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Recent Spins

Posted: September 12th, 2010 | Author: | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I’ve been keeping my ipod busy the last few weeks, and I’m really impressed with a few of the albums I’ve picked up recently, as well as a few perennial favorites that always seem to be within reach.

Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs

Ray Lamontagne’s back, and he’s brought with him a band and a twangy-er sound. His “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise” is a further step toward a real folky/country sound for an already wispy, folky voice that’s been so good in the past. This one took hold after a few listens, because frankly, the band takes a little bit of time to get used to, as does the late-nineteenth century persona he’s adapted in the writing. He’s all over the map on this one, referencing a plains-wide cattle drive in the title track and the vaudeville shows of old in “Like Rock And Roll Radio.” My favorite, though, is “New York City’s Killing Me,” a plea to get back to, well, the country after a stay in the noise of New York.


A Radiohead/Jay-Z mashup. Nuff said. Except to say this: I have a few Jay-Z mashups, including the Grey album, and this is by far my favorite.

Josh Ritter – So Runs The World Away

I keep going back and forth on this album. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s… different. He’s got a band this time around (like Ray Lamontagne’s Pariah Dogs) and the writing is different too. They’re more stories, almost prose, than the lyrical, biblical poetry I’d come to expect, and while they’re good, I want to go back to the old Josh Ritter. It’s funny, I always hesitate before listening to new albums for just that reason (like when Guster started using drums and electric guitars and that asshole Joe Pisapia and his banjo). That’s kinda what happened here. It’s still good. But it’s not what I wanted.

That doesn’t prevent it from having some great songs though. My favorites: Change of Time, Southern Pacifica, and Lantern.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

It’s indie, it’s hip, it’s a little poppy. And it’s awesome. Not much to say about this one, except it’s fun. It could have been an ipod commercial if it were released about five years earlier, but since it wasn’t, I have to tell you about it (unless you’ve already heard about it. I found out about the band through Pandora, I don’t know if they’re very popular or not.)

[OK, so I went to Amazon to check these guys out. Turns out they've got a bunch of albums, and this one is over a year old already. Now I'm wondering, am I the only one in the dark about these guys?]

Favorite: It starts with Lisztomania, and it continues to rock from there.

Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms

My first exposure to BOH was Cease To Begin, I think their second album. They’ve followed up with one of the better albums of the year, Infinite Arms. Now, I love this album. It’s fresh but it still has a distinct Band of Horses “sound” (even though I feel like I read somewhere that the band’s roster is almost entirely new, with just founder Ben Bridwell from the first two albums).

There’s only one problem with the album. The songwriting is a little… I don’t know, out there? They cover some pretty intense topics and they do it well (like with the song “Older”: And after all my plans/They melt into the sand/Yeah you will be there on my mind through all/Don’t want to understand why you never get older). But with lyrics like this:

Now then later, I was thinking it over by the snack machine
I thought about you and a candy bar
The Now and Laters, now that I’ve got, stuck between my teeth
I fell asleep to the greatest movie of the year

And a later nod to putting “a bullet in my Kia Lorenzo,” I have a little trouble taking it seriously. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being hyper-critical.

Favorite: Older, Northwest Apartment

John Mayer – Continuum

It took me a while to wade through the Dave Matthews fans and screaming fourteen year old girls to jump on the John Mayer bandwagon, but I’ve made it (actually, I made it a while ago, I’m just coming up with the courage to tell everyone now). It wasn’t really his music that changed my mind, but his personality. Dude’s one of the most self-aware personalities I’ve ever followed (or “known,” but it seems weird to compare him to people I know…). I saw this video and I laughed.

Makin’ Music with John Mayer from John Mayer

Then I got a copy of Continuum that was recorded from the radio. It’s cool because he introduces each song and talks a little about the writing/recording process, and it’s just a better album than he had produced in the past (he alludes to more mature lyrics, saying about the song ‘Belief,’ “It took me a long time to choose my words correctly, unlike *the rest of my life* [emphasis his] and then, describing ‘In Repair’, he said, “I’ll be playing this one to myself and taking advice from it for a long time… You know, not knocking it, but uh, unlike ‘I want to run through the halls of my high school: kind of instantly dates your life.’” He was making the same criticism of his music that I had been making. When someone gets that, you have to give them a shot. I did.

Favorite song: In Repair (So listen to it below and then, if you’re interested, watch the two part video on the writing/recording of the song. Awesome stuff if you’re at all interested in process/creativity.)

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