My tastes change like the currents change. Which it's as if to say I change my tastes to fit the current trends, which couldn't be further from the truth. Case in point: whenever I go into a store, say, I don't know, Urban Outfitters and/or H&M, I am usually disgusted by what I hear coming out of the store's PA system. I'm not trying to get every new album by every new hipster band, although I will give it a sincere "couple o' listens" and actively try to engage the music, evaluating the goods and bads.
Latest example: Snowden, which I found out is on repeat at one of the aforementioned shops. I do not like this band. I can tell you why, but I need 300 words to explain this. I can say it in two: they suck.
Another example: Shiny Toy Guns. Again, 300 words are useless when I only need one: sucky. Thank you for reminding me why I hate L. A.
Enough crap-band bashing, I'm here to talk about what I'm loving at the minute. My girlfriend is trying to get me into the habit of every time I say something negative, to come back with three positives.
So, here are many postive things about the current state of my musical tastes.
Will Oldham- Palace Music, Palace Brothers, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, etc...
This man is fast approaching sainthood in my world, a spot safely reserved for only a select few. Yes, it's lonely at the top, and Mr. Oldham captures that loneliness like no one else and puts it to song. And to make matters worse, I didn't discover this amazing singer/songwriter/actor until a few months ago, much to the chagrin of my dear friend Raph who had been singing this man's praises for quite some time. I'm a resistant and defiant person, but I could save myself so much trouble if I just listened to other's suggestions. Also, he's one hell of an actor, check out his part in Old Joy.
Naked Eyes- Promises, Promises
Yes, that terrible 80s song. I love it so much right now, it's so awful I cringe. And then I play it again. Wanna see the video? It's even more tragic than just the song. Click here.
Gillian Welch- Black Star (Live)
A live, bluegrass version of one of my favorite Radiohead tracks, from Minneapolis way back in September of '04. It's so good you'll only notice the mistake in the solo if you're as anal as I am. (Read: music nerd- I really need a hobby.) How I found Gillian Welch? She's featured a few times on the next album:
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
It's so insanely awesome a film that works for the following reasons: a) Because the music is so integral to the cinematography-slash-storyline that there's just no way that movie would've worked without it. b) If you don't like this movie, you are completely dead inside... A modern classic, indubitably in my top 10.
Michael Jackson- Human Nature
Let's make pretend Michael Jackson didn't have the most crazy, slow burning descent into madness since Howard Hughes, and there's no doubt in my mind that he'd still be banging out hits with Quincy Jones, still carrying MTV on his back and still selling Pepsi like it was crack in Washington, DC circa 1988. Anyway, this is my favorite song in his catalog. But 10 years from now, everyone will be like "the real king of pop is Justin Timberlake". Plus, I really don't think we'll be hearing from Michael anytime soon, so if you're reading, Jacko, please turn your crown in.
Grizzly Bear- Knife
This song is so sexy, and these Brooklyn hipsters made one of the best sleeper albums last year. I'm calling it a sleeper album because I totally slept on it. Again, I should listen to advice given to me...
Memphis- A Little Place In The Wilderness
A beautiful and heartrending pastiche borrowed from his day job, Torquil Campbell of Montreal band Stars, one of my faves of the last few years, puts together a wonderful side project with Chris Dumont. It's happy and sad; melancholia sprinkled with touches of hope just around the edges. Oh Canada, you rule...
Her Space Holiday
If there was such a genre as emo-electronica, Marc Bianchi would be at the top. Intensely personal lyrics over heavily orchestrated strings, replete with trip-hoppy breakbeats and swinging basslines bouncing underneath. But the strength of HSH lies in Bianchi's lyrics: "So carry me around/ Like a picture in your purse/ Pull me out when things are at their worst/ You can show up at my house/ Completely unannounced/ We'll have that movie kiss we talked about..."
Joan As Police Woman
Silky smooth vocals over excellent instrumentation equals pop stardom. I often wonder aloud (much to the chagrin of anyone within earshot of me) how an act like Joan As Police Woman isn't ridiculously huge. And being that I'm so unique (yes, it's terminal, I can't be saved now, it's too late...), no one can ever answer my pleas. Her voice is like a cross between Leslie Feist and Regina Spektor, and her songwriter is intensely personal. Music this good can't stay a secret for too long.
The Pipettes- We Are The Pipettes
"Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off, but it's better if you do." If Natalie Portman's character Jane (in the stunning movie Closer ) says it, then it must be true. (Nevermind that Panic! At the Disco used that line for not one but two song titles on their breakout album.) Listening to these three reformed riot grrrls take on an updated version of 60's girl pop is as refreshing as it's alarming- not only because they lie to guys, because they have a whole lot of fun doing it. Direct from the UK, bringing charming songs with titles like Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, Because It's Not Love (But It's Still A Feeling), and One Night Stand, be prepared to see these lovely ladies all over the radar in '07.
Take a three piece band, make them all multi-instrumentalists, give them a digital loop machine, and send them to Portland, Oregon. The resulting noise becomes pure beauty- it's part trip-hop, part jazz, part rock, all with that experimental, DIY indie attitude.
The Besnard Lakes- The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
Again, I can't get off of Canada's dick just yet. Pretty much every band coming out of the Great White North is dominating my playlist recently, and The Besnard Lakes are just another example of the rampant creativity floating around in the cold air. Montreal is the spawning ground for fellow bands such as The Dears, Arcade Fire, Islands, Stars, Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade. Imagine atmospheric/dream-pop, like Brian Wilson fronting My Bloody Valentine. Call it baroque-pop, chamber-pop, whatever you want. I call it amazingly good music.
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