Category : Lounge
I have been really digging this disc of covers by Blanket Music lately. The band is the project of Hush Record’s Chad Crouch and though I’ve never really heard his stuff before, I’m really glad I scored a copy of disc 2 of their latest double CD release.
The Portland, OR band decided to make their 4th release a double CD with a slight catch. The first disc is called “The Love” and consists of an original “collection of love songs rooted wholly in earnestness.” However, the 2nd disc is called “Love Translation” and features the band covering different artists that are friends of the band.
This is a pretty neat idea, because they’ve covered some pretty familiar indie names… two of the most prominent being The Decemberists and M. Ward.
Continue reading “Blanket Music – Love Translation” …
Hush Records is well known for releasing indie artists who march to a completely different drummer, with a tendency toward more mellow and sparse artists. Their latest release comes from Casey Dienel, a singer-songwriter who packs a double punch of astute lyrics with slightly loungey, staccato piano riffs. The general feel of the music is jazzy, but comes with an indie sensibility. Think Mirah playing quieter Ben Folds. Or Tori Amos without all the erotic fluff and flutter.
A recent transplant to New York from Boston (via a “small seaside village”), Dienel released “Wind-Up Canary” after a long history of penning bedroom songs that no one got to hear. One of the amazing things is that this is her FIRST recording ever. It sure doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like she’s been recording most of her life.
The music is pretty different, which is expected being on Hush. It’ll never be confused with teenage rock anthems and will remain on the “quiet-time music” backburner for a majority of folks. But the music is nearly instantly likeable. And intimately friendly, which is becoming somewhat of a lost art these days with all the aloof indie musicians running amuck.
Albums available on Itunes:
Songs For Ice Cream Trucks
OK, if ever there was a CD I got that screamed “gimmick” on first look, it’s got to be this one. But the problem with dismissing Michael Hearst’s Songs For Ice Cream Trucks like that is that the songs are so damn delicious while retaining their intended funny bone attitude. That attitude might be a little like Mr. Rogers meets early Magnetic Fields or something.
Michael uses a large number of different instruments (including melodica, chord organ, claviola theremin and more, all detailed on the site) but the best parts are the glockenspiel and other bells which really makes me hungry for ice cream. Some sort of primal thing, I’m sure – a deeply ingrained Pavlovian response that people have to ice cream truck sounds.
Many of the tracks aren’t really songs – they sort of remind me of the quirky music that pre-dotcom-bust tech companies used to have playing in the background of their 30 second commercial pitches. There’s a strange sort of “new but old world” sound to a lot of the tracks. I think kids would definitely dig this stuff, but adults are going to get a kick out of these instrumentals as well. I have trouble describing what genre this might fit under… ice cream twee? The only other band I can think of as a reference might be They Might Be Giants – especially in regards to their kids album “No!”
You can check out the songs and the ice cream truck attitude on the website (which is all in Flash, and someone obviously took a ton of time to design it).
Songs For Ice Cream Trucks
The Opposite Side Of The Sea
I’m going to admit that I’m a little bit out of my league trying to review this Oren Lavie CD. No doubt it’s a wonderful collections of smoky, quirky, mellow tunes. And actually, there is a very good chance that you’ve already heard a song. The opening track, “Her Morning Elegance” was used in a Chevy Malibu commercial.
I know I got one reference correct immediately, even though it’s an easy one – Nick Drake‘s footprint is everywhere. Oren’s voice is hushed, even ragged sounding at times, which goes pretty well with the sparse arrangements. No pounding drums here. There are a lot of orchestral arrangements, at times a bit whimsical. Sometimes it reminds me of the strings on The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”. The other name that comes to mind is Leonard Cohen, though the songs aren’t as bleak. Also, uh, Sting? Beyond that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to let this one ride in the Ipod for a bit.
The Val Papadins
No One Wants To Move The Piano
I’m trying to decide if the Val Papadins put me in more of a “smoky jazz nightclub lounge” type of mood or a “backwater deserted Mojave Desert road” type of mood. I’m sorta leaning toward the latter feeling, even though the vocals on the CD are definitely going for that Walkman / Waits battered and bruised vibe. I don’t know too much about the band except that they are from Northern Cal, I believe the Sonoma area? If that’s indeed their origins, it would make sense that their music sounds the way it does. I drove through that area twice and except for the wine-seeking tourists, it’s a sleepy, slightly lonesome town – just perfect to make music like this.
As far as band comparisons go, it’s a bit difficult to put a finger on it – but the Walkmen comparison is fair. For me, I actually like the music which is ominous and uneasy, but not so much that it makes you feel like heading for the hills. There is something very unsettling about this band that made me leave the CD in the player – kind of like how you end up picking up a sketchy hitchhiker that you probably shouldn’t have.
On certain songs the singing sounds almost like Frank Black, but not as screechy. The additional instrumentation includes piano, mandolin, ebow, accordian (or melodica?) and definitely contributes to the slightly creepy atmosphere. Many songs have a sort of faster folk, south-western or alt-country feel to them.
The Val Papadins on Myspace
No One Wants To Move The Piano
Val Papadins website
I Made You Love Me
Boy I was thrown for a loop with Tony Penultimate which is actually the pen name for Peter Brooke Turner who plays in the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the Ukulele Kings. Apparently the Ukulele Orchestra is of some reknown across the sea though I’ve never heard of them. A whole fleet of ukuleles is something I have to hear.
But this isn’t straight up ukulele music (though Tony did write most of the songs on one). This is some campy Elvisey lounge music that hiccups through various genres in a matter of two and a half minutes. The song available on his website is “I Made You Love Me”. In fact I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or cringe with this music which takes the macaroni and cheesey feel to a new level. The coolest thing is that he’s singing the song with a completely straight face. Somehow that made it just too good to be bad, if you know what I mean.
Continue reading “Tony Penultimate – I Made You Love Me” …
Yo La Tengo
Semi-hot off the presses, here’s a new track from Yo La Tengo off of their upcoming album “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”. Their penchant for long album titles continues, and I sort of feel this is a combination of the previous “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out” and “I Can Heart The Heart Beating As One”. Interesting, they have the “beating” theme going again.
The song itself is called “Beanbag Chair” and is another one of their campier pop tracks. This one actually features copious piano riffs and even some trumpet. Ira sings lead, and I actually liked this one a lot (as opposed to much of Summer Sun).
Anyhows, no I did NOT get an advance copy of the album yet (whine, whine… but maybe it’s still too early yet? Hope, hope…) so I’ll just have to wait until September 12, 2006 like the rest of the world. Interestingly, it comes out a week earlier in Europe??