Thursday, May 15, 2008

Musical Notes

I’ve been scrounging and digging for some good new music to recommend, but haven’t had much luck. The type of music I enjoy tends to be challenging, melodic and hard charging. I prefer songs that get my heart racing and head thinking even though the latter part hurts my noggin.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m stuck with EXACTLY that type of music. Anything complex and interesting tends to catch my attention. What I do need is some semblance of tone. For example, I’ve listened to the new media darlings ‘Vampire Weekend’ and I just don’t get it. It’s not just that the lead singer is whiny and screechy (I love AC/DC after all), it’s that they seem to strive to be annoying. I suppose it’s considered tongue in cheek or ironic or anti establishment or rouge or whatever. They’re not horrible by any means (think alternative reggae or ska), just not something I would listen to repeatedly.

We seem to be in a musical lull. It happens from time to time where even the critically acclaimed new releases do little for me. It could be me, of course, but I’ve never been too discriminating. I’ll always find something to enjoy.

And I have. The only problem is only a few of them are new releases. The rest I’ve stumbled across much too late, but am still enjoying immensely. It’s still new to me anyway.

Some thoughts and suggestions


Elbow – Seldom Seen Kid: Part of the pleasures of my job is I occasionally stumble across some other person’s MP3 folder. I then pillage that folder and listen to bands I never really heard of before. Elbow is one of those bands. I found their last release ‘Asleep in the Back’ and have been listening to it constantly. Fortunately, I discovered this old one just in time for their latest, which is even better! Think of them like ‘Pink Floyd’ divided by ‘Coldplay’. Only more interesting. I need to listen to this a few more times, but most likely will be on my Best Of list at the end of the year.

The Kooks – Konk: I’ve been singing the praises of this group since last year, but this second effort is disappointing. It still has moments worth recommending, but it’s a letdown. Let’s hope this just a sophomore slump and they hit their stride next time.

Alkaline Trio – Goddamit Redux: This is actually an old release that’s been remastered and re-released. Not their best stuff and even though it’s been remastered it still sounds like some of the songs were recorded underwater. If you’re a fan and don’t have it, you may want to pick it up. I found it interesting to see how their song writing has evolved, but can only recommend a few of the songs off this one.

Hot Water Music – Till The Wheels Fall Off: Now this is more like it. Raw and fast. Attend the same school of rock as Alkaline Trio only less polished. A lot of covers on this one, but it’s good to have this crew back. Music that inadvertently makes you drive fast.

Protest The Hero – Fortress: A tribute to my metal head roots. Thunder and lightning heavy metal that tries to grind your bones to dust while experimenting with melody. Best metal album since Mastodon’s ‘Blood Mountain’.

Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills: If I’ve already mentioned this one, my apologies. I really liked their ‘Howl Howl Gaff Gaff’, but this takes them to a new level. Addictive, beautiful and already on my list of best releases of the year.

The Breakup Society – Nobody Likes a Winner: Eh! This has a few good songs, but the CD as a whole hasn’t blown me a away. Right in the middle ground.


Some older bands or albums that I’ve run across recently.

Interpol – Antics/Turn on the Bright Lights: I’ve been hearing about Interpol for a while now, but never hunkered down and listened to them. Friends would always recommend them to me, but I would brush it off for one reason or another. What a mistake as I love these guys. Yeah, they sound like Joy Division, but so what? I liked Joy Division, too and these guys take it to another level. Seem to be at their best when they trust their instincts and rock it out more, but even their slow songs are impressive. I liked ‘Antics’ more then ‘Bright Lights’ but only by a small margin.

The Secret Machines – Now Here is Nowhere: For some reason I always thought this was an electronic band, but I was way off. This was released in 2005, I think, which means I’ve been missing one of the best albums of the decade for three years. Now that I’ve found it all is right with the world.

The Strokes – Room on Fire: I bought the first Strokes release when it first came out and have been a fan of them since, but I never got around to getting their next two. Another overlook on my part. ‘Room on Fire’ is their best I have (still don’t have the second one) and have a number of these songs in my constant rotation.

The Old 97’s – Satellite Rides: Man, how many other bands like this are out there? A straight ahead rock band that kicks up massive amounts of dust while throwing in some country influences. Lucky me in that they’ve just released a new one, too, although I have yet to pick it up.

Hot Hot Heat – Elevator: Another band I resisted basically because a girl friend of mine kept telling me how ‘cute’ the lead singer was. Well, how good could this band be if she was listening to them because their singer was cute. Actually, they’re really good. They fall under the ‘Alternative’ umbrella, but there is nothing off putting about them. If they keep progressing at this rate, they should be huge in 2 years.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If you have any recommendations for me, feel free to comment.

Today’s distraction: Rolling Stone’s spring release preview. Already excited for The Roots’ new one and wondering if ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ can keep up the quality work. Not so thrilled about Ashley Simpson and Neil Diamond. By the way, if you buy the new Coldplay (I won’t) do me a favor and pick up Elbow’s new one and tell me which one you like better. You can actually pick up the new Elbow for 7.99 on iTunes, so what do you have to lose? Right. Eight bucks!


son pere said...

I used to be a Neil Diamond fan, but I find, now, that he can no longer sing! Have you heard him "live" lately? Wow, what a disappointment.

I am a HUGE fan of Today's Country music. I am convinced that the artists performing in the Country genre are the best pure singers out there. If you haven't given this segment of the recorded music genre a listen, I believe you are missing something. Plus, it's music you can let you kids listen to, since there is nothing (for the most part) objectionable about it. Give a listen to artists like Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Phil Vassar (one of Country's TOP song writers/artists), Little Big Town (great harmonizers), Emerson Drive, Lonestar (with Richie McDonald), Rascal Flatts, and on and on! These folks can truly belt 'em out! And they are "easy on the ears"! In addition, when you hear them "live", they sound EXACTLY the same because they really can SING!

Try it, you'll like it!

BeachBum said...

Thanks, SP, but I've never been much of a country music fan. The lone exception being Shania Twain and it wasn't for her music.

I spent my formative years listening to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, so that tends to be the type of music I listen to, although I'm getting more melodic in my old age.

Shiloh said...

I'm glad you've discovered Hot Hot Heat. You'd probably like their newer album if you liked Elevator. IDK about their older stuff since it's not as polished, but they are good!