Monday, December 31, 2007
Number 10: A Fine Frenzy's "One Cell in the Sea"
Sample Track: "Almost Lover" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Indigo/Chapters
A stunning debut album from gorgeous singer Alison Sudol, whose voice immediately captured me in "Rangers". After hearing it, I needed her album in a way I've needed few before it, and hers was one of the albums I anticipated most this year. While not every song is to the same quality, the music is still beautiful. "The Minnow and the Trout", though it feels oddly like the theme of a Disney movie, hits me in all the right places; and "Almost Lover", the sample track, is one of the most beautiful songs of the year.
Number 9: Tegan and Sara's "The Con"
Sample Track: "Soil, Soil" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Insound, Indigo/Chapters
This album, from one of my favourite Canadian artists, was indeed a grower as many declared it. Sitting for a long time at #17 on my list, only in recent weeks has it started to grow on me. It's full of good songs - "Soil, Soil", "Floorplan", "I Was Married" - and has one genuine hit in "Back in Your Head", which was the subject of my last Track Showcase. The thing that landed this album the list, however, is that every track is pretty damn listenable, even when you don't want to bother listening to the lyrics.
Number 8: Scala & Kolacny Brothers's "One-Winged Angel"
Sample Track: "The Beautiful People" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca
This Belgian girl's choir, whose gorgeous contemporary covers I've loved since first hearing them, released an album that included this shockingly impressive cover of Marylin Manson's "The Beautiful People". I'm not a fan of Manson (his style is my antithesis), but I enjoy this cover very much, and it gave me a chance to enjoy some of his incisive lyrics. This album also includes covers of Damien Rice, KT Tunstall and Radiohead, all worth checking out.
Number 7: Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible"
Sample Track: "Intervention" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Insound, Indigo/Chapters
An indie darling from the moment of its release, Arcade Fire has been sadly one of my neglected albums. Again, this is only one that rocketed into the top 10 once I started paying any amount of attention to it. "Intervention", the sample track, is just plain epic. "Keep the Car Running", "No Cars Go", "My Body is a Cage", all excellent tracks that make this even better than their debut.
Number 6: Andrew Bird's "Armchair Apocrypha"
Sample Track: "Imitosis" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Insound, Indigo/Chapters
My favourite artist, whose music has become a regular feature on my iPod. Though not nearly as amazing as "The Mysterious Production of Eggs" (which would have grabbed top spot), this album is a worthy successor, with "Heretics", quite possibly one of Andrew Bird's best songs (and definitely the most catchy). As I've shared "Heretics" before, I've included "Imitosis", a darker, gorgeous song I've only recently started listening to thanks to the brilliant remix I've previously posted. While I'd suggest "Eggs" before this any day, I urge you to get this album anyway. It's worthy of being an Andrew Bird album, and I can give no higher praise. Well, except maybe a spot on this list higher than 6, but it's still excellent.
Number 5: Remi Nicole's "My Conscience and I"
Sample Track: "Go Mr. Sunshine" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon
Another great debut following Alison Sudol's, Remi Nicole is very much following in the footsteps of Lily Allen, coming on as maybe her less-bitchy, just-as-funny sister. Tht's not a bad position to be in at all, as 'Conscience' is an excellent album full of songs with intelligent lyrics and generally good music to go with it. "Go Mr. Sunshine" is a great tribute to summer, one that allows for negative aspects that only make it, and the song, more charming; "Dates From Hell" is a shot at those men, probably some of the same assholes encountered by Ms. Allen on her album last year; "Rock'n Roll" is a great look as Nicole herself, while taking a dig at the stereotype of 'black artist = r'n'b or hip hop'. Pretty much every song here is a fun listen.
Number 4: White Rabbits' "Fort Nightly"
Sample Track: "While We Go Dancing" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Insound
These guys know how to make a beat. Every song on this album, from best to not-so-best, can at least get me bopping a little in my chair. The sample track, "While We Go Dancing", showcases this: It's got a great beat, without being overtly poppy or cheery. Much of the album follows this vibe, making for a great 41 minutes of listening. Also check out "Navy Wives", probably my favourite 'Rabbits' track.
Number 3: Patrick Park's "Everyone's in Everyone"
Sample Track: "Saint With a Fever" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca
After discovering Park via The O.C., as many of his listeners must have, I decided to seek out his albums. I found this, his newest album and an accomplishment indeed, holding a scattering of excellent tracks. I've previously shared "Life is a Song" (which most of you probably already had anyway) and "Pawn Song", so the sample is "Sant With a Fever", an interesting song that showcases Park's interesting songwriting.
Number 2: Dragonette's "Galore"
Sample Track: "Competition" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Indigo/Chapters
Eleven songs, all but one are amazingly catchy. The one thing I can say about Dragonette that, despite the sexual subjects of most of their songs, they aren't a band about sex. Well, they are, that's undoubtable - what other band would dare to have songs from the POVs of a prostitute, a mistress and a student seducing a teacher on the same album? - but the true meaning is joy. Joy of life, joy of sex, just utter joy, something no watered-down Britney or Christina will ever properly capture. Every song, despite my normal distaste for 'slutty music', makes me bring, and that's because you can just feel the fun that lead singer Martina's Sorbara's having. This isn't a serious album, and that's exactly why it's endearing.
Number 1: The Pierces' "Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge"
Sample Track: "Secret" (Sendspace link)
Buy link: Amazon, Amazon.ca, Insound
Thirteen tales from these delightfully devilish sisters, whose harmonizing voices and clever lyrics have captured my heart forever. Their music is haunting, with witchy ("Sticks & Stones"), teasing ("Boy in a Rock and Roll Band"), insanely rich ("boring") and vengeful ("Ruin") protagonists showcased in each and every song. Their dreamiest song, a rumination on the concept of "Three Wishes", is possibly their best. However, one of the stars of their album is "Secret", a song about the dangers of trusting your secrets with anyone, finally hammering it home that, "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead".
Friday, December 28, 2007
Tegan and Sara are one of Canada's best indie acts, a pair of identical twins with a knack for great lyrics and music both. They've been playing music for fifteen years - which, considering they are only 27, is no mean feat. Their newest album, The Con, includes this gem. I'm happy to showcase it in some depth, as it's been on my mind a lot this past week.
Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head (Sendspace link)
Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head (live on XPN at the World Cafe in Philadelphia) (Sendspace link) * (Originally downloaded from Uberdrivel)
This tune is a head bopper, one that gets you moving even when you realise its lyrics aren't exactly happy. It deals with disconnection, with change, with growing apart. This sadness is oddly expressed in an upbeat song, but after a couple listens you realise that no matter how good the beat is, it isn't upbeat at all, and it takes a bit of a melancholy feel.
Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head (RAC Remix) (Sendspace link)
Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head (Tiesto Remix Edit) (from I'll Take the Blame EP) (Sendspace link)
Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head (Morgan Page Remix) (Sendspace link)
The Broken West - Back in Your Head (Tegan and Sara cover) (Sendspace link)
Here are a collection of new versions of The Con's best song. The RAC remix is one you've probably already encountered, as it's currently making its rounds on the blog circuit. It's a nice, poppy remix with a light touch. The Tiesto Remix Edit is from their newest EP, I'll Take the Blame EP, which includes two new tunes as well as this and the original "Back In Your Head". It takes a very interesting angle to the song, accentuating the darker aspects and working well in its own right, as well as alongside the original. The Morgan Page remix is a good dance remix, giving it a beat that makes it even more impossible not to dance to. And finally, a cover of the song by The Broken West, a band I don't usually listen to but like here.
If you love this song nearly as much as I do, seriously consider buying the album.
* Me reuploading files that have gone offline since the original posting.
* A hub for you guys to request reuploads, which I will reupload and edit both into this post and the original.
* A place where those who cannot use sendspace (or prefer not to) can request uploads from other sites - Megaupload, Rapidshare, etc.
Currently, A. P. has requested I reupload a song from the Remixes post, so here goes...
DJ Magnet - Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly (Placebo Vs. Pet Shop Boys Vs. Kate Bush) (Sendspace link)
For Roon, from the Debut post:
Imogen Heap - Can't Take It In (from the Narnia OST) (Sendspace link)
Anything else I can help with, just comment!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Brandtson - Earthquakes and Sharks (Sendspace link)
Formed way back in 1996, Brandtson seem to be a different creature than the Grand Archives. Seem, I'd say, because I only have this one song of theirs, and it rocks. A song with a fantastic beat that just dares you to not bounce around to it, it tells the story of a guy who slowly learns that Mexico and California are not the safest places for the uninitiated. The chorus is an amusing listing off of the dangers, while the rest of the song is his specific experiences with a number of these things.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
How does one describe The Pierces properly? Devilish pop, I'd say is the best term for it, with their voices working as a chorus of two that gives them a sound no other artist out there seems to have. Their lyrics are biting and witty, or alternately beautiful and thought-provoking. These two sisters from Alabama are my MVPs of the music scene in 2007, with their frankly amazing CD, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge.
Indeed, the title is an apt one, as most of the songs have elements of both. Love and heartbreak, sadness and anger, they shift and weave so tightly you wonder whether they are different emotions at all. The thirteen songs are, with only one or two exceptions, all not only good but among my favourite songs of the year, if not rising to the eternal heights good music reaches with time.
Thirteen Tales is their third album, but I would actually encourage anyone to start with it. It's their best by a shocking distance, though their previous albums are alright. It's rare that an album where 80% of the songs are near-perfect, so I'm happy they fond their footing with this latest offering.
The Pierces - Three Wishes (Sendspace link)
This song is beautiful, with the duo being both chilling and beautiful in a song about what one would do with 'three wishes'. Instead of saccharine wish-fulfilment, this is a warning akin to 'be careful what you wish for'. The preamble sets the tone, asking potent questions about vulnerability, before t plunges into the core of the song. It presents fantastic journeys through air and sea, but teases that the last wish is for 'if your lover ever takes her love away', but refuses to elaborate whether that means regaining her love, getting over her.... or revenge.
The Pierces - Sticks and Stones (Sendspace link)
A seductive, creepy song from a pair of witchy femme fatales, with a perfect atmosphere that gets under your skin and makes you wonder whether they are, in fact, witches ready to 'suck your blood', as the poor unsettled fellow and subject of this song is afraid of. Their style works perfectly here, with the otherworldly feel of two voices for one POV working to their favour.
The Pierces - Boring (Sendspace link)
A song about living with too much money and adventure, this song pokes a little fun at starlets like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan while spinning a story about the destructive nature of wealth. When you can get anything you want, after all, does anything carry any real allure? Everything soon becomes so commonplace tat even 'the love of [your] life' becomes, as the song says, boring.
I'd continue, but if I did so I'd just go ahead and post the whole album, because every song is excellent (except for the dud Go to Heaven). Plus, I'll need something left to showcase when my Top 10 Albums of 2007 post goes up, which (SPOILER!) these girls will surely be on, if not topping.
Trust me. Get this CD, or you may regret it. All I can do is endlessly count the days 'til their eventual follow-up.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Not often will a track wow me nearly so much as this one. Gorgeous and haunting, this is (according to Walker herself) the story of a young woman who reels from the death of her soldier husband while pregnant with his child. The background, with beautiful piano and lush with instrumentation, gives me goosebumps. Listening to this song is like walking down a forest path in winter with no coat; the cold runs down your spine and threatens to freeze you from the inside out, but the view is so gorgeous that it's completely worth it.
Natalie Walker - Circles (Sendspace link)
Her CD is for sale at CDBaby, by the way.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
For now, I'll give you guys a roulette. Simple, easy, varied and hopefully just as quality (in music if not in writing) as a Showcase or Playlist.
The Dismemberment Plan - Crush (Jennifer Paige cover) (Sendspace link)
Lights - February Air (Sendspace link)
Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter (Sendspace link)
A Fine Frenzy - Let It Snow (Sendspace link)
Ron Sexsmith - Maybe This Christmas (Sendspace link)
The Sunshine Underground - Borders (Sendspace link)
Some Christmas- and winter-related songs to fit thematically with the time of year, plus a cover I find awfully amusing and a song from a band I really like.
And as always, if you like the artists, feel free to check them out elsewhere. And enjoy!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
... No, you don't understand. Hate. They are almost overwhelmingly disappointing. After hearing raves for, say, 'The Magical Unicorn Big Beats in the Jungle' remix of an artist I love, I grab it and, upon listening, sigh. Not only do they not improve the song, they often make my favourites unbearable! It's annoying. However, recently I've begun to come around, like I did for instrumentals. No, I don't think those others are any better, they're still awful - but now I won't have complete certainty beforehand that a new remix will suck enormously.
Another type of song I despised until I encountered some good/amusing ones were mashups. I thought they were lame attempts to play with popular music, and in most cases they are. However, there are some that are either genuinely amusing or actually damn good music.
So, in honour of giving things second chances, a playlist.
Andrew Bird - Imitosis (Four Tet Remix) (Sendspace link)
A song I never paid much attention to, Imitosis is a song common in tone to Andrew Bird's style: darker, moody, lyrical. Four Tet's remix adds a beat to it, something that accentuates the darkness of the song and yet draws you in further. It once or twice steps on Bird's toes, but otherwise an excellent enhancement to the original.
