Unfortunately for you I think my week in music could be summed up entirely by posting NBC’s Olympic theme(s). HOWEVER, I have left the house a few times (one time, I AM A HERMIT) and dipped my feet into some tunes that put a smile on my face. Hope they do the same for you!
There are some artists I could write about every week. They are a staple in my life; no matter my mood, my atmosphere, my state of mind, they are in constant rotation. Their music is vital to my existence ["Spense, that's intense! But I feel you," is what Alice Eve (just my girlfriend nbd) told me when I read this to her]. Everyone has sounds that they latch onto in the same way. They spark your mind, your heart, the same way a friend you speak with every day would (assuming you want to talk to that friend everyday). Sometimes you NEED to talk to them, some times you want to talk to them, other times it’s casual. My favorite artists are the same, I am drawn to their presence, either by craving, desire, or just a natural pull. Agnes Obel is one of those artists. She has a timeless sound; built by the past, but filled with so much wonder, it can’t help but vivify visions and curiosities of the future. It won't be hitched to any one era, it just exists. I love that.
Of course there are artists who do what she does, garner the same feelings that she does, but not with the consistency and definitely not with the intensity she does, at least for me. While her base is classical, it’s categorized officially as ‘chamber pop,’ but the only label I've found appropriate is beautiful.
I was trying to think of a good introduction track, but honestly, what better an introduction than just listening to her first album, Philharmonics. Simplistic yet consuming, she creates an atmosphere that's desirable in any environment, while not overwhelming you. I also added her latest single, "Familiar," the first track representing her third LP, Citizen of Glass, set to come out October 21st.
Young the Giant
Their latest album, and third LP, Home of the Strange, came out on Friday and I can’t stop listening. They keep fine tuning their sound, while also expanding it. It remains familiar but also feels completely fresh. I still have a few more listens, but my early assessment is that this is their most complete, and best, record. Their first album (self titled), while filled with excellent singles, played fairly broken, but by their second record they seemed to have found a formula to counter that, creating a nice flow throughout. That flow has been improved again with Home of the Strange. There isn’t a bad track on the album. Check in later this week for my full review, where I’ll repeat everything I said here and more!
The sound here is more a progression of the style they started on their previous record, Mind Over Matter, which was a rock based approach. Sameer Gadhia's voice is one of my favorites in music today. It works in any register and that rasp he gets when he yells?? Game over. This album is a gem.
Here's the second single released from the new record ("Something To Believe In") along with my favorite track from 2014's Mind Over Matter ("Camera").
I would assume the majority of you aren’t familiar with this Colorado based quartet. I'll start with the obvious, or maybe not obvious, I love them. With each member being is a multi instrumentalist, it gives them the ability to create a bigger, more complex sound than a traditional foursome. They haven’t released any new material since 2011, the masterful 100 Lovers (one of my all time favorite records…lets say top 30 for now). But don't worry, they've released five LPs since 2000, so you newcomers won't be short of material to work with.
Film fans might be familiar with some of their work; they were behind the majority of 2006’s indie hit Little Miss Sunshine’s soundtrack, featuring the track “How It Ends,” which has been used often in other platforms as well (most notably, I think, in the promotion for Xbox’s Gears of War 2). The bands sound is eclectic. I’ve always leaned toward labeling it as alternative-gypsy-rock with a classical influence. They have a very European feel, actually, they pull from quite a few international influences, so I guess I should say they present a worldly sound. They’ve put together a catalog that is truly diverse, and one that I will continue to listen to until my ears give up on me, which I pray is never. Whether or not they have a new record in the works remains a mystery, but I’ve got enough to hold me over until (hopefully) they do.
Here's a single from each of their last two records. Though I'd suggest just diving in and starting either album to get the best experience.
Has anyone I’ve know, besides my family, ever listened to this group? Seriously, I need to know, because we were meant to be together/ can't wait to duet to "Canto Alla Vita" at our wedding. I have truly never met another person on this planet who has even heard of them, let alone listened to them. This five piece group (three men, two women) came on the scene in 2004 with their first album, The Opera Band. That record, along with their second (and final) release, Defined, performed quite well internationally, producing successful tours following both releases. Unfortunately not successful enough to continue their journey, as they’ve since disbanded, some to pursue solo careers, while others for personal reasons.
Similar to a band you might be more familiar with, Il Divo, their style is pop-opera, which, is exactly what it sounds like; though it still sits heavily in the operatic corner (how “pop” can opera really get). For me, this was in introduction into a genre that I previously couldn’t stand. They took something that bored me and gave it a catchy, modern update, and that fusion thankfully found it’s way into my ears and created what has evolved into a much stronger appreciation of traditional opera and also deepened my love of classical music.
The two songs I've chosen represent both sides of their sound, the pop influenced (the aforementioned "Canto Alla Vita") and the traditional ("Aranjuez Ma Pensee").