Saturday, March 26, 2011

Field Music - You're So Pretty

I'm going through old songs, making a playlist for tomorrow's 10 mile run. I cannot get over how many amazingly incredible songs I haven't heard in years. It's like walking into my own personal candy store after forgetting it exists... but nothing has gone stale.

My friend gave me data disc of music in high school, and it had 4 Field Music songs on it. This was one. I probably listened to those 4 songs 80 times each in my mp3 cd player. There's a quality here that is so absolutely naive and fresh and light. It's like growing up without growing jaded, where all the joys of childhood linger in the air. The harmonies are simply overwhelming in their happiness. When I hear it, I see bright colors and breathe in summer and everything else disappears.

I melt into a ball of soap, and bubble away.

There's a sort of timeless quality here, one that carries with it the feeling of forever bliss.

Come Back Into My Life

Kevin Devine, I miss you so damn much.

Friday, March 25, 2011

David Bazan - Strange Negotiations

David Bazan spent the better part of Curse Your Branches, the album that precedes Strange Negotiations, struggling with his conflicted feelings over Christianity. Whereas the music on Curse feels secondary to the lyrical content, his latest is a turn in the other direction. Biting guitars are much more direct here, and each song feels more like its own individual narrative. Bazan is still overcoming hardships every step of the way, whether it’s “feeling like a stranger” in his hometown on the title track or dealing with phony people in the rage-addled “People.” But he minimizes the glitchy electronics we heard on Curse for straightforward rockers. Simple riffs and lines like “you’re a goddamn fool, and I love you” bring a punch to the album opener, “Wolves at the Door.” It flows right into “Level With Yourself,” which might as well be a continuation of the first song. The middle of Strange Negotiations sinks into a contemplative lull with the slow-building, nostalgic “Virginia,” where the brushed drums come in almost two minutes into the song. It’s these quiet moments that demonstrate what the Seattle-based musician does best—paint a specific picture with words that put you inside his memories and minimalist melodies that tie them all together.

Badly Drawn Boy - The Shining

Seriously, how good is this song?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cleveland's Newest Piece of Awesome - Shoreway

I'm gonna forgive the fact that this band just stole one half of my potential band name (that is, if I ever learn how to play an instrument... which could be a while). BECAUSE THEY RULE!!

Shoreway is my new favorite Cleveland band, mostly because I'm obsessed with Matthew Rolin's music. If you don't remember, I blogged a lot about his last band, Casual Encounters. Shoreway is a mix of CE and another Cleveland band, Clovers.

It's a little more rawr in the guitar department, and less drippy hippy than Casual Encounters, and it rules just as hard.

Whoa my god, here are more details on their shows.

P.S. Matthew told me they're touring this summer.

Listen to them on soundcloud.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cass McCombs Flashback 2009

In light of my unfavorable review of the new McCombs album, I just found this old review of a McCombs/Walkmen show I saw two years ago at the Beachland Ballroom... guess I really did love Catacombs.


An album and a few extra bandmates later, Cass McCombs is a changed man. He’s not completely different; his jaded, sullen side still peaks through the darkness in his eyes. Yet last night’s performance was a far cry from the set McCombs’ played when he opened for Jose Gonzalez a year and a half ago. Rather than sneering at the audience, you could almost catch a glimmer of a smile every few songs.

McCombs’ newer material has a sunny side, and a full backing band was better able to express the depth of emotion McCombs’ carries in his vulnerable voice. There were times, though, that I wished the band would evaporate so you could hear his smooth garbling and the sweetly simple song construction.

His music has the retro feel of Brill Building pop, with subtle harmonies and an echoed reverb effect on his vocals. In “You Saved My Life,” McCombs hiccuped into little half-spoken phrases that almost sounded – gasp –Elvis Presley-esque.

Cass McCombs - Wit's End

If you judge a man by his music and stage presence, Cass McCombs may very well be one of the most depressed men to haunt your playlist. All sad waltzes and slow choruses, Wit’s End is a series of musical balloons, popped and lying tattered and torn across the floor. This album is further submerged in hopelessness than his past work. And that’s saying something, considering 2009's Catacombs wasn’t a particularly bubbly affair. But where Catacombs has glimmers of hope, like the nearly perfect “Dreams Come True Girl,” these songs sound like a suicide note.

“Buried Alive” starts promisingly, with faraway organs replicating a Jon Brion soundtrack. Lines like “waking up to the breath of the old/in a sea of black” haunt the hazy nightmare. By the end of the song, it’s almost as if McCombs has trapped his listeners in the tomb with him, twisting and turning us within medieval-sounding chimes. McCombs takes us back centuries with the same sort of bells and organs on “Memory’s Stain” and “Pleasant Shadow Song.”

Though littered with beautiful moments, Wit’s End feels suffocating in its repetition. Each song treads more heavily than the last, dragging the heart into a state of coma. In “Saturday Song,” even when he declares “she’s everything today” in what seems like a profession of love, the plodding piano and funeral march drones transform the song into a pit in the stomach, an indescribably terrifying bout of depressive murk.

It’s understandable that “County Line” was released as the album’s first single. It’s the only song here with a dynamic melody and sense of movement. Everything else drowns under its own weight, trapped in a haunted basement with cobwebs and rusty chandeliers. Unafraid of bursting your bubble, Wit’s End crawls and slithers slowly, unafraid to touch upon the darkest of themes.