top song obsessions of the year (2010)

December 31st, 2010

scott of frightened rabbit
“Nothing Like You” by Frightened Rabbit was my top song obsession, photo by ipickmynose

2010 has been the oddest of my life, full of contradictions: the most amazing and most boring times; the most lovelorn and most disinterested; the most outgoing and most antisocial. It’ll take years to see what it all means and where it will lead, but I have to say it was pretty good. But these contradictions led to a vast and odd array of music getting caught in my head, twisting and turning around in there and begging to be heard again and again.

As I’m sure I’ve said before, I don’t pick song obsessions. Well, I don’t pick them consciously. Something in the song and in my brain mesh in an addictive way and an ear worm is born.

Without any further delay, here’s the list of songs I was most obsessed with in 2010.

  1. Frightened Rabbit – Nothing Like You (mp3) (buy)

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    Pair an immediately catchy song with some fantastic lyrics about turning over a new leaf in love—the song starts with “This is a song// And you’re not in it”—and you have a winner. I’ve listened to it at least 142 times this year and I still love it.

  2. Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (mp3) (buy)

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    This was a band I initially wrote off, but have come around to them since seeing them live a while ago. Pair that new-found love of the band with their newish album Sigh No More, which I think presents their music in a much better light than their previous EPs and I was obsessed with the entire album, listening to it probably a hundred plus times over the year. But the song that stuck out more than other was this one (and to a lesser extent “Roll Away Your Stone”). I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s the catchy and f-bomb dropping chorus that seals the deal.

  3. Kanye West – Power (mp3) (buy)

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    A simple riff with some straight-beat clapping seems like it might be the basis for some fairly harmless hip hop track, but is anything but that. This is unstoppable, incorrigible, unbreakable, and incalculably addictive. Not even some sub-par rhymes or annoying faux-singing can trip up what must be one of the best hip hop productions in recent memory.

  4. Jonsi – Hengilas (mp3) (buy)

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    There have been a few times I felt like I was on crazy pills and this song proved to be an immediate antidote. The last time I wrote about this song, I compared it to some of Aaron Copland’s finer work and I think that is still an apt comparison. Few have used open, slow-moving chords to create such beautiful music since that famed composer, but Jonsi has created a song here with beauty one can get lost in.

  5. Carissa’s Weird – Die (mp3) (buy)

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    For this one, I’ll have to go back to what I said before: “It’s difficult to describe what makes this song so obsession-worthy but it’s a song that I’ve listened to dozens of times in the last few months… Maybe it’s the layers of instruments and vocals. Maybe it’s the hypnotic way the instruments loop that draws me in. Maybe it’s the slow breakdown. Who knows why, but I know what: it’s good.”

  6. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Barnesyard (mp3) (from Daytrotter session)

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    I’d had this Daytrotter session for a while and listened to it plenty of times, but for some reason this spring (October-November, in the Southern Hemisphere) it hit me anew and I couldn’t get enough of this earnest and urgent song. (By the way, the studio version of this song will be released as “Barnes’ Yard” on the RAA’s forthcoming album Departed out on March 1.)

  7. Guided by Voices – Game of Pricks (mp3) (buy)

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    Somehow I’d missed this song for years until I saw/ heard Owen Pallett’s charming violin-based cover. That lead me to listen to the original and boy was I hooked. No wonder it’s an absolutely classic indie rock tune. It’s seemingly the archetypal song of perhaps the most archetypal indie rock band.

  8. Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over (mp3) (buy)

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    I had no idea about this band when I started playing around the idea of a Stomp-Clap mix (which eventually Heather took off with and did really well), but a friend suggested this song and I’m glad she did. A magnificent voice backed with compelling and interesting orchestration. A winner from the first listen.

  9. Paul Jacobsen – Six O’Clock News (mp3) (unreleased, band website)

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    What a heartbreaking stunner of a song…and it’s only a demo! This cover of Kathleen Edwards perfectly matches the tone and emotion of the music to those of the lyrics. Also of special note are the high and lonesome harmonies which really add some emotional gravity to the singing.

  10. Adele – Hometown Glory (mp3) (buy)

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    This is how you know that I didn’t plan this list: because no idiot would purposefully have the same song on his list two years in a row. And, furthermore, if I was going to plan a song to repeat, it wouldn’t be a pop song. But my head wrapped itself around this gorgeous song. My obsession can neatly be summed up by an anecdote: at some point during Natalie’s and my epic roadtrip in South Africa, this song came on in a mix and she said “I was hoping this song would come on.” And I replied “Me too.”

