Sunday, April 27, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

KaiserCartel, "Okay"

Courtney Kaiser's voice envelopes you in a richness so deep, so dense that if someone told you you had to break from it to save yourself from mortal danger, you may not be able to--you may not want to. The song is already beautiful, but she raises it to the level of devastatingly gorgeous. If she asks if you're okay, you have no choice but to answer "yes"--while you're listening to that voice, you are, indeed "okay". The song builds from her vocals and a softly strummed guitar to include a full compliment of guitars, keyboards, tamborine and the addition of bandmate Benjamin Cartel's vocals. When the song is over, you may be exhausted (in addition to feeling okay) from the amount of energy and volume of music they pour into this song.


KaiserCartel are concerned for us. They wave to us and ask us if we are okay.

Jeffrey Simmons, "Half-Dollar" (This song is a few years old, but indie music by nature is spread through word of mouth/blog and sometimes blogs can be slow. Okay, sometimes my blog can be slow.)

I gravitate towards music with unusual arrangements and an eclectic choice of instruments. "Half-Dollar" begins with a beautiful viola serenade* and then finds a groove with a myriad of sounds including guitar and hand-claps. The music's so dense it takes me several listens to identify most of the instruments. On third listen I can hear a banjo almost half-way through the song. A piano takes over the melody briefly, towards the end, as Simmon's vocals wind down. Simmon's voice is fluid and rich. It matches the music so well that neither dominates--the momentum is sustained equally by each contributor, vocal and instrumental, making for a very complex and complete piece of music.

*I'm not particularly great at distinguishing instruments, and a few of the articles on Simmon's press page list this as a mellotron. There's no way for me to really know, though--it's possible that those reviewers are incorrect, also.

Myspace (It looks like the text is the same color as the background--select the text to read it)

I'm just wondering what Jeffrey Simmons is looking at. Bird? Rocket? Asteroid? Will we ever know?

Wye Oak, "I Don't Feel Young"

The song starts off "I don't feel young, I don't feel scared, I'm in control..." It seems as though the singer isn't considering not feeling young a negative. It's more like she's equating being young with being unwise, and she's at a point where those youthful conditions don't apply to her. Later she says she doesn't feel pride, she doesn't cry and she doesn't feel low--indicators of a person more removed from the rash emotionalism of youth (though I think everyone still feels low sometimes, no matter how much life experience they may have). If you're thinking she must be really stern and serious, she also says she speaks too fast and laughs too loud--a symptom, I think, of an abandonment of self-consciousness. There is definitely something very abandoned and unself-conscious about this song. The instruments fly--the guitar possibly sailing out of the player's hands. The bass churns and rumbles, almost certainly cracking the floor beneath the musicians. The song even incorporates a bit of hand-clapping, and nothing says "enthusiastic abandon" like hand-clapping. The singer's voice is tremulous, but in a way that suggests optimism, not timidity--as if she's hit a plateau years in the making, much as someone closer to fully formed would.


Half of Wye Oak looks optimistic while the other half looks like she's got something up her sleeve...


I don't think I've ever talked about Mark Kozelek on this blog before because his music, to me, is meant to be listened to as a collective. It doesn't work on an mp3 to mp3 basis. So, if you've never heard the music of Sun Kil Moon (or his previous band Red House Painters), I would suggest listening to this podcast from featuring a live permormance from him.

I have talked about Adele before--I tried to find a legal mp3 for her song "Chasing Pavements" but couldn't, so I posted the video. She is absolutely fantastic, so I wanted to take a little bit of blog space and post a link to her appearance on AOL Spinner's The Interface. She performs "Chasing Pavements" live in addition to a few other songs. I'm particularly hooked on "Make You Feel My Love" right now. It breaks my heart to hear the emotion in her voice!


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