stuff I’m listening to / stuff to which I’m listening

Posted on March 26, 2008

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no, not stuff I’m listening to at this very moment. if that were the case, you’d be reading a few-hundred-word write-up about an extremely pretentious, grunge-hip mandolin/spoken word duo playing on the stage of rebecca’s coffee shop (come on, the “my mother was a drunk” line is a tad overplayed, no?). two 30-minute sets. two.. 30-minute.. sets. no lack of effort or prolificness here.

“prolificness” is an ugly, ugly word. ugly, but real. I’d much rather use something like “prolificity” or “prolificism.” alas.

rather, here’s just some stuff that I’ve been listening to lately. most of these artists/albums aren’t upcoming releases (GASP! music stuff on a blog about things that have already been released?!). yeap, just stuff you’ll find on the “Recently Played” list of my itunes and last.fm page.

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
in terms of daring and innovation, this is the most timid, subdued wilco album so far. I guess that’s a little bit like saying “the pyramids are the least impressive of the world wonders” or “between the wheel, fire, and agriculture, fire was the least daring of prehistoric innovations” – take that as you may. anyway, if I may use music critic language for a moment, Sky Blue Sky is the safest album Wilco’s put out. (heh, put out. bro-tastic!)

regardless, it’s a wonderful 12-song album that picks me up and carries me through various moods and mental landscapes in a 50-minute span. I can easily picture myself walking through uniquely hued, individually themed backdrops at various paces: a brisk elbows up strut in the sun during “Walken,” a head-down, foot-dragging mope in a soft mist during “Please Be Patient with Me,” and a glazed-over, emotional zombie walk through the rooms of a small, sparsely decorated yellow house during “Hate It Here.”

anytime I want to be reminded that it’s okay to feel eighteen different emotions, this is the album to which I turn.

“Walken”:
“Please Be Patient with Me”:
“Hate It Here”:

The Acorn – Tin Fist / Blankets! / The Pink Ghosts / Glory Hope Mountain
equal parts whimsy, musicianship, and restraint, the acorn have become one of my favorite bands. each of their songs – as well as every movement, stanza, crescendo, and hushed whisper that each song consists of – seems to have a deliberate path and purpose. I’ve never been the biggest fan of classical music, but I’ve always appreciated the beauty and power of distinct, yet cohesive, movements. this band definitely takes advantage of the raw emotional push-and-pull behind musical and lyrical dynamics. the end result is a flood of comfort in and adoration for their music. lyrics are sophisticated in their simplicity, and the music is able to move me because it flows with conviction in the direction for which it was designed. even songs without words (like “Do You Not Yearn, At All?”) are constructed to dig into your musical heart and pull you along for the ride.

“Dents”:
“Plates and Saucers”:
“Do You Not Yearn, At All?”:

Alison Krauss and Union Station – Lonely Runs Both Ways
if it’s possible for a songstress to possess a voice that’s both heartbreaking and uplifting with every note she sings, alison krauss is it. the clarity and crispness of her voice makes those few instances where emotion trumps technique all the more noticeable and compelling. the songs allow alison to narrate loss, longing, and lament in the most angelic of ways, which makes for an incredibly bittersweet listening experience. sometimes, I’m in a place where, for one reason or another, I can’t take in something entirely happy or entirely sad, and I need something that attenuates both the best and worst of each quality, kinda like a jack and coke. how appropriate.

“Goodbye Is All We Have”:
“Doesn’t Have to Be This Way”:
“Restless”:

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Posted in: music, reflection, reviews