My dear music blog, I have forsaken thee. Allow me to be brief and forgo even a terse summary of each of my picks. Most of my music loving multiple personalities are suitably represented. There were many quality releases worthy of mention however these were my standout favorites and mainstays on my 2012 playlists:
15.) Pink- The Truth About Love
14.) Band of Horses-Mirage Rock
13.) Soundgarden-King Animal
12.) The Avett Bros- The Carpenter
11.) Muse- The 2nd Law
10.) Cat Power- Sun
9.) Nada Surf- The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy
8.) Mumford and Sons- Babel
7.) The Shins-Port of Morrow
5.) Delta Rae- Carry The Fire
4.) Grizzly Bear-Shields
3.) Beach House- Bloom
2.) Lana Del Ray-Born To Die
1.) Jack White-Blunderbuss
Ok folks, I’m a little late to the party here. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars has been out for just over a year. I heard them on the radio but recently came into possession of the CD which I have listened to incessantly. If you know me, you know my musical palate doesn’t normally migrate to the country platform. However, I would call the successful “cuisinarting” of this talented duo more alt country and folk.
And so goes the Civil Wars.. comprised of Nashville based, recent two time Grammy winners Joy Williams of California and her Alabama counterpart John Paul White. When these two came together in Nashville a few years ago, it was an organic meeting of two established songwriters with very different backgrounds, Williams more pop and White more country-folk. Simply put this CD is masterful, haunting and beautifully summed up of it’s melodious bare-boned parts. The songwriting is standout. There is no complicated production, there is no full band feel just raw acoustic and vocal napalm.
Williams and White are not in fact a couple but they had me fooled. They have their own stories but they choose to wax poetic about human nature and tension fueled romance as an amalgam. Their voices do belong together eternally in every possible way. ”Poison and Wine” is a testament of imperishable love. “I’ve Got This Friend” is a pleasant tune with a somewhat guarded approach to love. The title track “Barton Hollow” is unabashed harmonius hillbillying. I’m pleased this duo has found recent success hopefully not of the too over- the- top commercial kind. Have a listen, you’ll not be disappointed.
In the mood for storied honesty? Something with a soulfolk/alt country vibe to listen to while you cook dinner and enjoy a glass of good Cab? Kathleen Edwards is your gal. She looks a bit like Tori Amos and sounds like a sugary sweet voiced Suzanne Vega with a splash of Lucinda Williams. Voyageur, her 4th and most recent album is a prize consisting mostly of ear pleasing ballads with some hooked instrumental nuances. Produced by current boyfriend and Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon, Edwards translates longing, heartbreak, resolution and subtle self-existential status effortlessly on Voyageur. Not to mention this was the album which came after she divorced fellow Canadian and collaborative partner Collin Cripps. She’s obviously got quite a bit on her mind but you don’t get the sense she’s still basking in pain or regret. I preferred this album over her last, the more socially conscious Asking For Flowers released in 2008. Norah Jones lends her sultry Blue Note vocal prowess on the last track “For The Record”. The standout track for me is the gorgeous “Change The Sheets”. Bon Voyageur! Au contraire Kathleen, you have arrived.
The Ivy Walls- sounds decadent doesn’t it? You might picture a lavish English cottage in Cornwall instead of an indie quintet from California. This LA based shoegaze, dreampop band is making quite a name for itself. They are one of the most popular and established live bands in Los Angeles and their music is in high demand by many indie filmmakers. I first heard them on my beloved local college radio station WTMD where the single” Only Words” from this latest CD is in very heavy rotation. I immediately heard romantic, resonant influences of bands I adore like The Ocean Blue and Stone Roses. Two of my FB music pals likened them to Talk Talk which I concur from a sheer vocal standpoint. I recently downloaded “Dirty Passionate Daydreaming” and I must say it’s very pleasing to the ears. Make no mistake, these boys are no amateurs and this is their third release which will no doubt propel them to new levels of indie go-to status. They have also covered the Velvet Underground which to me, in it’s own right is musical awesomeness. I certainly hope an East Coast tour is in the not too distant future for The Ivy Walls.
“When I record an album I’m trying to get as close as possible to that perfect moment.”
Well here goes people of earth, friends, and voracious music fans. My debut music blog. And so begins a long overdue return to writing about something that burns bright and visceral in my gut, soul and vocal chords. While I sing( ok in a decent cover band) and discuss it ad nauseum and revel in time spent with fellow musicians and music afficionados, the fingertips have been comatose for 20 yrs. I tell everyone that when it comes to music, I have a split personality. Any of my IPOD playlists or mix CD’s (still around…barely) might consist of Judas Priest, John Coltraine, The Who, Silversun Pickups, Duran Duran and Beth Orton all in happy coexistence. I could go into a whole long diatribe about how I used to write CD reviews for my collegiate magazine and host my own radio program and interview local musicians on the brink.. blah blah blah, I’ll spare you the musical minutiae of my past and get right to the point. First, I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Cameron Crowe(yes Almost Famous is kind of my parallel universe story), the late Jeff Buckley, Violet, my music loving peers and fellow music blogger Playmixt( aka my friend Kevin).
10. The Roots- Undun
9. Lady Gaga- Born This Way
8. Let England Shake- PJ Harvey
7. The Big Roar- The Joy Formidable
6. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
5. Ceremonials- Florence and the Machine
4. Black Kite- Silver Tongues
3. 21- Adele
2. El Camino- Black Keys
1. Wasting Light- Foo Fighters
**Grief Givers sidebar***
As much as I love Radiohead, King of Limbs went WAY out on a Limb and I felt it paled in comparison to The Bends, OK Computer or even In Rainbows. It was just ok. Thom Yorke’s channeling of Joe Cockers spasmodic antics in that Lotus Flower video was flat out bizarre. And…. while I do love Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto Gelato or whatever the hell it’s called was too full of flutterly, prettily produced platitudes and lacked the lyrical, soulful and raw prowess I used to admire from Martin and Co.
More to come, stay open to all tunage, rock on and Happy 2012!