I’m baaaack… and that is a whole lot of “M” words right there… Guess I am feeling homonymous… and yes, I made that up!
Sorry for the absence… sometimes life just wants you to take a break… but it is sure nice to know that people are still showing up to the site even with a gap of new content.
Since it has been a while, I figured I would give you a rundown of what I have been listening to… some old, some new and all great.
Marjorie Fair - Self Help Serenade
To be fair (ha) this album was given to me years ago… Well, I could not ever open the files, but my friend Eric thought I would dig it. I did then, but never really delved deeply enough… Well, I finally own it now (thanks, Amoeba) and it is absolutely wonderful. I also bought the 4-song Sessions EP on iTunes which has some great live versions and one “new” song. Sadly, the band broke up a mere three years after this 2005 debut (2004 in the UK), but the psychedelic, Beatles influenced pop is something that will be played a lot by me… It already is!
AllMusic says: ”… Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evan Slamka… grew up in New Jersey before making his way to New York City… Eventually he and pal Chris Tristram landed in Los Angeles, and working with friends perfected a lush, sometimes melancholy pop sound that drew from influences both old (Beach Boys) and new (Red House Painters, Elliott Smith).”
A few more of my faves, right there by the way!!! And let me just say… JERSEY!!!
Blueboy - If Wishes Were Horses
Another band and record on my radar for a while, and from a random iTunes search, I believe… my fruitful trip to Amoeba also landed me this hard to find pop gem. I would imagine Belle & Sebastian were massively influenced by this record. This one came out in 1992, though I recommend the 2010 19-track edition, with its 11 bonus songs…
They are sometimes called a “twee” pop band, which was originally as derogatory as it sounds… but is now a more positive term used to describe some gentle, jangly British pop bands.
AllMusic says: ”A gorgeous slice of pastoral English pop, the debut album from Reading, England’s Blueboy is one of those charmed releases that make you understand the obsessions of indie rock collectors. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, the disc is nevertheless packed with gentle gems, beginning with “Candy Bracelet,” a melancholic meditation that soars on a bed of shimmering, echoing guitars and turns on a deceptively simple harmony vocal from Gemma Townlet.”
Beirut – The Rip Tide
Who says reading the Hollywood Bowl schedule can’t teach you a thing or two. First, it reminds me how much money I must actually have to go to all the shows I want to see… and second, it actually gave me two bands to explore. Beirut is opening for Vampire Weekend (we’ll get to them, too… ) at the Hollywood Bowl on Sat. Sept. 28… And I want to run just so I can hear this “Orchestral indie pop” tour of European and world influences. This album came out in 2011 and though I have just found it, it blew me away… though I will admit it took a listen or two to do it…
AllMusic describes him as “a one-man cross between Jeff Mangum, Conor Oberst, and Sufjan Stevens. “
“One of 2006′s most unexpected indie success stories, Beirut combines a wide variety of styles, from pre-rock/pop music and Eastern European Gypsy styles to the alternately plaintive and whimsical indie folk of the Decemberists to the lo-fi, homemade psychedelic experimentation of Neutral Milk Hotel. At the heart of this sonic hybrid was a teenager from Albuquerque, New Mexico… Something of a musical prodigy, multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon began making one-man D.I.Y. bedroom recordings in his early teens.”
Yeah… okay… I am now feeling quite a bit unaccomplished. Agh!
Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
This is the other band I “discovered” reading the Bowl schedule… though I had heard of them before this. I think… Anyway… They are opening the July 14th Hollywood Bowl show of Rodrigo y Gabriela (absolutely amazing) and DeVotchKa (a KCRW discovery and fantastic band).
Lord Huron has simple beginnings reminiscent of Bon Iver… and there are definite musical similarities.
According to AllMusic: ”Lord Huron began as a solo project by Michigan-born/Los Angeles-based musician Ben Schneider in the spring of 2010. On a trip home to Michigan, Schneider recorded three songs inspired by communing with nature. These songs were later released as the Into the Sun EP, and Lord Huron was born.”
They are not in love with this full length record as much as the EPs, though they call it “a pleasant enough listen”… and say that he is “conflicted between jubilant indie pop wanderlust and stoic traditionally structured Americana.” I dig it… and the earlier EPs, too. So there.
The Boxer Rebellion – Promises
I do not recall how I first came to this great Indie band… may have been KCRW… Either way, I love them and kick myself daily for missing them in concert on at least three occasions… though one show they had to cancel. They are playing here (LA) on June 7 at The Avalon and I so need to get myself there.
This is a great release, truly, though it will not top my love for their last one, The Cold Still. I don’t think it will… Hmmm… Regardless, I am really enjoying this one, and on multiple listens.
AllMusic chimes in: ”With 2013′s Promises, Boxer Rebellion have once again delivered a set of yearning rock anthems, full of searing romanticism and brooding atmosphere, and the release ranks as one of their best.” Good. We agree!
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City
Still digesting this third release from the band. I love the first two records, especially their debut which I discovered very early on and pre-hype… the way I always like and prefer. My buddy Rob said he caught their second song on SNL and was not impressed. I fell asleep and forgot to TiVo… Doh! While it might not be as good or exciting as their first outing… the hugely successful and hugely Paul Simon’s Graceland-influenced, self-titled debut… there is something always interesting with this band. I also dig their attitude. Funny, on this one I hear a lot of Paul Simon’s musical The Capeman, at least in the opening track ”Obvious Bicycle.” As with most music, I look forward to delving deeper and really discovering this record. So far “Finger Back” is my favorite track.
May your May be filled with magical melodies and mellifluous music.