  11. Diana Ross and the Supremes – Reflections (mp3) (buy)

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    I was at Firemen’s Arms, a historic and smokey bar in downtown Cape Town for my weekly trivia night. I’d grumbled for months about the horrible quality of the music they played. While in the bathroom, this song came on and, though I didn’t remember what song it was I knew two things: 1) that it was the unmistakable voice of Diana Ross and 2) I had to hear this song again (and again). Later that night I found the track and started the second of many, many listens.

  12. We Were Promised Jetpacks – It’s Thunder and It’s Lightening (mp3) (buy)

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    As I said previoiusly: “Deep inside of me somewhere there’s still a bit of High School Adrian, still listening to Seam and Sebadoh’s Bakesale, still a bit angry and still with plenty of angst. That part of me loves this song, from the first guitar notes to the Scottish brogued vocals to the build up and strong, huge guitars and fast strumming to the way the song winds down with an almost whimper. The secret is, the rest of me loves it too. ”

  13. Paul Simon – Graceland (mp3) (buy)

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    After hearing Tallest Man on Earth’s cover I found myself listening to the original again for the first time in a while. And I soon found myself walking down the narrow, winding, hilly streets of Green Point, Cape Town crooning that amazing verse “Losing love is a window into your heart// Everybody sees you’re blown apart” oblivious of everything around me.

  14. The Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain (mp3) (buy)

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    The Tallest Man on Earth release an album this and of course I was obsessed with it, mostly equally, but this song stuck out. It’s insistent, driving and oddly uplifting.

  15. Horse Feathers – Cascades (mp3) (buy)

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    The hallmarks of all good Horse Feathers songs—beautiful orchestration, plaintive and breathy vocals, a dynamic build—are stamped all over this song. I loved this song on the 7″ and again when it came out on Thistled Spring

  16. Loney, Dear – Ignorant Boy, Beautiful Girl (mp3) (buy)

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    Two days after arriving back from South Africa I was in my friend’s car and he asked me “Do you know Loney, Dear?” I did–I’d seen them open for Andrew Bird years ago and had heard a few of their songs. I wasn’t exactly a fan, I said. “Well I gotta play you this one song. I think you’ll like it.” And I did. As much as I didn’t want to (the beginning sounds a bit like college acapella), I really did.

And there it is.

If you’re wondering how I came up with this list, it was at least in part influenced by how many times I listened to a song, how much I was obsessed with the song initially and how much I was obsessed with it over time.

concentrated awesome: recent song obsessions, part 1

August 23rd, 2010

scott of frightened rabbit

To be continued in part 2, Just because I don’t do a weekly column on song obsessions anymore doesn’t mean I don’t listen to songs obsessively. These are just some of the songs that have burrowed their way into my ears in the past few months.

  • Carissa’s Wierd – Die (mp3) (buy)

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    It’s difficult to describe what makes this song so obsession-worthy but it’s a song that I’ve listened to dozens of times in the last few months first alone as a promo mp3 download and then as part of of the newly released Carissa’s Wierd compilation They’ll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996 – 2003. Maybe it’s the layers of instruments and vocals. Maybe it’s the hypnotic way the instruments loop that draws me in. Maybe it’s the slow breakdown. Who knows why, but I know what: it’s good.

  • Lushlife – Meridian Sound [Part One] (mp3) (buy)

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    I’ve really been enjoying Lushlife’s Cassette City which I decided to check out after rewatching some of his acoustic hip hop covers. This is a favorite. There’s something particularly compelling about the juxtaposition of the subdued music with the sharp rhythms of his rapping.

  • Guided by Voices – Game of Pricks (mp3) (buy)

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    Some people missed “Web in Front”; in the indie rock cannon I somehow missed “Game of Pricks”. After a friend recommended Owen Pallett’s lovely and somewhat goofy cover of it, I checked into the original and I’ve been listening to it tons since. It’s classic classic indie rock; a perfect representation of ’90s indie rock in my mind.

  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Home (mp3) (buy)

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    After I heard a snippet of this in Community, I found that it was by one of those buzz bands that perhaps I’d unfairly written off. Certainly a catchy song–I listened to it 33 times in the first week–but the part I really like is the beginning, the whistling over the straight-beat kick drum.

  • Frightened Rabbit – Nothing Like You (mp3) (buy)

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    This is not as much of an ear worm as the others but it’s been the song I’ve listened to most over the last three months. “This is a story // and you’re not in it uh huh” is as fantastic an opening line as I know of. And it’s a great song with a buoyant chorus.

Stay tuned for part 2.

world cup! 16 great south african songs

June 11th, 2010

rural south african soccer
rural south african soccer

The World Cup starts today and I’m in the thick of it. A game will be played 500m from my doorstep in a few scant hours. The anticipation is madness; I think the country will explode before the first game.

My South African parents didn’t listen to pop music but we did have Graceland. My brother and I would blast the opening accordion riff of “I Know What I Want” and dance around the living room while my parents were out. After that I started collecting music on various trips here. Much later, I’d dig through the world music archives at KZSU trying to find still new more great music. I’ve always had a soft spot for the music of this country.

South Africa has eleven official languages and many unofficial ones. There are two dozen or more strong musical traditions and there are so many different styles of music in South Africa, one couldn’t even count them all.

Today, with the start of the World Cup and the eyes of the world on South Africa, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite tunes in a variety of styles.

Obviously this is not comprehensive and skewed in styles. There’s significant rock, folk, reggae, Indian-derived music, Islamic music, kwaito, house and other dance music, and many other styles that are produced in South Africa in abundance that aren’t represented below. Nevertheless I hope you enjoy the music I’ve picked.

You can grab all the songs here. See below for individual songs.
South Africa Mix (zip file, mediafire link)

Vintage R&B-influenced Afropop (Xhosa)
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata
Makeba, one of the most famous South African singers, recorded this hit with a Philadelphia R&B producer in 1967. This is a song that never gets old.

Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata (mp3) (buy)

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Hip Hop/ Motswako (English, Setswana)
Tuks – Botho (feat Kabomo)
I’m a sucker for hip hop slow jams and this is a good one from possibly my favorite South African rapper. From the oddly picked Katie Melua sample to the laid back, but discontent lyrics, I think this is a winner. Tuks’ song aren’t universally great but his best songs are very good.

Tuks – Botho (feat Kabomo) (mp3) (from artist website)

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Township Jive/ Mbaqanga + Maskandi (Zulu)
Ubombo – Sibonabantu Ben Zondo & Nganeziyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso – Sini Lindile
Here are two stylistically similar songs. And both are awesome. With the virtuosic guitar beginning and the rapid-fire spoken section, there’s a touch of maskandi in these, but in the end, I just like calling them ‘awesome’. (I think they’d be classified as mbaqanga.) Great call-and-response, upbeat bass and concertina/ accordion work in both.

Ubombo – Sibonabantu Ben Zondo (mp3) (buy)

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Nganeziyamfisa No Khambalomvaleliso – Sini Lindile (mp3) (buy)

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Cape Town Jazz
Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening (Cape Town Fringe)
Among the most famous South African jazz musicians along with Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand) produced a hit and an iconic piece with “Mannenberg”. As music historian Rob Allingham says “from the first bar, you know it could only have come out of South Africa.” Many articles have been written about this beautiful song.

Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening (Cape Town Fringe) (mp3) (buy)

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“Mbube”/ early Zulu Choral Music (Zulu)
Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube
From the first notes of the song, you’ll probably recognize it. It’s not A Lion Sleeps Tonight—it’s what that song ripped off. A simple and instantly catchy song, American corporations have made millions of the song while, until recently, Linda and his family got nothing.

Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube (mp3) (buy)

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Read the rest of this entry »

don’t call it a comeback (because it ain’t)

August 26th, 2009

This is emphatically not a return to form. I’ve been sharing songs with friends and I thought it was a bit silly to not share them here too.


colo(u)rful houses in Bo Kaap

I quite like this Alberta Cross song. The whole album is good, too, though I don’t love every song.
Alberta Cross – Low Man (mp3)

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Volcano Choir is a side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. This track was not what I expected, but it’s quite catchy/ good. And Justin’s vocals are wonderful as always.
Volcano Choir – Island, IS (mp3)

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Soul Sides has been posting some fantastic stuff lately and you’d be remiss to not check it out. Bobby Freeman’s “Good Good Lovin’” is a classic blues-based, Motown-sound track with a hard driving sax part. They posted two tracks by the Metros and both are excellent soul tracks, but I like the dark, swaggering “Since I Found My Baby” better.

