A heartfelt lament for a Friday? When it’s Ryan Adams, with his former entourage Whiskeytown, why the hell not? Almost unexplainable, especially with my usual listening habits, the Jacksonville, NC native rarely disappoints. Off of Whiskeytown’s finale as a band, Pneumonia, comes the The Ballad of Carol Lynn. As you’d guess by the title, it’s a slow burner. The man’s entire catalog is routinely returned to; but lately, this track seems to always come back around again. Oh, Carol Lynn…
I’m not ready to proclaim the music world safe from those “terrified of girls” — as we only recently witnessed with the ridiculous ABC “Hottest 100 Of All Time” poll from Australia released weeks ago that featured ZERO female artists. As one commentator noted on the ABC site, “…until women are no longer judged on their sex appeal, their poignant lyrics and raw emotion in song won’t touch enough people to make any top 100 lists.” Not to mention, despite the thoughts of Lauren Laverne, they’re not running the radio stations, much less the majority of writers.
So, it comes as no surprise, that much of the press today about the Mercury Prize shortlist centered on the record-breaking five female artists who made the cut. Chaired by pop music scholar and former music journalist, Simon Frith, the list includes female performers Bat for Lashes, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Lisa Hannigan, and Speech Debelle. Frith, well known for his sociology-based approach to studying rock music, comments that female artists have benefited from structural changes in the music industry, especially the decreasing role of record labels and the ensuing blurring of genres: “As genres break down it means that women are not having to be pop stars of a certain sort. Somebody like La Roux, who creates fun synth pop, not being pushed in a cutesy way.” Early bets are on Florence and the Machine, led by singer Florence Welch, prevailing as the winner September 8th.
Muse, a band with a stadium rock meets classical, dark sound has entertained me over the years. Their first three LPs are nearly perfect. Absolution, now six years old, still stands up to the test of time. Their previous effort, Black Holes & Revelations was decent; no doubt it created its moments. Overall though, it almost made me lose interest in the current day recorded Muse. Live, it’s an extravagant event – electric meets epic. Being a fan of openers like New Born or Apocalypse Please will always keep my interest piqued to experience what these English lads are composing next. The Resistance, the forthcoming Muse record debuts in September. On the local board, I began to become excited about studio Muse again with comments like these:
With their previous record, Black Holes & Revelations being a slight let down, compared to their three previous efforts displaying true excellency, Bellamy has been quoted about the band trying to write a larger, epic piece with a an Orchestra this time around. Wanting to put out a work as large in-scale as Dark Side of the Moon. I recall him saying they were working on a 15 minute epic piece for this album.
Or something like this re-sparked my interest in a band capable of so much:
classical, orchestral, hardest song ever, and song in three parts they’ve been working on for years
Maybe a single; maybe just an idea of their current thoughts in the studio, Muse has unleashed Ununited States of Eurasia. Once, Muse was pegged as a Radiohead rip-off. And now, some may say the trio is biting Queen. All artists have influences, and if Muse wants to put them front and center, for us to experience, I won’t object; especially since the piano is just as essential as Freddy Mercury.
Today, for the first time in unfortunately three months, I sat down at a nice, upright piano. Within seconds, I went to situate my fingers to begin Apocalypse Please. Nothing came about. I couldn’t remember the right chords and notes. This band still excites me, even if I can’t rock the keys like Bellamy or Rachmaninov.
Even in the summer, when the temps are blazing and the sun is readily apparent, a song with haunting tones can work. Add light, dark keystrokes into the mix, with angelic atmospherics and it’s all over. On repeat.
Ex-NIN player Chris Vrenna went under the moniker tweaker, to record 2 A.M. Wakeup Call – which was guest heavy, including Los Angeles bedroom composer Mellowdrone. With tweaker’s record debuting shortly after Mellowdrone’s A Demonstration of Intellectual Property – an EP I rank as one of my favorites – the collaboration was enticing. The end product, Worse Than Yesterday, was exactly what I’d expect from someone who contributed to records like The Downward Spiral. But it’s the somber simplicity of this composition which struck me. The Buckley-like delivery of Mellowdrone is intact; his whisper adds to the dark chill of Worse Than Yesterday. Experience darkness in the daylight…
Basement Jaxx’s Scars holds potential – this forthcoming record looks to be all over the place. Yoko Ono is appearing? No need to hate; JC Chavez ignited Plug It In off Kish Kash. If the cover won’t do it for you, Raindrops should; if not, upbeat house in pop form just ain’t your thing. The rumor is we’re waiting until October until the fuckin’ madness is unleashed on us. In the meantime, let the sugary house duo give you a glimpse of Scars…
Has an album ever drastically changed the direction of your musical preferences? No, more than that: Breakfast With Girls is responsible for new beginnings – an influential record that changed my perception on everything. Not only that, it opened up new musical avenues to explore; sparked friendships; and is solely responsible for this here very blog. sElf’s intricately layered pop masterpiece is 10 years old today. This is why I still care…
Don’t mind me, I wrote this rhyme lightly
Off a two or three Heines, and boy was they fine gee
One Black, One Spanish, One Chiney
It keeps the woody shiny year round like a pine tree
Don’t sign me I’m about to get a mil without em
The nice thing about witty word smiths like (MF) Doom, rhyming over glistening and throbbing beats, are they don’t get stale. Yeah, five years old – off of the rather well received Madvillainy LP – is/was Money Folder. With poetry like the aforementioned, it’s difficult to shy away from Doom with his complex, yet playful and humorous demeanor. Add Four Tet to the mix, and the beat takes off; actually begins to soar. Take yourself back a few years…