So, what am I working on this week? My first freelance music reviews! A local paper found this very blog and now wants me to review 5 albums, each in 50 words. Daunting for a rambler like me, but nonetheless a task I undertake with relish. Do you guys have any recommendations? What albums lately can you not help mentioning to everyone you meet? I have about eight or nine I am considering, but if you have suggestions, please leave em in the comments. I would really appreciate any help with this one, even if you are not a usual commenter.
Here is some music I will be enjoying this week:
Only A Fool
Shimmery plucky guitar pop from Norway’s Marit Larsen with wheezing harmonica and a wide-open happy vocal that reminded me of a few Sheryl Crow tunes that I enjoy. Ridiculously infectious with handclaps and banjo and all kinds of goodness. Highly recommended on these sunny days, even though the subject matter is actually quite non-happy (about a breakup and a cheating heart). Thanks to Matthew for recommending this one, from 2006′s Under The Surface, which you can buy on this Norwegian site.
Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean
Here is one from Paul Simon‘s new album Surprise, which comes out tomorrow. A collaboration between everyone’s favorite long-lost pal and Brian Eno (“father of ambient music“), mixed by Tchad Blake (who worked with Pearl Jam on Binaural), there are some interesting elements of electronica woven throughout the disc (have you heard the first single “Outrageous” on the radio?). The disc also contains a re-recorded version the song “Father and Daughter” (originally on the Wild Thornberrys soundtrack from 2002), which would be a perfect addition to the rad mixtape you are surely making for your pops for Father’s Day next month.
Lay Lady Lay
Magnet with Gemma Hayes
For some reason, the lyrics of this song have always kind of turned me off and I really can’t put my finger on why (I know! Heresy! She doesn’t like a Bob Dylan lyric!!). Maybe it’s the brass thing? I have an aversion to shiny brass furniture and being told to lay across anything brass would give me hives. But this is a really lovely cover with the achingly velvet-voiced Irishwoman Gemma Hayes blending perfectly as she swaps verses with Magnet (aka Even Johansen of Norway). Thanks to the Copy, Right? blog for unearthing this, it’s been on heavy rotation in these parts. Released in 2004 as a CD Single/EP.
Back Against The Wall
I was a big fan of the guitar-wailing/chill-electronica/soulful-harmonica blend on the 1999 eponymous debut from Euphoria. The track “Delirium” first caught my attention as something fresh and very very cool to slide across my aural palette. Euphoria is the project of Toronto-based guitarist Ken Ramm, and his new third album Precious Time sees collaboration with Steve Sidelynk (who worked with Massive Attack & David Gray), Tina Dico (who has sung with Zero 7) and the soulful Tracy Bonham. Take a listen to this unique sound on this bonus track from the new CD (from Zoe/Rounder Records), I think you’ll like it.
I’ll Try Anything Once
(early version of “You Only Live Once”)
“You Only Live Once” was absolutely one of my favorite tracks of 2005, mostly because of the insane percussion work (Fabrizio Moretti is so loose, and yet so tight). This is an interesting early version of the song because it is completely lounge-lizard lazy. I frankly quite enjoy seeing the metamorphosis of a song, but if Julian’s vocals annoy you (someone commented a while back: “it’s like, get to the point…quit singing like you’re loungin on a couch with the mic cocked sideways”), this one will probably get under your skin.
Bob Pollard (GBV) has posted two more new demo songs on his website: “The Finest Joke Is Upon Us” and “White Skin and Bones.” Recommended only for the most rabid of fans. And, from the Merge website: “Robert Pollard (and The Ascended Masters, as Bob has taken to calling his new band) will be opening up for alt-rock super heroes Pearl Jam on two stops of Pearl Jam’s upcoming tour (Pittsburgh and Cincy). Rumor has it that the new Pearl Jam album was heavily influenced by GBV, and that Eddie is a big fan.”
To call Marathonpacks’ recent tome on the Beatles a “post” would be like calling War and Peace a novella. This thing is epic, extremely enjoyable to read and stunningly good. Why did my University not offer a Beatles Appreciation class? The closest I got was ‘Music in American Cultures’ freshman year, which I (foolishly) dropped after I saw the massive textbook list. Gah.
Also, in the continuing love affair between Ben Kweller and Evan Dando (see their duet I posted last week), the Work For It blog has a lovely little cover of Kweller doing “My Drug Buddy,” which is a great song (I love the lyric “We have to laugh to look at each other” because that is my favorite kinds of friendships summed up in 9 words).