They also posted these oh-those-are-funny videos of Lushlife doing acoustic covers of classic hip hop tunes. They are so funny, until you realize they’re actually quite compelling. For example, this Jay Z cover:

I definitely am going to keep my eye out for Mayer Hawthorne after a few tracks of his I heard recently. Grab the breezy, oldies- and Motown-inspired “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’” at MBV.

I don’t know much about Monogrenade but I quite like folky The Acorn-reminiscent track “Ce Soir” that Anyone’s Guess posted.

The B-side of the Very Best 7″, “Yalira”, available here, is beautiful and worth the listen.

I’ve been listening to the Frightened Rabbit Daytrotter session a lot. The featured version of “My Backwards Walk” is great.

And, finally, if I’m posting, I feel it’s my duty to mention the great KevvyKev’s (one of KZSU’s own) 25th anniversary Bang the Drum concert with 25 DJs and 25 MCs. It’s definitely another impressive line up. Check out all the details.


boats in Kalk Bay, False Bay

song obsession friday! (for the week ending june 26)

June 26th, 2009

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
Madvillian – Money Folder (Four Tet Remix) (mp3) (buy)

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This start out as a friend’s obsession and ended up on my year-end most-obsessed list for 2007.

I’ll be honest: this wasn’t a full-on obsession this time, but I was listening through some hip hop and needed to hear this a few times before that kick was up. The dark and somewhat-incessant production goes well with the lyrics here.

Keith:
the Cascades – Rhythm of the Rain (mp3) (buy)

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Death Cab for Cutie – Photobooth (mp3) (buy)

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Actually the song running through my head is The Cascades “Rhythm of the Rain” but I don’t have that on mp3 [ed: mp3 added] so this Death Cab for Cutie song will do. There are some similarities, both have a sing-songy vocal style and clip-clopy rhythm (though the Cascades make do with chimes instead of DCfC’s simple Casio beat) and both deal with a relationship gone south. (Actually the word relationship is a bit too harsh – each song provides evidence that there was little to no engagement by the female in the coupling.) Beyond that … um, they’re both crush-worthy?

Rob:
Bruce Cockburn – Soul of a Man (mp3) (buy)

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I’ve recently discovered how much fun it is to play along to Bruce Cockburn songs – something about them is just too inviting. The “Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaws” / “Humans” era tunes are the best, but I particularly like the (very unique) percussion on this later song.

Worth noting that this is a cover of a 1930 tune by Blind Willie Johnson.

4 bars. 4 bars of Amen

May 9th, 2009

A friend pointed me to this video by Nate Harrison about the Amen break, one of the most used breaks in hip hop and electronica. It goes on to use this as a point of discussion of copyright laws and music appropriation. I’ve heard discussion of this break before, but it was usually a more from a hip hop side; this gives a fairly full discussion of the track, though it’s a bit heavy on the electronica side of it.

The narration is a bit dry, but it’s really interesting nonetheless.

SFIFF 2009′s music related offerings

April 6th, 2009


still from the film Soul Power

This year’s San Francisco International Film Festival is nearly upon us. It runs April 23 to May 7 at the Sundance Kabuki Theater and other theaters in San Francisco and around the Bay Area.

  • Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story (4/25 2pm @ Letterman)
    A documentary about the Sherman Brothers, who did the scores to many Disney movies like Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, It’s a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But outside of making award winning scores they were estranged–their sons, the makers of this film, didn’t even meet till they were grown up despite growing up near each other.
  • D Tour (5/1 9pm; 5/4 3:15pm; 5/7 5:15pm; all @ Kabuki)
    A documentary about Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon and his struggle to get a new kidney because his was failing. Lots of footage from the amazing benefit show and from Rogue Wave’s D tour (where Pat was on dialysis while on tour with the band). I saw this one over the weekend and a full review is forthcoming, but in the meantime, it’s not perfect but it’s a good movie.
  • Every Little Step (4/26 9:30 @ Castro)
    A documentary about the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line and the audition process for it. Looks pretty interesting from the trailer
  • Go Go 70s (3/5 12:30pm @ Clay; 5/5 9:15pm @ Kabuki; 5/7 8:15pm @ Kabuki)
    A South Korean feature film based on the story of the Devils. The band tries to win a contest with their soul sound, only to get a lukewarm reception and become a hit in the underground. But before long internal and external pressures get to the band…
  • Lost World (5/5 8pm @ Castro)
    A classic silent film with live musical accompaniment and an original score by Dengue Fever. I’ve written more about this already.
  • My Suicide (5/1 6pm; 5/5 1pm; 5/6 9pm; all @ Kabuki)
    A feature film about a teen who declares his intention to commit suicide on camera. Musically, this noteworthy for a soundtrack with contributions from Bright Eyes, Radiohead, Joanna Newsom, My Morning Jacket, Daniel Johnston, the Pixies and more.
  • New Muslim Cool (4/25 2pm @ PFA; 4/26 3pm @ Kabuki; 5/4 6:30pm @ Kabuki)
    A documentary about Hamza Perez, a hip hop artist, anti-drug counselor, politcal activist and devout muslim. Trying to set up a new life and a new mosque in the gritty areas of Pittsburgh, Hamza and his brother (who co-fronts their hip hop group) face everything from family not knowing what they’re about any more to an FBI raid of their mosque and loss of jobs due to their religion and political stance. I saw this last week and it’s really interesting and well made.
  • Our Beloved Month of August (4/25 12:30pm; 4/29 3pm; 5/1 8:45pm; all @ Kabuki)
    Somewhere between fiction and documentary and filmed at rural Portugese music festivals, this seems like it’ll be a bit chaotic and at least a bit beautiful.
  • Proving Ground (4/30 10pm @ Kabuki)
    A Leninist diatribe against capitalism and imperialism set to the live music of Los Duggans and with some elements of live theater in it.
  • Soul Power (4/26 5:45pm @ Kabuki)
    Put together from the outtakes of When We were Kings this documentary shows the music festival–with legends like James Brown, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, The Spinners, Bill Withers and B.B. King performing–that preceded the famous Ali v Foreman Rumble in the Jungle. This looks like a great film.
  • Unmade Beds (5/7 7pm @ Castro)
    A feature film about two young ex-pats finding their way in London. Musically, it’s noteworthy for its soundtrack with contributions from Daniel Johnston, Kimya Dawson, Tindersticks and Jeffrey Lewis.

arsenio hall grills vanilla ice

March 30th, 2009

Vanilla Ice recently apologized. I was poking around and found this video of Arsenio Hall grilling Ice about authenticity, among other things. This is harder hitting than 60 minutes!

Did you know the album “Ice Ice Baby” was on became the best selling hip hop album ever, up until that time?

SxSW 2009, day 1 (theresa andersson, marching band, deastro, phenomal handclap band, j tillman, horse feathers, thao, morning benders, keenan bell, blk jks, camera obscura)

March 19th, 2009

I arrived at the IODA party at Emo’s Annex right as Theresa Andersson (myspace) was being announced. This was immediately followed by a set of technical issues. Theresa’s resulting set was only a few songs long, but she made the most of it, putting on a lively set that got people dancing. I once again found her looping impressive and ridiculous. I can understand if her music’s not for everyone but this performance put a smile on my face.

Marching Band (myspace) was on next. This Swedish band put on a fun set of indie pop, though it wasn’t particularly distinguished. I was a bit distracted during their set so I may want to give them another try.

Detroit’s Deastro was next. They put on a set of dancey rock. The singer put in a good amount of energy. In the end, though, their music wasn’t for me.

I caught a few songs by the latest buzz band the Phenomenal Handclap Band next. They had eight people on stage–two keyboards (one keyboardist doubling on vocals), two singers, bass, two guitar, and drums. They were funky and had lots of people into them–and lots of people at the venue just to see them, it seemed. They wear their 70s funky rock influences on their sleeve and I think I would like them more if I liked their influences more.

I rushed over to the Mohawk to see J Tillman (myspace) and I shouldn’t have. Not that Tillman didn’t play well, but the first part of his set on the inside stage overlapped with thrashy and loud Young Widows outside and the sound bleed ruined the fragile intimacy of Tillman. He tried to make the most of it, turning up his guitar and joking “Who am I playing with here?” Once the set outside finished and I could hear Tillman’s set a little better, it was gorgeous. Still, the environment kept it from approaching the amazing set of his I saw at last year’s SxSW.

