January 12, 2007

"Rabbit Fur Coat" by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
I’m always late to the party when it comes to music. I didn’t stumble upon punk and hardcore until the beginning of 9th grade, and by then many of the bands I dug were out of commission. I always have that frustrated sense of "WHY HASN'T ANYONE TOLD ME ABOUT THIS?!?" Luckily this time around I was only about a year behind the hype.

I don’t remember how I first happened upon this album, but I know for sure that I was enchanted by the cover artwork - this strange little redhead girl in a dark hallway with some suspicious-looking identical twins looming behind her. It had a very The Shining feel to it. Creepy!

I think at one point mid-last year I searched out the album on iTunes, curious as to what sort of music the album would hold. It’s interesting, how your musical tastes change with the seasons – from the brief clips available to hear, I wasn’t enticed, and left it behind for awhile.

But for some reason, I don’t remember why, I came back to the album two nights ago. This time around the clips made me want to hear more, and I downloaded the album with no hesitation. I only listened to it briefly that first night, as I went on a bit of a spending spree, and purchased some more upbeat music and was rocking out to that instead. The following morning I spent some more time with the album, as it accompanied me on my morning commute. So blown away I was that I continued to listen to it, over and over again throughout the workday and into last night. Folks, this album is something special.

To be more specific about the genre, Jenny Lewis heralds from the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, and at the behest and backing of Bright Eyes singer Conor Oberst, recorded her debut solo album filled with songs of a more alt/folk/country bent. And it works spectacularly well. Upon first listen I thought of June Carter, or Loretta Lynn. She has been referred to as the “Emmylou Harris of the Silverlake set”, which in itself is a bit of a repulsive tag, though, respectfully, accurate. I would describe this as folk country reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s, with modern, angsty themes and production value.

While her songwriting has been criticized as being simple and jumbled (which, after many listens I have to agree with on certain occasions), her voice transcends that, making the tracks a sheer joy to listen to. I was especially tickled by some of the perhaps-inadvertent homages to singers of time past, while still maintaining a unique quality. Case in point, her enunciation of the word “character” in the title track recalls the whispery diction of breathy songstress Julie London, popular in the 50’s. And for all it’s pleasures, I have to admit, there were also those moments when the lilt of her voice, or a change of key bowled me over and surprised me with tears – which is a strange pleasure in itself.

The Watson Twins (Leigh and Chandra) lend their voices in unison in what can only be described as, to use an obnoxious phrase I would never use in real life, “ethereal” backup vocals. Their inclusion is perfect. And the Traveling Wilburys cover “Handle With Care”, featuring the aforementioned Bright Eyes, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie, and The Postal Service - a group Ms. Lewis also lends her voice to) and M. Ward, is a solid patch of whimsy in the middle of the album.

Below I’m including a few of my top picks from the album, so that you might get a taste of what this album offers. And as an added treat, the video for “Rise Up With Fists!!!” (featuring Sarah Silverman!!!), in a tongue-in-cheek Hee Haw performance, a wink-wink nod to her country-folk comparisons.

Please remember to right click the link, and save it to your computer if you want repeat listens. If you enjoy it these, please consider purchasing the album from Amazon or the iTunes Music Store. Thanks!

"Rise Up With Fists!!!" (3.3MB)
"Born Secular" (4.7MB)
"You Are What You Love" (3.9MB)

posted at 10:07 AM

September 21, 2006

"Oh No" - OK Go

Oh No - OK GoOh No

Yeah yeah yeah, I first caught them via a link to their viral treadmill video for "Here We Go Again", like all the unhip folks did, but I won't offer much of an apology for that. This album is full of peppy, sing-along tracks that make driving to work in the morning less of a soul-sucking experience.
posted at 07:00 PM

August 29, 2006

"Plans" - Death Cab for Cutie

Plans - Death Cab For CutiePlans
Death Cab For Cutie

I have to admit, many years ago when a former boss introduced me to DCFC, I referred to them as "Death Cab For Sucky". I now have my tail between my legs, confessing that I am now a fan. Ultimately, I came to them through Gibbard's work with Postal Service, which I know is profoundly unhip, but whatever. I really enjoy the guy's voice, and the music ain't that bad, either. I just saw them live, and they blew me away.
posted at 06:35 PM

