Sep 29th, 2009
In the strange time warp that is the seven-day week of music blogs, time spent apart seems like a lifetime-and-a-half upon return. I’ve been hanging out in NYC this week with some good and loved friends. The trip was nothing short of necessary, and beautiful. I mapped out all of manhattan, and parts of brooklyn by conquering the subway system and fueling on pizza to keep my legs moving. I met some very cool people, and reunited with San Diego friends as well. Special thanks to Matt Woods, Kyle, Cynthia, George, RJ, Kenny, Jed, [Brandon via LA>NYC] and of course and absolutely: Mr Zimms. 23 is a good place to be.
The exciting thing about being away from the machine for a few days is all the new albums that await you at home. It feels like a school project you’re excited to dive into. That happens, right? Anyway, so much good stuff this past week! And strangely enough- most of it isn’t all that new!
Okay, I’m a little late on this one- released this past July, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ album, ‘Up from Below’ is electrifying. I’m so excited about these guys: fronted by Alex Ebert of Ima Robot and made up of a fleet of ten bohemians, you’d swear it were Jesus and his wispy-haired disciples of beauty and truth had you not looked twice. This band is genuine in dress and in words- not the crafty Williamsburg kids who could’ve fooled you with their untied ‘I don’t give a shit’ oxford shoes, but the lost hippies of decades before vintage meant a damn thing. With tribal sounds of flutes, xylophones playful meditative ‘ommms’ the Magnetic zeros transfix us with beautiful southwestern melodies and longed-for hedonism with only songs to live safely and vicariously through. Favorite track is ‘Home’ a duet that includes the strangest blood-covered love story between Jade and Alexander thats more adorable than it is gruesome.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros- Simplest Love
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros- 40 Day Dream
Montreal-based Islands’ third studio album ‘Vapours’ came out last week, and I love it! This is a rarity. I often don’t like anything that comes out of Montreal. I don’t know what category to place him without going on about drum machines, synthesizers, rock ‘sensibilities’ (what is sensible about a genre, it’s consistency?) I will leave it to run around, uncategorized, free to please the hypem devotees, the dance party kids and the more mellow folk to enjoy as a collective. It’s haunting, with a little postal service-inspired pop. The only track I’m not a fan of is ‘Heartbeat’ with distorted auto-tune vocals it cheapens the sound of an otherwise solid song. Favorite tracks are ‘No You Don’t’ and ‘Switched On’. They play the Mod Club Nov. 7th.
Islands- No You Dont
Islands- Switched On
Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse’s brilliant collaboration, ‘Dark Night of the Soul‘ featured vocals from James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils. It was released a few months back, and due to legal disputes with EMI it was never fully released, only sold as a blank cd and a photo book created by David Lynch with a note to invite the listener to ‘do what you will’. However, it streamed in it’s entirety via NPR. I heard a few tracks some time ago, but I finally have the full album. It’s a masterful project with ambient melodies and pop hooks. Dark Night of the Soul was derived from a 16th century Spanish poet describing loneliness and desolation in one’s spiritual walk. There is a fair amount of sombre, lonely tones in this album, with waves of absolute lightness carried by violins and scratching bells heard on the track, ‘Insane Lullaby’. It is easily one of the best records of the year.
Insane Lullaby- ft. James Mercer
London group The xx is pretty big in the UK with their new wave pop creations with the help of a children’s casio keyboard and drum machine. The vocals take some soul from R&B while maintaining it’s dreamy electronic pop sound. Their lyrics are very sensual and angsty. If sounds were images, I’d see a straight-faced mod kid barely opening her lips to let out the saddest words she thought up that day. It’s great- if you can get over the hipster credibility that will build them up them soon after discard them. But as for today- I love them!
The xx- Heart Skipped a Beat
The xx- Stars