Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some Quick Recommendations

So i'm hardly at work right now but I figured with all the lack of real content on this blog that it was long overdue for something, anything, to keep your musical musings directed. So here's 5 albums that are currently ruining my life with how great they are.

1. Neon Horse, Neon Horse: I was all obsessed with the video for the single "Cuckoo" and i'm afraid that my obsession has only grown after listening to the rest of the album. It's got a really expansive vocal style palette and the guitars are everything I love about Stoner Rock. It's got that beautifully mysterious quality that seems to have vanished from modern music with just a taste of pastoral, apocalyptic, and melodramatic tones.

2. St. Vincent, Marry Me: St. Vincent is a female singer-songwriter who completely validates the very tired genre of female singer-songwriters. Her vocals are outrageously beautiful (nothing new there) but she's not afraid to use them to say things that are spiteful, dreary, or downright ugly. The title track is a great example, as its opening line "Marry Me John, I'll be so good to you." is thrown completely for a loop by the following line "You won't realize i'm gone." And although the apocalyptic cabaret song seems to grow in popularity every month, St. vincent's "Paris Is Burning" ranks as my favorite simply because of its unwinking deadpan sweetness.

3. Stars, In Our Bedroom After The War: Stars is one of the few bands making pop records that I enjoy. Now I know some of you may think that if they aren't on the top 40 they aren't pop music, or that if it's not shallow and bubblegum it can't be pop music, but you'd be wrong on both counts. In fact, when I interviewed their bassist Evan, he called their second album a pop record. So ha. Anyways, Stars writes love songs deeper than anybody. Take for example "Personal" a modern love track about internet romance which plays on the different insecurities of both parties through the narrative style of an email conversation. It helps immensely that Stars has two more-than-capable singers, Torq Campbell and Amy Millan, so they can sing both sides of a romantic tale. Torq does the lion's share of the vocals, and he proves why on songs like "Life 2: The Unhappy Ending," and "Barricade," which feature him almost perfectly describing emotions with his timbre.

4. Rocky Votolato, The Brag & Cuss: Okay, I have to admit I haven't given this a full listen. But Rocky Votolato is incapable of writing a bad song in my opinion. He has 2 great solo albums and 1 album with Waxwing as guarantors and everything i've heard so far from Brag has been heartstopping. If you like country-tinged (the old kind of country, the good stuff) folk love songs, you need Rocky. Also, if you like electrifying punk rock guitar, you need his brother Cody Votolato (of Blood Brothers). You could also check out third Votolato brother/guitarist Sonny, but I have no idea what kind of music he makes.

5. Justice : Yeah, the album title is just a cross (Maeby: across from where?). It continues the faux-christian theme with song titles like "Genesis," "Waters Of Nazareth," and "Let There Be Light." But really, this album is all about textures. If you've ever wondered how much of a difference production value and multi-track layering makes on an album, listen to this album and then go listen to any other club dance song. It's shocking to hear music that good that's made with the same silly synth bits that have been bandied around for decades in terrible rap beats and synth-pop anthems. It's like post-modern Thriller.

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