Monday, April 28, 2008

Because there's always music

This past weekend was devoted entirely to packing for the move. But you know what? Packing's fucking boring, both to do and to read about. And I'm not really in the mood to find clever ways to make it funny. Besides, I'd already started this post, so enjoy....

So ever since eldest son was born, I've been pretty well out of touch with the world of music. It's not like I was writing for Pitchfork before or anything, but I at least knew when artists I liked were releasing new albums or touring, and I managed to pick up on some new artists every now and then. But less time and less money have rendered The Holmes one musically uninformed sum'bitch.

Which just means that the music I have managed to pick up on during this time is all the more important to me. For that, I have several sources to thank. First off, there's the generosity of friends and family. Then Paste Magazine pulled a Radiohead and gave out one year pay-what -you-wish subscription, which includes a mix CD full of new music with every issue. Oh, and of course Radiohead pulled a Radiohead, but we all knew about that. Then emusic hooked me up with a boatload of free downloads for no other reason than having been a customer two years ago.

So in the spirit of free music, I threw together a muxtape of some of the stuff I've been enjoying as of late. Here's a few words on what you'll find:

The Sword - Metal. Just metal. Pure metal. And metal from Austin, no less. My friends Brandon and Courtney have this wonderful habit of showing up with burned CD's of awesome music, which is the only reason why I know about bands like Wolfmother, Battles, and The Sword among others. With an album titled "Age of Winters" and songs like "The Horned Goddess" and "Lament for the Aurochs", The Sword definitely hangs from the Dungeons & Dragons branch of the heavy metal family tree. I'm pretty sure it's what wookies listen to.

Sia - The Ash and I fell in love with Sia on the basis of a single song, which we heard in the closing sequence of the final episode of "Six Feet Under." That song is forever linked to those amazing few moments of television, so when the local public radio station tried to use it in their ads, I'm pretty sure they lost all the "Six Feet Under" fans immediately. This isn't that song, but rather one that came with one of the mixes from Paste, which prompted us to download the rest of the album.

The Good, The Bad, and The Queen - Despite the fact that this album sold in huge numbers, I had never heard of this band until my brother in law gave us this CD as a gift. It's Damon Albarn's latest project, and I loved it immediately. I pretty much had it on repeat for at least a month and never got tired of it.

Future of the Left - I don't remember how I heard about this band, but their name stuck with me. So when I had bunch of free downloads on my hands and no idea what to do with them, I just downloaded it without even listening. This particular song has a nice bar-brawl whiskey swagger to it. In fact, I was walking down the street one evening when this song came on in the headphones. About halfway through, I realized that I was, in fact swaggering. And I haven't stopped since.

Dr. Dog - This is my favorite band right now. The first CD I got from Paste included a song by these guys that was so simple and unobtrusive that I played it probably a dozen times before I actually heard it. But once it pricked my ears, it just grabbed me. This isn't that song, but rather one off of their CD that I later downloaded and have been loving the hell out of ever since. It was not an easy decision picking just one track to put on this mix. The whole album just has this soulful, slightly buzzed quality that I've found really comforting lately. Incidentally, when the lineup for this year's Austin City Limits Festival was released, this band was originally listed, but I don't see them there anymore. Too bad.

Eddie Vedder - I'm surprised to find myself recommending an Eddie Vedder song. Nothing against him, it's just that I haven't really listened to Pearl Jam since "ten", though I freely admit that when "Alive" comes on the radio, I turn it up and air guitar with the solo. I haven't seen this movie yet, but this song, "Hard Sun", was all over the radio for about a week, and I loved it. So when I got a gift certificate to a local record store, I grabbed this one. Weirdly enough, it quickly became one of Henry's favorites.

Holy Fuck - I know what you're thinking, but the answer is no, this is not Christian sex music. But maybe it could be. During the last South by Southwest, I read an article about a party being hosted by Rachel Ray. Yes, that Rachel Ray, the one that has that bomb installed in her head by the Food Network that will detonate if she ever stops smiling. This was one of the bands that played her little shindig, which just seemed strange. I downloaded their album from emusic, and the next day at work, I put it on and immediately entered this hyper-productive trance that lasted the length of the album. I was knocking out work right and left, just checking things off the old to-do list, boom boom boom...until the album ended just a little over half an hour later. And since I have a strict one-listen-per-day policy, that was all the productivity I was able to muster that day.

State Radio - This was another Paste discovery. I love a song that tells a story.

Tom Waits - Yes, I know, this album came out like a year and a half ago, but I didn't get it until much later. This was a gift from my wife, a triple CD set with not a single wasted track. I don't remember who turned me on to Tom Waits originally, but God bless 'em.

Hank Vegas - Another Paste discovery. I actually thought this was My Morning Jacket the first time I heard it, and googled to see if MMJ's singer was working a side project. It took a while, but this song eventually grew on me.

Nortec Collective - Tejano gets the electronic treatment. I bought this album for a friend of mine a few years ago after seeing it on his wish list. I liked the samples that I heard on Amazon so much that, between the time that I bought the CD and the time that I gave it to him, I wrestled with the ethics of opening a gift CD to burn it prior to giving it to its final recipient. I ended up not doing it, but downloaded it from emusic and have been digging the hell out of it. Just try not to dance to this.

Sigur Rós - Another gift from the old brother in law. This song is just beautiful. I first heard it in the car on a slightly overcast day, and it just felt great to be alive.


Whit said...

I have the Sigur Ros and Dr. Dog. I'll be checking out the rest. Thanks!

And yes, Tom Waits rules.

Bubblewench said...

Uh, boy do I feel musically challenged... Guess I better find out what Paste is and join... or something!

sybil law said...

You and I could totally rock out and drink beers together!
Good taste, Holmes, good taste.
Although, I am so disappointed that I didn't get to read about you "packing the box" or any other dirty innuendos...

Brandon Paul Salinas said...

Just picked up Sia's 'Colour The Small One' on your recommendation along with the new Portishead and something by these guys called The Kooks. Are they a big deal? Am I stumbling onto something I should have known about years ago? I have no idea what the kids are listening to these days.

Glad you're digging on The Sword. That's some fantabulous shizz.

reen said...

I'm woefully behind on reading posts, but THANK YOU for this one! A lot of good stuff here...and I get overwhelmed trying to pick out new music to try by myself, so this is great.

My daughters stop mid-sentence and listen intently when "Hard Sun" comes on, too. Hmmm. It's one of my current favorites as well.