Posts Tagged 'Now Playing'

Now Playing: February 2010

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a “Now Playing” update.  Part of that is just laziness, of course, but also that two posts at the end of 2009 were especially demanding: “Top Music of the Decade” and “Top Music of 2009”.  Check those out, if you haven’t already.

Now… to the latest albums/artists that I’ve been listening to…

  • The Avett Brothers, “I And Love And You
    • I actually discovered this album at the end of last year, but didn’t get around to adding it to my Now Playing list.  In all honesty, it probably should’ve been on my “Top Music of 2009” list, but at that point I hadn’t given it enough of a listen.  It’s very good, though.  Really, really good, in fact.  If you’re a fan of a little twang, great melodies, and moving music, give this album a listen.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
  • Phoenix, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
    • I had quite literally never heard of this artist until this past December – and then I was hit by them (meaning it was “recommended” to me) from several friends.  I wasn’t initially impressed, but it’s grown on me.  A LOT.  This is a fun band and a fun album.  Not exactly retro, but certainly pointed in that direction.  I seem to enjoy this album more and more with each listen, so it probably should’ve ended up on my “Top 2009” albums as well.  What’cha gonna do?!  Grab it.
  • The Standard, “Swimmer” and “Albatross
    • Hailing from Portland, OR, this is an incredibly moody band with a sound that tends to envelope you.  Very musical, and somewhat dark.  Both albums are great, but go with their latest, “Swimmer”, for a more immediate feel for their style.
  • David Bazan, “Curse Your Branches”
    • My personal “David Bazan” library pretty much started/stopped with “Hard To Find A Friend”, but this album has changed that.  The first few songs in particular are flat-out amazing, with the rest of the album dragging a bit (for me).  Still, great work from Mr. Bazan that really deserves a lot of praise.
  • Spoon, “Transference
    • The follow-up album to “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”, one of my “Top Music of the Decade” choices, was either going to one-up their last release, or fall short.  Commercially-speaking, this album falls short of the pop-minded hooks found in “Ga” and really hearkens back to earlier releases like “Gimme Fiction” or “Kill The Moonlight”.  What I mean is that this album is somewhat less approachable, and takes a bit longer to grow on you.  It’s almost as if Spoon was trying to shed some of their fair-weather fans.  Hard to say.  When it comes down to it, though, this album has some real gems for those willing to dig.
  • Fair, “Disappearing World
    • Several years in the making, the latest release from Fair has been hotly anticipated by many fans.  Quite honestly, it’s not entirely what I was expecting.  Whereas their first album bordered on dark and moody at times, this album is bent much more toward a vocal-driven, pop sound that might throw a few people at first.  It is *very* much the “Fair” sound, of course, but with a pep to it that is a different direction from the first album.  So far, it hasn’t been as “immediately accessible” to me, but some of my favorite albums have been that way.  That said, “sonically” this album is incredible – from the piano, to the drums, to the mixdown.  Amazing.
  • Manchester Orchestra, “I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child
    • I found their latest release, “Mean Everything To Nothing”, late last year, but never delved any further into their catalog.  Upon repeated suggestion from friends that I respect musically, I wandered my way into this album, which has grown on me considerably over the past couple of months.  Not so much a “rock your socks off” album, it really works well for those willing to put on a good pair of headphones and listen closely.  Not entirely sure about all of the lyrics, but there is a subtle genius to this album that is difficult to dismiss.
  • John Davis, “John Davis
    • Formerly (and now “currently”) of Superdrag fame, John Davis released this solo album back in 2005.  It’s taken me this long to grab a copy for myself and enjoy the genius here, of which there is plenty.  This is almost a modern day version of a Larry Norman album, for those familiar with his stuff:  too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals.  That usually means it’s just perfect, and this album nearly is.  Grab it!
  • The Broken West, “Now Or Heaven
    • Found via another Zune Marketplace rabbit trail, The Broken West is one of those bands that has seemed to completely fly under the radar.  It’s too bad, too, because “Now Or Heaven” is one of the best albums I’ve heard in quite awhile.  Not sure who to compare them too, other than a modern day Gin Blossoms – and I mean that in a good way.  Very talented, great vocal hooks, and likely to go over the head of most folks.  Definitely worth grabbing, though.

Until next time… thanks for reading.

