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New Music

Sep 8, 02:43 PM · from the mouth of Tyler

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about new music, because it’s been a while since I’ve listened to much new music. I had let my eMusic subscription lapse quite a while ago, and hadn’t been paying much attention to the music scene lately. But eMusic sent me a “Come Back, We Miss You!!” offer of 75 free downloads that I couldn’t pass up.

One of my favorite radio stations these days is WFUV, Fordham University’s radio station. It’s more professional than your standard college radio, with professional DJs at the helm and NPR News feeds every hour. In the morning and afternoon during my commute, they tend to play a lot of indie music and some great singer/songwriter-ish music (I love that stuff!).

This morning WFUV introduced me to Bon Iver (pronounced Bonne Ee-vehr, French for “Good Winter”). After being intrigued by the one song Claudia Marshall played this morning, I found it on eMusic. As far as I can tell, this is one guy named Justin Vernon, who has been around for a while in other bands (that I’ve never heard of) but broke off on his own for this album. According to eMusic, he set up camp in a remote hunting cabin in Wisconsin for an entire winter (I’m guessing that’s where the “Good Winter” thing comes from) and recorded most of this album by himself with an acoustic guitar and some ancient recording equipment.

His voice and simple lovely guitar playing is what I fell in love with. He sings almost entirely in falsetto, which sounds very haunting and melancholy, but at the same time soothing and comforting. I could try to describe it further, but your best bet is to just listen to it! Go to the eMusic link here and listen to the samples. If you click the play button at the top of the album listing, it’ll play all the samples in order. You don’t need an eMusic subscription to hear it. Or check it out at iTunes.

One other new band I’ve discovered on eMusic is Marching Band. These guys are lots of fun. They’re a duo from Sweden, and their music is bright, happy, and poppy. Definitely check them out! (BTW, Andy, I noticed that when you search for “Marching Band” on eMusic, a lot of school marching bands pop up! Thought you might be interested….)

Anything new or newly discovered that you’d like to share?


Comment [6]

  1. Iak responds with:

    Haven’t really discovered anything. But I did order two “best ofs” last night, Toad The Wet Sprocket and The Gin Blossoms. I was feeling nostalgic and even though I’d rather have the full albums (especially with Toad) it saves a bit of money and time just grabbing the hits.

    · Sep 9, 02:29 PM
  2. Ty responds with:

    In the spirit of discovering music, I thought I’d extol the virtues of Pandora Radio. Pandora isn’t new to me, but I’ve been exploring it more recently. I really dig it! For those who aren’t familiar with it, basically, you type in the name of an artist you like, and it plays a bunch of similar music, occasionally shuffling in songs by the artist you typed in.

    Right now I’m listening to a “Females of Folk” mix. This morning I heard a song on WFUV (see above) that I liked but didn’t recognize. After waiting for the DJ to identify the artist (which they ALWAYS do—another reason I like them!), I discovered it was a woman named Cheryl Wheeler. So I typed “Cheryl Wheeler” into Pandora, and viola! A lovely mix of folk music with female vocals.

    Try it! It’s fun!

    · Sep 15, 05:18 PM
  3. andy responds with:

    I’ve been wanting to respond to this one for a while! This is gonna turn into an epic fast… here goes!

    First of all, Ty, I do notice the marching bands. They are indeed all over emusic. I’m more interested, though, in the college wind ensembles and symphonic bands, which are also all over emusic. There is just A TON of great wind band music out there, and emusic has a lot of it thanks to all these colleges. More on that in a bit.

    I also do like Pandora radio. I used to listen to it at school (my favorites were a Sigur Ros station and a Dizzy Gillespie station) until my district blocked it last year. Too much bandwidth, they say, and they’ll be following that move with blockage of the most common home e-mail sites very soon, so I’m told. Lame.

    Anyhow, I admit I’m a little behind on new music, but for good reason: I made it my New Year’s resolution this year to listen to every song I had on my iTunes list, and I happened to start with it sorted alphabetically by artist. You’ve all seen this at various stages. Ironically, now I am at “Various” in the list, so I’m almost done! And I have indeed LISTENED to nearly everything (skipping a few particular duds), so here’s a summary of the things I’ve decided that I especially like.

    GRUNGE ROCK: Alice in Chains and Soundgarden in particular. Harmony, and particularly harmonic motion, are to me the most interesting parts of music to me, and these two bands really make good use of harmony. Alice especially uses those 2- and 3-part vocals to great, haunting effect. And they rock!

