music mondays: breakfast in fur

This Breakfast In Fur album came out at just the right time. I’d been searching for some dreamy pop to listen to and found myself simply returning to Teen Dream because #beachhouseforever. But also because I wasn’t finding anything new. Enter Breakfast in Fur’s first LP, Flyaway Garden.

bir

I came across them while browsing for new releases, so well done, internet. The album is pretty short, coming in under 40 minutes, but it’s the perfect pick-me-up for this mood-killing cold we’ve had in Columbus. Flyaway Garden opens with “Shape,” a toe-tapping track about holding on to a feeling and moment. But the music is smarter than the lyrics may sound. The layers build up into a well-crafted tumult of head-bobbing sounds.

Unless you’re really into flutes, I will suggest you skip “Lifter,” but “Setting Stone” is another standout track from the album. The song features band founder Dan Wolfe on vocals. He took a vocal backseat on most of the album, but his bristly voice works perfectly over the slightly frantic sound of “Setting Stone.”

You guys might be aware of my inherited love for Neil Young (thanks dad) and BiF does a trippy and strange cover of “Cripple Creek Ferry.” I doubt my dad would enjoy the cover, but I am interested to know why they picked that track to cover, and of course can’t resist the dreaminess of their version.

Thank you, Breakfast in Fur, for making me feel like one day it will be warmer than 10 degrees outside. The album is on iTunes and streaming on spotify.

music mondays: jenny lewis

Like many fans of Jenny Lewis, I’ve admired her for awhile. I listened to Rilo Kiley back in high school and college, then only sort of paid attention to Jenny and Johnny. Her last solo album came out in 2008, so The Voyager is a welcome treat for her fans. Admittedly, I’m predisposed to like (love?) this album. It was produced by Ryan Adams, the single “Just One of the Guys” is a collab with Beck, and her rainbow suit is fucking rad.

jenny

Lewis really succeeds as a storyteller on The Voyager. She takes us on a journey as she sings about break-ups, adulthood, romantic mistakes, and even saying goodbye to her dying and once estranged father.

The star-studded and hilarious music video for “Just One of the Guys” masks the darker and somber tone of the track. Lewis sings, “When I look at myself all I can see / I’m just another lady without a baby”, a sentiment I’m sure many of my single friends have felt as our newsfeeds fill up with more and more photos of babies.

The album’s title and closing track is another that really shines. The backing vocals are provided by First Aid Kit (who also have a great new album out) and really help to fill out the song. I would love to see a Jenny Lewis + First Aid Kit tour.

I’m having a love/hate relationship with “She’s Not Me”. I like the track overall, but something in the melody kept reminding me of some other song. Eventually I realized it was the terrible song “Cruisin” from the equally terrible Gwyneth Paltrow movie Duets. Ach. Maybe a bit of a stretch, but I can’t help what my ears hear.

Overall, really enjoying these new tracks from Jenny Lewis. I hope she keeps making music for a long time. The Voyager is out tomorrow.

music mondays: chet faker and some first listens

Chet Faker‘s first full album, Built on Glass, came out last week. You probably know him for his cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”, a crowd favorite for sure.

Faker is an electronic musician with a soulful side. If you didn’t guess, his performance name is an homage to jazz musician, Chet Baker.

“1998” is my favorite track on this album.

It’s got this great beat that makes me want to dance every time I listen. After the opening verse, he repeats the same verse for about 5 minutes (they cut down for the video apparently). Some of you might find that annoying. But, if you think of Chet Faker as an electronic musician first, it makes sense that he may be less focused on lyrical content. That said, I’m sure most people can relate to his lament:

We used to be friends
We used to be inner circle
I don’t understand
What have I become to you
Take my good word
Turn it backwards
Turn your back on me
Is it absurd
For me to hurt
When everything else is fading

“To Me” is another favorite that gets more soulful. This isn’t an album with a ton of depth, but it’s got some good beats and has been fun to listen to.

NPR Music just opened up the gauntlet recently with the number of First Listens it released. You guys know I’m not generally a country music fan, but I got mad love for Dolly Parton. “Jolene” is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Basically, Dolly can do no wrong. She’s got a pretty wide variety on Blue Smoke, too. Covers, classics, and new stuff that leans to the pop country sound of today.

I was really excited to see Lykke Li’s new album, I Never Listen, up on First Listen. I heard “No Rest For The Wicked” a couple weeks ago, and liked it immediately.

Wounded Rhymes was such a dark, powerful, slightly scandalous album, and I really enjoyed it, but am looking forward to this more familiar sound from Lykke Li. “Gunshot” is an early favorite. It has this great 80s sound that catches you off guard.

