Sunday, August 27, 2006

Put your records on: a selection of new (to me) music

Corinne Bailey Rae's infectious song seems the perfect command for the waning days of the season. I hear and obey, Ms. Rae.

I would not know about Corrine Bailey Rae if not for Mrs. Meridian, who is considerably more current on pop music than I am. And I am indeed grateful to know about this singer. In this day of melisma-crazed pop singers, it is wonderful just to hear someone sing, ya know? Especially when the singer has a voice like Rae has: sweetly aching, kind of sticky but not cloying, and attentive to the words she's singing as well. Though "Put Your Records On" is the first single, I think my favorite song on the album is "Trouble Sleeping": Classic R&B style and arrangements, and a chorus that I wish would go on forever, just to hear those harmonies.

Below the fold, the curious will find some more picks and samples.

Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is, if nothing else, one of the more intriguingly-titled albums in my collection. Her music digs deep into the American roots music traditions--blues, country, gospel--and then gets refracted through her rather artsy sensibilities. The result is both respectful of those earlier traditions and yet, via the arrangements, makes one aware again of the very real power that more traditional versions of that music still hold but, due to its very familiarity, we sometimes forget is there. "John Saw That Number" is a good example, I think, of what I'm trying to get at.

Keane is another group that I wouldn't know about if not for Mrs. M. I recently read an article about them in CNN that compares them to Coldplay, but--aside from the keyboard-based sound--I don't hear it, especially not in their most recent album, Under the Iron Sea. They seem a bit artier than Coldplay; the intro to "Atlantic," the first song on Iron Sea, reminds me of songs by the short-lived art-group UK. At any rate, at their best Keane go for the grand musical moment, and this song, "We Might as Well Be Strangers", builds from a quiet, wistful little piece to as big a chorus as you can imagine. Great stuff.

Anouar Brahem is an oud player based in France. His album from a couple of years ago, Le Pas du Chat Noir, which consists of relaxed, introspective pieces for oud, accordion and piano, is as lovely and elegant an album from ECM as you're likely to find, on that label or anywhere else. Really. You'd think that the three instruments wouldn't work together, but the result is a completely satisfying musical example of international cooperation.

Brahem's brand-new album, Le voyage de Sahar, is more of the same. Here is the title track.

And finally we have The Killers' Hot Fuss: not all that new to me, but after Mrs. Meridian bought it for me and I've listened to it a couple of times, I must say, They're the real deal . . . keeping in mind that I'm a big fan of that skinny-tie '80s Cars-and-Brit-synth-band sensibility they have going. Their website's evocation of the final scene of Fellini's La dolce vita is a perfect complement to their music, which constantly teeters on the edge between the comic and the tragic. And as for their grand single, "All These Things That I've Done", when I hear the bridge, the only thing I can think of is, Where do I sign up for this army?

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Raminagrobis said...

Grrr. I'd love to hear some of the music you're talking about here (except Keane, of course), but my ISP blocks all downloads from Rapidshare. Gnnn.

John B. said...

Bad, bad ISP. Let me know what you'd like to hear, and I'll send you some attachments via e-mail.

Raminagrobis said...

Ah, thanks!

I'd like to hear the Anouar Brahem and the Neko Case tracks please.

My address is mailpmw at y'know, the one everyone uses (it begins with a 'g').