    Johan de Meij: He’s a Dutch composer who wrote a symphony for band based on the Lord of the Rings in the early 90’s (BEFORE the movies!) There are several good recordings of it. He now lives in New Jersey, and I’ve actually shaken his hand! (!!!)

    Dmitri Shostakovich: Complex Russian composer from the early-mid 20th century. Historians argue whether he was a Soviet nationalist or a dissident trapped within the authoritarian Soviet regime! That produces varied interpretations of his work (like: is this a triumphant fanfare, or a MOCK triumphant fanfare?!). I have a couple recordings of his Fifth Symphony and his Festive Overture which are fantastic.

    The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”: A truly fantastic album that pushes the limits of what pop music can be. In fact, it really goes WAY beyond pop music, while still retaining much of its sweetness. Its especially interesting to listen to with knowledge of its dark underbelly (i.e., Brian Wilson was basically crazy by the time he wrote it and essentially forced the rest of the band to go along with him. Kinda like Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins!)

    That said, Smashing Pumpkins: Another 90’s rock giant to me. Also run by a crazy psycho autocrat (Billy Corgan) who happens to also be a crazy guitar god-monster.

    The Beatles. Duh.

    Philip Glass: Minimalist composer, has written very popular sountracks to the movies Kundun and The Truman Show, among others. He also has a crazy opera that I don’t like so much, but his orhestral stuff I find just stunning. Listen espeically to “Light.”

    Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson play West Side Story: Oh god this is an amazing album! Rich, the famous drummer, and Ferguson, the high-blasting trumpeter, combine forces to tear through tunes from West Side Story and a few others. My favorite is Maynard taking the solo throughout a raucous rendition of “Maria”.

    In a similar vein, Bela Fleck and Chick Corea: The Enchantment. They join forces for one album, just the two of them, and tackle some crazy music. You can tell that both of them are just genius musicians, and they work together so well!

    Also in a similar vein, Dizzy Gillespie and Machito: Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods. It sounds very ’70s, with an electric bass and a full horn section, but it veers off in some crazy directions with the help of a full cuban percussion section (congas, bongos, the works!) The tracks are a bit epic, but they are a great listen still.

    Sinatra at the Sands: Frank joins the Count Basie big band in Vegas for a thrilling show, shortly after his 50th birthday. I guess that puts it in the 60s? 70s? Not sure…

    Percy Grainger: Eccentric Australian composer who lived his mature years in White Plains, NY, and died in the 60s. He and his wife were WAY into S&M. He wrote a lot for wind band, and all of it is as strikingly odd as the man. The North Texas Wind Symphony has a compilation CD of his stuff available on emusic. He’s DEFINITELY worth a look: at least listen to “Lincolnshire Posy”.

    Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring. This piece continues to mess with my head with just how awesome and complex it is. It’s the only piece I know of that caused people to riot when it was premiered. Yes, that’s right, his audience stood up, shouted, threw things at the stage, then went outside and started sh*t at the premiere!

    Metallica: Anything pre-Black Album. Let’s face it, they did deserve their metal-god reputation once upon a time. They just have sucked for quite a few years now. But from what I hear their new album is supposed to be a return to their roots (i.e., GOOD). Woohoo!

    Michael Jackson’s Thriller: And I’m talking about the full album, including such gems as “Rock With You” and “Billy Jean”. This has got to be one of the best pop albums of all time. It’s just too bad he’s turned into a pedophile zombie white chick since then.

    N.E.R.D.: A hip-hop/rock fusion group run by Pharrell, the guy also central to the production duo The Neptunes. All of their music has a great sense of humor. Their song “She Wants to Move” I think is the best distillation of pure lust that I’ve ever heard. Choice lyric: “Her ass is a spaceship that I want to ride!”

    Nine Inch Nails: I used to listen to them in high school while playing “Doom” after school. Soon thereafter, they provided the soundtrack to the VERY similar “Quake” series, which I guess puts me ahead of the curve! Anyhow, they’ve come out with a steady stream of great stuff that fulfills my need for harmonic interest and has a great deal of darkness in the lyrics. It’s amazing that Trent Reznor has been able to maintain such a high level of angst over so many years.

    In the Heights, original broadway cast soundtrack. This show won the best musical tony award this year. I haven’t seen the show itself, but the soundtrack is very nice. Its mix of salsa, hip-hop, and traditional broadway romanticism works stunningly well. It doesn’t hurt that it’s set in the neighborhood where I used to live (Washington Heights), even though I was definitely an outsider there. And it’s on emusic!

    Pickled Pollies. Duh!

