What have you been listening to this week?
What have you been listening to this week? You don't need to do a 6000 word review if you don't want to, but please write something! If you've just picked up some music, please update on that as well, we'd love to see your hauls :)
Feel free to give recs or discuss anything about each others' listening habits.
You can make a chart if you use last.fm:
Remember that linking directly to your image will update with your future listening, make sure to reupload to somewhere like imgur if you'd like it to remain what you have at the time of posting.
I went down a rabbit-hole last month prompted by my Mom finding my CD book from Highschool as she was cleaning some stuff out of her house. I brought it home and really wanted to listen to some of the music but didn't have a CD player handy, so I created a Mid-2000s throwback playlist on Youtube to relive some of the awesome (and some cringy) music of my teen years. The last couple of weeks I've been having a good time reliving the graphic-tee, studded belt, Hot Topic days of my youth 🤣. Might have to break out the straightener and grow my bangs out, especially since MCR just released a new track (and it's pretty good!)
Thrice is still to this day one of my all time favorite bands. They started out a shitty pop punk band and grew and matured with me.
Yeah I've had the same experience with Thrice, they always wind up kind of meeting me wherever I am in life when a new album comes out. I haven't connected to the last album in quite the same way, but there are a bunch of Thrice records that I can listen to and it just resonates with a particular time in my life. They're a great band.
Great playlist!!! I don't find any of it particularly cringy though, and it's also pretty clear we listened to a LOT of the same bands in that era. :) Linkin Park, Blink 182, SOAD, Slipknot, Disturbed, Evanescence, Drowning Pool, Korn, Deftones, Mudvayne, Incubus, AFI, Tenacious D, My Chemical Romance. 👍
Yeah I think the worst of the cringe on that playlist is probably Hawthorne Heights. I left a couple of the really dated bands off (3Oh!3 and Good Charlotte, I'm looking at you) so the cringe is mostly at remembering myself in highschool, lol.
Also, AFI holds up WAY better than I expected. Sing the Sorrow is honestly just as good as I remember it being, which is not true of a lot of stuff I liked in HS.
I posted over in another thread that I've been posting albums on my IG every day, so I'll put the text of those posts here too!
Last of the Better Days Ahead by Charlie ParrI discovered this record while listening through the mastering credits for Huntley Miller, and it stood out to me. I’m obsessed in the storytelling during the eight minute song Everyday Opus. I appreciate the simplicity of the recordings, and I think they fully embody American folk music.
Out via Smithsonian Folkway Recordings. For live performances, checkout WesternAF on YouTube.
Italian Ice by Nicole AtkinsItalian Ice by Nicole Atkins, recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, embodies the legacy of the name but isn't stuffy, nor is it derivative. Nicole Atkins was one of my pandemic finds. I couldn't get the groovy, restrained tracks like AM Gold and Domino out of my head. I also appreciated the whimsical nature of Never Going Home Again, essentially as a backstop for the more sentimental ballads like Forever and Captain. Atkins' voice is strong, with an occasional raspy breakup, and full of personality. Her dynamic contrast creates a sense of small-club intimacy, and is often immediately followed by soaring vocals fit for the largest hall. Overall, this record has an great track order and extremely cohesive production, but feels organic and timely. Put out by Singlelock Records.
CeeLo Green is Thomas CallawayThis record, CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway, brought a joy to the first pandemic summer that's hard to describe. My mental image of Green was based on popular radio songs, and I'd never explored his catalog much before I saw the partnership between himself and Dan Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound. As the story goes, CeeLo Green wrote most of this assuming it was for someone else. Auerbach convinced Green to use the songs for his own recordings, and they cut the record in two days.
The album opens with a slow ballad and all the hallmarks of a vintage soul sound. Green is delicate and subdued here to start before the sound opens up with background vocals and an increase in dynamics, leading to an energetic and earnest prechorus and chorus. The brightness continues in Lead Me, and we find a soulful groove on Little Mama. I really like the syncopated and stoccato delivery in the verses here. Don't Lie is a straightforward and enjoyable ballad before we get into an unexpected waltz with I Wonder How Love Feels, but CeeLo never fails to find the energy and delivers a symphonic chorus.
