the sounds of wood and steel, over coffee...
david gray's latest release was his first recorded in a large studio, and the difference shows. gone - for the most part but not entirely - are the sparse MIDI arrangements and garage sounds, replaced by orchestral string sections and backing choirs. such transitions have killed many artists careers, when it becomes clear to their listeners that something about the studio and full production has killed their creative sound. david gray, thankfully, does not succumb to such pressures, and remains as creative as ever. his strong lonely-sounding voice carries the music (as usual, in a good way), while he sings of loves gained and lost in the course of everyday life. a strong record in the world of singer-songwriter folk-pop, here's my favorite track: lately.
as you can tell, i'm a big fan of pandora's free totally customizable internet radio. all you need is a high-speed connection to get great music all day long. the link above will send you to station created specifically with the music featured on this page. starting with these songs, pandora plays other similar songs based on specific musical qualities. check it out and let me know what you think...
this trio of virtuoso musicians has consistently expanded their repitoire from their bluegrass roots, and this latest effort demonstrates not only their chops (on mandolin, guitar and fiddle respectively) but their ears for tasteful and interesting arrangements. Ranging from rock to pop to folk sensibilities, with purely stringed instrumentation and tight harmonies, these guys (and girl!) make some of the best, most unique music out there. highly recommened, no matter what mood you find yourself in. coming soon, their song "somebody more like you."
until running across these two virtuosos, i wasn't familiar with the "classical" duet repetoire for banjo and upright bass. it seems a little crazy but it works really well. the compositions are varied and interesting; the technical skills are mind-blowing; the craftsmanship is evident with every note. their music seems to be in a creative genre all its own. on this original composition, bela plays every note on his banjo that edgar plays on bass, only a few beats later. sound boring? it's not. here's their song, canon.
murdoch only begins to whet our appetite with his debut ep. there really is something to be said for quality over quantity, because each of the four songs is truly masterful, a gem that i've only come to appreciate more with time. he's got a new album coming out soon, and i think it will have been well worth the wait. his song orange sky was featured in the movie "Garden State," but for some reason was missing from the official soundtrack. good thing you can get it here...
harper's first cd is both understated and powerful at the same time. his mix of folk, acoustic rock and blues lands him in fairly unique musical territory. he intersperses acute social commentary with more personal love songs, and both carry their weight on this cd. marked by its silences, its longings, its visions, "welcome to the cruel world" challenges the way we accept things to be using the time-honored tools of acoustic guitars, blues chords, vocal cords and hope. without further ado, here's the title track: welcome to the cruel world...
gonzalez gives us the more haunting side of contemporary folk music, using a nylon-stringed guitar and soft-spoken vocals. his sound is distinctive - a bit melancholy without being overly dramatic or depressing. here's one of his more upbeat songs: heartbeats (bonus - here's his biggest hit song, crosses)...
hem's sound is really sweet, soothing music that relies on acoustic instrumentation (including some orchestral elements)... it's the kind of music that's better heard than described, so here's one of my favorite songs by them, performed live: idle
drunkard's prayer is more on the haunting side, chronicling the real life near-breakup of this husand-wife acoustic duo. the brokenness is evident, but not without signs of hope and life... born
here's what Linford and Karin have to say about this song, from the album's liner notes: "When we came home from the tour, we bought two cases of wine and decided we were going to put a bottle on the kitchen table every evening and start talking until nothing was left. The idea was not to get plowed, but to talk face to face deep into the night."
wfuv (new york)
world cafe (philly)
kcrw (los angeles)
songs on the web: