Music you should be listening to

Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

Palmer (the female half of the Dresden Dolls) has accomplished something striking on her first solo disc. She has married the punk cabaret sound of the Dolls to the more mainstream sound of producer Ben Folds. The results are remarkable.

At a time when female singer-songwriters who play piano are getting airplay (think Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson), this disc will go unjustifiably ignored by the radio and music television powers that be.

If you have a sister/niece/daughter between the ages of 14 and 20, this should be a necessary item on your holiday buying list.

Songs to download: Ampersand, Astronaut, Runs in the Family

Check out Amanda Palmer if you like: 1990s Liz Phair, Tori Amos

Vampire Weekend - "Ottoman"

Vampire Weekend burst onto the scene in the last year and became everyone's darling. And while I like a lot of the songs off their self-titled debut, I was never ready to suck their collective lollipops like everyone else seemed to be and anoint them the “next great thing”.

This song, however, is from the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist soundtrack and displays a new direction. I find this song to be much more accessible than anything previous. Gone are the Paul Simon-like African rhythms or Talking Heads-like reggae beats and instead this song is full of strings driving the tempo and lead singer Ezra Koenig dipping into falsetto. The one thing that remains though is a borrowed line from their own “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” namedropping Peter Gabriel.

Hotel Lights - Firecracker People

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Ben Folds Five reunion concert this past September down in Chapel Hill, NC. Former BF5 drummer Darren Jessee opened the show as his latest incarnation, the group Hotel Lights. Their set intrigued me enough to purchase their latest album, Firecracker People, off of iTunes when I got home and it was one of my better impulse purchases of the year.

Jessee’s melodic, mellow pop-country songs are better suited to recordings (as opposed to a live setting in a large theatre). It was after repeated listenings though that I discovered the real magic in this disc - - Jessee’s aching vocals add to the emotional depth even beyond the heartbreaking lyrics of most of these songs.

Songs to download: Run Away Happy, Blue Always Find Me, Firecracker People

Check out Hotel Lights if you like: Elliott Smith, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst)

The Eels - "Things the Grandchildren Should Know"

I recently caught the PBS documentary Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives which features Mark Everett (or as his friends call him, E) of the Eels in an exploration about his late physicist father Hugh.

First of all, I wholeheartedly recommend the documentary…it is enthralling and most of that is due to E’s charismatic personality on his journey. Even if the science involved is above 99.9% of the viewers, it is E grasping for understanding of his father and his family that make this compelling viewing.

One of the Eels’ songs that they used in the show was “Things the Grandchildren Should Know” and it struck a chord with me. It’s a simple little song - - it’s just a basic strum with Dylanesque talking/singing. But written with surprising candor, E puts his whole life out there in 5 ½ minutes. So much so, that he used the title again in a recent autobiography.

I will be checking out most of the Eels’ catalog in the next couple of months, so don’t be surprised to see them in this feature again.

As always, please feel free to comment below and thanks for coming and suckling on Daddy’s Sugar Ball

No comments:

Post a Comment