Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I'm Listening To - "At Mount Zoomer", Wolf Parade

Thanks to Bob Boilen (again), I've been introduced to the music of the Canadian band Wolf Parade. I've just begun listening to "At Mount Zoomer", this year's follow-up to their debut album "Apologies to the Queen Mary" from 2005. (Do any of my readers have that one - and if so, would you tell me what you think?)

Why did I buy this album, when I'd barely heard any of their music? Because Boilen compared them to Sparks. Now, they don't sound exactly like Sparks, but I didn't expect them to. But their sound is certainly unique, like Sparks', and I believe that I will really appreciate their lyrics...well, if I can find them somewhere on the web. You see, their "liner notes" consist of only artwork. It's interesting art, too, like the kind your cool friend in college might have painted. You know what I mean - the friend you envied for his/her ability to make art so easily.

Anyway, on first listen in the car today, I really like their sound. I wouldn't be surprised if some/all of the band members have spent a substantial period of time listening to old Bowie recordings.

Here's the band's page on the website of their label, Sub Pop Records.

I'm going to go ahead and recommend this one, even though it's just had a first pass through my auditory cortex. I'll be listening to "At Mount Zoomer" in the car through the balance of this week.


Monday, July 28, 2008

John Martyn

Thanks to my officemate Gavin, I've been re-introduced - after a long absence - to the music of British singer/songwriter/guitarist John Martyn.

I originally thought of Martyn purely as a "folkie". But how wrong I was! His music is complicated to categorize. Is it folk? Jazz? Rock? New Age? I think any of those could apply, depending upon which track you have playing on your stereo at the time.

I would describe Martyn as one of those artists that would surely catch your attention if somebody played one of his CDs. You'd say, "Who is that?" - if you didn't already know.

I'm so excited this evening. Martyn is coming to Oxford in November; and John, Gavin and I are going to see him at Oxford's New Theatre. I really appreciate Gavin's getting our tickets today, while I had a day off work.

Have any of my readers ever seen Martyn in concert? I'd love to hear all about your experiences!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

An upcoming Ray Davies musical - "Come Dancing"

According to Digital Spy's report today, Ray Davies (of the Kinks) is working on a musical production which will be staged in London later this year. And maybe Davies will even appear in it!

Reports say that the show will be called "Come Dancing" - also the title of a popular 1982 Kinks song. (A side note: In looking up the year that "Come Dancing" was a hit single, I bumped into this Kinks discography. Take a look. It's quite an extensive, amazing list!)

Those who know anything about Davies will already know how strongly he was influenced by growing up with older sisters. He was fascinated with 1950s dancing palaces...and the young people who lived for going out to dancehalls on a Saturday night.

I'll be keeping a close watch on this story. Sadly, I have missed Davies' recent tours. But I saw the Kinks several times, in smallish venues, back in the 1970s. He's one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time.

I'd even marry him if I hadn't already found my perfect husband! ;-)


Monday, July 14, 2008

Billy Joel's - "The Stranger"

I got quite a jolt to the ol' brain again this morning.

You see, BBC Radio 2 features a record and a song of the week beginning each Monday. This week's album isn't the usual brand-new release. It's the 30th anniversary edition of Billy Joel's breakout album called "The Stranger".

Right now, I do not need more things to make me feel like I'm getting old!!!!

Enough of feeling sorry for myself - back to "The Stranger" - I didn't realize, until I read the linked article, that this is the biggest-selling album ever released on the Columbia label! It's no wonder. Think of some of the gems on this album - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song), Just The Way You Are, and Scenes From An Italian Restaurant are all classics, aren't they?

Now, for me, it's my second-favorite Billy Joel album. I'll always favor his prior release from 1976, "Turnstiles". I especially love the songs on this one, and I guess I also prefer the pre-Phil Ramone sound.

Here's the playlist for "Turnstiles" - and I'm wondering if any of my readers prefer this album as well:

1. Say Goodbye to Hollywood

2. Summer, Highland Falls

3. All You Wanna Do Is Dance

4. New York State of Mind

5. James

6. Prelude/Angry Young Man

7. I've Loved These Days

8. Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go out on Broadway)

One of my life's regrets (other than those relating to relationships...) is that I didn't go see Billy Joel before he hit the big time. I remember that he came to Houston some time in the mid-70s and played in a small venue. But my ex didn't want to see him. I should have grabbed some of my music-loving friends and gone with them. You know what they say: shoulda woulda coulda!


Friday, July 11, 2008

"I Want To Hold Your Hand"

I'm feeling really lazy today.

Because I wrote a music-related post on my main blog, Lord Celery, I'm just going to link to the posting here. It has to do with the old Beatles picture-cover single that I rediscovered recently...the photo of which is at the top of this post.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

NPR Survey - Best CDs of the First Half of 2008

NPR's "All Songs Considered" (they have terrific podcasts, by the way) recently asked their listeners to vote for their favorite CDs released during the first half of 2008. For my non-US readers, NPR is America's National Public Radio - that's the radio equivalent of TV's public television network, PBS.

I'm going to list the top 10 CDs here. You can go to the "All Songs Considered" site for the full listing.

