The Musicorium

Sharing some music.

Archive for April, 2010

Grizzly Bear

Posted by David on April 18, 2010

The first few casual listen-throughs, I don’t think I really heard Grizzly Bear’s music. They are sort of an indie folk band, or something like that, so there are not a lot of attention-grabbing electric guitars, and their music has a lo-fi, reverby quality which gives it all a sort of distant and ethereal feel as well. As I kept listening to it, though, more and more tunes began to draw me in. Their songs develop in all sorts of lovely and varied ways; the melodies are enchanting and airy, and the rather un-folksy crescendoes cathartic. Harmonized vocals (all four members sing) are probably the band’s most distinctive musical feature, adding much feeling throughout. I’ve listened to and loved both their 2006 album Yellow House, and Veckatimest from 2009. Easily one of my favourite bands among the music I’ve heard in the past year. (They also, somewhat improbably, belong to the same label as the previously-mentioned Flying Lotus, Warp Records.)

The lovely harmonizing and cool progression in this song exemplify a lot of what I like about this band.

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Phantogram

Posted by SP on April 18, 2010

Synth-pop is big now, which kind of makes people as old as I am, who lived the through the age of Depeche Mode, New Order and Erasure as it happened  kind of laugh a little.  If you were gay or in college or hung out in dance clubs a lot it was epic stuff, but it was always a subculture thing.  The real innovators of the period were never known outside of a handful of listeners and the sound in general only registered with people when it trickled into more mainstream pop acts, which again, is kind of like what’s happening now.

At this point I’m just gonna spare you anymore of the obligatory Rolling Stone (or throughly derivative Pitchfork) bullshit about influences or history and just tell you that I love Phantogram.  While it is synth-driven, the sound of Phantogram to me really centers on Sarah Barthel’s voice hanging in a lot of empty space that the music sort of creates in the negative.  Josh Carter’s guitar is masculine but understated, weaving in and out through the space in a way that  complements Barthel’s vocals perfectly.  The darkness of the lyrics gives the whole thing an edge of tragedy that’s hard to resist.  It’s haunting and sexy and just cool.

Yeah, I know they said this about synth-pop in the 80s too. The early stuff has a sense of novelty about it though that makes it campy in a way that diminishes its staying power.  This time around, with electronic music having come into its own, it’s possible to make this music in an environment that takes it seriously. Without taking anything away from the greats of 20 years ago, I think that makes it a little bit smarter and a little bit better.  That’s just what I think though.  You can judge for yourself. Here are two of my favorites from their most recent album, the first from a very cool session at KEXP in Seattle that gives a rare glimpse at how this kind of music is made live.

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The Presidents of the United States of America – The Presidents of the United States of America

Posted by David on April 8, 2010

The Presidents of the United States of America released their self-titled debut album in 1995 (that is fifteen years ago), and I heard various of the hit songs from it on and off from then until just recently, when I finally got around to acquiring the album itself. It is terribly, terribly fun: Infectious, upbeat rock (played, reportedly, on their signature “guitbass” and “basitar”), with lyrics about kitties, candy, strippers and various other things, ranging through puerile, adorable, playfully lewd and self-deprecating. The songs themselves are sharp, un-repetitive and catchy, with great, frenetic drumming and gnarly-sounding… guitbass, I guess. I think they were pretty well known, at least when this album came out, but having come across it now and thoroughly enjoyed all 38 minutes of it several times over, I feel compelled to recommend it.

One of the many, many songs in the world whose Weird Al parody was familiar to me long before I had ever heard the original.

I don’t know who else would write an entire song sincerely detailing how great peaches are.

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