April 1, 2013 – What I’m listening to this week




Not Necessarily New – November

bbBowerbirds – Upper Air (Dead Oceans, 2009)

So this is rather new, but NNN doesn’t preclude new music. Bowerbirds may be quickly rising as one of my favorite folky bands. I found them, as I often find new music, listening to Pitchfork’s Forkcast. I just have it on in the background while I work, but when something makes me stop and say “what the hell is this great shit,” I put down what I’m doing and check it out. I did this when I heard the track “Northern Light” off Upper Air, which is Bowerbirds second album. They made a name for themselves touring with The Mountain Goats, and I can see how they’d fit perfectly with John Darnielle. This is an incredibly sweet album, featuring the tender voices of Phil Moore and Beth Tacular. It’s quiet and a bit melancholy, much in the same way that Elvis Perkins’ Ash Wednesday was, but without all the wrenching pathos. In particular Silver Clouds, Northern Lights, and House of Diamonds hooked me.

Bower Birds

caribouCarribou – Andorra (21 August 2007) – Polaris Prize Winner 2008

Daniel Victor Snaith

I first heard Carribou on PitchforkTV (a live version of “After Hours” below), and I found myself returning to the video over and over again. There was just something about the energy of Daniel Snaith and some other dude who’s name I can’t find drumming head to head (and not in some lame jam band way) that captivated me. Tracks on Andorra like After Hours and Melody Day feel like they’re reaching back into the 60’s, characterized by a lot of high-energy melodies coupled with whispery, almost ethereal lyrics. Having just re-read that sentence I think I would have passed if I hadn’t heard them, but check it out cause it really works:

zk1cnZoe Keating – One Cello x 16 (Self Released 2004), One Cello x 16: Natoma (Self Released 2005)

The thick, moody sound of the cello has always been something that I’ve loved, but oddly enough, not something I’ve sought out. It’s just not an instrument I think about that much. So when someone introduced me to Zoe Keating, it was one of those unexpected boons to my ears. One Cello x 16 and One Cello x 16: Natoma both feature Keating alone with her cello, and she uses a lot of sampling and repetition to give her music a rich and layered texture. She employs sounds I’d expect from a cello (long, drawn out melodious moans), but also unexpected sounds as well (choppy, discordant, almost screeching sounds), and she mixes them together into an emotional pattern that, to me, can evoke pretty big emotions. Whenever I have it on, I feel like I’m sinking, or being drawn into it like quicksand. It’s the kind of ambient music that feels like a narrative in the sense that you feel like you’re being immersed into a different world like you might in a story. Listening to Zoe Keating is a wonderful experience, and it reminded me a lot of Rachel’s, which I’m now revisiting because of her. Below I’ve linked to two of my favorites, so check her out.

Zoe Keating

tvTiny Vipers – Tiny Vipers (EP 2007 re-release Luckyhorse Industries)

Tiny Vipers is Jesy Fortino and her guitar, and from the minute I heard her voice I totally fell in love with her. She has this haunting, scratchy voice that she seems to be pressing into an urgent appeal in every song. Listening to “They Might Follow You,” I always find myself leaning forward, straining to hear what she’s saying, shaking my head each time trying to figure out why the song ends with a clip of Arriana Huffington talking about Bill Clinton’s election in ‘92. Why Jesy, WHY? Couple these poetic voices with her lone guitar, the music swims from a kind of ghostly fairy tale (The Book, Shipwreck) to a kind of furious growl (Yesterday, The Ocean Song). I can’t stop listening to it.

Tiny Vipers

rngRodrigo y Gabriela – 11:11 (ATO RECORDS / RED 2009)

I love love love Rodrigo y Gabriela. I was once heckled as a noodle-dancing world music loving hippie because of it, and I don’t even care one fucking bit. Just their story is awesome. They grew up playing in a thrash metal band in Mexico City, eventually moving to Europe where they perfected their music. They made ends meet by playing on streets and in restaurants playing what sounded like that bland, touristy crap that is supposed to be providing atmosphere. What it actually was, though, was them taking Metallica and Pantera sounds and slowing it way the fuck down. They realized that they had something there, and started blending traditional music with the metal they loved so. The result is nothing short of fucking magic. The guitar duo play a blend of flamenco and metal, and when I first heard them I totally stopped dead in my tracks and my brain short-circuited, the earth shook and my ears bled. I don’t think I understood the power two acoustic guitars could have until I heard Tamacun. I thought it couldn’t get better than that and then I saw them live. I thought that couldn’t get any better and then I heard 11:11. Again with the magic. Below are a few tracks…if you don’t like these they RyG is not your thing. And you’re retarded.

P.S. Gabriela is the hottest woman on the face of the earth as far as I’m concerned and if she told me to jump into an erupting volcano I probably would.