Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What We're Listening To - Wild Light's "Adult Nights"

Well, this title is a bit of a misnomer.

I've had this album as a preview since the beginning of January.

Hell, we even did an interview with them.

And it sat on my iPod virtual shelf, collecting dust.

But then I heard Shelby's show from a few weeks ago, and I put it back in rotation.

And I forgot how incredibly solid this album is. If their big label promotes it right, this could be one of the sleeper hits of the year.

he single, "California on My Mind" won't be on the radio. But maybe Surf Generation. Or Red House. Or Canyon City.

This is the pop that made you fall in love with the Killers, or Tokyo Police Club. It's sunny. It's clearly rooted in 80s synth. The lyrics are light and don't really delve into too much.

If that wasn't enough, the boys of Wild Light premiered a new video for California on My Mind. A sleepy bored Marilyn Monroe impersonator singing Fuck California? Brilliant.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What I'm Listening To - Hold Time by M. Ward

People tell me M. Ward is some kind of musical genius.

I wasn't convinced after She and Him Volume I, to me the worst album of 2008. The only thing I imagine is worse is that there will inevitably be a Volume Two.

But my hate aside, people I respect say give M. Ward another chance. And I did, cos I'm a man of forgiveness and mercy.

Ward's latest album, Hold Time, validates the praise. This album is gorgeous. You can tell he has an affection of that gauzy, fuzzy pop music of the 70's. And he achieves an impressive work of pastiche with this album. The guitars sing. He didn't shy away from huge production values (background singers, full throated orchestra on "To Save Me"). The fuzzy guitars of "Never Had Nobody Like You" (with the suprisingly pleasant background vocals of Zooey Deschanel). The waves and swells of the title track. Stripped down this is not. It sounds as if Brian Wilson let loose a bottle of Pet Sounds and stepped in behind the boards.

He also affects a pretty solid country persona too. The best song on the album might be his duet with Lucinda Williams, "Oh Lonesome Me." I don't know why, but this song just makes me happy. And it's such a sad song.

Same thing for "For Beginners." He opens the album with this trudging singing, yet it's haunting fade out only beckons for more.

2009 is shaping up well. I recommend picking this one up to usher you into spring.
BONUS: Check out M. Ward tonight March 6, on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Get "Hold Time" by M. Ward

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Get your Cursive

I'm swamped in new music. I got at least three What I'm Listening to posts just waiting in the wings (The new M. Ward is fuzzy and good). Lots of bands are putting out their spring releases, getting ready to tour, and I appreciate them for that.

I also jumped on the nutty consumer bandwagon and got the Cursive album, albeit a few days late. So, $3 still is a good price to pay for a good album. And the money goes to the band, so that's all good as well.

The price goes up a dollar a day until it comes out next week on March 10.

Pick it up over Saddle Creek records.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What I'm Listening To - Dark Was The Night

I'm often wary of a benefit album. I shudder to think of getting ripped off on songs I already own, or worse, treacly "Do They Know Its Christmas?" dreck.

So I was a little bit cautious about 4AD/Red Hot Organization AIDS benefit album "Dark Was The Night."

First, it seemed to be chock-a-block full of every indie darling imaginable. A lot I really don't like (I'm looking at you Dirty Projectors).

Second, it was long. Really long. 31 songs over two discs long.

Third... Pitchfork gave it 8.6. The only thing worse than a low rating from Pitchfork is a high one.

I'm not sure if a compilation can be deigned as best album, but this might be the first must purchase of 2009.

So much on this album you would think sounds better on paper than it could in real-life. Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch? Justin Vernon, and Justin Vernon as Bon Iver?

But it all does. The Feist and Ben Gibbard joint is gorgeous (Zooey better tell Feist to back up off her man). The Conor rehash of Lua is slower, prettier. Gillian Welch makes it sexier, countrier.

There are those you expect to perform well and exceed that. Spoon pulls out some Primus-influenced bass line and funks up the start of the second half. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers, Yo La Tengo, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And there are the bands that I have loathed, who turn up here and make me want to go buy their stuff. The National blew me the fuck away. Antony somehow managed not to annoy me as he usually does, and instead belted out a sleepy acoustic soul song, reminiscent of a perfect Nina Simone (and less of the Dylan-cover it is). Dirty Projectors even stepped up and made nice with David Byrne.

You can get this album at eMusic, but don't. I paid the $12 and got it from Amazon, but you can order it too. The money goes to a good cause, and every song on the thing is worth it. When your kids look back and ask you what was independent music like in 2009, you can whip out this collection.

You need to own this album.

Get "Dark As The Night"

Buy from The Beggars Group

Buy digitally from Amazon