. It's worth it.
Band of Horses - Lamb on the Lam (In the City)
Buy Cease to Begin from amazon.com
Both of those discs have a more mellow side to them, which for both is the needed relief and reply to the upbeat pop that makes up the rest of them.
Chris & Thomas: Land of Sea
If you're looking for a whole album of mellow relief, though, there's nothing out there right now better than Chris & Thomas's debut, Land of Sea. Somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and Iron & Wine, the music sounds bigger than the speakers it plays from--sweeping like the skies the lyrics describe, timeless and folksy like the stories they tell, the songs seem grand and familiar. The harmonies that Chris & Thomas make are beautiful, and there's not a single bad track on the album. The best songs are the title track, "Take these Thoughts," and "Riversong" (which reminds me a lot of Grand Drive's "I'm an Echo", at least lyrically). I've included "Take these Thoughts" because there's an edge to the harmony sometimes lacking elsewhere in the album. Like Iron & Wine, though the music is as languid as a late-night cigarette and a beer, sometimes it gets too laid back and is in danger of putting you to sleep. Perfect for what it is, but not as captivating as Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" or "America". I recommend buying all three of these albums, and I'll tell you true that Chris & Thomas are brilliant and exactly what the music business needs right now. The only reason I express my reservation is that I expect Chris & Thomas to be receiving a lot of superlative attention in the months to come. They deserve it, but we still ought to keep perspective.
Chris & Thomas - Take These Thoughts
Buy Land of Sea from amazon.com
The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Walker Kong - We Are the Falling Stars
Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays
The Be Good Tanyas - When Doves Cry
Stephen Malkmus - Fractions and Feelings
The Format - I'm Ready, I Am
Page France - Rooster and its Crow
X - Johnny Hit and Run Paulene
The National - The Geese of Beverly Road
Be Your Own Pet - October, First Account
The Teeth - It's Not Funny
As for Matt & Kim’s show on Friday, I’m not going to talk about the first opening band, because I’d just end up being mean. So I’ll start the story a little later: I ran into the ‘Sco with two friends for This is My Suitcase, who I’d never heard before. They put on a pretty energetic set, and reminded me a bit of the Format. I’m not sure the two EPs they have available for free download (here and here) do their live sound justice, which is unfortunate. One of my friends bought their album, and I’m looking forward to stealing it from him sometime soon. This is My Suitcase hails from Columbus, OH, so they're like neighbors.
This is My Suitcase - The skin is the healthy part
This is My Suitcase - Not bones
This is My Suitcase's Myspace
No, the photo isn't from the Oberlin show, but they invited the crowd on stage for the last song, and it looked a lot like this.
Matt & Kim rocked a lot more live than I'd expected them to. Around the time they played "Yea Yeah," I joined in the dancing, and the 'Sco was wild. There was simply so much wild energy in that room that it was easy to be consumed by it. The two also had great chemistry in their playing, and Matt seemed to enjoy telling embarrassing stories about Kim. It was pretty cute, actually.
Matt & Kim - Yea Yeah [alt link]
Matt & Kim - Silver Tiles [alt link]
Buy Matt & Kim stuff, or the single for "Silver Tiles"
Matt & Kim's Website/Myspace
I'm glad Matthew (of Song, By Toad) wrote about Cease to Begin so I don't have to.
Jose Gonzalez: In Our Nature
I've been finding this album to be more heavy-handed than I'd hoped for, and it's unfortunate. Lately I've been digging deep into Veneer, with "Heartbeats" being the song that tipped me over; I was taken in. With In Our Nature I've been looking for the same sort of place. "Abram" is too condemning, "Teardrops" too impersonal, "The Nest" too ominous, "Killing for Love" too angry, "In Our Nature" too mellow for its subject material, "How Low" too judgmental.
"Down the Line" is still my favorite track, with Gonzalez sinking into bitterness only to pull himself up for "don't let the darkness eat you up." "Fold" is a heart breaker, with the line "Please don't let me down this time / I've come a long way to just fold back into line." It echoes the fear I've been hiding these past two weeks as I've decided to trust again. The album is still incredibly good, but its subject material just doesn't seem as personal for Gonzalez, and it hurts the quality of the music.
from In Our Nature (2007):
Jose Gonzalez - Down the Line [download or die]
Jose Gonzalez - Fold [highly rec'd]
from Veneer (2005):
Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats [download or die]
Buy In Our Nature from Insound
Jose Gonzalez's Website/Myspace
Beirut: The Flying Club Cup (October 9th)
I'm impressed by simply how beautiful this album is (much more so than Gulag Orkestar), calm and majestically orchestrated. Honestly, I don't have a lot else to say. "Come sit at the table under October's able skies."
Beirut - A Sunday Smile [highly rec'd]
Beirut - Un Dernier Verre (Pour La Route) [download or die]
Buy The Flying Club Cup from Insound
It's a catchy tune, it bounces you along, it rings true. "I'm at home wherever you are." The baseline is groovy, Lev's voice wants to ask "Do you want to funk with me?" The answer is: Yes.
Jeremy Lev - Dunes of Bohemia
I'm impressed with the way Lev sings the word "raaaaain" in this song. I'm also a big fan of the guitar part.
Buy Rhythms from Another Summer from CD Baby
Jeremy Lev's Website/Myspace
Labels: jeremy lev