January 20, 2006

illinoise - sufjan stevens

strange and beautifulillinoise
sufjan stevens

I'm nothing if not a late-to-the-party bandwagon-hopper. I purchased this with free money, and may not have done so had it been hard-earned. I'm still trying to figure out what makes the music so special, though from an objective standpoint, his songwriting is pretty strong. His voice and orchestrations are soothing, and that's something, I guess. *Shrug*. I think I just need to spend more time with it.
posted at 04:30 PM

December 06, 2005

strange and beautiful - aqualung

strange and beautifulstrange and beautiful

I've got the track Brighter Than Sunshine on repeat. I'm a sucker for smooth music lately, it seems. Really good chill-out music. I'm... dozing... off... now....
posted at 09:47 PM

September 27, 2005

achilles heel - pedro the lion

achilles heelachilles heel
pedro the lion

I can't believe I haven't listed this album before! I don't remember how I stumbled upon it, but it's really great. It's one of those albums where every song can be listened to again and again. And frontman Dave Bazan's voice is so smooth - it has such a comfortable quality to it. Stand-out tracks: damn... all of them, really.
posted at 08:34 PM

July 07, 2005

weezer - make believe

make believemake believe

Okay, I admit it - on first listen, I thought this album was crap. I felt this was Weezer's official death rattle. But I was wrong. I've grown to realize that it's chock-full of fantastic road trip sing-along tracks. Especially fave tracks right now are "This Is Such A Pity" and "Haunt You Every Day", and heck, I'll even toss in "Freak Me Out".
posted at 02:46 PM

June 14, 2005

gorillaz - demon days

demon daysdemon days

From the moment I first happened upon that slick iPod commercial with "Feel Good, Inc." as the soundtrack, I knew I was gonna buy this album. Top fave tracks currently are "O Green World", "DARE", and of course, the excellent Dennis-Hopper-narrated "Fire Coming Out Of A Monkey's Head".
posted at 10:32 AM | comments (1)

May 06, 2005

give up - the postal service

give upgive up
the postal service

I'm always, like, two years late when it comes to catching onto music. And while one-half of this outfit is in the unfortunate band, Death Cab For Sucky (yeah, I said it, SO THERE!), I'm still quite enjoying this venture. Particular faves are, of course, "Such Great Heights", "Nothing Better", and "We Will Become Silhouettes" (because have you SEEN this video? awesome!).
posted at 12:53 PM

February 20, 2005

the miseducation of lauryn hill

the miseducation of lauryn hillthe miseducation of lauryn hill
lauryn hill

From The Diary of Alicia Keys, I now turn to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (what's up with the middle school term-paper album titles?). I'd say these two albums are pretty evenly matched, in terms of awesomeness. I believe that if Ray Charles hadn't succumb this year, we would have seen Alicia Keys sweep the Grammys as did Lauryn Hill (deservedly) in 1999. Favorite tracks include: (of course) "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "I Used To Love Him", and "Every Ghetto, Every City" (which probably helped "inspire" Missy Elliot's "Back In The Day", off her Under Construction album, at the very least - some might even go so far to say Missy done ripped Lauryn off).
posted at 08:21 PM

February 13, 2005

the diary of alicia keys

the diary of alicia keysthe diary of alicia keys
alicia keys

The Grammys are just starting now on the East coast, but Alicia deserves the Song of the Year Grammy award for "If I Ain't Got You". That and "When You Really Love Someone" are ruling my iTunes right now. The texture of her voice is amazing. So sophisticated for her age.
posted at 05:02 PM

January 29, 2005

bjork - all is full of love

all is full of loveall is full of love [cd single]

I once listened to the Plaid remix for almost the entirety of a road trip through Death Valley. It may seem like a grand overstatement to say that this track is burned into my psyche, but it is. I also highly recommend the Guy Sigsworth remix.
posted at 10:09 PM | comments (1)

December 09, 2004

daft punk - discovery

daft punk

The tracks on this album have really been the highlight of using the Harman Kardon sound system in my new MINI Cooper. Feel good morning-driving music, definitely!
posted at 10:56 AM | comments (1)

November 24, 2004

rufus wainwright - want one

want onewant one
rufus wainwright

I don't care how gay he is, when he sings "Want" (WMV file download) my heart goes all melty. He'll be making an appearance at Borders in Westwood on Nov 30th, and I might just swing by.

posted at 09:45 PM

September 06, 2004

bjork - medúlla


What can I say? A Björk album composed almost exclusively of sounds reproduced by the human voice. Much like Björk as an artist, some of it, yes, is a bit oddball and fiercely experimental, but much of it is quite beautiful.

posted at 01:42 PM | comments (1)

June 30, 2004

surfer rosa - the pixies

surfer rosasurfer rosa
the pixies

Man, it's been way too long since I listened to this album. I remember singing and playing guitar (or trying) along to "Bone Machine" back in my teenage bedroom. I highly recommend listening to this while at work. 'Cuz it helps.

posted at 11:15 AM

June 17, 2004

franz ferdinand - franz ferdinand

franz ferdinandfranz ferdinand
franz ferdinand

Can Brit-pop be urbane a bit geeky? A bit edgy? A bit "New York" (a lá the Strokes)? I think it can.

