Posts Tagged ‘indie rock’

I’ve changed my approach to these blog posts because they got away from my intention, which was to make some notes about new music I’m listening to. Instead it seems to have turned into more of a review site, which was not my intention. The blog really exists to support the What Am I Listening To 2014 playlist, not the other way around.

I also noticed that the more I was treating this as a review column, the less I was writing, and consequently the less I was putting on the playlist. So a lot of the music I listened to never made it to the column, either because I wanted to have some kind of definitive opinion of it before posting, or else I wasn’t moved enough to either write about the music or put it on the playlist. In some cases where the music did resonate with me, I didn’t really want to say much of anything about it, just get out of the way and play the song already. Hence the playlist.

Anyway, I think I’ll try to treat this more like a musical diary for now and see how that goes. Which means I will probably revisit some selections and have little to say about others (at least at that moment), but it should lead to sharing more music more often on the Spotify playlist.

Finally, please not that the headings below are all links. The Artist names links to the artist’s website, and the album title links to the album on Spotify.

So, let’s get …restarted.

BECK - Morning PhaseBeckMorning Phase

It’s been a long time between Beck albums. I can understand how anyone waiting years for another “Devil’s Haircut” or “The New Pollution” might be disappointed with “Morning Phase”, because it is essentially a folk album and sooo mellllllooowww.  It’s also, if you’ll excuse the terms in relation to Beck, a gentle and pretty album in the songwriting, the singing, and the overall production.  I’ve been enjoying it well enough.  It hasnt rocked my world in any dramatic sort of way, but there are a few songs on it that have caught my attention in subtle ways. I’ve included my current favorite of these,“Turn Away” on the What Am I Listening To 2014 playlist. It vaguely reminds me of one of those old Paul Simon ballads he used to write for himself and Garfunkel, emphasis on Simon.

Bombay Bicycle Club "So Long, See You Tomorrow"

Bombay Bicycle ClubSo Long, See you tomorrow

I’ve already written about this album and added some songs to the playlist. After a month or so I find that I’ve listened to this album more than any other new release so far this year, and it does seem to have legs. Last time I mentioned that I considered putting the opening track, Overdone” on the playlist. I may have had a slight allergy to opening tracks at the time so I left it off. However, I can no longer ignore it since it may be the best song on the album that has not been released as a single (so far). It’s now on the What Am I listening to 2014 playlist.

Takuya Kuroda Rising Son

Takuya KurodaRising Son

Japanese born Manhattan resident Takuya Kuroda borrows the jazz band he’s been trumpeting with behind vocalist Jose James for several years now to make his new album on Blue Note records, with James behind the production board instead of the vocal mic.

James gave Kuroda some sage advice before making this album: Make sure you have something in the music that makes people bob their heads. He has indeed done that, using modern beats from R&B, hip hop and afropop under the kind of classic, smooth jazz sound you would expect from a Blue

Note recording. It works a treat, and the jazz wins out easily in that bit of rhythmic fusion.  The purists might complain but I think it’s the kind of album that even those with merely a passing interest in jazz might like. I can see myself racking this one a lot.

Jose James does sing on one track, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” which I’ve included on the playlist. To me, it feels like lying in a meadow on a perfect summer day.

Kris Davis Trio - waitingforyoutogrowKris Davis TrioWaiting for You to Grow

Now here’s a jazz album you definitely can’t nod your head to, though you may shake it occasionally. The Kris Davis Trio is just a bit too Avant Garde for my tastes, and at times seem to be pushing the envelope of what can be considered music. It might suit people who like their jazz a bit more challenging. I suppose opening the album with over a minute of free form drum solo should have been a dead giveaway.

Using the classic trio line-up of  piano, bass and drums, the music seems to veer from chaotic to frenetic, in and out of time, eventually resolving to something you can grab on to, just to prove there is some form there, then moments later devolving back into an intentional mess. And that’s just the first, 15 minute track. It sounds like this music might be fun to perform, but I didn’t find it much fun to listen to.  Maybe I need to hear to it a few more times before it starts making sense to me. If it ever does I’ll let you know. 

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“Now I know/that it’s all been done before/it’ll all be done again”. Ain’t that the truth.

The Golden Age of Nowhere - Funeral Party

For the last few weeks, the people who put the money into advertising the Funeral Party have been telling me their band is one of the most exciting I’ll hear all year. Sorry folks, they’re not even the most exciting band I’ve heard all week compared to, say, Chapel Club or Esben and the Witch. However, I can see how the lad’s first album “The Golden Age of Nowhere” might be flavor of the month.

Funeral Party plays Indie pop rock similar to other bands such as the Strokes, the Killers, and Passion Pit, etc., etc. The band sounds young and energetic. The album is laden with hooks, there’s enough variety to sustain the album, and almost every song is a driving force. Even the one relatively slow song, which is buried in the penultimate spot in the track listing, seems to want to kick it up a couple of gears on occasion. The hyperdrive effect is aided by in-your-face production. Despite them being a four piece band, there are times when the compression puts them in danger of sounding like the audio equivalent of the stateroom scene on “A Night at the Opera”.

There’s also enough familiarity to attract people who like what they know, which is my biggest problem with the album; It’s a little too derivative in spots without having enough of an overall individual personality. However, there are some interesting things going on in the song introductions and slotted in here and there that hint at more creativity than we’re getting in these mostly eight-to–the-bar standard song structures.

James Torres’ guitar gives off some nice tones and good riffs, even though none quite reach classic status. Kimo Kauhola and Tim Madrid keep things driving along on bass and drums respectively. For the most part, the lyrics are too generic to be meaningful, but they are stated by singer and keyboardist Chad Elliott with great force and conviction, so one assumes the words mean something to him.

The main sense I get from this album is that it was honed in a live environment, and I can imagine that the material works best with an audience. Two songs (“New York Moves to the Sound of L.A.” and Finale” ) even include scripted crowd chants. There is definitely craftsmanship going on here by a band that has every intention of being around for a while.

OK, so not a bad first effort for these kids, though I can’t see myself coming back to this one too often – there’s not enough individuality and substance for my taste. But lurking in the corners is a promise that the band might get more interesting with subsequent releases.