CHVRCHES | The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches (pronounced chuh-VURR-ches) (just kidding) is an electro-pop/synth-pop group from Glasgow, Scotland.  This is their debut album and it came out just last September; this was a part of an ongoing effort on my part to have more indie bands with female vocalists.  Being a heavily electronic band, you rarely if ever hear ‘live’ instruments in this.  Even the singers’ tracks are sometimes heavily vocoded, or sampled a lot.  Their music builds on high energy and neon-bright synthesizers, combined with lots of righteous fury in the lyrics.  I like their Scottish accents, too; it took me a few times to notice them, but they’re definitely there.

it’s like 8 seconds, just watch it

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers | Moanin’

I think Blue Note Records could release a recording of ducks quacking and they’d find a way to make it sound good; I like pretty much everything on that label.  Even albums that are weak by their standards are generally very good, but this album is very good even by their standards.  Between the all-star group of musicians and the strong, catchy compositions, this has quickly become one of my favorite Blue Note Records recordings, and that’s really saying something.  The title track is something y’all need to hear.  Also, this album art is monumental among Reid Miles’ designs for Blue Note.  A landmark recording all around.

good old screenshots of despair

good old screenshots of despair

(Reblogged from screenshotsofdespair)

Nickel Creek | Why Should The Fire Die?

This was the last album before Nickel Creek went on hiatus (reminder: they’re now back with a new album/tour).  It saw them take a less folk-y approach and a more poppy one, while still holding onto their technical ability and their strengths in songwriting.  Each member of Nickel Creek is a strong songwriter in their own way, and they tried more experiments this time, from the intensity of Best of Luck to the lo-fi of Anthony (low-key one of my favorite tracks on the album).   Of course they still keep up the instrumental jams as well, although I think I prefer the ones on their self-titled album.

The Police | Reggatta de Blanc

Here’s The Police’s second album.  Still a strong reggae influence, still snappy, eccentric songwriting with kind of off-the-wall lyrics, still songs about unrequited love.  I’m not sure I get the naming conventions for their albums; Zenyatta MondattaReggatta de Blanc?  Outlandos d’Amour?  Their fourth one, Ghost in the Machine, is the only one with a vaguely normal name.  Anyway, their style doesn’t really grab me by the throat, but now I have more than half of their albums, and the two I don’t have have my two favorite songs of theirs, so…  Looks like I’m finishing this discography.

Various Artists | Disney Jazz Vol. 1: Everybody Wants To Be A Cat

You read enough album reviews, you buy enough CDs, you see enough shameless product tie-ins and it’ll make you cynical after a while.  Disney jazz?  What does DISNEY know about jazz?  Well, beyond the surface of this, there’s actually a decent chance for something like this to succeed.  Two different songs from Disney movies (at LEAST two) have already become popular jazz standards (Someday My Prince Will Come, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Alice in Wonderland, from Tron (ha ha!  not really)).  Serious, respected jazz artists have made Disney tribute albums before (Louis Armstrong’s Disney Songs The Satchmo Way, Dave Brubeck’s Dave Digs Disney).  And, direct-to-DVD sequels aside, Disney has a strong track record for product quality.  Their movies are legendary, their TV channel rivals Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, and since the Super Nintendo, they’ve generally done well with video games, too, from Mickey’s Magical Quest all the way up through the impossible to follow story of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.  So, the point I’m making is that they don’t often put their name on just ANY old garbage.  