Amy Winehouse - Rehab (Desert Eagle Remix) (Sendspace link)
When my sister was extolling the virtues of this 'brilliant' new singer she'd found, I was often uninterested in Winehouse's music. However, this remix sold me on Rehab, a song I'd previously been (and still am) not terribly in love with. The horns in the back, the added beat, it just gives the song a whole sense of style that the original lacks.
Dido - Here With Me (Lukas Burton Remix) (Sendspace link)
Where the original, an old favourite, went for atmosphere, this remix goes for a lower-key song with a darker beat added in. The changes, while negating the slow build and chaotic backing of the original, gives this version a whole new flavour. It's more low-key, with the added beat giving a sense of order to the background later in the song.
Stars - Your Ex-Lover is Dead (Final Fantasy Remix) (Sendspace link)
A radical edit instrumentally, this remix strips the song right down to a piano and some hazy effects, making Stars' lead singers sound sound almost as if they're singing on a radio in the background. It's really quite pretty, and though it's not an improvement (as the original is quite possibly my favourite Star's song to begin with), it's a worthy remix.
DJ Magnet - Love Comes Running Up That Hill Quickly (Placebo Vs. Pet Shop Boys Vs. Kate Bush) (Sendspace link)
This mashup is extremely unusual in that, somehow, all the elements combine to make something that actually sounds like a standalone song. The main difference is that, instead of transplanting Song A's vocals to B's music, the mashing is used to enhance the main song, that being Placebo's cover of "Running Up That Hill". Ghostly vocals from Pet Shop Boys' "Love Comes Quickly", along with a beat I assume is from that song, give this a new atmosphere, while transplanting a portion of Kate Bush's original "Running Up That Hill" makes her sound less like a mash and more like a featured artist. This, on its own, impressed me enough to make up for all the bad ones I've seen before.
Empulsive - Toxic Rehab (Britney Spears vs. Amy Winehouse) (Sendspace link)
This is another interesting mashup that adds something to both involved songs. The 'toxic' metaphor of Britney Spears' song mixes well with the topic of addiction in Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab'. It turns the songs from one about a destructive relationship and another about literal rehab into what feels like a song about others' reactions to the protagonist's destructive relationship. It's 'toxic', she's 'high and can't come down', but they 'tried to make [her] go to rehab and [she] said no, no, no'. This makes it a deeper mix than just throwing The Fray vocals onto a Beyonce song because it sounds funny.
If you like the artists, feel free to check them out elsewhere. And enjoy!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
If I have a couple hours set aside, I want to make a good, worthy post about Andrew Bird. Also, I'd like to introduce you guys to Hello Saferide, Scala & Kolacny Brothers and Eisley. Sadly, as my reader base currently just consists of those related to me, the Feist and Imogen Heap (/Frou Frou) posts will have to wait when those reading don't already know them inside out.
Might do a couple more of these when I don't have the time and energy to write up a full showcase or playlist. Might try 'themed' roulettes, like from my covers playlist on my iPod or somesuch. Will require some more thought.
Going to definitely do more of these. I'll continue to do Awesome Playlists when I feel the urge, but something more interesting is on the horizon - playlists based on themes. Here's a rundown of the ones I'm currently, slowly, building up:
- A MONEY-THEMED playlist requested by my dear cousin, Marelly.
- An ISSUE-RELATED SONGS playlist, because everyone needs a dash of morality every so often.
- A SONGS FOR SLEEP playlist, for falling asleep to. Building this one for myself as well!
- A MASHUPS AND REMIXES playlist, as the former are so fun and the latter quite interesting to listen to.
- My INSTRUMENTAL mix made for SwapBot, that I sent to some partners.
- A LITERARY playlist, about songs with references to literature, or in the cases of some are literature put to music.
I have a feeling these are going to be fun to put together. I love tying together songs by themes, and this'll give me a chance to be a little creative.
This is where you guys come in. What do you guys want from this here little music blog? More covers? More new music recommendations? Playlists? Comment and tell me!
And, because I can't leave you with nothing, a random mp3 from my collection.
Adrienne Pierce - Lost & Found (Sendspace link)
A track that took me forever to find. I had it and loved it for a long time, but my copy was faulty and had these really annoying static interruptions. This version is slightly different from that one, but it's just as good and it doesn't have those blips that ruined the former version. Got this from Amie Street, which people who like getting mp3's legitimately and helping out artists can go to. It's got this neat way of deciding prices and promoting bands that I won't get into, but I figured it's cool so I'd rec it.
Anyway, that's it for now! Will try to get on here and post something new for you guys sometime soon!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
This time around, a less-obscure pick for those who are familiar with their (formerly) indie bands. Rilo Kiley is at its core its two singers, Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, known for the former moreso than the latter. Their lyrics are interesting, often with important messages hidden behind neat stories and anecdotes or amusing writing. They've recently approached the spotlight, signing to a major label and having their music showcased on a number of TV shows and films.
I'm biased toward Jenny Lewis, I'll say that straight out. I will pretty much always pick a song sung by her over Sennett, and that's a fact. I just like her voice and style more. That said, I'm not a huge fan of either's other work for the most part. Jenny's CD with the Watson Twins didn't hook me, and Sennett's band The Elected only have a couple songs I'm fond of. The closest non-Kiley work either has done that impressed me is Lewis' involvement in The Postal Service, with Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard.
I'd try to be spread out over their 4 albums and other works, but of course there's a bias as I prefer some songs and albums over others.
Rilo Kiley - American Wife (Portions For Foxes B-Side) (Sendspace link)
It might seem like an off choice to start with, but this is quite possibly my favourite Rilo Kiley song. It's certainly one that gets a lot of playtime. It tells the story of a pair who slowly self-destruct, an intriguing story that weaves in ideas about the inevitability of self-destruction. Probably one of the big draws for me in this song is how unconventional it is in many ways. For example, one part goes:
who've had ten broken limbs,
nine divorces and
eight broken hearts and
seven grandkids and
six bypass surgeries,
five college degrees,
four are sick,
three are well,
two are dead
one's in jail.
No-one here moves away
no-one here moves away...
Rilo Kiley - The Good That Won't Come Out (The Execution of All Things) (Sendspace link)
This is a song about the feeling we all know and few don't succumb to. Have you never felt sympathy for the poor and the hungry, or thought, 'It's a shame about the environment', but not really done anything to change things beyond a quarter in the charity box at Mac's? This song explores this, hinting at the concept of global warning but really speaking about the good in everyone that just doesn't come out, which leaves us standing, feeling sorry, as our Earth melts away.
Rilo Kiley - A Better Son/Daughter (The Execution of All Things) (Sendspace link)
A song that's really about social obligation, to always have a series of qualities (strength, kindness, grown up, smart) and forcing ourselves to seem 'happy' for everyone else even when we're really not in a place where that's who we are. This song always reminds me of Kara, weirdly enough. Might be the bit about sleep paralysis at the beginning. It's weird.
