Author Archive

Album Review: The Tallest Man On Earth, "The Wild Hunt"

Monday, April 12th, 2010

A reductive comparison one could draw to this record is that lord of Folk himself: Mr. Zimmerman. And such a comparison was drawn over and over to The Tallest Man On Earth’s last record, Shallow Grave. But Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man…, is so much more. There is a vocal similarity, to be sure, but less than on the last album. Here, we find Matsson further exploring his upper register and utilizing guitar skills ol’ Bob only wishes he could possess. There’s a bit more overdubbing with the instrumentation, but it’s done in a subtle way that adds nicely to the musical background – as evidenced by the banjo on Track 2 and just a little electric guitar on Track 9. Track 10 sees Matsson move from the frets to the piano, and it’s a beautiful move. Lyrically, it covers your general folky tropes but in a nicely poetic way.

In addition to the flat-out greatness of the songs is the excellent production. It gives the whole album a magnificent sense of space (despite seeming so intimately recorded). But that’s really what this album evokes – expansiveness. There’s just something that moves in this music, and makes everything seem so limitless. This one is for the road, especially when travelling solo. Even the album cover makes such expansiveness (and road-worthiness) pretty clear.

Seriously, this album is fuckin’ everything a modern folk album should be, especially when it’s just a guy and his own solo instrumentation.

Play all and any tracks!!

Album Review: Jónsi, "Go"

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Jón Þór Birgisson, Jónsi, is best known as the lead singer of the dreamy, bombastic, (adjective) post-punk band Sigur Rós, out of Iceland. This album isn’t really a tremendous deviation, simply because, even though it’s so much more, Sigur Rós’s sound is inextricably linked to this man’s voice. I mean, DAMN. It is beautiful. Here, he’s aided by composer du-jure Nico Muhly and it’s a great fit here. The orchestrations only enhance the joy coming from Jónsi, here singing in English. But the star, of course, is that voice.

You really ought to play all.
Track 1 is like the peak of a great Sigur Rós song, sustained for 4 minutes. Track 2 – would be fitting in a happy montage, if it weren’t already joyously tripping over itself at such a wonderful speed.
3 – gorgeous, building. 4 – “the world goes in flutter-by;” sparkling. 5 – great. 6 – nice build, triumphant. 7 – spinning, lovely. long orchestral outro, though. 8 – like one of the ballads from the last SR album but actually going somewhere. 9 – gorgeous, slow

Album Review: Free Energy, "Stuck On Nothing"

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

RiYD: Classic Rock (a la Thin Lizzy), LCD Soundsystem, cowbell

This record is just good. Big sound, bigger emotions. It’s the kind of stuff you want to roll all of your windows down and drive real fast to. I’ve never been old but I think this is the kind of music that encapsulates what it is to be young; nostalgia pop, maybe.

James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) produced this record, continuing his infatuation with updating everything that was great about music in the ’70s for today. Maybe the title is a little off, then, because, if anything, this album is stuck on the past. But I’ll be darned if that’s a bad thing.

PLAY ALL!! I’ll let you figure out what you want to play. But please do play this record. It’s that good.

This post is 4 days too late.

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Last Wednesday (March 17) marked the death of one of pop music’s less-heralded legends. Alex Chilton, you shall forever be missed.

Album Review: Anaïs Mitchell, "Hadestown"

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

So this is the music from a “folk opera” Mitchell wrote around 2006, performed by Mitchell and several relatively big voices (Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, Petra Haden & the other two Haden Triplets). Putting the Orpheus/Eurydice myth into a post-apocalyptic yet Depression-like setting, this brings together a ton of great sounds: tin-pan-alley, ghostly folk, Waits-ian narrative, Appalachian bluegrass, and some terrific songwriting.

At times, the lyrical content gets a little wrapped up in narrative and therefore loses a little focus as a recording, but this is really a captivating release.

A very nice touch is that Vernon, as Orpheus, is usually the only singer with multi-tracked vocals, emphasizing the beauty of Orpheus’s song – it works wonders to utilize both his soulful baritone and his haunting falsetto. Mitchell, as well, has a fascinatingly strange voice, which is beautifully used here.

Try: 1+, 2++, 3+++(a burner!), 5+, 7++, 8, 10++(Ani!!!!), 11+++(Gorgeous), 13+, 16++, 19++(beautifully dark), 20+