In addition to reading some really good books lately – books that I haven’t just consumed, but engaged with – I’ve discovered some good music recently as well. (I say “discovered” not in a Christopher Columbus sense – or Leif Ericsson or Amerigo Vespucci or whomever – but to mean that I personally stumbled upon this music recently, usually on a friend’s recommendation. Which, in this analogy, would make me Columbus and my friends Vespucci or Ericsson. Moving on.)
The first of my recent finds is Ingrid Michaelson’s 2003 album Be OK; I first heard of it when a friend put some of the lyrics from the track “You And I” in her gchat status: “I will help you read those books / if you will soothe my worried looks / and we will put the lonesome on the shelf.” I inquired of her whence these lines came, and she sent me a YouTube video of the song (oh, technology!). Then I listened to some clips on iTunes, and when I heard a clip of “Fools Rush In” (though she calls it “Can’t Help Falling In Love”), I went ahead and bought it. Overall the album is much softer and more folk-y than most of what I listen to, and occasionally she is just too high-pitched for me, but I do like these two tracks as well as “Keep Breathing.”
Next up, El Momento Descuidado by The Church, to whom I was introduced via the inclusion of “Under the Milky Way” on a mix from another friend. I had one of The Church’s CDs in my hand at Newbury Comics at one point a month or two ago, and didn’t buy it; I eventually got this album through eMusic, and I’m glad I did. Nearly any of the tracks from this album, though it was released in 2005, sound like they would fit right in on the Empire Records soundtrack, which is all ’90s music. The Church sounds a little bit like the Gin Blossoms, a little like the Wallflowers; on some songs the singer sounds like Dylan (“Tristesse”), on others like Nick Cave in one of his stranger moods (“November”). Actually, with the exception of “November,” I adore this album, especially the first three tracks – “The Unguarded Moment,” “0408,” and “Almost With You” (hearing the sound clip for the last of these convinced me to buy the album). Maybe Australia is a decade behind, musically, but if you miss good ’90s music, I recommend this.
Also from eMusic, I got Alkaline Trio’s newest, This Addiction. Trio follows a slight but definite pattern of every other album being good, and the ones in between being great. Maybe I’ll Catch Fire (2000) was good; From Here to Infirmary (2001) was great. Good Mourning (2003) was good; Crimson (2005) was great. Agony & Irony (2008) was good, and This Addiction (2010) is great. It’s tight, polished, but not overproduced or boring – they’ve experimented a little, adding a trumpet (?!) to the third track. If you’ve liked their other music, you’ll like this; it’s musically similar, and lyrically, the themes haven’t changed much (blood, death, love/loss, distance, hitting bottom and scraping oneself up off the floor, etc.).
Finally, I also acquired Death Cab for Cutie’s album Plans (2005). I had Transatlanticism (2003) in college, but lost it due to a hard drive failure, and wasn’t sufficiently attached to it to look it up again, though I liked “The Sound of Settling” and, I think, “Tiny Vessels,” both of which are probably familiar from radio or soundtracks. (I did manage to hang on to the Postal Service album Give Up (2003) through the same hard drive crash – the link between the two being that Ben Gibbard is the lead singer for both the Postal Service and Death Cab.) As for Plans, I can certainly recommend it to fans of the Postal Service, as well as to anyone who’s a fan of the Garden State (2004) soundtrack. Lyrics-wise, they cram a lot into each song, rather like The Weakerthans. Here’s a sweetly morbid line from “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”: “Love of mine, someday you will die / but I’ll be close behind / I’ll follow you into the dark / No blinding light or tunnels to gates of light / just our hands clasped so tight / waiting for the hint of a spark / If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied / illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs / if there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks / then I’ll follow you into the dark.”
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
What I’m reading: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
What I’m listening to: Outer South, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band