Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are You Prepared For The Atom Bomb? Are You Prepared For My Aching Arms? Are You Prepared, Are You Prepared?

Maybe it was the welcome presence of sunlight that did it. Maybe it was the calm chill in the air. Whatever the reason, today was the perfect day to listen to The Bird And The Bee. All that was missing was a parasol and a mai tai. Mostly a vanity project for LA studio vet Greg Kurstin ( Ben Harper, The Flaming Lips, Peaches, Lily Allen) and solo artist Inara George ( daughter of Lowell George, frontman for the eclectic 70's southern rock band Little Feat,) their self titled debut album is a welcome burst of 60's Tropicalia goodness but with classic pop conventions. Imagine if you will, the Postal Service fronted by both Imogen Heap and Latetia Sadier (Stereolab) with production duties handled by a fedora clad Beck. Sound like an intriguing journey? You're not alone. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

The Bird And The Bee: Again & Again

The Bird And The Bee: La La La

The Bird And The Bee: Fucking Boyfriend

The Bird And The Bee: Preparedness

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Of All The Churning Random Hearts Under The Sun, Eventually Fading Into Night. These Two Are Opening Now As We Lie, I Touch You Wonderful Alive.

I'd like to take a moment and thank The Shins. After the breakout success of their sophomore album Chutes Too Narrow caught everyone by surprise, I have no doubt pressure was applied to the band to enter a recording studio and pump out CTN II. While 3 years is a long time to wait for a worthy successor, James Mercer and Co. do not disappoint on the recently released and drop dead gorgeous Wincing The Night Away. Displaying a newfound maturity and love for Midi machines and 80's atmospherics, The Shins have taken the time to craft an extremely compelling and accomplished album. While the majority of the tracks leap out of your stereo with saccharine sweet hooks and clever lyrics, there are a handful of more somber numbers that require repeated doses. Don't delude yourself into believing negative reviews: unless Radiohead release their next album this year or The Arcade Fire's upcoming Neon Bible isn't as subpar as the tracks I've previewed suggest, WTNA is hands down the best release so far this year. For your highly recommended listening (dis)pleasure:

The Shins: Sleeping Lessons

The Shins: Girl Sailor

The Shins: Sea Legs

The Shins: Red Rabbits

Monday, January 15, 2007

And For A Ten Minute Dream In The Passenger's Seat. While The World Was Flying By. You Haven't Been Gone Very Long. But It Feels Like A Lifetime.

I'm not what you'd call a "typical" Bright Eyes fan. My favorite album is Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, I've never seen them live, and I've worked my way backwards through their catalogue. Go figure. What does make my relationship with the band's legion of fans symbiotic is my utter adoration for Conor Oberst's songwriting skills. Picking up a copy of the live release Motion Sickness: Live Recordings only reinforced the fact that we are dealing with an artist that can effortlessly capture the 3am intensity and raging emotion that lie within the broken hearted as if he were making a sandwich. Layer after of layer of longing and restlessness. It really is quite amazing. Captured during several European dates, MS is a powerful display of Oberst and his crack backing band roaring through tracks off of Lifted & I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. A great addition to your BE collection. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Bright Eyes: We Are Nowhere And It's Now (live)

Bright Eyes: True Blue (live)

Bright Eyes: Old Soul Song (live)

Bright Eyes: When The President Talks To God (live)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

These Days, My Hangman's Hunger Makes My Gut Kick. My Sleeping Mind Could Map It Blind. A Flask, A Key, A Bag, A Fifth.

Sometimes, you just don't want to think too much. Not everything needs to be wrapped up in a bright bow of complexity, demanding that you invest more than you're willing to. Simplicity is safe. Ignorance is bliss. As I sit here on a chilly Sunday afternoon watching the wind blow the leaves around something fierce, I am content in my musical choice for the moment: Put Your Ghost To Rest, the 4th album by Kevin Devine. If you can imgine a Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) solo album produced by a slick Conor Oberst then you're halfway to appreciating the understated beauty of this pop gem. Plaintive guitar strums lead to full on cavity inducing chorues laced with just the right amount of melancholy; perfect for reminicing about all the times you wished you told her you loved her so. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Kevin Devine: Brooklyn Boy

Kevin Devine: You'll Only End Up Joining Them

Kevin Devine: Go Haunt Someone Else

Kevin Devine: Just Stay

Thursday, January 04, 2007

She Never Moved So I Just Whispered Goodbye. She Reminded Me Of You When You Cry. And I Didn't Mean To Make You Cry.

I lament Michael Penn's decline in mainstream popularity. I really do. After the phenomenal success of his debut album March, it seemed like Mr. Penn slowly spiraled out of the public's conciousness. And it's a shame really. Over the years he's steadily put out one stellar album after another, started scoring movies, and began touring with his equally talented wife. So if people choose to remember him for his only hit No Myth then so be it. There are worse ways to be remembered. Expertly produced by studio whiz Tony Berg (Squeeze, P.I.L., Aimee Mann,) Penn crafted an undeniably catchy album that saw his Dylan-esque lyrics and velvety smooth vocals beautifully paired with tight, polished tracks. If this is uncharted territory for you, use these songs as a starting point into the visceral world of Michael Penn. For your listening (dis)pleasure:

Michael Penn: No Myth

Michael Penn: This & That

Michael Penn: Innocent One

Michael Penn: Brave New World