#1 Panic! At the Disco - "Pretty. Odd."
#2 Death Cab for Cutie - "Narrow Stairs"
#3 Vampire Weekend - "Vampire Weekend"
#4 Coldplay - "Viva la Vida"
#5 Soundtrack from "Juno"
#6 Bon Iver - "For Emma, Forever Ago"
#7 The Raconteurs - "Consolers of the Lonely"
#8 Flight of the Conchords - "Flight of the Conchords"
#9 My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges"
#10 Fleet Foxes - "Fleet Foxes"

Of the above, I concur with #2, #3, #4, and #8 (I'm especially surprised - and very pleased - that this one made the list). I'm still withholding judgement about the Fleet Foxes; I just don't know whether or not I "get" their music.

And what did I vote for? The Ting Tings' "We Started Nothing". (See my previous blog entry.)

Any comments from my readers? (Do I even have any readers?)


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm Listening To - "We Started Nothing", The Ting Tings, 2008

This is a long overdue entry about my favorite new band of 2008 and my favorite CD of the year so far - The Ting Tings' "We Started Nothing".

Why the two different cover images on this post? Well, I didn't realize until today (when I looked at Amazon's US site) that this CD has a different cover in the UK from the one released in the US. Our version here in the UK is on the left, while what you see on the right is the American variant. You have to wonder why the difference. Maybe it's because many UK fans have seen a lot of images of Katie White and Jules De Martino already, but the US fans have perhaps not had the same exposure to this very clever two-some?

It's possible that the only exposure that Americans might have had to the duo, before their CD was released, was from their song "Shut Up and Let Me Go" - it was used on one of the TV ads for iPods/iTunes.

John and I first heard about the Ting Tings from an episode of Jools Holland's "Later..." TV program which we saw, I think, back in December 2007. They performed "That's Not My Name". We were absolutely hooked from the first listen. John even got to see them perform live in Oxford recently.

This CD is pure, joyous pop. I usually am not so attracted to pop music like this. But this sound is so fresh and innovative. If I could describe their music in a few words, I'd say that it's the kind of stuff that makes you want to dance and sing along - and can lift your spirits no matter how blue you might feel. It's intelligent pop music.

Without question, my favorite cut is "That's Not My Name". It's so addictive that I find myself 'soundtracking' it all the time. But the entire CD is just great, so give it a listen - if you haven't already!

Favorite bit of lyric?

"Make a decision
A precondition
We got the choice
If it all goes wrong
We walk, we walk

We walk, we walk"

Oh, and I wonder if it's true, as reported in the Wikipedia article about the Ting Tings, that their name came from the name of one of Katie's co-workers at a Chinese restaurant?


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Outlaw Social

In today's mail at the office, I got the two CDs I'd ordered from Canada a few weeks ago. They are a full "album" (to the right) and an EP (to the left) by a group called Outlaw Social. Once again, I heard about this Canadian group through Bob Harris' Saturday night BBC Radio 2 program - in this case, the edition he broadcast from this year's North By Northeast festival in Toronto. I'll come back with comments, once I've given these two a good listen...or two.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

John's birthday presents - from my Amazon Wish List

Here are the CDs John got me for my birthday last Saturday. No doubt I'll be writing about at least some of them in the coming weeks!

Feeder – Silent Cry (2008)

King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

King Crimson – In the Wake of Poseidon (1970)

Chris Knight – The Trailer Tapes (2007)

Bettye LaVette – The Scene of the Crime (2007)

Thorbjorn Risager – Here I Am (2007)

Sparks – Exotic Creatures of the Deep (2008)

Amy Wadge - No Sudden Moves (2006)


I'm listening to - "Dreams of Breathing Underwater", Eliza Carthy, 2008

I heard about this release - Eliza Carthy's "Dreams of Breathing Underwater" - through two different sources. One was via my officemate Gavin. He recently bought a folk compilation CD, and on it was one of the cuts from Carthy's CD. And then it also showed up as one of the summer releases discussed on an episode of NPR's "All Songs Considered". Both songs caught my attention...especially "Follow the Dollar", which was previewed on the NPR podcast.

I didn't know much about Eliza Carthy before receiving this CD. (It was a birthday present from Gavin, by the way. This is the first of many birthday gifts that I'll be writing about - John gifted me with most of my Wish List on Amazon UK as part of my birthday!) She's English folk royalty. Her father is Martin Carthy, and her mother is Norma Waterson, and all together they form a group called Waterson:Carthy. Eliza's a talented singer and fiddle player. Her latest CD shows that she's also a talented writer...and visionary.

If you expect "Dreams of Breathing Underwater" to be classic English folk, you'll be terribly disappointed. It's so innovative. It's funny. It's quirky. Sometimes it's even a bit strange...but in a good way. On several of the cuts, there's an incredible contrast of instrumentation which could accompany one of Texas' best alt-country groups with Eliza's folky-toned voice. And you hear Spanish influences and even some Cajun (to my ear, anyway) overtones as well on other songs.

It's one of the most fascinating CDs I've heard for a long time. I believe I'll be coming back to listen to this one over and over.

Favorite song: "Follow the Dollar" (opening track)

Favorite lyric: (from "Like I Care (Wings)")
So fall in, fall out, fall down, fall about
I am failing in my credit and I think I have to get a proper job
and I'm shouting at the telly like I care.