Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend Music Roundup

I've been spending most of this week giving quality listening time to a limited number of recent acquisitions and some albums that had gotten lost in the shuffle a bit and were deserving of closer attention. Without further is this edition of the Weekend Music Roundup:

Samantha Crain - Songs in the Night: A few weeks ago, I mentioned how this was on my wishlist after seeing Samantha live. Well, I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint. It's rare that I hear a voice that completely blows me away, and she has one. Her brand of Oklahoma dark folk is beautiful and moving and I highly recommend this album.

Papercuts - You Can Have What You Want: Like fellow bay area band Skygreen Leopards, Papercuts plays a mellow blend of psychedelic folk. Though, not quite up to the level of Skygreen Leopards, I'm thoroughly enjoying this album. It's good sunshine trip to go on for a bit. 

Tim Harden - The Best of Tim Harden: One of the '60s west coast folk rock pioneers, Tim Harden isn't much different from the others...acoustic guitar, political counter culture lyrics, etc. But that's not a bad thing. And Tim's deep voice burrows into every song and fills it with the weight of what he's saying. Some indie fans will recognize his song "Black Sheep Boy" from the Okkervil River cover of it (on the album of the same title). Your classic folk collection probably isn't complete with out some Tim Harden in least, I don't feel like mine was.

Langhorne Slim - When the Sun's Gone Down: From the old guard to one of the new, Langhorne is a singer/songwriter with a Cat Stevens sound for the modern age. This album (from a few years ago) is a little more southern influenced than the latest one, but that's not a bad thing. Hopefully one day Langhorne, PA will be known for more than just being the home of Seasme Place.

Herman's Hermits - Introducing Herman's Hermits: One of the more forgotten (and least respected) bands of the British Invasion's first wave is Herman's Hermits. At the time, they were second only to the Beatles in popularity and listening to this first album, it's easy to hear why. Like all the British Invasion bands, there's a splattering of traditional American 50's rock n roll covers alongside original teen love ballads that are super catchy and thus Madchester was born.

Jeff Mangum - Orange Twin Field Works, Vol. 1: After Neutral Milk Hotel's demise, Jeff's musical direction took a different path. This is a collection of field recordings of Balkan folk music, bits and pieces spliced together into a wandering dream soundtrack. I bought this the week it came out (summer 2001) and didn't get it at all. Last week, I grew curious as my tastes have grown to like this kind of strange folk. Sure enough, it clicked this time. Certainly not for everyone but, but it actually doesn't stray too far from the sound compositions on NMH's early cassette album Invent Yourself a Shortcake. 

Hala Strana - Fielding: This is album is responsible for my renewed interest in the above. A drone folk album that also incorporates some field recordings, this double album is one of those soundscape albums that I love to write to. Not as good as Natural Snow Buildings, but still top quality drone folk.

The Shadows of Knight - Back Door Men: American garage rock from 1966, this album can hold it's own to early Rolling Stones albums. Reminded me a lot the Ugly Ducklings, just great blues based garage rock.

The Supremes - A Bit of Liverpool: I'm used to hearing British Invasion bands interpreting Motown, so it was interesting to hear it the other way around. I picked this up on vinyl (for FREE) and it's a really fun record. The Supremes are always great and hearing them do some of my favorite songs was a blast. 

Carole King - Music: Released a mere nine months after the Tapestry, Music is an obvious attempt to cash in on that albums huge success. Not nearly as good (but not much is), this is a collection of songs that probably didn't make the cut for Tapestry, but there are some amazing tunes on here that could've easily made it. There are others that clearly couldn't. But it still manages to capture the rainy day vibe of Tapestry and is well worth the price of admission. 

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