sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

everything that happens is from now on

during my recent months of perpetual busyness and silence here, i started listening to bon iver's for emma, forever ago. with everything i had going on, i never had a chance to pay much attention to the lyrics or look into the stories behind the songs, but the subdued tone of the music made for nice background sounds as i was falling asleep. as such, i had played the album at least 20 times before i finally had a chance to really listen to it, and so it wasn't until just recently that my appreciation for this piece of art reached a level that even came to close to being appropriate. it's just one of those albums, i guess--so seemingly unobtrusive and inconspicuous on the surface to make it easy to overlook, but underneath lies the remnants of something stunningly beautiful.

the backstory has been told many other places in much more eloquent ways than i ever could, but for emma, forever ago is the product of a catharsis. the gravity of the nine songs represent the deliberations and reflections of a man so longed steeped in sadness and loneliness that his mirrored reflection, perhaps once unrecognizable at the beginning of this pain, had probably become...familiar. but the songs are also a process, illuminating a path on which failure, disappointment, and heartache can be weathered, and by the end he's in a different place completely: "this is not the sound of a new man / or a crispy realization / it's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away". there will always be challenges in life, but learning how to let go of what can be let go, and knowing where to put the things that can't, is an endeavor of majestic proportions. and an album that is so purely reflective of that process is surely one of the best of the year.

bon iver
: "re: stacks"
from the lp for emma, forever ago (self-released, 2007; jagjaguwar, 2008)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

australopithecine, rekindle your heart

obscenely late to the party on tokyo police club, but it would be even more of a tragedy if i neglected them completely. after a couple brief eps, tpc signed to saddle creek and put out their debut full-length, elephant shell, in april. it's a full-length in track quantity (11), but the band maintain their quick-hitting style, with songs rarely surpassing the 2:30 mark. but 2:30 is really all that's needed for an insanely catchy, well-crafted pop song with clever lyrics to make it's mark. and has the word "australopithecine" ever been used in a song before?

tokyo police club : "listen to the math"
from the lp elephant shell (saddle creek, 2008)

Friday, June 13, 2008

death cab for cutie : narrow stairs

amidst all discussion of major label sell-outs and commercial radio play, it's been a little difficult lately reconciling my feelings about death cab for cutie. the prospect of sharing this band from my beloved past with a bunch of fairweather fans who have heard the latest single on kroq made the thought of seeing death cab live highly unappealing. and the first single, "i will possess your heart", seemed at first to be an exercise in annoyance highlighting the overly histrionic ways of bassist nick harmer. but then i heard the rest of narrow stairs, and it was then that i realized that, regardless of their ever-increasing popularity, this is a band that is still worth believing in. and that excess snobbery could actually be worse than being a fairweather fan if it results in dismissing this one simply because it comes from a major label.

from the opening salvo of "bixby canyon bridge" to the closing surrender of "the ice is getting thinner", narrow stairs marks a band that is still as vital and creative as they have always been. ben gibbard's lyrical content remains an outstanding facet of the band's import, somehow making such cliched themes as sleeping alone ("your new twin sized bed") and the sound of settling ("cath...") seem fresh and exciting. the production value of chris walla gives the album a darker, more foreboding aesthetic. and yes, even the ominous, driving bass line in "i will protect your heart" turns out to fit well within the band's creepy, stalker side. but without a doubt, the standout track for me is "bixby canyon bridge", gibbard's discourse on the struggle of seeking and recovering a muse that cannot be sought or procured. the band let loose nearly two minutes of aggression and frustration that threaten to fracture the song completely, only to regroup in a place where the listener realizes that the muse was there all along, and yielding one of the better opening tracks in recent memory.

death cab for cutie : "bixby canyon bridge"
from the lp narrow stairs (atlantic, 2008)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly

the busyness of the last few months have meant that sand is overrated has been met with obscene neglect. having just recently had time to briefly catch my breath, i have been astounded by how much great music i have streaming out my ipod, waiting for me to blog about. so hopefully this marks the start of a catching up process, writing about music that i either didn't get around to listening to until recently, or just haven't had the time to write about. but i'll start off with a relatively recent happening that might actually still be relevant--the new lp from sigur rós.

með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, translated as "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly", is set to be released stateside on june 24th. the band made the album available to stream, and i finally got around to a first listen. the unfamiliar tenor of the first track, "gobbledigook", which the band released as a free download several weeks ago and in its solitary state seemed strange and unfamiliar to these ears, fits perfectly amongst the comforts of the remainder of the album. there is plenty of the minimalism and ethereal beauty that have defined the band for years, but there is no mistaking that this album is a celebration, and by the time the half-way point of "festival" comes along, you'll be ready to lose yourself as well. the only adjective that i can summon at this point that seems to do this album a hint of justice is "glorious". but what else would you expect from sigur rós.

sigur rós : "gobbledigook"
from the lp með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (beggars xl recordings, 2008)

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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