Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Folk Posse

While sifting through my itunes I decided it would behoove me to make a "folk posse" playlist comprising my favorite folk artists. These artists however are more than just favorites, they are near and dear to my musical heart. They are "super favorites", like the friends you invite on vacation with you. They are as follows:

(In alphabetical order)

1. Bon Iver (Justin Vernon)- the music of justin vernon is pure genius. He combines simple structures with heavy overdubbed (but raw) falsetto vocals and just wonderfully beaten down sounding acoustic guitars. Despite just the aesthetic pleasure of the music, his songwriting is impeccable and his use of soul influenced melodies makes for some really awesome melodic lines. Luckily he is not TOO soulful and tactfully stays FAR FAR away from the likes of maroon 5/james blunt types -live by himself -off the album

2. Damien Rice- I kind of want to say he is the best songwriter I have ever heard. Every song this man writes is amazing and full of passion. His is one of the most honest artists i can think of. I've seen performances of him playing a song "Rootless Tree", which he has probably played a hundred times over, and he is still so passionate in his performance that his face is red and his hands are shaking by the end of it. Not to mention he has a fantastic group of musicians behind him, and HAD the incredible voice of Lisa Hannigan to accompany him. Unfortunately he seems to be one of those tragic "unfaithful to women" types, driving away his lovely accompanying talent haha. -EXPLICIT don't be offended

3.Eddie Vedder- okay this may not TOTALLY count, being that his work has been 98% within the confines of what has been called the greatest American rock band (Pearl Jam). HOWEVER, Eddie Vedder to me IS Pearl Jam, and all the great folky songs you hear in their albums are a result of him, I could list way too many to prove my point. Besides this his solo debut by way of the "Into the Wild" soundtrack, is amazing and has become a significant influence in my thinking of certain methods of songwriting.

4. Emiliana Torrini- again she may not REALLY count, because other than her album "Fisherman's Woman" her music is mostly some sort of indie/blues/pop/electronic/rock thing, which is a typical choice of non-mainstream women with good voices, and it is a much easier sound to identify than describe haha. The "Fisherman's Woman" album however is very stripped down, mostly consisting of just vocals and acoustic guitar, and is simply beautiful, and extremely meaningful when you learn the story behind the album. She wrote it after her fiance died before they could be married, makes some of the songs INCREDIBLY sad when you see them in relation to this.

5. Fionn Regan- this young Irishman is probably in my top 3 favorite songwriters and one of my favorite artists in any genre. He may have dropped a few places after his most recent album became much more "band" oriented (this i find is the downfall of many folk musicians after a successful first album). His lyrics don't make much sense, but thats okay, because they're are still clear and interesting. His guitar work and the production/atmosphere created by his music is what I love most about his music. -really cool -my favorite song of his, but I really love the studio version.

6. Iron and Wine (Sam Beam)- apparently he got the name "iron and wine" from a vitamin bottle? Iron and Wine is the exception to my rule that folk musicians are ruined by getting a band after they become popular. One of my favorite things about Iron and Wine is in fact his ability to use all the excess instrumentation to create a totally unique aesthetic. Sam Beam is one of the first people I remember using and incredibly breathy hushed voice as if it was normal, and then harmonizing and layering with it. This makes it like his voice blankets every song in a soft windblown sheet. I can't say enough good things really about his music I love the lyrics the vocals the production the guitar work, and the ever present but subtle use of slide guitars, in a NOT bluesy fashion. Blues slide guitar is awesome and I love it, but thankfully some people recognize it can be used in other ways haha. good example of the use of slide and using the extra instrumentation well.

7. Jose Gonzalez- only recently have a gained a strong love for Jose's music. He has a very unique sound using only finger picking and strumming on a nylon string guitar (aka classical guitar) and then combines this with a very straightforward unassuming way of singing. Its not hushed, but somewhat subdued. He uses nothing but the guitar to make beats and rhythms, but not in a cliche looped sort of way, and the end result is almost transic. He may be more of an acquired taste for some, but he is in no way abrasive, and I love his stuff.

8. M. Ward- somehow M. Ward is probably the most well known/famous/successful of these musicians, maybe second to Damien Rice. He is on the borderline of being in my "folk posse" and being just a favorite. But my love of his first album "Duet for Guitars #2" solidified his place in the group. He is more of your traditional strum and sing type singer-songwriter. But his old-timey and nostalgic feel is what draws me most to him.

9.Patrick Park- he is more of a straightforward type of singer songwriter as well. One notable fact is that he was born to parents who were BOTH professional poets, and his knack for lyrical interest is evident. There is a heavy country influence in his music as well, which would normally mean musical death for me, but luckily the vocals are smooth and not ridiculous. The vocals aren't AMAZING, but are good and the guitar work isn't going to impress. I think there is a good bit of nostalgia that makes me appreciate his music a bit more than I otherwise might.

10. Sun Kil Moon (Mark Kozelek)- this is one of the more remarkable and perfect blends of not so great vocals with great songwriting and atmosphere. Sun Kil Moon is some very soft melancholy music, and there is really nothing remarkable about it, especially since I can never understand the lyrics, its just really good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Adolescents and Aerosmith....and a change up...this was too much work

First off let me say trying to focus and listen as I had intended on a daily basis AND going down the list alphabetically just takes too much work and planning and attention during the day. Also I now feel it does not allow the music time to properly 'absorb' into my psyche (zen master). THEREFORE I'm gonna switch this up to a blog about a "band(s) of the week". Sorry for the dramatic build up and letdown, but it'll still be nice. PLUS I can get to everyone's suggestions faster than waiting until later on in the year when I get to the correct letter. BUT for today.....


Apparently this band is a punk "supergroup" from the early 80's comprised of other punk bands I have never heard of. I listened intently to their first album aptly named 'Adolescents', and I was pleasantly surprised. Sure its basically what you'd expect from a 1981 punk album, mostly just fast loudness, but there were a few gems in the mix. My personal favorite song 'Amoeba' was featured on one of the Tony Hawk video games, leading to my eventual finding of the album. Other songs like 'Kids of the Black Hole' were entertaining, but this is me mostly keeping an open mind. I was most pleased to hear so evidently the punk influences that early grunge pulled from. Although I am no friend or lover of punk music, I am always drawn to music with energy and very thrashy sounding guitars. Put this on as background noise and learn to love a couple of the songs :)


They have been called 'America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band', but so has Pearl Jam....and there are better American bands than Pearl Jam, so I must assume there are better American bands than Aerosmith. HOWEVER they're good, very good. What has impressed me the most, was not the guitar work or the drumming or really anything I expected. It was the diversity of Steven Tyler. This guy has fun with his voice and is not afraid to use all the screeches and tones he can find a way to control and string into notes, also he plays the harmonica and piano for the band, and initially played the drums. A talented individual, and I admire talented individuals. My only complaint with Aerosmith is that you are not going to experience anything new from album to album on any great level. Bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream have a way of really mixing up their sound and covering a lot of musical territory, but still making it work together as a whole. Aerosmith does the opposite, but not in a bad way. They've found a way to write some good rock songs and they just keep at it. But yeah they're legends so I can't complain too much, unless I one day play the superbowl half-time show haha.

Monday, July 26, 2010

THE COUNTDOWN (give me music!)

I will begin this blog and epic process starting August 1st. Until then please be giving me new bands/artists/composers or professional noisemakers to listen to and review of ANY style. I will be fair and open minded :) and I hope my picture of me with a guitar (on the right) proves that I'm legit. ALSO any particular things like polls or weekly favorite video links you would like to see please let me know!

let rock and roll!