    Pink Floyd. No really: DUH!

    Primus: Oh holy crap. These guys are NUTS and are tons and tons of fun to listen to. Their songs often sound like a country singer getting lost in a bizarro heavy metal fantasyland. AND they have an album on emusic!

    *Side note on Primus: I read recently that Les Claypool formed a supergroup with Trey Anastasio from Phish and Stewart Copeland from the Police. I’ve only listened to a couple of their songs, but it’s worth investigating more. They’re called Oysterhead.

    Queen. God I love Queen. I think Bohemian Rhapsody just might be the best song ever written. Jesus, I love Queen.

    Radiohead. I saw them live for the first time this summer. I am a changed man. Every time they started a new song, I felt a rush of happiness and said something like “Oh my God YES!” I hope you all have “In Rainbows” by now!!

    Rodgers & Hammerstein. Yeah they wrote Oklahoma! and we all remember how much it sucked to be involved with that in high school. But that, I would argue, is not representative of the rest of their work. Lisa and I saw their South Pacific on broadway this summer, and it was just amazing. At one point they rolled back the stage to reveal the full pit orchestra underneath, and I got choked up! Rodgers was the music guy, and he also wrote the music for a 50’s documentary about WW2 called Victory at Sea which is quite stirring.

    Robert Russell Bennett: He actually did the orchestration for most Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals and then some: he really actually did most of the COMPOSING for Victory at Sea, expanding Rodgers’s short themes into 13 hours of music. He’s was a terrific composer in his own right, and there is a CD of his stuff on emusic as well that I’ve been meaning to get for a while. His best piece is “Suite of Old American Dances.”

    Sigur Ros. I know you guys all love them too. So, duh!

    Sufjan Stevens. If you haven’t gotten into this guy, you REALLY need to! He writes Simon & Garfunkel-like songs but with lots of extra quirky folkyness. For instance, he uses lots of backing vocals, and he often plays oboe (and many other bizarre instruments) on his songs. His songs have a strong emotional resonance as well. AND he’s on emusic!! (getting tired of that one yet?)

    Ron Nelson: AWESOME composer of wind band music. He writes extremely well, and sometimes sounds a bit like John Williams (in a good way!). I recommend especially his “Rocky Point Holiday” and “Sonoran Desert Holiday”.

    FINALLY, Dethklok: I’ve been trying to share this with all of you. They’re the fictional death metal band that star on the Adult Swim cartoon show “Metalocalypse”. The best part of the show, though, is the music they write, which is truly virtuosic, guitar-driven metal. They have an album called The Deth Album that I recommend. And a real version of the band, including the creator of the show who plays all the guitar stuff, tours around some places. They’re truly metal!

    And I’ll stop there. I meant to put in links to all the important people/albums/pieces, but at this point it’ll take me longer than I’d like to find the places I missed and look them all up. Sorry… anyhow, I really do hope you guys will investigate at least one previously unknown artist/composer from this list, because all of this music actually does make my life better in a tangible way. That’s why I love music so much, and why I love so much music!

    · Sep 20, 07:07 PM
  4. Ty responds with:

    Wow! Andy, that is QUITE the list! Bravo. I don’t know where to begin…

    • Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds: I’ve heard you and others go on about this album before, and I still haven’t listened to the whole thing (Just pieces). I’ll have to get a copy.

    • Michael Jackson: couldn’t agree more, though again, I don’t know if I’ve listened to the whole album since I was like 8.

    • Shostakovich: I’ve heard that about him… interesting how the mystery of his history can color the way you hear his music. Heh heh, I rhymed.

    • Wanting to get more into the Beatles… I heard “She’s So Heavy” on WFUV the other day on my way to work and it rocked my world.

    • Sufjan Stevens: tried really hard to like him for a while, but couldn’t really grasp it. His voice is awesome, and I love his quirkiness, but I haven’t been able to get into him.

    This coversation could go on, but I have to go to bed. Good job Andy for the epic music lesson!

    · Sep 22, 01:36 AM
  5. Iak responds with:

    A very epic comment. bows

    Kate made me watch a couple episodes of Flight of the Conchords. The music on there was funny. It’s no Pet Sounds, but it’s right up the alley of Dethklok (fake bands making real music). And they’re Kiwis, that always gets bonus points for me.

    · Sep 22, 05:54 PM
  6. Iak responds with:

    Just in case anyone is interested Weird Al has started his quest to release tracks on iTunes as soon as they’re done.


    p.s. I hate Myspace.

    · Oct 6, 12:54 PM
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