I left the Mohawk and was headed to 6th Street to see Joe Pug play when I heard a familiar sound at Club Deville. It was Horse Feathers. I took a detour immediately. It turned out to be the Bitch Magazine party. This version of the Horse Feathers was playing as a four piece. It was the three same people I saw in October–Justin on guitar plus a violinist and a cellist–but they added a fourth here on banjo, violin and percussion. I really liked this line-up. It was gorgeous and beautiful, just as the last time I saw them, but the arrangements were also a bit more fleshed out and the percussion on the last track added a little oomph.

After the Horse Feathers set, I ran into some friends there and decided to stay for a little bit of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (myspace). She’s an SF local these days, but I haven’t seen them before. What I saw of her set was upbeat, a bit dancey and included jazz, rock and other influences. She put in a good amount of energy–she even joked about being out of shape and needing more stamina between songs–but the music didn’t do it for me.

While I was at a Texas Music Office function at Saengerrunde, I caught a song by Hayes Carll. It was solid Americana. I wish I’d been able to stay for more.

In the evening I headed to Hearya’s party at the Paradise. The first band up when I got there was the Morning Benders (myspace). They played a solid set, but the sound was pretty atrocious. For me, standing midway back in the venue, the sound was marred by both a bad mix–it was very bass heavy, had little guitars or keyboards–and by the stone walls which reflected the sound badly. I’m an unabashed fan of the Benders and I feel like this wouldn’t have been a good introduction to the band.

Keenan Bell was up next. He performs a brand of hip-hop that seems to be for the–*cough* white–indie kids. Backed by a band that mixed samples and live instrumentation, it was like an indie band with an MC. It really got the crowd moving. The mix was worked a lot better for this band, thankfully. I’ll have to take another listen to his recorded stuff, but I think it may be something I enjoy live but don’t listen to the records of.

South Africans Blk Jks (myspace) were up after a long break due to problems with amps and guitars. During the break venue had DJs between sets and not the indie rock DJs types–the loud club DJ types. Some people enjoyed this but it got old for me.

Anyway, the band went on and did a set of songs that mixed rock, funk and African influences. I found the songs where they displayed more of the African influences, like “Lakeside”, were my favorites. Their set was fun, but the music didn’t do a lot for me overall. I think I’d really like to like Blk Jks more than I do.

After that I dashed over to Central Presbyterian for Camera Obscura (myspace). In a pristine church, the hipster masses crowded the pews and sat in the aisles. Camera Obscura put on a good set and the acoustics of the venue were gorgeous, though the mix did lose things like the harmony vocals entirely. They were certainly one of the more polished bands I saw in the day. They debuted some new tunes and the effect of that and waning after a long day in the sun made for a fairly high attrition rate during their set. All in all, though, they put on a good set in a gorgeous venue.

So that’s day one of SxSW. Stay tuned tomorrow for more coverage.

song obsession friday! (for the week ending February 12)

February 13th, 2009

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
Jay Z and Santigold – Brooklyn We Go Hard (mp3) (buy)

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It was close between this one and Throw Me the Statue’s “Ship”, but this one won out on the necessity I felt to listen to it.

After watching “Swagger Like Us” on the Grammys like everyone else, I was reminded of this song because of the similar female-sample-plus-jay-z thing it’s got going. The sample is absolutely incessant but it doesn’t become annoying. The production by Kanye is a dark and great and Jay Z’s rhymes are topically typical–a hip hop song about being tough–but it they’re smooth.

Keith:
Invitations – Skiing in the Snow (mp3) (buy)

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Winter sports aren’t exactly the stuff of soul songs, which makes the existence of this track all the more surprising. In some ways it sounds like a commercial for a Vermont ski resort targeted at the inner city, as it ticks off all the positives of skiing with a glossy sheen, carefully avoiding any of the negatives (damn, it’s COLD out here). Pardon me if I’m not exactly sold …

Dave:
M.I.A. – Paper Planes (mp3) (buy)

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I had heard this song last year when it was first released and thought it was pretty good. But I just went to see ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ last weekend and having the music along with visuals really made it stick in my head. In fact, ALL the music in the movie is absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend both going to see Slumdog… and listening to the soundtrack (which also features a remix of Paper Planes).

Rob:
Hem – Night Like a River (mp3) (buy)

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I’ve been listening to a whole lot of Hem’s just plain gorgeous music recently. There are so many excellent melodies but the chorus of “Night Like a River” has grabbed me particularly. I’m a sucker for dramatic chordal shifts and I love the way this song glides down whole steps halfway through its hook.