People Watching, nestled in the middle of the album (maybe to start side B?), is one of my favorites. At a time where there was no people watching to do and I was living in a tiny town in PA, I was picturing string lights on a porch and rocking in a chair on a warm southern night.
We return to a dreamy ballad in You Gotta Do It All, and feels so timeless it could almost be remastered from the vaults.
Doing It All Together injects some southern rock, which is a welcome change. Another song that was particularly uplifting.
Down With The Sun is a song that I love for it's distinct Easy Eye character.
Thinking Out Loud showcases CeeLo's familiar falsetto in a beautifully arranged slow jam, and is the total antithesis to The Way, which closes the album on a darker, empowered tone.
Overall, this record is a showcase of CeeLo Green's range as a vocalist and songwriter. It's a modern record with a vintage flair that provides us with an unrestrained brilliance.
grae by Moses SumneyI first heard Moses Sumney featured on the song “Show Me Love” (Skrillex Remix) ft. Chance The Rapper, Moses Sumney, Robin Hannibal. From there, I was reintroduced to his work during a brief period where I was *very* interested in sound synthesis and watched recorded performances at the Moog Sound Lab.
This album, grae, was another pandemic find. grae is beautifully intimate, artistic, and cohesive. In fact, despite the wide range of genres and production credits, grae triumphs as a concept album dedicated to Sumney's exploration of self, identity, and the struggles, revelations that accompany self-discovery.
The music on grae is generally lush, enveloping, and ethereal. It is occasionally jazzy, sometimes pop-y, and overall deeply engaging. Sumney has an intense falsetto that is not spared, which amplifies his delivery of personal, introspective, and poetic lyrics.
A particular production choice that I find fascinating is the sound design of the spoken interludes. MY wife and I visited a Smithsonian exhibit called Futures that showcased research into the perception of gender based on voice. Primarily based on pitch, the interactive exhibit allowed one to pitch a voice up and down, and ultimately find a voice that sounded neutral. Some of that same pitch shifting occurs on grae, and is a delightful interplay challenging how we perceive others and what those perceptions imply.
Fleet Foxes - Fleet FoxesI've listened to this record by Fleet Foxes more times than I can count. As a folk record, it's a masterclass in songwriting and harmony. To me, it reads more like a symphonic piece with movements and motifs than it does an indie album. As a listener, it's sometimes difficult to tell where one song starts and another stops. Everything on this record is seamless, and it makes for a splendid listen from front to back.
I've listened to a significant amount of folk lately. Four things have catalyzed my shift in taste: amazing record labels like Singlelock and Easy Eye, learning guitar, friends who want to sing and play guitar together, and the artists featured by WesternAF (The Lostines, Nick Shoulders, Willie Carlisle, the list goes on...) in what are basically modern-day field recordings. Which is about as pure folk Americana as you can get. But Fleet Foxes self-titled album laid the foundation, perhaps a decade ago, for me to appreciate folk music as I do now.
I like this as an album for Fall or at daybreak, but it can be appreciated anytime.
Hundred Acres - S. CareyI only recently found S. Carey's album Hundred Acres. This is another record mastered by Huntley Miller, (see: Siv Jakobson)
S. Carey is Sean Carey, the percussionist, pianist, and backup vocalist for Bon Iver. Naturally, Hundred Acres is in the same sonic realm as the music of Bon Iver, but different in some crucial ways.
Hundred Acres opens with Rose Petals. An arrangement of guitars gives the song a heartbeat and sound that's especially cavernous during the choruses. Carey's vocals are extremely intimate and trade focus with the guitars throughout the song. Somehow, everything seems important and unimportant all at the same time. It's melancholic, isolated, and feels almost desperate. Carey does an excellent job of layering textures to build complexity and excitement while remaining subdued and soft overall.
Hideout also features prominent guitars, but uses an energetic finger-picking. I particularly enjoy Carey's harmonies in the choruses and the inclusion of strings and metallic percussion in the bridge between the last two choruses.