"Take Me Home" was the first track I heard off this album, I was probably driving around listening to KROQ at the time. The opening section of the song really sounded like The Strokes, but then comes the second part (forgive me, my musical training and knowledge of the basic terminology is eluding me for the moment), and it's a bit, well, gaudy. But a good kind of gaudy. And I like it.

A long-lost friend haphazardly mentioned F.F. as a band she had been listening to as of late. So, bored, I spent a night downloading the album. I'm still listening to it, getting a feel for it, but there's definitely something there...
posted at 06:32 PM

March 23, 2004

fever to tell - the yeah yeahs

fever to tellfever to tell
the yeah yeah yeahs

I hopped on the whole Yeah Yeahs bandwagon far too late for my liking. After being intrigued by the single "Maps", I listened to the album and it rocks harder than anything I've heard last year - it's right up there with Hail To The Thief for me.

posted at 10:37 PM

January 31, 2004

songs for the deaf - q.o.t.s.a.

songs for the deafsongs for the deaf
queens of the stone age

To be completely honest, I haven't been listening to the actual album, rather the track "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire", which was featured in the GameCube game Tony Hawk's Underground. But I have to say, Songs For the Deaf is one kickass album.

One of my most vivid concert experiences will always be the QOTSA show this last Halloween at the Greek Theatre. Tomahawk and The Cramps (!) opened for them, and it was pouring rain outside. It never really pours in L.A., but it was really coming down. The Greek is, of course, an open-air venue, and so my brothers, James and Matt, and I were soaked to the bone by the time we staggered out towards the end of QOTSA's set (we couldn't make it all the way through), to the relative warmth and dryness in my brother's piece of crap Thunderbird.
posted at 10:06 PM

December 30, 2003

björk: vespertine

vespertine covervespertine

When I first bought this album, I wasn't too into it. I had been listening to Homogenic and Selmasongs an awful lot, and was looking forward to hearing some new beats on Björk's latest release. I was, however, confronted with an album that, upon the first listen, seems to... be... too... slow...

It was only after I saw Björk play live at the earth-shatteringly good Dorothy Chandler Pavilion show did I go back and listen to the album a good deal. And I'm so glad I did, this album has such stunning moments: "Cocoon" is so intimate, in both sound and lyric; "Harm Of Will" is one of those sweeping orchestral builds whose climax brings goosebumps; and "Unison" has such character as a track - a whimsical cadence and the smile I hear in Björk's singing lifts this cut to the top three on the album.
posted at 11:22 PM

September 18, 2003

rooney: rooney

rooney coverrooney

I've been hearing about these guys alot lately, but unfortunately haven't really been able to hear anything they've done. I came across the single I'm Shakin' from the cd and became an instant fan. They remind me ALOT of Weezer, but seem more light-spirited.
posted at 04:44 PM

September 16, 2003

crass: the feeding of the 5000

crassthe feeding of the 5000

I've been feeling awfully punk rock lately.
posted at 02:53 AM | comments (1)

June 09, 2003

shut up, you fucking baby!

david crossshut up, you fucking baby!
david cross

One of the funniest comedy albums I've heard.

posted at 10:52 PM

June 04, 2003

talk to her - soundtrack

talk to hertalk to her / hable con ella
motion picture soundtrack
I bought this soundtrack even before I saw the film. The original score by Alberto Iglesias is quite haunting. Caetano Veloso's "Cucurrucucu Paloma" and Ellis Regina & Tom Jobim's "Por Toda a Minha Vida" are indispensable additions to the soundtrack.
posted at 01:53 AM | comments (2)

April 30, 2003

hail to the thief - leak

hail to the thief cover arthail to the thief - leaked vers.
How awesome is this album gonna be?!? I've been listening to these tracks over and over in my car, and they sound better every day. Especially favorite tracks of the leaked version are 2+2=5 and the first single, There There
posted at 10:11 PM