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Now Playing: September 2009

Running behind on this one, so let me get right down to bid-ness…

  • MuteMath, “Armistice
    • Ever since discovering their very good self-titled album a few years back, I’ve been anxiously awaiting what a follow-up release from them would sound like – and now I know.  “Armistice” was described by the band as an album that would “embarrass the first record”.  A tall order, to be certain, and though a few songs are very good, the album is (as a whole) not particularly enticing to me.  I expected something a bit more “fresh”, or at least the last album amped up by a factor of "10”, but neither is true, in my opinion.
  • Arctic Monkeys, “Humbug
    • I’ve not really been a big fan of the Arctic Monkeys, but when a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of The Last Shadow Puppets – a side project – I thought I’d give them more of a listen.  I’m glad I did.  “Humbug” is a very good album, and starts off particularly well.  Their sound rarely deviates from itself very much, which may (or may not) be your thing, but there’s a lot here to enjoy.
  • Soulsavers, “Broken
    • I’m pretty much a sucker for anything Mark Lanegan related.  I like his solo stuff, Screaming Trees stuff (of course!), side projects, and whatever else.  A co-worker pointed out Soulsavers to me, which I was surprisingly unfamiliar with.  Very mellow stuff.  Dark, brooding, and so on.  To be honest, I’m not even through the entire album yet, but if “Bubblegum” or Lanegan’s solo stuff float your boat, you’ll probably enjoy Soulsavers too.
  • Katie Todd, “Changing Faces
    • Via a “Neko Case” station on Pandora, I stumbled across Katie Todd (or Katie Todd Band) and liked what I heard.  With some jazzy overtones and pop sensibilities, I would liken Katie Todd to artists such as Feist or K T Tunstall, both of whom I like.  Katie has a slightly unusual voice, though, which will either endear you to her style, or turn you away.  I’m diggin’ it.
  • Muse, “The Resistance
    • Another follow-up album that I was very much looking forward to.  Muse has an epic, “stadium rock” type sound that is somewhere between Radiohead and Queen.  To find out that this band is merely a trio almost boggles the mind – they are so incredibly talented.  All that said, “The Resistance” has failed to capture my attention.  It’s not bad, per se, but it doesn’t come across as anything new either.  More of the same, I suppose, which will be perfect for the hardcore Muse fans.
  • Gin Blossoms, “New Miserable Experience
    • Talk about digging up a relic, this album was released the same year that I graduated high school – back in 1992.  I remember my buddy, Troy, spinning this disc quite a bit, but I never latched on to it myself.  You know what, though?  This is a very good album.  Incredibly catchy tunes, good song writing, and it has really stood the test of time after 17 years!  The singer was clearly genius and troubled.  His addiction comes through loud and clear over the course of this album, but if you don’t let that weigh you down, this is really worth a look (or re-look, for those old fans).
  • Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, “Furnace Room Lullaby
    • I’ve been enjoying Neko Case’s music this year – especially her most recent release, “Middle Cyclone”.  “Furnace Room Lullaby” is an older album of hers, though – nearly a decade old now (2000).  While it is clearly Neko Case-styled music, it has more twang than her more recent stuff, so it took a bit longer to grow on me.  It’s a great album, though, with the title track being one of my favorites.
  • The Devil Makes Three, “Longjohns, Boots, And A Belt
    • One of my co-workers flipped this album my way a few years back.  If a bluegrass/rockabilly vibe is your thing, then check out The Devil Makes Three.  Very good stuff.

Now Playing: August 2009

Been a bit light on my “listening” lately, but here are some current standouts…

  • The Hourly Radio, “History Will Never Hold Me
    • Found this band via a rabbit trail on the Zune Marketplace.  Perhaps via another recent fav, The Working Title?  Anyhow, I’m really enjoying this album so far.  It starts off well enough, but seems to pick up steam by the 3rd and 4th tracks.  Highly recommended for any ‘Jimmy Eat World’ or ‘The Working Title’ fans.
  • Jeremy Enigk, “OK Bear
    • As an old friend (and fan) of Jeremy Enigk, I was definitely looking forward to his next solo album.  While “OK Bear” didn’t grab my attention right away, it has since grown on me.  I like it quite a bit.  I prefer his last release, World Waits, but this is a strong release, and very much ‘Jeremy Enigk’ all the way.
  • Edie Brickell, “Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars
    • Sometimes albums don’t really “hit” you for, oh… 20 years or so, as is the case with this release.  I heard their big hit “What I Am” on the radio recently, was blown away by the guitar solo, and decided the album was worth checking out again.  You know what?  It’s really good.  The musicianship is amazing, the vocals are great (if a bit lacking in variation), and the whole package has held up quite well since its release in 1989.  Give it a spin and see what’cha think!
  • Neko Case, NPR “Live Concerts From All Songs Considered”
    • Very fun, live Neko Case concert from NPR.  I know she’s a talented vocalist, but she’s also really, really funny!  Check it out… it’s free!  (Note: the humor really takes off about 45 minutes in.)

Now Playing: July 2009

(Yeah… I missed June.  So sorry!)

