Three great new albums came out on Tuesday:
Iron and Wine, "The Shepherd's Dog"
Jose Gonzalez, "In our Nature"
Stars, "In Our Bedroom After the War"
Nearly every song of each new album is streaming on their respective Myspace pages (which I have linked above). I wish I had more time to write a nice review for each of them. It is going to have to suffice to say that the Iron and Wine is my favorite, if least commercial. Sam Beam obviously has more going for him than superb beard growing abilities. The Gonzalez is much like his first album, "Veneer"--same sweet nylon string guitar, same calming vocal tones, new melodies. The Stars album is the one that I think that may be the easiest to consume by a new audience: Very poppy, very dance-around-in-your-kitcheny. There are two vocalists, a man and a woman. The man's voice sounds like a less sanctimonious Morrissey, the woman's...hmm... like clean, unpasteurized goodness. So check it out.
A side note here, if you are not into buying music and you have a current school email address, may I suggest Ruckus as a way to (legally) stay up on most of the new stuff that is coming out?
A few other musical side notes (hehe, bad pun):
I went to this amazing show the other night. Andrew Bird--you gotta check this guy out. He used to play violin for that great old 90s band Squirrel Nut Zippers and he has "gotta little something new" going now. His two solo-solo albums: "The Mysterious Production of Eggs" and "Armchair Apocrypha" are really really great. But seeing him live just really blew it out of the water for me. It would take me an hour to write up a description of how he runs his show, so let me just say that with the aid of carefully cued delay petals, he is able to perform as a band--even though he is just one guy on a stage. It is amazing. Not only is he a classically trained violinist, he plays guitar, is am amazing vocalist, and (get this) a world class whistler. You heard me right: the man whistles like nobody I have ever heard.
Finally, I thought it would be fun the other day to listen to Stevie Wonder's "At the Close of A Century" four disc anthology all in one sitting. So I did. 5 hours straight Stevie...and man oh man. He is the best. I didn't just sit there and listen, mind you--I did other stuff. I taught my class, went to my seminars, etc. But the old Ipod stayed on the Stevie dial and ne'er did it deviate. (Come to think of it, I actually did the same thing except with the Foo Fighters--who also had a new album come out last Tuesday--a few weeks ago. That was fun too.)
I have thought it might be fun to approach some of my favorite artists this way--listen to whole catalogs at a time(even though the 5 hours of Stevie is hardly his whole catalog).
Imagine listening to the whole Cure catalog in one sitting, or the whole Beatles catalog (or Dave Matthews Band if you are M&B). It would be really fun, if you have the patience for that kind of thing, to pay attention to the trajectory of the music styles...especially in regards to when the music kind of flattens out and stops changing as much (as it almost always does). This may give way to interesting questions. Why, for example, did Stevie write his last big hit in the 80s? Why can't Sir Paul write another Blackbird or Yesterday? What happens?
Those questions left for you to ponder, it's amazing to me that modern technology even allows the multi-album marathon. As first uttered by the Reverend MC Hammer: Sweetness (is my weakness).
Update: New Radiohead next week! Guess what artist marathon is next on my list?