This compilation is one that was assembled with love and care.  As much as I love Gang Starr/Guru, it’s very easy to mess up a ‘______ appreciates jazz’ compilation as he did with Jazzmatazz.  Jazz is a genre built on improvising.  You take away the improvising and you’re left with something that almost resembles smooth jazz, and nobody wants that.  Disney did the smart thing here and let the musicians address Disney on their terms.  They also did a reasonably good job of picking out talented modern musicians, as well as bringing in Dave Brubeck himself for two tracks.  Other musicians include Esperanza Spalding, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel and The Bad Plus.  It seems like an effort was really made to highlight up-and-coming artists with this compilation; some of them are so up-and-coming they haven’t ever done a single other thing yet.  As with any compilation of 13 different artists, it seems like some people were more interested in doing a really good job here than others.  With the big, established names, the tracks are generally high quality.  Roy Hargrove’s performance of the title track (from Aristocats) is a little cheesy but it suits the tune perfectly and it’s delivered sincerely and with great craftsmanship.  It’s the kind of thing ‘real’ jazz musicians laugh with, rather than at.  Esperanza Spalding took an atmospheric approach on the Mary Poppins tune Chim Chim Cher-ee, with the accordion giving it a musette feel.  Joshua Redman’s You’ve Got A Friend In Me from Toy Story is similar in feeling to Everybody Wants To Be a Cat, and Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) is good, too.  A surprising highlight of this album for me is 15-year-old Nikki Yanofsky’s spirited, energetic cover of It’s A Small World, a song usually brought up by people trying to prove that Walt Disney World is a place for little kids (IT ISN’T.  YOU SHUT UP.)  Unfortunately, it’s not on Youtube.  Oh well.  I don’t know who Mark Rapp is, but his decision to end the album with a final sting of the Mickey Mouse Club March was clever as well.  There are some less-interesting tracks sprinkled in as well, either in the form of experiments that didn’t work super well or tunes that just don’t translate awfully well to jazz.  All in all, though, this is a strong compilation, not just a cheap cash-in, and I recommend it to both Disney fans and jazz fans, even with the duds.  

Nickel Creek | Nickel Creek
I think Nickel Creek’s This Side was probably one of my first 25-50 albums that I ever bought.  It didn’t really make a huge impression on me, to be honest.  I heard a few snippets of Nickel Creek’s new album, A Dotted Line, a week or so ago because my roommate had been listening to the stream of it on NPR.  I decided I liked what I heard and I would go through Nickel Creek’s other main albums.  I say ‘main’ albums because they have a few that aren’t in print any more that, basically, nobody cares about except for Nickel Creek SUPERFANS.  I read that they don’t sound very much like what Nickel Creek sounds like now.  Don’t know if that’s true, but the point is I’m not going to bother with them.  This is their first album that is still in print, and first off: look at their hair.  Those are some 90s-ass haircuts.  Chris Thile looks like he’s got the Justin Timberlake hair going there.  Anyway, haircuts aside, I like this album better than I liked This Side, and a lot of the reason why is the instrumental tracks.  It’s not as easy to tell with This Side, but these three are all virtuosos at their respective instruments (Chris Thile is widely considered the best mandolin player in the entire world), and tracks where they get to show off their technical prowess are very entertaining to listen to.  My personal favorite is the Lord of the Rings reference House of Tom Bombadil, but they’re all pretty good.  The tracks with words generally run a bit slower but they’re still enjoyable.  I’m getting Why Should The Fire Die? next week, so we’ll see how that is, too.

Nickel Creek | Nickel Creek

I think Nickel Creek’s This Side was probably one of my first 25-50 albums that I ever bought.  It didn’t really make a huge impression on me, to be honest.  I heard a few snippets of Nickel Creek’s new album, A Dotted Line, a week or so ago because my roommate had been listening to the stream of it on NPR.  I decided I liked what I heard and I would go through Nickel Creek’s other main albums.  I say ‘main’ albums because they have a few that aren’t in print any more that, basically, nobody cares about except for Nickel Creek SUPERFANS.  I read that they don’t sound very much like what Nickel Creek sounds like now.  Don’t know if that’s true, but the point is I’m not going to bother with them.  This is their first album that is still in print, and first off: look at their hair.  Those are some 90s-ass haircuts.  Chris Thile looks like he’s got the Justin Timberlake hair going there.  Anyway, haircuts aside, I like this album better than I liked This Side, and a lot of the reason why is the instrumental tracks.  It’s not as easy to tell with This Side, but these three are all virtuosos at their respective instruments (Chris Thile is widely considered the best mandolin player in the entire world), and tracks where they get to show off their technical prowess are very entertaining to listen to.  My personal favorite is the Lord of the Rings reference House of Tom Bombadil, but they’re all pretty good.  The tracks with words generally run a bit slower but they’re still enjoyable.  I’m getting Why Should The Fire Die? next week, so we’ll see how that is, too.

boy

i am just worn out today

work was haaaard and my eyes are bothering me a lil and i’m afraid i’m gonna wake up with my eyes allergenically sealed shut again

lions—teeth:

Will McGee is a ruiner of good things. 

(Reblogged from lions--teeth)

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