Music

New Music Tuesday: Scottish Self-Loathing Edition

Note: New Music Tuesday highlights something I’ve been listening to regularly during the week prior. I like it. I include critical comments both positive and negative to demonstrate my independent ignorance of musical convention.

Del Amitri is the love of my musical life. I fed on their ironic, narcissistic, self-loathing for most of my 20’s and am a better man for it. Since they broke up, I’ve had to content myself with a couple of fine solo albums from their frontman Justin Currie, but those just aren’t the same. I’m always on the lookout for some whiskey-soaked deprecatory literary Scottish rock. Always.

Thank God for Frightened Rabbit.

Album:Pedestrian Verse

Artist: Frightened Rabbit

Label: Canvasback/ATL (Grouplove, Fanfarlo, The Joy Formidable)

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Where I Found It: Their previous two albums have put me on their watch list. This one was on my radar for awhile.

What The Critics Are Saying: 

The tightly constrained rhythms and miserable lyrics that make the tracks catchy are also what make the album something of a downer. (Consequence of Sound)

Over the years, the group has been lumped in with the proud tradition of sad Scottish bastards, and Pedestrian Verse’s moody “Nitrous Gas” shows why. “Leave the acute warm-heartedness / Go where the joyless bastard lives / He’s dying to bring you down with him / Suck in the bright red major keys / Spit out the blue minor misery / I’m dying to bring you down with me.” (A.V. Club)

Frightened Rabbit’s major label full-length debut is a triumphant album. It expertly expands on their previous work with a big, muscular series of anthems that investigate faith, masculinity, and Scottish identity while sharpening their increasingly identifiable brand of wry, thoughtful songwriting. (Under The Radar)

Here are a few highlights, starting with the aforementioned “Nitrous Gas”:

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LCSFw

 

“Holy” is another terrific track, although its irreverence is wearing self-righteous the more I listen to it.

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LCS10

 

And finally, “The Woodpile,” which just makes you want to light something on fire.

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LCS3A

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Music

New Music Tuesday: I Love Chad Andrew Herring Edition

Note: New Music Tuesday highlights something I’ve been listening to regularly during the week prior. I like it. I include critical comments both positive and negative to demonstrate my independent ignorance of musical convention.

Chad Andrew Herring is magic. He sneezes rainbow sprinkles. He sweats cologne. He burps laughing gas.

I love Chad Andrew Herring.

And Chad Andrew Herring loves the twin sister idie rock band Tegan and Sara. Therefore, I love Tegan and Sarah. That’s called a syllogism.

Album: Heartthrob

Artist: Tegan and Sara

Label: Vapor/Warner Brothers

Release Date: January 29, 2013

Where I Found It: (Do I have to say it?) Chad Andrew Herring

What The Critics Are Saying: 

On “Heartthrob” (Vapor/Warner Bros.), the Quins’ seventh album, they let their inner dance-pop divas loose. Instead of Cat Power teamed with Ani DiFranco, they now sound like Kelly Clarkson paired with Gwen Stefani. And, in a bigger surprise, they sound pretty great doing it. (Glen Gamboa)

The album’s electro trappings may feel odd at first, but that sensation quickly fades thanks to the smooth, inviting textures — the Quins never sound like anyone but themselves. Whether sharing close harmonies or trading lead vocals, the sisters retain the engaging conversational style that values down-to-earth expressiveness over showy theatrics. (Jon Young)

With Heartthrob it sounds like the sisters have made a conscious effort to be more understandable, while maintaining some aspects of their signature poetic repetitious style. They’ve grown up in almost every aspect of music production. (Enio Chiola)

Seriously, at times listening to “Heartthrob” feels like nothing as much as Olivia Newton-John. Witness the opening track, “Closer”:

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LJgBc

 

This is perfect pop candy. Echo, reverb, synthesizers. And staccato repetition lyrics like, “And it drove me, and it drove me, and it drove me . . . wild.”

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LJgCo

 

It might feel a bit regressive for an aspiring music curator to really dig this record, but giving in is a sweet reward.

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LJgMI

 

Chad Andrew Herring’s everywhere agree: Tegan and Sara are super cool!

 

 

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Music

New Music Tuesday: If You Give An Angry Bear A Fifth of Jim Beam And A Tin of Sucrets Edition

Note: New Music Tuesday highlights something I’ve been listening to regularly during the week prior. I like it. I include critical comments both positive and negative to demonstrate my independent ignorance of musical convention.

