Saturday Morning Rip Session

So, I’m finally getting around to ripping all the music I bought 3 Fridays ago. I’ve sampled songs from The Happies, Inkwell, Josephine Foster, and Foma. Again, not a let-down amongst them.

A friend of mine was right about The Happies … they’re a great local band. Well, local to me, anyway. Used to be local to her. Anyway, as I typically do with music that I like, I tried finding more of their recordings. Either there are other bands with the same name, or they’re pretty diverse. Based on the fact that their label only has If I Were Really Here listed as their only CD, I’m guessing these guys are a completely different band. Interesting …

Anyway, on with the ripping!

New Music Friday

Another Friday lunch hour, another trip to Graywhale.

By the way, Team USA just scored again on Team Finland. 4-0. Gold medal bound, baby!!

It pays to open your mouth at the register. I just happened to ask if the guy had heard of Joanna Newsom. Not only had he heard of them, but the guy next to me at the other register had heard of her and had seen her on some obscure rack upstairs.

I am addicted to peanut butter M&Ms. </tangent>

ANYway, I went upstairs and grabbed it, bringing the grand total to 11 CDs for the day. Here’s the list.

  • Inkwell – These Stars Are Monsters
  • The Happies – If We Were Really Here
  • Interpol – Our Love To Admire
  • Josephine Foster – Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  • Foma – Inverness
  • Insta – Checklist for Love
  • Great Northern – Sleepy Eepee
  • God Help the Girl
  • The Fever – In the City of Sleep
  • The Appleseed Cast – Peregrine
  • Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender

I have some other Appleseed Cast and Interpol, the rest were all a spin of the Russian Roulette barrel. I’ve yet to be let down entirely, so I’m not concerned.

I still haven’t ripped the CDs I bought last week. There’s a reason though, weak as it is. So, I hook our computer to our HD TV so we can wach HD content. We have a blu ray drive in the machine, and I have a smattering of HD documentaries that are pretty cool. Since the tower is hooked to the TV and I sit on the couch and do everything from about 10 feet away, I don’t like getting up and down every 3-4 minutes to switch out the CDs. So they’ve sat in their corner for the last week.

Today, I’m buying a blu-ray player. Panasonic DMP-BD80. Some guy near my house is selling one for $100. Nice. So that means I can move my tower back to the computer desk and start ripping. Woo hoo.

Joanna Newsom – Have One one Me

Joanna Newsom has a voice that is so defiantly unrefined as to merit wonder how she ever garnered a recording contract … until you hear croons, where she seems to channel all the great big band singers mixed (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Etta James, et al) with an air of Janis Joplin at the age of 10 on helium. Not to mention her composition/instrument playing skills are phenomenal. Her lyrics are more like free-verse poetry. She’s supposedly classified as “freak-folk,” which … umm … sure. Personally, I think she defies classification. She’s not pop, rock, trance, house, or electronic. No world music influence here. She has taken a bunch of instruments and mixed them in such a unique fashion that to classify her music as one genre or another is borderline insulting. 

Thus it is that I offer you this review of Have One on Me–her latest release. The most immediately notable difference is her vocals. Call me crazy, but I’m convinced she got herself some training. I say that with all the love in the world. Her voice on Ys andThe Milk-Eyed Mender is fantastically unique, singing with such abandon and without guile. It’s obvious that she’s either consciously reigned in the raw-ness and opted for a more melodic voice on this offering.

Then there’s the matter of “this offering,” which is actually a 3-CD set, all of which are good enough to stand on their own. Disc 1 stand-out tracks are the soulful southern gospel-sounding “Good Intentions Paving Company,” the opening track “Easy,” and “Baby Birch”–the last track on the CD. It becomes more layered as the song progresses. Not sure what the song is about, but it’s haunting.

“Do you remember staring up at the stars,
so far away in their bulletproof cars?
We heard the rushing, slow intake of the dark, dark water,
and the engine breaks …”

I’m just blown away at how different her voice is on these new CDs, yet it still sounds like Joanna. I’m really impressed. The music is great as always. I’m a huge fan of the fact that she plays the harp. Very excellent.  

Stand-out tracks on disc 2: The whole CD.

Standout tracks on disc 3: Again, the whole CD.

You really need this CD. Period. Get it.

New Music Friday

A couple of things today. One, I went to the local Graywhale up near the University yesterday. Great guys in there. Really knowledgable. They know their stuff! I went up there looking for some Hungry Lucy CDs, but alas, I completely forgot to ask. Surprise to me: I didn’t know they had 4 full-length CDs. I thought they just had a smattering of recorded songs that I just happened to stumble across several years ago, probably due to the fact that every internet search yielded the exact same results: nothing except some information about Christa Belle living in NYC. At least, I think that’s what it was about. Just for kicks, I googled the name again the other day … this time with stunning results. Wiki article. Official site. Discography. The whole 9 yards.

