It’s been a relatively fruitful year for music in my opinion. I’m going to talk about these cd’s/mp3’s/records/albums in no partcular order, so please don’t assign value to the order they are written in. I will be doing a top ten of the year in the next week or two.
Elliott Smith’s From a Basement on the Hill, the record he was working on at the time of his apparent suicide, is more of the same sweet melancholy the Elliot Smith fanbase has come to expect and adore. It’s one of those albums that I can go back and listen to on a regular basis. He wrote great songs, and this album is no exception.
Neko Case is about to explode. Of course I don’t mean literally, but I have this feeling about her that I’ve had about other artists in the past who have gone from independent adulation to widespread popularity. No woman in music today has a more moving, powerful voice than she does, and I honestly don’t say that lightly at all. My iTunes playcount on her newest effort, The Tigers Have Spoken, seems to average out to about twice a day since I purchased the album, which is an almost unheard of pace for me. I think, for those of you who aren’t the biggest roots, torch and twang, or country fans in the world, you will find that this album is the most accessible in her current catalog. (New Pornographers excluded there.) The mix of studio work and live songs on this record seem to flow seamlessly, as do the mixture of covers and originals. Interestingly, this record is from the same label as the Elliot Smith one above, leading me to think that Anti, a sub-label of Epitaph, the Bad Religon label, has at least one person with very good taste manning the helm. Regardless, I am looking forward to Neko’s forthcoming full length.
Last weekend, I went to see Helmet on their most recent tour. Well, it’s not Helment so much anymore than it is Page Hamilton and a bunch of guys from other acts. Helmet was good, but that’s not the point. A band from Oakland named Totimoshi opened up. They initially got my attention because the bassist, Meg Castellanos, is very attractve in a “I rock out and don’t take bs from anyone” kind of way. (That’s just a characterization, I did not actually get a chance to talk to her.) I know that’s a shallow thing, but that’s how the story goes. Anyway, they were phenomenal, great stage presence, great musicianship, and solid songs. I bought their most recent CD, Monoli, at the show, and ripped it the next day. They draw from a wide variety of sounds. The bands that belong in that list, in my opinion, include Nirvana, The Melvins, The Pixies, and Neurosis, in no particular order. They promised me they would be coming back to Atlanta to play again in the near future, and I am holding them to that promise.
When I went to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, and asked people to give me suggestions, I got a ton from Scotty. One of them was “Check to see if the Morning 40 Federation is playing anywhere in town while you are there. I guarantee their shows.” He is absolutely right. I brought a small group of fellow conference goers on Halloween to see them. They are difficult to describe musically, a party band with bawdy lyrics, a rocking blues band with attitude, a quirky band with odd song topics and lyrics, and perhaps the most fun band I have seen live in the last four years. I purchased their eponymous CD at the show, and am listening to it at this very moment. Their fun translates to the CD well, is mixed well, and is worth the purchase. Regardless of the CD, if you have a chance, go see them, I now am willing to guarantee their shows like Scotty.
Just wanted to comment on Elliot Smith’s latest – I was really not a big fan of his until recently – only because I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate how talented he is/was. In my opinion, this is a perfect example of his abilities as a singer/songwriter, and I am sad that we shall here nothing more from him (although, I’m sure that un-released studio work and such will come along at some point).
On a seperate subject, I wanted to comment on a book that was recommended to me by Robert – “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”. Simple/quick read … However, I really enjoy books with eccentric characters. This one was prime. The twist is that this is written from the perspective of a child/person with autism, and the authors work with autistic children probably provided him with the ability to illustrate the thoughts of the character throughout the story. The book was clever, and fun. I would highly recommend it! Thanks Robert. Hope to see you (and Brian) soon.
I absolutely love Neko Case. I found her after hearing the first New Pornographers record. There is no one who blends these truly American genres like she does. There would be a black hole in my collection if she didn’t exist. The new live record is perfect from beginning to end.