Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 2011 Album of the Month 

The Decemberists "The King is Dead"

King is Dead

Listen for free here on Grooveshark

Some folks may remember that a million years ago I used to have a CD Of The Month club where I would let folks know the album that most struck my fancy that month. Maybe I'll start that up again.

I've liked the Decemberists ever since stumbling upon their 2005 album Picaresque but some folks complained about the preciousness of the lyrics and the fey/maudlin maritime themes (coming from some dudes that have clearly never spent a winter on an Alaskan crab boat). 'The King Is Dead' changes a lot of that by teaming up with Americana sweethearts Gillian Welch & David Rawlings and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck.


As I was remarking to a buddy, on this album "They're making songs with more focus on the song and less focus on their thesaurus or old scrimshaw carvings"


Favorite tracks include "Calamity Song" which could've been one of the B-Sides from "Out of Time" like "Texarkana" or "Near Wild Heaven," and the song "Rise to Me" partly because of the Neil Young "Harvest"-era pedal steel, harmonica & harmonies, and partly because it uses the name Henry in the lyrics of the song. Review:
The Decemberists' fifth, full-length studio outing finds the Portland, OR-based indie rock collective exploring a region that has thus far eluded them. Raised on a steady diet of Morrissey, Robyn Hitchcock, Shirley Collins, and Fairport Convention, The King Is Dead represents frontman Colin Meloy's first foray into the musical traditions of his homeland, or more specifically, it proves that he really, really likes R.E.M. “Calamity Song,” which is one of three tracks to feature guitar work from Peter Buck, threatens to break into “Pretty Persuasion” or "So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)" at any moment, and first single “Down by the River” flirts with “The One I Love” hard enough to take it on a long weekend, though Meloy has stated that the track “started out as more of a paean to R.E.M. than I think any of us really wanted it to.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch also join the party on a number of tracks, lending their instantly recognizable voices to two of the album’s finest moments, the Wildflowers-era, Tom Petty-inspired “Don’t Carry It All” and the lovely, Paul Simon-esque “June Hymn” -- Meloy and Welch, the former a Montana-born Anglophile and the latter a California girl with a fetish for dust bowl Appalachia -- harmonize nicely, canceling out each other’s vocal affectations. It’s by far the clearest and most commercial collection of tunes the band has amassed to date, but it’s also the least interesting. It may sound like a cross between Camper Van Beethoven's Key Lime Pie and R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, but none of the tracks have the gravitas or potential staying power of a song like “Sweethearts” (CVP) or “Find the River” (R.E.M.). That said, it’s a refreshing change from the usual compilation of bibliophile, sea shanty/murder ballad, and while the Led Zeppelin III-style rural overhauling may isolate fans who prefer the serpentine, progressive art rock of albums like The Crane Wife and Hazards of Love, it opens up a whole new continent for the band to explore. - James Christopher Monger


Maybe buy it at Amazon MP3 or maybe on the iTunes?

Comments: 0
Friday, February 04, 2011

Main Titles 

I've been thinking a bit about my favorite music moments in movies. There are the ones where the film uses a terrific well-known tune to perfect effect, and others where you don't really know the song, but its placement in the film shoehorns the tune into your life somehow.


Nico's "These Days" in The Royal Tenenbaums

Pretty much anything Wes Anderson does with music I am a fan of, but this in particular really struck me.
There is an eternity of a pause when Margot steps off of the bus before the music starts,
and then the line of ship captains walking in unison behind Richie...just terrific.


The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" in Rushmore

The brash Clang Clang of the initial guitars, the chanted "Cello Cello Cello Cello" (since the band couldn't find/afford actual cellos for that part),
the refrain of "You are forgiven" as these two characters do the horrible things to each other.


The Troggs doing "A Girl Like You" in Flirting

Such a great blast of a song, as these romance-starved teenaged kids are staring across the room at each other.


Harry Nilson doing "Everybody's Talkin'" in Midnight Cowboy

Apparently John Barry tasked Bob Dylan to write a song for this movie and they were just using "Everybody's Talkin'"
as the temp track during filming and editing. Dylan evenually wrote "Lay Lady Lay" for the movie's opening titles
but this one fit so much better they kept it. I'm glad they did.


"Barking at the Moon" by Jenny Lewis from "Bolt"

From a super cute and underrated kid's movie, this tune accompanies a great cross-country travel scene.
When I heard it I instantly recognized the voice but couldn't place it until later.


The Chords doing "Sh-Boom" from Cars

One of my long-time fave Doo-Wop songs gets the Pixar treatment in Cars. Just perfect (as all Pixar movies are).
I love to look at the reflections of the neon as the cars roll past.


Main Titles Music from the Motion Picture "Blade Runner" by Vangelis
Also here

The weird heavy industrial stomp of the percussion, the twinkling Asian-influenced strings...this is one weird and beautiful movie score.
I think I may like this sequence just because it indicates to me that I will be watching Blade Runner for the next 2 hours.


"The End" by The Doors in Apocalypse Now

A bit clichéd perhaps...I watched the shit out of this movie in college
but the starkness of the opening guitar runs and those helicopters dropping napalm always sticks with me.


Aside from The Cars performing "Moving in Stereo" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High...what have I missed?

Comments: 2
Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Followed by: "Uterus Cannon" 

This is Dolph Lundgren performing "A Little Less Conversation" in concert.

I think the phrase "And then you wouldn't believe what he did next" gets thrown around a lot.

There must be a word in Swedish that means that, but they only use it once per decade.


There is some strange new programming coming out of TLC (The "Learning" Channel) these days:


Also, it should be noted that I am very much enjoying the new Decemberists album.
Much more rootsy and Americana-y (Thanks Peter Buck and Gillian Welch).
They're making songs with more focus on the song and less focus on their Thesaurus or old scrimshaw carvings.
This will get some airplay from me on hot, still days this summer.


Bill Ward from Black Sabbath and Tracy Morgan as long-lost twin brothers?


Anybody else seeing this connection? Is this thing on?


I looked into the trap, Ray Ackbar.


Also a big fan of


When you care enough to post a snarky card to someone's Facebook wall.


That's not a moon...
That's not a moon's a delightful and whimsical summer snack!


Thanks Bob
Thanks Keith
Thanks David

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