Nikki Nack, the third album from tUnE-yArDs, is out there too. I haven’t listened too closely yet to Merrill Garbus’s latest, but I expect weird, poptastic tracks with worldly influences.

Lastly, I haven’t made it to Lighght, the newest from Kishi Bashi, at all yet, but look forward to giving it a listen. If you like strings, I recommend you do as well.

Happy listening.

Update: Chet Faker was on World Cafe on April 30. I always enjoy hearing an artist talk about their music firsthand, so take a listen.

music mondays: spring sounds

IT’S FINALLY STARTING TO FEEL LIKE SPRING. I still had to scrape my windshield this morning, but it’s currently 62° and I WILL NOT be wearing a coat this evening. Take that, Mother Nature.

When spring finally starts to truly emerge, I always want something light and fun to listen to. Cue the folk pop tracks.

NPR has been streaming Nickel Creek‘s new album, so I’ve been getting my fill before it actually comes out. Really enjoying it, but I’ll save most of the Nickel Creek reviewing for after I see them in May (!!!). “Destination” is an early favorite, as well as their cover of “Hayloft”.

Mountain Man is this super folksy female trio. I’ve listened to them in the past and saw them a few years ago when they were touring with Feist as her backup singers. They wore these kinda crazy-looking long, drapey dresses and did weird hand dancing. But I liked them. So when I heard that one of the girls, Amelia, had teamed up with electronic producer, Nicholas Sanborn, I was pretty interested. Together they are Sylvan Esso and I’ve been playing these two songs on repeat lately:

The Columbus-based band Saintseneca seems perched to reach some significant indie attention levels. I’m happy to see them do well, having caught various stages of their growth. I wasn’t a big fan of Saintseneca when I first heard them four years ago. I really wanted to like them, but their sound wasn’t as dynamic then and their songs all seemed to merge together (in the bad way). NPR is also streaming their new album, Dark Arc, out tomorrow. Check out “Happy Alone”:

This last group isn’t a folk band, but they’re still providing a great soundtrack as spring tries to get sprung. A few weeks ago, I starred one of St. Paul and the Broken Bones‘s songs on a SXSW playlist, without really paying attention to who the group was. Then, as I was driving into work one morning, I heard an interview with the lead singer, Paul Janeway, and snippets of a few more tracks. I was hooked. These guys are from Alabama and make soul music that feeds my Motown-loving ears.

“Call Me” was the first song I heard.

“Broken Bones and Pocket Change” is a great example of what this band can do.

There aren’t any good videos of it, but “It’s Midnight” is a short, soulful track, and one of my favorites. St. Paul will be crooning away tomorrow night at Skully’s. I was really looking forward to seeing them at Rumba, knowing it would be an intimate show with a packed house (and cheaper beer). They quickly sold out tickets then moved the show to Skully’s to accommodate. Good for the band, a little sad for me.

Happy listening and happier spring!

 

music mondays: songs of late

GUYS, IT’S 8PM AND NOT PITCH BLACK OUT. Let’s just rejoice in that quickly before moving on.

So I haven’t written in awhile, mostly because I moved recently and have been getting settled. But also because I wasn’t listening to anything I was overly excited about. But it’s time to get back into the swing of it, so here we go.

I’ve been listening to two albums on repeat lately. The first is Beck’s Morning Phase. I’ve always liked Beck, but never gave him a ton of attention in the past. That said, when an artist puts out an album after a significant period without one, I’m interested. (I know Beck released the sheet music in 2012, but that’s not a full studio album.) So I listened and liked it immediately.

It had been 6 years since Beck released his last album, Modern Guilt. During the hiatus, he had a serious back injury that prohibited him from playing guitar. Morning Phase isn’t a masterpiece 6 years in the making, or an epic redefining of an artist. But, it’s a really good, solid album.

By far, my favorite track is “Blue Moon”. The selfish, snobby part of me doesn’t want to admit that the first single from this album is my favorite, but it just is. I love when a song can trick you like “Blue Moon” does. If I’d listened to an instrumental version initially, I wouldn’t expect the sad, lonely lyrics. But it turns out to be a rather melancholy song. This balancing act of light, easy sounds with somber lyrics hooked me. Not to mention I’ll never say no to a steel guitar. Here’s the track:

The second album I’ve been listening to on repeat is Agnes Obel’s Aventine. This album came out in September, so I’m late to it, but just happy not to miss it. Obel is a Danish musician who makes beautiful music. “Dorian” is a lovely, haunting song, and my favorite track. Here’s a live version for you:

I don’t know if it’s just the Danish connection, but as I listen to this album I keep thinking she should do the score/soundtrack for a Lars von Trier film. Can’t you just picture his stirring storytelling accompanied by her looming sound?