Anyway, with that in mind, I went to Gray Whale to see if they had any of their CDs. Completely forgot. However, I did walk out with some great new stuff.

  • Bluebrain – Soft Power
  • Q Stands for Q (QsfQ) – In Dreams Awake
  • Cazals – What of Our Future
  • Sam Champion – Slow Rewind
  • The Court and Spark – Witch Season
  • Elf Power – Creatures
  • Gentlemen Reg – Little Buildings
  • Silversun Pickups – Pikul

I find it odd that Pikul was still in its original plastic with the original security seal. People … THIS IS SILVERSUN PICKUPS. You know … Lazy Eye? Checkered Floor? Panic Switch? Yah. I’m just saying.

Interestingly enough, none of the band members are actually named “Sam Champion.” Gonna have to find out the reason behind the name.

It’s pretty cool when you go to the counter and the guy behind the counter says, “Nice stack of music! You have some really good taste.”

“Okay, yah … but here’s the thing: I know one of those bands.”

*blank stare*

“You mean you’ve never heard of most of these bands? You’re just buying them?”


“Wow. Umm … why?”

Then I spell out my criteria for buying CDs: insert and CD art can’t suck and song titles can’t suck. As a general rule, I try to avoid CDs with the artist’s face covering the whole CD (read: a la Diane Birch). However, there are times when I let that go and take a gamble (i.e. Diane Birch). For the most part, it’s always paid off.

These CDs all have that asthetic that I require. It doesn’t have to be the second coming of Picaso or Michaelangelo, just not stupid looking. The Sam Champion CD utilizes a minimalist approach to the cover art, employing a single color on a white background, but it works.

Anyway, I swear I covered this in another post, but I can’t find it. Oh well.

So that’s the new music for now. From Gray Whale, anyway.

Next up: Review of the new Hungry Lucy CD.

Alela Diane – To Be Still

I was at Gray Whale this afternoon for a quick music fix. I’m really digging the fact that a lot of their used CDs are $2.99. I bought their discount card for $20 several years ago, which means I get $1 off for every CD.

Maybe it’s because I go in there a lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve probably bought about 50-60 CDs there since Ocotber. As I was rooting through the indie bin, I found Samantha Crain’s “Songs in the Night” CD. I just about passed out. I had been meaning to pick it up from Amazon, but I never got around to it. Now it’s just sitting in the local used CD shop indie bin. SWEET!

I took my stuff to the register and chatted with the guy about her CD. “Have you ever heard her?”

“Yah, she’s really good.”

“She sounds a lot like a mix of Regina Spektor and Feist.”

“Hey, yah. That’s spot-on.”

She sound like them. Amazingly gifted vocal talent, great folksy blues music. Just an amazing CD. If you have the chance to pick it up, do so.

But that’s not what I’m going to write about. Not today, anyway.

So I also got a couple of blu-ray discs. They keep the actual discs behind the counter, and put the cases out on display. Because I bought everything upstairs, I had to go back down to the main level to get my discs. Thankfully, Kylee was interrupted by a relatively lengthy phone call because it gave upstairs guy a chance to come downstairs. He and I got to talking again, and he ended up handing me a copy of Alela Diane’s new CD, “To Be Still.”

“Have you ever heard her?”

“No. Haven’t.”

“Here. Take this. If you like Samantha Crain, you’ll probably dig this chick.”

“Cool. I’ll check it out. Thanks!”

Musically, the first thing I heard was a steel sliding guitar. Not exactly my cup of tea, and I instantly thought Super … a country CD. Could’ve used this last night for a coaster.”

How wrong I was. Keyboards, steel guitar, acoustic guitar, light drums … mellow.

That was the only CD I listened to on the way back to work. Vocally, she sounds like a folksy version of Bat for Lashes meets Dido.

Then there are the lyrics. She reminds me of Suzanne Vega in her level of detail and poetic style. She pours her heart and soul into her vocals to help paint the scene that she portrays–not in a boistrous or overbearing way … she sings at a perfect level fitting for her music.

Here are the lyrics to “Dry Grass and Shadows.”

There are things that I’ve seen in my head
While I’m sleeping in bed
That do not wither in the morning light

I’m taken back
O I’m taken back
To the dry grass and the shadows

Thinking I’d like to look at your teeth
Lined up in perfect rows
A maze of childrens’ feet in orchard trees
Where the flat lands stretch inside your mouth
And when you laugh all the star thistles stumble out
The flat lands stretch inside your mouth
And when you laugh all the star-thistles stumble out
Strong spines of valley hills
All overgrown in gold
Look softer than a spool of old silk thread
But if we walked down with our feet
I’d be pullin’ spines and barbs and fox-tails from your skin
O if we walked down with our feet
I’d be pullin’ spines and barbs and fox-tails from your skin

There are things that I’ve seen in my head
While I’m sleeping in bed
That do not wither in the morning light

I’m taken back
O I’m taken back
To the dry grass and the shadows

I’m excited to find the rest of her stuff. She has strong staying power.