I want to highlight the contrast in drum recording/style between True North and Emery. The snare drum in True North almost sucks the air out of the room. It's spacious and deep. Again, an interesting instance of contrasting space: the guitar and vocals sound like you're in Carey's bedroom, and the drums sound like an empty concert hall. Cut to the drums on Emery, which are degraded and trashy, and eventually swapped for crushed samples, then presented together.
Admittedly, the title track Hundred Acres and More I See begin to lose me as they're less in line with the opening songs. I am brought back by Fool's Gold, mainly for its easy-listening sound. There's a small amount of lap steel guitar sound that leaves me wanting so much more harmony highlighted with the instrument.
The last two songs give us more of the same sound, and don't engage me much more.
The soundscape S. Carey achieves in Hundred Acres is rich and artistic, though I find the beginning of the album is stronger than the middle. The ending track, Meadow Song, does provide a strong sense of grounding and finality, in much the same way that Rose Petals sets the tone at the start. Overall, this is a lovely recording and treats us to a pleasant, dreamy vibe.
I enjoyed S. Carey's All We Grow but hadn't revisited his music since - I'll have to give his newer stuff a shot. I am a bit out of the loop on that side of music (save a few artists) since I'm mostly submersing myself in a deluge of metal these days
That self-titled Fleet Foxes album was a gem too, I still consider it my favorite (in a constant battle with Sun Giant, which can sort-of be considered part of the self-titled album, since they did release deluxe versions that included it)
A bit offtopic, but If you want to keep listening to CeeLo Green, do yourself a favor and don't look into any of the horrible shit he has publicly said, unless you're capable of separating art from artist. I used to love his music, but I struggle separating art from artist so honestly can't listen to his stuff anymore because the idea of me supporting him in any way, shape, or form, makes me extremely uncomfortable after reading about his views.
I was able to find some of his stuff from Twitter in 2014 and yikes man. This is really the only music of his I listen to, so not a big loss to put it out of the rotation.
I stopped listening to him after his homophobic comments/insults a few years earlier, but yeah, the absolutely batshit insane comment he made about consent regarding unconscious people after his court case in 2014 is definitely way worse.
I've been listening to music from the toki pona community, namely jan usawi and nardi. the former released 2 songs in 7/8 time which i honestly cant get enough of and its started off a little obsession with that time signature in general but holy moly, the more I dive into the community the more im falling in love with it. A vast majority of the songs are a bit hit/miss but there's a few artists like those 2who are as talented as they are passionate and it just tickles me pink.
quirky conlang music aside, i've also been getting back into some atmospheric vaporwave that seems to be similarly niche. actually i'm not sure if you could even call it vaporwave even though i did find it through a vaporwave aggregator channel. There's a band called Elyphant whose stuff doesnt really fit into a single genre imo, some thing are really atmospheric, others are upbeat, theres a few glitchhoppy things, some vocal trance too. I used to put the first album on when i was going to sleep because it was engaging enough to listen to if i couldnt sleep - but not active enough to actually keep me up. I think the fact that they have vocals but no actual lyrics helped keep that active listening part of my brain turned off while it lulled me to sleep
Lots of metal lately (as always). The Black Dahlia Murder specifically on heavier rotation lately due to the unfortunate passing of Trevor Strnad (vocalist). RIP.
Also loving Moonlight Sorcery's EP Piercing Through the Frozen Eternity as a wonderful modern example of black metal with guitar solos and perfect callbacks to In The Nightside Eclipse era Emperor
Long Ambients I and II by Moby. I don't even like a lot of his music but these are beautiful. I'm currently on the train and downloaded them onto my tablet to have loud, gentle background noise to sleep easily on my ride but am wide awake just running both albums on shuffle.
As music, they're quite good, and as functional art (white noise, basically) they sit on the edge of being interesting enough for intentional listening, but consistent enough you can just bliss out while staring out of a window, or struggling to sleep strewn out across two Amtrak business class seats (as I did last night, and two weeks ago). I was surprised when I was reading and thought "give me more of that!" because I'd only ever put the first album on for naps.