Rilo Kiley - A Man/Me/Then Jim (More Adventurous) (Sendspace link)
This is a song about the 'slow fade of love', and how despite our strongest attempts to reverse it, it will often overtake even the strongest passion and leave its prisoners trapped in a relationship that's gone stale or lead to at least one broken heart. The band returns to their interesting lyric-writing when they have this song tell three mini-stories - those of 'A Man' (who encounters a former lover at a funeral and discusses why they ended things), 'Me' (the story of the narrator, who hears the sad story a telemarketer has to tell), and 'Jim' (whose relationship is in the process of exploding in his face).
Rilo Kiley - The Frug (The Initial Friend) (Sendspace link)
This song, charmingly written song that, at first, seems like a collection of random 'I can' or 'I can't' statements that slowly adds up to a song about refusing to let oneself to be vulnerable, culminating in the protagonist's desperate declarations that 'I'll never fall in love, I cannot fall in love'. A nice example of subtlety, and one of my favourite RK songs despite my lack of analysis here.
Rilo Kiley - Christmas Cake (M3 Holiday Edition) (Sendspace link)
Despite its name, this song is not a happy-go-lucky Christmas song, instead an unflinching look at the realities of being poor and unhappy as the famous holiday approaches. The protagonist, crippled under credit card debt, can't get a decent foothold, warning future parents that 'you'll be paying them off 'til your kids grow up and do the same'. Things slowly get worse and worse as the bills pile higher and higher, eventually landing her permanently in her car and waiting, hopelessly, for the fresh start the New Year promises.
BUY: Amazon Canada, Amazon, InSound
Hope you give this excellent band a shot, as they're one of my favourites of all time. Jenny Lewis' voice and their lyrics combine to make Rilo Kiley, according to LastFM, my #3 overall artist (tied with Andrew Bird). Enjoy!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
That said, as it's Christmas, it's time for some early presents. And this time I bring: covers! One of my favourite aspects of the musical community, covers are a chance to re-interpret and reconnect with old favourites or the former despised. It's newness and oldness and everything in between.
Tegan and Sara - When You Were Mine (Prince cover) (Sendspace link)
I love this song, though I'm not so much a fan of its original artist. It just makes me happy, and though I'm not sure why, I don't question it. It doesn't feel very polished, but somehow that just adds to its charm.
Keane - Dinner at Eight (Rufus Wainwright cover) (Sendspace link)
This song, written by Rufus Wainwright about his contentious relationship with his famous father Louden Wainwright III, is just a powerful piece of music. I want to say that another artist, especially an artist like Keane who I sometimes lump with bland Brit bands that live on the 'net in multitudes, covering this song is an abomination. However, then I remember that I often undervalue Keane (tarnished by its association in my mind with the often-atrocious Coldplay and my own overlistening), and that while this rendition isn't quite as lovely as Rufus' original, it's an impressive cover and the song that drew me to the original in the first place.
Final Fantasy - Cliquot (Beirut cover) (Sendspace link)
Played before Cliquot was officially released on The Flying Club Cup, this is a lower-key, more melancholy affair with less of the drama of the original. I love the lead singer's voice, and it fits the song very well, giving this cover its worthy spot alongside the original. This version is, sadly, a little fuzzy, but that is hardly noticeable after a couple listens.
Sun Yan Zi - Silent All These Years (Tori Amos cover) (Sendspace link)
This cover is gorgeous, with the piano bobbing alongside it and Sun Yan Zi's beautiful voice pushing it along. There's something more stylised about it, and her accent is enchanting. Just as Tor bettered the original of 'She's Leaving Home', I'm wondering whether I can mark Sun's cover better than Tori's original.
Though these may not be mindblowing at first, give them a chance to work out under your skin. They'll get a hold in and never let you go.
If you like the artists, check them out elsewhere!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Similar to the roulette, the Awesome Playlist is a collection of songs, but instead of being random they're the ones that, for some reason or other, I've been listening to a lot lately. I don't know why, but on different weeks different songs just seem to 'click' with me, and for the time being these are those songs.
The Grand Archives - Sleepdriving (Sendspace link)
This group, headlined by former guitarist and vocalist for Carissa's Wierd and former guitarist for Band of Horses Matt Brooke, is pretty damn new. The only available songs are three demos they've recently released while they work on their debut. That said, the demos are excellent, and 'Sleepdriving' is the best of the trilogy. It's the kind of music that might play in the background of a dream, a melancholy, ethereal piece of music that I just love. Download this, as I expect these Archives will be one I raid from muchly in the future.
Andrew Bird - Why? (live) (Sendspace link)
You guys should know my intense love of all things Andrew Bird, if only because I've peppered his music through this blog. The only reason I haven't posted a showcase is that I'd need quite a bit of preparation to do him justice. Anyway, this song was originally released by his band, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, but their style sadly irritate me to no end. He later included a solo performance of the song on Fingerlings, the first of his live-only albums. The song itself is a typical Andrew Bird song in its atypical tone and focus: A man who is angered by his partner by his refusing to be riled up and fight, with the chorus including the line: "Damn you for being so easy-going." The idea of a relationship where conflict is promoted is an intriguing one, and it reminds that the real opposite of love isn't hate but indifference.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Heartbeats (The Knife) (Sendspace link)
Another group begging for a showcase, here's a taste of Scala, the intriguing Belgian youth girls' choir whose repertoire consists mainly of recognisable North American songs, and their conductors the Kolacny brothers. I've never heard the original song, but that doesn't matter much as Scala's version is a beautiful, piano-driven masterpiece. The choral treatment doesn't render it inaccessible; indeed, it makes it more universal, strangely enough.
Sufjan Stevens - Romulus (Sendspace link)
Sufjan seems to be the indie king, grabbing accolades and praise everywhere for his deep and heavily-researched albums, two of which are themed around American states. Romulus is from one of these albums (Michigan), and derives its title not from the mythical founder of Rome but from a Michigan city, where the song's protagonist lives. It's a story of shame, about an absent mother who buggers off to make a new family, leaving her other children in care of their grandfather. One of these children, the song's narrator, talks about their contempt of her, and how they would love to just avoid seeing her ever again. It's an interesting tale, one I'm curious whether there are real-life connections for Stevens or not. It seems intensely real.
And the one I cannot find to upload for the life of me, so you'll have to search it out for yourselves...
Brandston - Earthquakes and Sharks
Formed way back in 1996, Brandston seem to be a different creature than the Grand Archives. Seem, I'd say, because I only have this one song of theirs, and it rocks. A song with a fantastic beat that just dares you to not bounce around to it, it tells the story of a guy who slowly learns that Mexico and California are not the safest places for the uninitiated. The chorus is an amusing listing off of the dangers, while the rest of the song is his specific experiences with a number of these things.
BUY: Amazon, Amazon Canada, InSound
Those are the songs that have been on pretty heavy rotation on my iPod lately. Not 100 listens, but they're much dearer to my heart now than they once were. Enjoy!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Hawksley Workman - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover) (Sendspace link)
Wild Sweet Orange - Ten Dead Dogs (Sendspace link)
Aimee Mann - Invisible Ink (Sendspace link)
The Dears - You and I Are a Gang of Losers (Sendspace link)
Rufus Wainwright - Going to a Town (Sendspace link)
There's the end of my first-ever roulette. Enjoy!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Patrick Park, a talented singer with two albums under his belt, is probably best known for his songs being featured on former trendsetter The O.C. One of these, 'Life is a Song', was even the final song played on the series, where the music was like another castmember. This is important because the music supervisor on The OC, and later Grey's Anatomy, was my hero Alexandra Patsavas, and finds like Park are the reason why I hold this woman in such high esteem.
I myself learned about Park after his song grabbing the coveted final spot in the OC's series finale, but little did I know that it would be just the beginning. A bit of a hunt brought me his other OC-featured song, 'Something Pretty'. Both songs took a while to grow on me, but a month or so later I spent the whole hour-long drive to visit my sister listening to his two CDs, and I'd realised this guy was someone I really, really enjoyed listening to.
His stuff isn't flashy or exciting in the conventional sense, but his strength is in his simplicity. It's mostly him and a guitar, with little more in a way of background to his fantastic vocals and lyrics. I've detected religious undertones in his songs, but unlike many he doesn't use music as a soap box to preach about God, it just feels like another subtle piece of him in his music, just like his anti-war sentiments that I agree more with. He's sitting at a healthy #24 on my LastFM list, and I'm hoping he'll continue to rise as I listen.
Patrick Park - Life's a Song (Sendspace link)
This is a song about not taking life for granted, but without fearing death; of living in the now instead of chaining yourself to your past; and refusing to be a hypocrite by preaching a good afterlife and yet fearing death. I myself make no apologies for my atheistic beliefs, but I agree with Park that no matter what, life is a miracle and it should be celebrated, not wasted while we twitch at every possible threat to our well-bring.
Patrick Park - Something Pretty (Sendspace link)
His other best-known song, Something Pretty comes from the perspective of a road-weary traveller ready to set down his burden, leave behind his loneliness, and find some sort of beauty in the world. It's a song of epiphany, of personal revelation and, ultimately, moving beyond your flaws to become something better.
Patrick Park - Pawn Song (Sendspace link)
Quite possibly my favourite song from Park, this is a rousing anti-war song reminding us of the dehumanising effect of armed combat. It describes an unspecified revolution, where the men march in the streets ready to be mowed down by the stronger enemy without any true thought, the person inside lost to the machine of war. It reminds us ultimately that while 'some fool's still thinking there peace at the end of a gun', the soldiers lose something vital they'll probably never get back.
Patrick Park - Business of Oblivion (Sendspace link)
A newer song, though the release from whence it comes is a mystery to me. It's a bit more rough'n tumble and directly political than most of Park's work, sharing some of 'Pawn's anti-war sentiments while condemning the idea of conformity for conformity's sense. It touches on the war, on global warming and environmentalism, but it all comes down to the heartless businessmen running the world's economy, viewing the world as a 'generator', taking what they can and watching the dominoes fall in their wake.
BUY: Amazon, Amazon Canada, Insound, CD Baby
Patrick Park is an outstanding musician, and I'm betting this is only the beginning. His latest album came out this year, which means new material should be rare for a while, but I'll be waiting. While I do, get your hands on his CDs and enjoy.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Here goes! Seven songs, one for every day of the first week:
The New Pornographers - Sing Me Spanish Techno (Sendspace link)
The Lascivious Biddies - Ask (The Smiths cover) (Sendspace link)
Cloetta Paris - Broken Heart Tango (Sendspace link) [Bringer of Song favourite]
Bear McCreary - Destiny (Battlestar Galactica OST) (Sendspace link)
Imogen Heap - Can't Take It In (The Chronicles of Narnia OST) (Sendspace link) [Bringer of Song favourite]
Andrew Bird - Opposite Day (Sendspace link) [Bringer of Song favourite]
Eisley - Many Funerals (Sendspace link)
If you like the artists, check them out elsewhere.
Sarah Blasko is an Australian singer with a gorgeous voice and a knack for intriguing lyrics. Already being noticed with only a pair of CDs under her belt, her debut CD was nominated for 4 ARIA awards including Album of the Year, and her second debuted at #7 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Sarah Blasko is #25 on my LastFM charts. Her CDs are 'The Overture and the Underscore', and 'What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have'.
Sarah Blasko - Queen of Apology (Sendspace link)
Kicking off with a reference to 'The Ancient Mariner', this song discusses being 'bride to the king of blame', the titular queen of apology. Building as the song goes on, Sarah Blasko's beautiful voice gets a great, dark showcase here. Probably my favourite Blasko song, one that I could listen to five times in a row and enjoy it equally every time. Lyrically brilliant, sensually moving.
Sarah Blasko - The Garden's End (Sendspace link)
Aother darker song, 'End' gives the impression of a hunt, a chase through the darkness that will scar everyone involved. Chilling, atmospheric and Blasko's lyrics at their best. Still not 100% sure whether this song is a straigh, bizarre fantasy or whether, like 'Queen', it's a metaphor for some deeper, real-life issue Blasko wants to explore.
Sarah Blasko - Don't You Eva (Sendspace link)
"You've got a way with words, you've got a way that makes me feel so complicated." Thus starts this song from Blasko's debut album, a song about yearning for the 'one thing you may never know'. Piano strikes in the background periodically as this song pushes onwards, drawing you into the world Blasko's voice creates. quite possibly the best song off 'Underscore'.
BONUS MP3: Sarah Blasko - Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House cover) (Sendspace link)
BUY: Amazon, Amazon Canada, Insound
Sarah Blasko is a rare treat. Her voice is a night wind, sending chills down your spine you as you walk down a dark forest path and hope you're not being followed. She's a tossing sea at midnight, the creak of the ship's planks under your feet as you watch the swaying full moon. She's an amazing singer, and you'll love her.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tori Amos is, if you don't know this yet, a genius. A musical prodigy from a young age, she was the youngest student to enter the Peabody Conservatory of Music - at age 5. She was kicked out at age 11, not because of any lack of skill, but because she preferred rock and popular music instead of the more traditional styles encouraged at the school.
A piano-driven singer-songwriter, Tori Amos has since released nine studio albums, and over the course of her career has explored numerous topics. Suffering a rape and two miscarriages, this is a woman who knows personal pain and tragedy better than most so-called artists of our day and age, and makes our culture's worshipping of Beyonce and Shakira types even more of a sad parody.
Though I can't possibly do this woman justice in a single post, I can post some of her best work and let you be the judge.
Tori Amos - 1000 Oceans (Sendspace link)
This song, a touching story of a woman lamenting the distance between her and her lover, showcases both Amos' skills with a piano and her gorgeous voice. It's truly stirring, as the song's protagonist expresses the desire to cry 1000 oceans 'if that's what it takes to sail you home', and gives us a beautiful image of Tori, floating in a vast ocean of tears, waiting...
Tori Amos - Strange (Sendspace link)
Strange examines the idea of leaving everything behind to devote your life to someone, only to discover that, without that love, your world isn't your world after all, but theirs. Once that person is gone, you're stuck in a 'world that I am not a part of, except when I can play it's stranger'. She repeatedly tries to understand why she can't just learn from her mistakes and move on, stop trying to be someone she's not, and finds herself unable to. Possibly my favourite Tori song, as the vocals and instrumentation work together to make a real beautiful song. It ends on a hopeful note, as she decides that all she can do is acknowledge her mistakes and move on to a life she can call her own.
Tori Amos - Me and a Gun (Sendspace link)
Tori Amos wrote this song in the aftermath of her rape at the hands of a man who forced her to sing hymns as he did so, and threatened to 'cut her up' and take her to his friends. This experience is clear in this song, as the thoughts that run through her head run from the desperate ("I haven't seen Barbados, so I must get out of this") to terror ("So I'll just change direction, as they'll soon know where I live, and I wanna live"). This song is painful, and ponly moreso when you learn about the actual event that inspired it. The song is performed a cappella, unadorned by piano like other songs, better to show the raw trauma involved.
Tori Amos - A Sorta Fairytale (Sendspace link)
This song has Tori recalling a particularly good day, one that, 'like a good book', she can't stop reminiscing about, despite the lack of a 'happy ever after'. That day stays in her memory, a bright light no matter how that relationship continued and was lost, and you can feel her need to hold onto that memory once that love is gone.
Other great Tori tunes that I may post at a later date: Jackie's Strength, Girl Disappearing, Sweet the Sting, Gold Dust, I Can't See New York, Happy Phantom
BUY: Amazon, Amazon Canada, InSound
Just to let you know, Tori is (according to LastFM) by most-listened artist, and I'd have to say I know why. She's gorgeous, as is her music. So, give her a shot! :)
Monday, November 19, 2007
A more obscure artist, even, than last showcase, Dirty Elegance is rather intriguing and one I can only attempt to explain, or at least describe. Again, first I will let those who know what they're talking about take a crack at it; the following except is taken from his LastFM entry: 'Dark, melancholy and hauntingly epic melodies interwoven with city grit and prowess into the human easel of emotional experience, Dirty Elegance's debut, Finding Beauty In The Wretched, takes its seat at the seminal table, innovatively capturing the depth of the human condition while maintaining a non-genre specific consistency. Passionately expressing a bountiful palette of emotional experience, Dirty Elegance introduces himself to the world with seeds of timelessness and gifts of audible ecstasies... Finding Beauty In The Wretched is not to be overlooked.'
That's a pretty good place to start. These are songs based, not on lyrics, but on sound. The genre is 'trip-hop', and they definitely aren't conventional. The voice is rarely used to sing lyrics, instead used as an instrument along with the other various elements of their songs. The artist often include excerpts of other works in songs that (I believe) work thematically with what he's aiming to achieve. There's a kind of beauty in his mysterious sound, and it resonates.
I'm quickly learning that this album is much deeper than I've given it credit for, and that it will probably go against the artistic intent to post individual mp3's. I honestly think, to get a real feel for it, it should be listened as a whole, not on shuffle. However, I believe that these samples will give you a understanding of what to expect, so you can get it and try to dig into its meaning yourself.
Dirty Elegance - Foreworld (Sendspace link)
The CD begins with a reading, one which I was not initially familiar with. Google identifies it as a cut-down version of 'The Perils of Indifference', a speech delivered at Washington DC on April 12, 1999 by Elie Wiesel, best known for Night, his memoir about his experiences at a Nazi concentration camp. The speech centres on the emotional aftermath of the traumas of war, and how they cause a sense of indifference. It's an intriguing opener, and backed with a melancholy, soul-aching tune that really nails home the essence of the reading. This, despite its oddness, is probably my favourite part of the CD, and I'm glad it steered me toward this interesting speech. This is hardly the last reference to this speech, as another track, 'Eternal Infamy', is named after the words he used to describe the particular camp his experiences occurred in, named Buchenwald; and Laurel Marty Scrapings (see below) also has brief excerpts from it.
In finally looking into these excerpts, which I admit I never felt I had reason to until now, I'm beginning to uncover a theme. for example, Jury and Hick and Engloutir both contain excerpts attributed to Charles Manson, though I can't uncover exactly where from. Here's the speech(?) in, I think, its entirety, with portions used in the songs bolded (any flaws kept from source):
"Remorse for what? You people have done everything in the world to me. Doesn't that give me equal right? I can do anything I want to you people, anytime I want to because that's what you've done to me. If you spit in my face and smack me in the mouth and throw me in solitary confinement for nothing, what do you think's gonna happen when I get out of here?Another track, Angelic Remedy, includes the quote from Malcolm X: "We love everybody who loves us. But we don't love anybody who doesn't love us."
Maybe I haven't done enough; I might be ashamed of that, for not doing enough. For not giving enough, for not being more perceptive, for not being aware enough, for not understanding. For, uh, being stupid. Maybe I should of killed four or five hundred people, then I would of felt better. I would have felt like I really offered society something.
You've got it stuck in your brain that I murdered somebody. What do you wanna call me a murderer for, I've never killed anyone! I don't need to kill anyone! I think it! I have it here!
This street is my world. I don't, uh, I don't pretend to go uptown and be anything fancy. I can, but I find more real in the world that I'm in than I do the tinsel. And the real world is the one I have to deal with everyday, ya know.
Believe me, if I started murdering people, there'd be none of ya left."
- Charles Manson
I haven't listened to this CD as extensively as I could have, so there are most likely more excerpts of the same fashion which contribute to what I believe will be the album's overall theme. One of these days, I'm going to sit down and really listen to this, as I feel there's a lot I'm at present unaware of in this album, a lot that could be mined from it. That said, those songs with these excerpts aren't my personal choices to include here, so you'll have to uncover these tracks on your own.
Dirty Elegance - Accouchement (Sendspace link)
This song, a piano and vocally-driven song, works without the thematic excerpts, giving an interesting listen with a lot of layers. It's quite beautiful, if unusual. Honestly, give it a listen, don't rely on my words because I cannot describe this music to you in a way that could do it justice.
