Monday, June 29, 2009

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Driving to work this morning, I heard a sweet song on sirixmu by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros called "Janglin". This sparked a memory of a March NPR podcast in which they reviewed the days spent at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. It was during this podcast that they significantly hyped Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros. So I quickly typed (not while driving) the band's name into The Hype Machine and came across an even better song called "40 Day Dream". To this point, I don't know a lot about them except that they are led by IMA Robot's Alex Ebert. What I do know is that the music is seriously infectious. Reminds me of a mix of Gnarls Barkley and Arcade Fire. Can't stop listening to these songs!

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros have an EP out now entitled Here Comes. Their full length debut, Up From Below, comes out on July 14th.

Here are the two great songs I mentioned above.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - 40 Day Dream

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Janglin

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Horse Feathers - "Working Poor"

Horse Feathers, yet another outstanding band from Portland (go figure!), released their second LP House With No Home late last year. As was the case on their debut album Words Are Dead, Horse Feathers excel at the acoustic folk thing. Essentially a string band in their makeup, they "pluck instead of pick and never fiddle, and percussion is limited to the arrhythmic clatter of pots and pans" as one review so aptly described. I've often found myself wishing they would just let loose with some good old Appalachian bluegrass. Yet this plucking delineates their style and distinguishes their music from other acts. As is the case with most music with staying power, the songs of Horse Feathers are an acquired taste and their songs sink in gradually. Horse Feathers has completely sunk in for me and I find myself continually going back for more.

This video is the live version of "Working Poor" and "Curs In The Weeds" from House With No Home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Low Anthem - "To Ohio"

On The Low Anthem's third album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, this Providence, Rhode Island outfit cover an impressive gamut in terms of both style and instruments. The music is a broad brush of Americana, with harmonious folk songs reminiscent of Fleet Foxes ('To Ohio', 'Charlie Darwin') and Appalachian style stomp songs you might have heard during the Civil War era ('Home I'll Never Be', 'The Horizon Is A Beltway'). Whether the songs are trickling gently or erupting there is no shortage of instruments employed. From banjo to mandolin, tongue drum to Tibetan singing bowl, every device enriches the listening experience. Despite the diversity of the songs, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin has a beautiful flow that is more fully realized with each repeated listen. On Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, this trio that makes up The Low Anthem continues to lay the groundwork for what I expect will be an exceptional future.

Here is one of the best tracks on the album 'To Ohio':

The Low Anthem - To Ohio

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Gaslight Anthem - 'The '59 Sound'

The Gaslight Anthem is a band that is most certainly on the rise. They hail from New Jersey which also happens to be home to one of rock's greatest icons, Bruce Springsteen. However, it appears that this is more than just a fun fact when the band describes their sound as "Bruce Springsteen singing for a Cure cover band, with a tinge more aggression." As someone who acquired a deep passion for The Boss while growing up, I can certainly hear his influence in the music of The Gaslight Anthem. I also hear a touch of Arcade Fire in their sound. Considering The Gaslight Anthem to be a mix of these distinct but brilliant artists is no knock in my book. I guess the only question that remains is will my 2 year old son find this song as danceable as he did 'House of Mirrors' by Doves.

Their second album, The '59 Sound, released in August of last year.

Here is the video for the title track. The mp3 version of the song is directly below the video.

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Doves - "Kingdom of Rust"

One of the most under-appreciated bands to come out of the UK are England's own Doves. They steadliy follow in the wake being left by fellow UK bands Radiohead and Coldplay. Yet what separates them is their distinct blend of atmospheric sounds and melody. The environment their music creates puts you in almost a magical place.

It seems like another lifetime when I initially heard their first album, Lost Souls, in 2000. However, with their exceptional and incomparable sound, I clearly recall being convinced that they would be a band to watch as the years marched on.

Nine years and three albums later Doves have added another outstanding LP to their repertoire in Kingdom of Rust. I had been passing up this album for a couple months and my avoidance is now proving to be one of ignorance. The more I listen to Kingdom of Rust, the higher it ascends my 'Best of 2009' list.

Here are two excellent songs from Kingdom of Rust:

Doves - Kingdom of Rust

Doves - House of Mirrors

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ears, Just Hear: The National - "So Far Around The Bend"

The National - So Far Around The Bend

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gregory Alan Isakov - "That Moon Song"

The other night, I was laying in bed and listening to Gregory Alan Isakov's amazing new album This Empty Northern Hemisphere. It is an album that is bursting with life and detail. It provides the sensation that each pick of the banjo and each strum of the guitar is being played right there with you. On an emotional level, each of the songs and lyrics tug on your heartstrings in a distinctive way. You will understand when you listen. If you are going to pick up one album in the next couple months, get this one and then spread the word! To this day, I still cannot figure out how and why Gregory Alan Isakov is so far under the radar.

Here is a great quote from a review of This Empty Northern Hemisphere on Folk music:
It's a beautiful record. It's thickly orchestrated, warm, and full of so much sadness and longing. It's the kind of sadness and longing that leaves you with nothing other than the desire to lie on your back and watch the stars emerge behind passing clouds.

One of the best songs from This Empty Northern Hemisphere is "That Moon Song." I could not find it in mp3 format. Instead, this is from YouTube with just a picture of the album art. Turn it up loud and take in the sounds of one incredible songwriter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Questions Inspired By Song (Jason Lytle)

What if you were in a deep hole? What if you could hear the world moving around you but the world could not hear you? What if you sat in this hole and didn’t even try to get out? What if the birds could see you sitting in this hole? If these birds could talk, what would they say to you as you remained in this hole?

Listen to this new song by Jason Lytle (former lead singer of Grandaddy).

Jason Lytle - Birds Encouraged Him

What walls have been built around yourself? Have these walls made you blind and deaf to certain truths about life? Are you alone strong enough and brave enough to scale these walls? What fears and doubts keep you inside this 'man hole'? What glimpses of yourself are you terrified to reveal? What would happen if you finally unveiled it all?

Who is going to raze these walls for you?