Official website:

New CD Day

It still blows my mind how fortunate I am when it comes to random CD purchases. I don’t think I’ve bought one CD that I have flat-out hated. Obviously, I’ve bought some that are better than others (Cranes immediately come to mind, as do Postal Service, Folk Implosion, Atherton, Absentstar)

So today is one of those days where I just had to get out for lunch. I found myself wandering up to the local used CD shop. For those in Salt Lake, you know what I mean when I say “Gray Whale.” Can anyone touch them?!

Here’s what I walked out with.

Sugarplum Fairies—Chinese Leftovers
The Swimmers—Fighting Trees
The Pale Pacific—Urgency
Lisa Germano—Happiness
Lisa Germano—Lullaby for a Liquid Pig
Lisa Germano—Geek the Girl
The Fizzies—Contest Popularity
The Apes—Ghost Games
Audio Learning Center—Cope ark
Audio Learning Center—Friendships Often Fade Away
Firescape—Dancehall Apocalypse

How’s THAT for a list? The Sugarplum Fairies disc was far and away the most expensive at $8, followed by The Swimmers at $5. Most everything else was between $2-4. With some trade-ins, my total bill was $7.75. I can handle that.

Apparently, this Sugarplum Fairies band has been around for a while. I thought I had their first CD. Guess not. Ha ha! More to buy then!

I will also be picking up more Lisa Germano and Pale Pacific.

Muse – The Resistence

It’s like my brother with a new Tragically Hip release: it’s a very slow, lingering, burning process.

It’s also how a long-lasting relationship maintains its fervor and ardor long after the initial burn has faded into abeyance.

I purposefully did not review this CD right out of the gate because of the relationship I have with Muse’s music. It wouldn’t be fair to my readers or to the band to give the CD one pass and review it. With some bands, you can do that. My initial listening to Alice in Chains’ “Black Gives Way to Blue” was a one-pass. It didn’t take me any time to see the musical genius behind their most recent offering.

Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard are true musicians. Their art is not something to be appreciated in the “Oh look … here’s a lovely mountain picture hanging above my hotel bed” kind of way. If there were a Louvre for music, their music would have a wing unto itself. It’s something to be drunk slowly. Sipped, as it were. Appreciated over a long, long period of time. They don’t write music; they compose it. And they do it with such finesse and precision that it simply wouldn’t be right to review their new CD without proper time to digest it.

And no–I don’t consider the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a “Louvre.”

Having said that …

The layering on this is phenomenal. “Uprising,” the anthemic opening track, treats us to Wolstenholme’s thick, prominant bass playing and Dom’s driving drum beat. They start off the track with such energy that you can’t help but get up and move. Bellamy bounces between keyboards and guitar. I don’t know who “they” is supposed to represent–government? media? Whoever the phantom power is, they will not control us; we will be victorious. Hands down. If you don’t believe that by the end of the song, you’re not paying close enough attention.

As is so often the case with many Muse songs, the next track, “Resistance,” lulls you into a trance with some ethereal, soft keyboards, then flows effortlessly into the meat of the song with more of Dom’s bombastic drumming, Matt’s keyboarding, and Chris’ single bass lines.

I’m just blown away by the hooks on this CD. “Undisclosed Desires” has some deep, soul-shaking, bass synth on the chorus that just rocks your ears and has the capicty to turn your innie into an outie. If you don’t think so, get yourself a pair of high-end headphones and listen to this track. Mix in the plucked-strings sound that echoes throughout, layered with the rest of the keyboards and synth … whoa.

One of my favorite tracks is “Unnatural Selection.” It has this completely “Do We Really Need This/Hullabaloo feel to it musically. Lyrically, it’s pretty in-your-face, conjuring protests and rallies. “I am hungry for some unrest; let’s push it beyond a peaceful protest. I want to speak in a language that you will understand …” If you want to hear an amazing live version of this track, check out this site. Download the Admiralspalast show.

Here’s the thing with Muse. I might have said this before, and if I have, I won’t apologize because it’s absolutely true.

Muse is the new Rush. Both 3-piece bands that do more with those 3 pieces than most 5-pieces bands. Their “less is more” approach to music bears the unavoidable comparison. Most want to compare Muse to Queen, and while there is no denying the influence Freddy Mercury et al have on the band, Muse does it better with less. Sorry, Queen fans … that’s just my opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it or like it.

I won’t review each song. I’ve given you enough of a reason to get this CD. This has “stuck on a desert island” potential. Seriously. Soak in it. Drink it in slowly and deliberately. You’ll thank yourself. And me.   🙂


Official site

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