Thursday, October 22, 2009

Casual Listening - Sufjan Stevens, Forro in the Dark, Round Mountain

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

October 23, 2009

Welcome to all the new folks this week. I’ve got two weeks of music to give you, so you’ll get a lot to listen too, albeit with a little less to read about each one.

! Sufjan Stevens – The BQE: The Motion Picture Soundtrack (classical)

Beethoven wrote an ode to joy. Pablo Neruda wrote an ode to his socks. Sufjan Stevens wrote an ode to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. All three pieces make transcendent art out of something that otherwise would go unnoticed. In this case, it’s a multimedia symphony that draws into itself the best of the last century of classical composition and takes it another step. It’s time to start treating this cat as a real American composer.

Listen to Sufjan Stevens “Movement V: Self-Organizing Emergent Patterns

! Forro in the Dark – Light a Candle (world)

Forro is Brazillian party music, and this quartet carries it off with enthusiasm. Fantastic flute playing with electric guitar and a boatload of drums and percussion. It’s an inviting beat that’ll give you a grin the size of a Cheshire cat.

Listen to Forro in the Dark – “Saudades de Manezinho Araujo

* Round Mountain – Windward (folk)

Round Mountain gave their acoustic sound a passport and sent it around the world. It still invokes the melodies and harmonies of American roots music, but through a prism of global drums, accordion, musical bow, and bagpipes.

Listen to Round MountainDon’t Lie Down

* Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – One Fast Move and I’m Gone: Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur (rock)

Lonely pedal steel guitar winds along the coastal mountains on this literary journey. The album includes original songs by rock royalty (Farrar: Son Volt, Gibbard: Death Cab for Cutie) based on texts taken from Jack Kerouac’s book Big Sur. What’s most interesting musically is hearing the fragile clarity of Gibbard’s voice in Farrar’s rugged Americana milieu.

Listen to Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard “Williamine

Jello Biafra – The Audacity of Hype (rock)

For those who missed out on the 80’s, this is what great punk rock sounds like. Biafra is a master, and his piercing voice alongside roaring electric guitar comes across as a steamroller of righteous indignation. He’s one of a handful of artists with the brains and the gumption to pull off a song about NAFTA.

Listen to Jello BiafraNew Feudalism

Electric Six – Kill (rock)

This is gonzo rock & roll. Macho vocals and guitars wrapped in disco. Tongue in cheek, but not so far to miss some really catchy music.

Listen to Electric Six “Egyptian Cowboy” (explicit)

Del Tha Funky Homosapien & Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses (rock)

Two very clever lyricists rhyming over jazz-inspired grooves. The strength of their flow is impressive, and evokes what made old school rap such a phenomenon in the first place.

Listen to Del Tha Funky Homosapien & Tame One “Flashback” (explicit)

Doug Cox & Sahlil Bhatt – Slide to Freedom II (world)

Slide playing is a sound that crosses continents. In this case North America and Asia, with two musicians playing a mix of blues and Indian classical on modified instruments that are half-guitar, half-sitar.

Listen to samples of the album at CDBaby

The Flaming Lips – Embryonic (rock)

Weirrrrrrrrrd. In a good way.

Listen to The Flaming Lips “Evil

Twilight: New Moon (soundtrack)

I guess when vampires aren’t sucking blood, they’re hanging around indie record stores. This will be one of the most talked about soundtracks of the year, and there are several worthy cuts here, from a who’s who of hip artists.

Listen to Bon Iver & St. Vincent on Twilight: New Moon, “Roslyn

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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