  • mewithoutYou, “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright
    • One album that I’ve been anticipating for some time now.  mwY’s fourth release is an even further departure from their ‘expected sound’, and will certainly polarize some of their fans as it has with me.  To be fair, every album they’ve released has (thus far) been a challenge for me upon the first few listens, but they’ve always won me over in the long run.  I’m expecting this album to do the same, but it might take a bit longer :)  Some standout tracks: ‘Every Thought A Thought Of You’, ‘The Fox, The Crow, and the Cookie’ (check out the video) and ‘Goodbye, I!’
  • The Dear Hunter, “Act III: Life and Death
    • I had literally never heard of this band until my wife and I saw them open for mewithoutYou a few weeks back.  I was impressed, so I sought the album out.  “Progressive” is a fitting, but overused description.  Very good stuff, though.
  • Manchester Orchestra, “Mean Everything To Nothing
    • I found this band via the ‘related artists’ links in the Zune software, and I was instantly impressed.  This is very raw, unproduced kind of music, but really well done.  Although I have trouble endorsing this band lyrically, the songwriting/vocals are great.
  • Mates of State, “Re-Arrange Us
    • My email buddy, Alan, turned me on to this band, and I’m quite enjoying it.  Upbeat, folk-rock duo with catchy tunes.   Dig it!
  • Radiohead, “The Bends
    • Old school, I know, but it wasn’t really until ‘In Rainbows’ that I became a Radiohead fan.  Mock me all you like, that’s exactly how it went down.  Anyhow, while revisiting their library, ‘The Bends’ really sticks out as an incredible piece of work.  Really great.

Now Playing: May 2009

Mid-month and I’m anxiously awaiting the latest release from mewithoutYou.  Here’s what I’ve been listening to in the meantime…

  • Band of Horses, “Cease To Begin
    • Feeling pretty late-to-the-party with these guys, but this album is really good.  A Neil Young vibe to it, I suppose, but really good soft, alt-rock, indie tunes with an occasional ‘bite’ to it.
  • Neko Case, “Blacklisted
    • Last month I was turned on to Neko Case’s latest album, “Middle Cyclone”, which is really good. I’ve since stumbled upon an earlier release of hers, “Blacklisted”, which I’ve been spinning quite a bit.  Can this lady belt it out?  Check out her song ‘Deep Red Bells’. Whoa.
  • The Working Title, “About-Face
    • I don’t know a whole about these guys, but this album offers some good tunes.  It borders on the “emo” sound, but (in my opinion) doesn’t go too far into that camp.
  • Metric, “Fantasies
    • (Emphatically!) suggested by a co-worker of mine, this is their latest release, and is somewhat more commercial than their previous efforts.  On the other hand, it’s also really, really good.  (Warning: swears on track #3)
  • The Last Town Chorus, “Wire Waltz
    • Perhaps the anti-thesis of the previous band (Metric), though both feature female vocalists.  The Last Town Chorus is unashamedly mellow, tender, and moving.  The Bowie cover “Modern Love” is a bit of a standout track.
  • The Hives, “The Black And White Album
    • Upbeat music that almost feels like a frat album.  Still, this is an obviously talented group of guys, and a very good release.  (Note: awesome album cover too!)

‘Tis all for now.

Now Playing: April 2009

Getting in a “now playing” post early-on in the month for a change!  Check out Mr. “Pro-active” 🙂

  • Silversun Pickups, “Swoon
    • Brand new release from this awesome band.  Not too much of a departure from their last album, but that’s a good thing.  I’m really digging the track “Growing Old Is Getting Old”.
  • Doves, “Kingdom of Rust
    • ‘Twas turned on to this group via some co-workers.  Very good stuff!  I sense a Radiohead-type vibe, which isn’t an insult at all.
  • Neko Case, “Middle Cyclone
    • Recommended by a good friend with similar musical tastes (thanks, Ken!).  Neko Case has Northwest roots, but an almost alt-folk-country sound – with just a touch of rock thrown in.  Very enjoyable, and the album cover rules 🙂
  • Sarah Masen, “Carry Us Through
    • Old-school release from the mid-90s, but still in my top-10 favorite albums of all time.  Seriously.  Great music, melodies, and lyrics.  I enjoy this album thoroughly each and every time I listen to it.
  • The Decemberists, “Hazards Of Love
    • I had heard a bit of their previous album, “The Crane Wife”, but it didn’t do much for me.  “Hazards Of Love”, on the other hand, is a very pleasant surprise!  Sadly, one of the best tracks on the album (“The Rake’s Song”) has some content that’s a bit much for me to take.  A great album nonetheless.

Now Playing: March 2009

Some schtuff I’ve been listening to lately…

  • Black Mountain, “In The Future”
    • Very interesting “psych” rock kinda stuff.  A bit like a melodic ‘Wolfmother’ thang.  I like it so far!
  • U2, “No Line On The Horizon”
    • A very solid release from U2.  Mind-blowing?  Not for me, but still very good stuff.  ‘No Line On The Horizon’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Cedars of Lebanon’ are current favorites.
  • Tears For Fears, “The Seeds Of Love”
    • Throwback stuff, I know, but I’m (more or less) stuck in the 80s.  Still, as the follow-up album to pop singles like “Shout” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”, this is an amazingly mature (and somewhat daring) album.  Great stuff, and not the Tears For Fears you might remember!
  • Beck, “Guero”
    • A really great Beck album that I somehow managed to skip over.  In fact, there is very little Beck material that I don’t like!
  • The Cure, “Mixed Up”
    • More throwback stuff here, but this is a very enjoyable album, though it contained very little new material.  ‘A Forest (Tree Mix)’ remains my all-time favorite version of this song.