If you do as the title of this post suggests, the sound produced might be something like the voice of Chris Senseney, the golden gravel voice behind the husband-and-wife duo Big Harp.

Album: Chain Letters

Artist: Big Harp

Label: Saddle Creek (Bright Eyes, Azure Ray, The Mynabirds)

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Where I Found It: Pause and Play weekly email newsletter

What The Critics Are Saying: 

“The opening track, ‘You Can’t Save ‘Em All’ sounds like mix of an old school country tune and a Cormac McCarthy book. Its dark, brooding and has this grinding lick to it. But weirdly enough it bounces along with lovely harmonies from Stefanie – has a kicking guitar solo in it as well.” (Hearya.com)

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ihj2U

 

“Mr. Senseney’s underrated vocals are still achingly phenomenal, spanning the range of guttural Gospel wailings at the fuzzed out crescendo of ‘It’s Easy to Be Strange’ to the low and raspy march in ‘Call Out The Cavalry, Strike Up The Band’. (indierockreviews.com)

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ihj3k

 

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ihj3s

 

“The sound of Chain Letters is built around Stefanie’s bass; it’s the glue on this album.” (Thom Jurek, Rdio)

Apparently there was a stunning debut record a couple of years ago, but I missed it, so I have no basis for comparison. This, though, is so good it makes me want to cuss. In particular, “Bar All The Doors” is a mental massage–with tree bark (“If you bar all of the doors/and curl up easy on your hardwood floor/they’ll just come through the window.”)

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ihj24

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Music

New Music Tuesday: “Is That The Cranberries?” Edition

Note: New Music Tuesday highlights something I’ve been listening to regularly during the week prior. I like it. I include critical comments both positive and negative to demonstrate my independent ignorance of musical convention.

Album: Northern Lights And Southern Skies

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LejAI

Artist: The Capsules

Label: Vespera Records

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LejOA

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Where I Found It: indie rock cafe

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LejFY

What The Critics Are Saying: 

 Julie Shields’ singing is quite the acquired taste: Sounding like a cross between the Go-Gos’ Belinda Carlisle and the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, Shields is either going to charm you or annoy you greatly (Zachary Houle, PopMatters)

The simplistic beats and forgettable vocal melodies on tracks like ‘Where It All Begins’ and ‘All At Once’ leave a lot to be desired, and they bear too strong of a resemblance to all the other dime-in-a-dozen electronic popularity wave surfing bands out there. (SowingSeason, Sputnik Music)

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0LejRY

Whatever. I’m a sucker for electronic wave surfing bands and Dolores O’Riordan will always have a place in my ears.

So then. Favorite Cranberries song: go.

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Music

New Music Tuesday: Live Acoustic Throwback Edition

Reader question: what album got you through college? Seminary or Grad School?

Also, what new releases should I be looking out for?

Album: Live Acoustic

Band: Guster

Label: Ocho Mule

Release Date: January 8, 2013

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ir-rk

 

Normally, I wouldn’t get worked up about an album of live acoustic versions of songs I already knew and, in some cases, loved. But these songs make unique contributions. There’s no novelty in arrangement or vocalization (such as the irritating habit of inviting the audience to sing the chorus), only rich vocal harmonies and the addition of some simple strings. The recording of “Either Way” is as good of proof as there is:

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ir-rg

 

I fell hard for Guster in 2003 while a seminary student. I listened to Keep It Together the whole academic year. Then, during my first year as a pastor, I would spend my morning commute pounding the steering wheel and stomping the floorboards singing along to “Happier” and “Two Points for Honesty.” They fell off my rader after that, though. It’s been almost 10 years.

http://rd.io/x/QEq_K0Ir-rU

 

Good to hear ya, boys.

 

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Music

New Music Tuesday: Indie Piano Pop Edition

Working along here to the sounds of The Mailboxes, a little Cleveland-based outfit I discovered yesterday in the New Releases tab on Rdio’s home page. “Red Flags” is the debut project of Jillian Spears, who funded it with Kickstarter. The first track on the record hooked me, and I’ve listened to it, like, six times over the last two days. 

 

Here’s The Mailboxes Soundcloud page and their Last.fm entry. 

It’s not all piano pounding, though. “Just As Long As You Care” is a ukulele ditty that proclaims, “I don’t care about money or material things/Just as long as you care about Jesus and me.” Nice.

 

So, ya like it?

 

 

 

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