Dirty Elegance - Laurel Marty Scrapings (Sendspace link)
More piano with different sound effects somehow making the song instead of ruining it. This also includes brief excerpts from 'The Perils of Indifference'. Again, impossible to describe; just give it a chance.
I'm still working my way through this album, but it's much more interesting to me now than it was even a few hours ago. Enjoy.
I have tracked down his official website, which had this to say:
The movement started with one Dirty Artist whose soul was touched by the Majikal Angelic One. They started down the road to Elegance together and paused long enough to find the Madman Genius from the Core. Together, with the Master Artiste, Dirty Elegance, as it stands today, was bourne.
Dirty Elegance is not music. Dirty Elegance is not art or pictures or clothing, though the emotions which comprise the movement may be reflected through these creative mediums. Dirty Elegance is an idea. An idea that beneath the soot filled superficiality lies a classic greatness. A re-instating of something that once was valued but has since been forgotten. An idea that it is still beautiful, despite is nicks, cracks, and tears. That it may be resurrected if it is truly seen. And truly loved.
"The rose which was nourished by tears, blossomed through love."~ Dirty Elegance
So, my idea of a theme wasn't far off, and it's just as mysterious and intriguing as before. Hm. This guy's use of language gives me the impression of somewhere between a mysticism- or mythology-based artist, a cultist, or a crock. Luckily, his music leads me to believe the former.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
My Latest Novel are a Scottish five-piece band. According to Wikipedia: "They augment the traditional rock line up of guitars, drums, bass and keyboards, with the use of violins, xylophones and undulating percussion, as well as multi-part vocals. Their musical style is notable for its contrasting melancholic and uplifting moods, the unusual use of the spoken word, and by surprising mid-song changes in tempo and atmosphere." Yep, that pretty much sums them up.
I stumbled upon My Latest Novel via, what else, a music blog some months ago. They hung around on my iPod for a while until I gave 'When We Were Wolves' and 'Pretty in a Panic' listens, and after 2-3 times I started to realise: I goddamn love this band!
I quickly grabbed their CD, 'Wolves', and have yet to find a song I dislike. They tend to grow on you, so that 2-3 months after first listening, you realise you've heard it a few times and you desperately wanna hear more. This has happened with every song on the CD excepting two, 'The Hope Edition' and 'Ghost in the Gutter', and I get the specific feeling that they're close to breaking out as well.
The songs I'm offering up today, hoping that you'll fall in love as I have and give their album a listen:
My Latest Novel - When We Were Wolves (Sendspace link)
The striking first song I heard from them, most likely grabbed because wolves are near and dear to my heart, is intriguing on first listen. The song starts with just the phrase 'when we were wolves' being repeated, almost feeling like a howl from human throat. It continues to pound forwards with a couple of phrases, and though the lyrics may seem repetitive, the style and feel of the song make that a strength rather than a weakness.
My Latest Novel - Pretty in a Panic (Sendspace link)
There's just something about this song. The music is beautiful, and I must profess I love the lead singer's voice. The lyrics are, as usual, pretty enigmatic, but that makes analysis all the more rewarding. To be honest, though I have trouble describing it, this is the song where I decided MLN was something pretty special.
My Latest Novel - The Reputation of Ross Francis (Sendspace link)
My latest one to 'click', this song, about a slick lawyer-type wheedling his way into heaven via elaborate lies, is a very enjoyable experience. His pleading in the chorus, the bouncing on the song, the choral feeling of the singing, makes it so. And when you reach the climax, you can't help but grin.
BUY AT: Amazon Canada, InSound
These are only a small sample of their amazing CD, and their follow-up could be my most-anticipated release of a near future that should include Imogen Heap, The Postal Service, Alanis Morissette and Snow Patrol.
Friday, November 16, 2007
So, 6 of my favourite covers off the top of my head:
Tori Amos - She's Leaving Home (The Beatles cover) (Sendspace link)
I must admit something: though I once loved them, I cannot stand listening to the Beatles nowadays. Maybe it was too much in my youth, but there's something about them I can no longer stand. That said, their songs are often fantastic, and this is no different. Dropping the overly bouncy tone and dozy chorus of the original, Tori makes this song work to her style - her version is a beautiful, piano-driven tale. Live cover.
Dragonette - The Boys (Calvin Harris cover) (link)
The original, 'The Girls', is an amusing but forgettable ode to the straight male's sexuality. Dragonette, the queen of fun, sexually-charged songs, takes the same song, but doesn't merely switch the pronouns. This version has an additional section in the middle and adds a bit to the chorus, vital edits that help make it a song that dares you not to dance, or at least bop in your seat. It sounds joyful without falling into 'The Girls' trap of sounding vaguely lecherous, which is a victory in my book.
Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright - Careless Whisper (George Michael cover) (link)
I've never heard the original, but this live rendition of a strangely popular, cover-wise, song is probably the best I've heard. These two interpret the song into a heartbreaking plea for impossible forgiveness, and their voices work surprisingly well. The piano works well as well, as I think it's only behind possibly the violin in perfect atmosphere for sad songs.
Bettie Serveert - Love I Don't Have to Love (Bright Eyes cover) (link)
A song about ignoring pain through mindless, anonymous sex, it works perfectly with an intense sound behind BS lead singer Carol van Dijk's tragic version of an already-bleak song. It's loud, it's dark and its painful in a good way. I spent a couple days after discovering it just playing it almost constantly, because it's that good.
Westlife - Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler cover) (link)
Looking at the ever-popular song through a male perspective, this song is sometimes hilarious, which is a sobering reminder of gender roles and how, if this weren't a cover, the singers would be decried as 'gay whiners'. That said, it's an extremely well-done cover, with appropriate piano and two guys filling in for Bonnie Tyler alone.
Vienna Teng - Cannonball (Damien Rice cover) (link)
The original, while gorgeous, began to grate after a number of listens. This version is a fresh and equally gorgeous take on the song. Vienna Teng's voice here is on top form, soaring, an arctic wing blowing through your heart and covering your skin in chills. Breathtakingly beautiful.
Now, there are far from the only covers I love. I have a collection of dozens, so you'll be pleased to know they'll probably pop up quite a bit on this blog.
And for easy downloading en masse...
Now, though I'm not planning on uploading them right now (maybe later if you ask nicely), here are some covers I also love that you might want to keep an eye out for:
CAKE - I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor cover)
Alanis Morissette - My Humps (Fergie cover)
Final Fantasy - Cliquot (Beirut cover)
The Cranberries - Go Your Own Way (The Cardigans cover)
Jonna Lee - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (The Postal Service cover)
MDL - Naked As We Came (Iron & Wine cover)
And ANYTHING by Scala and Kolacny Brothers. If I don't devote a whole post to them later, that is.
