Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

The best part about long weekends is the that there is more time to listen to music. Not just have it playing, but to really listen to it. This past week I listened to lots of things, some old and some new. It was also a week of exploration, taking chances on a few things out of lingering curiosity. As a result, I was exposed to some albums that I otherwise may have never listened to and would have missed out. Sometimes you have expand your horizons in order to find stuff. There's a wide range of music types on the list, so hopefully there's something here you'll want to take a chance on. Enjoy.

Sivert Hoyem - Lioness: The sixth solo album from the lead singer of criminally underrated Norwegian band Madrugada was released last month and is another gem in his career of brilliant albums. This is another mellower record, like 2011's "Long Slow Distance," one of my favorite albums of that year. These songs feature his refined style of indie rock blended with with folk and ballad elements, but it's his voice that really defines things, a spiritual voice that is always managing to give a beauty to darkness. Easily one of my favorite records of 2016 so far and one that will most likely end up on my list in December, so definitely one to check out.

Elliott Smith - Heaven Adores You: This archival release of demos and alternate takes of Elliott's work is being released to accompany a soundtrack. Much like the Kurt Cobain release last year, this is one of those albums that is meant to appeal mainly to die-hard fans. Luckily, I happen to be one of those. This is like discovering a lost box of treasures, as raw as they are. Perhaps because of their rawness, the honesty shines through even more so than on his more polished studio records of his later career. "Plainclothes Man," "Say Yes," "Son of Sam (Acoustic)" and all the untitled instrumental demos were of real interest to me.

The Dutchess and the Duke - Live at Third Man Records: Recorded in the Fall of 2014, after a few years hiatus and side-projects, the band got back together to record this live-to-acetate that was released last summer. Running through songs from both albums, it's a great set, including favorites of mine like "Out of Time," and "Armageddon Song." I was really happy to find a copy of this, it's a great addition to the collection. I hope this will mean there is a new album in the works some time down the road.

Jefferson Airplane - Jefferson Airplane Takes Off: Despite being a huge fan of the Airplane, for some reason I never managed to pick up their debut back in my Airplane CD buying days, probably because I had the songs on other various releases, including the Fillmore East live set, and the Loves You box set. But the death of Paul and Signe on the same day two week ago sort of hit me. When I came across a nice copy of this for cheap, I had to buy it. Wow, is it ever fantastic. Nearly as good as the landmark Surrealistic Pillow that would follow. A brilliant psychedelic folk album with classics like "It's No Secret," "Let Me In," "Bringing Me Down," and "Let's Get Together."

Peter, Paul, and Mary - Peter, Paul, and Mommy: The last album released by the folk trio was appropriately a children's album. In 1969, the folk movement was running on empty, and these early stars were moving into parenthood, which made sense to record this album recorded with a audience of children. I picked this up for my baby the other day and we listened to it. It's quite good. Just well sung and played innocent folk music, with "Puff the Magic Dragon" being the fantastic set closer.

Gary Numan - The Pleasure Principle: The 1979 debut album from the New Wave legend is a wonderful piece of minimal synth music. I listened to this on a whim, mostly because something about the starkness of the cover appealed to me. I'm familiar with the hits on this record, especially "Cars" but was unaware of his work otherwise. This album is sort of claustrophobic in ways, and eerily pleasant. It reminds me of music that would have existed in Clockwork Orange's vision of the future. Definitely worth a listen.  

Bee Gees - 2 Years On: This 1971 album is the beginning of the brothers second career. Robin having come back to the band, they move away from the earlier sound into a soft rock sound that would soon dominate '70s radio. Disco was still in the future, as was stardom, but there are some great tunes on here that would echo the start of glam rock, especially the great "Lonely Days." All in all, way to many ballads to make it an exceptional album, but a nice find in the $1 bin. "Back Home," "The 1st Mistake I Made," "Lay It On Me," and the Lennon-esque "Every Second, Every Minute" are quality tracks.

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