Thus concludes our momentary dip into the world of covers. Trust me, there's an ocean out there, just waiting...
[** Title paraphrases a line from 'The Boys'.]
Thursday, November 15, 2007
As for my tastes, according to my eldest sister Kara I'm an indie b*tch. However, despite that I'd say I have a pretty varied tastes. I love pretty much anything where I can feel the character or the emotion behind it and get really into the song. My favourite subgenres are piano rock, indie rock, and indie pop. My 'type' is female indie rock- or pop-artists, but I also have loads of songs that fall under Electronic, Folk, Gothic and Gothic Rock, Grunge, Instrumental, Trip-Hop, and even some Disco/Dance type music. Really, the only things I'll downright refuse to listen to are rap and hip hop, as the entire style of those genres irks me. Other than that, though, it all depends on how I like it, not genre.
However, before I can get to the actual music sharing, I gotta disclaim that any music offered herein is for preview purposes and, if you want to support these artists, I urge you to purchase their CDs and give them the success they so deserve. Also, if you are a copyright owner and wish for me to take down any songs, feel free to email me. I don't want to hurt any of these artists; indeed, I wish them all the success that increased exposure can offer them, even if my readership ends up just being me and my varying family members.
Also, before you check me out, I just wanna give a shout out to the following blogs:
Zeon's Music Blog
We share similar tastes, Zeon and I. His blog has introduced me to many, many artists I now adore, and I doubt my little blog will ever surpass his. Heck, some of the songs I post here may hold Zeon as an origin, though we don't always agree on what's great or not.
The Music Slut
While these guys post the occasional mp3, I mostly rely on them for their great coverage of random music-related news. Concert notices, album info, and my favourite: Their 'The world of B-Sides and Rarities' posts, where more rare tracks can be uncovered.
Silly Pipe Dreams
Sonny, an up-and-coming TV writer himself, is a very funny guy who has no qualms seeking out and posting songs from his favourite shows' weekly episodes so those who want to know more can download them and check them out. However, though you may come for the songs, you might keep coming merely to see how he's doing, because he's a pretty cool guy. And, duh, music!
Kara's Sketchy Blog Thing
Less a music blog than a journal/outlet for my dear sister, this is nonetheless a hilarious look into the life of the Kara. She does, occasionally, post music as well. Her blog is more inclined to crazy art and stories, like her recent accidental boiling of a tomato and her adventures as a young adult in Toronto.
My musically-inclined cousin Marelly has a blog that I'm finding gets better and better. Random concert reviews in the Toronto-ish area and plenty of music to enjoy. She's also damn cool.
So, that having been dealt with, here's the real introduction, the one that matters:
1. The Fray - Vienna
Though not even close to my favourite song, Vienna has been my most-played song for weeks, maybe even months, according to iTunes. I do love it, and find it very easy to listen to, so perhaps it's merely because it is a mild, less intense love that never burns out. The song itself is piano rock, a song that I believe is about escaping one's troubles. I love this band's vocals, and there's something mysterious about quite a few of their lyrics, which I like. This is the band, by the way, that brought you the (apparently overplayed) "How to Save a Life", popularised by its use in Grey's Anatomy promotions.
2. Imogen Heap - Glittering Clouds
Ah, Imogen Heap. I absolutely love her voice, and this song, a rare track from a compliation CD based around the theme of the Plagues, is a good example of it. It's a dark and beautiful song, based on the Plague of Locusts. It gives the feeling of urgency, using sound effects like wind and buzzing sounds (representing the locusts) to give atmosphere to the song, and you can feel it creeping down your spine. The mysterious story has the protagonist prone to fits of blacking out and awaking to find she's committed some horrible crime. It would make the song interesting even if the recording itself weren't as arresting as it is.
3. Andrew Bird - A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
I can't even express how much I love this dark, brooding, mysterious song. The layers of instrumentation, and Bird's amazing whistling (yes, this man can make whistling a beautiful, haunting instrument), just make me want to close my eyes and listen. It's just a work of beauty. I can't say anything more than that.
4. Explosions in the Sky - Remember Me As a Time of Day
This song, almost-singlehandedly, turned me onto instrumental music. Before I ever watched Friday Night Lights, I uncovered this song over at Silly Pipe Dreams (see above), and it slowly grew on me. Just listen to it, and hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
5. Angie Aparo - Hush
Little-known singer, Angie Aparo is pretty rocking. This song is pretty cool, and I enjoy his sometimes-indecipherable lyrics. However, there's something about this song - maybe it's the vocals, maybe is the almost epic sound of it, but I just really enjoy it. Get a couple of Aparo's songs and you'll realise that it's worth it to seek out his CDs or mp3s to buy, as they are virtually impossible to find otherwise.
6. Rachael Yamagata - Worn Me Down
The lyrics of this song, about a woman whose boyfriend is clearly in love with another woman, is heartbreaking. When combined with Yamagata's deeper, smoky vocals, you get exactly how desperate she is to escape this nightmare. Knowing you've done everything you can and you still make no difference hurts, and this song shows it.
7. Sia - Breathe Me
This is an intensely beautiful song. The building piano combined with Sia's ghostly magnificent vocals makes a song that, paradoxically, makes it hard to breathe while listening to. Popularised by capping off the series finale to "Six Feet Under" and, since, been used for many commercials and shows by music supervisors who recognise the beauty in it.
8. Hello Saferide - Valentine's Day
Hello Saferide is articulate, warm, hilarious and, most of all, real. Her songs just feel like they are coming from a real person somewhere, with genuine flaws and idiosyncrasies. This song, while not highlighting those particular strengths, is a quiet tale of a woman who, downtrodden in a loveless marriage, finally decides to leave her husband on Valentine's Day.
9. Tegan and Sara - This is Everything
This song, from Canadian wonder twins Tegan and Sara Quin, captures the stirring feeling of love and being overwhelmed by it in a song. There's a moment where it kicks in, about halfway in the song, that you feel an intense determination that, yes, love is big and love is scary, but you refuse to back down. I can't claim to understand the rest of the lyrics ("I'm a frosted lemon carrot"? I should look them up sometime), but I definitely enjoy listening to it.
10. Travis - Re-Offender
Travis has long been a band I've liked, but not loved, except for a scant few songs. This one, off their mush-maligned '12 Memories' album, has to be my definite favourite. Drawn from lead singer Fran Healy's own experiences as a child of an abusive marriage, it's a story of a woman (or man, possibly) who is trapped in a similar marriage. The lyrics just ring so true, and it's so obvious that the protagonist is just falling apart despite the strength of the song.
Enjoy! And remember to support an artist that you appreciate by buying their albums.