Staff Picks: Music
I just love the sedate, retro vibe of the soundtrack to the oddball film Beginners; the Mike Mills directed roman a clef about his relationship with his widowed father. Old blues and jazz from the 1920’s (Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Hoagy Carmichael, and Josephine Baker) are prominently featured as well as a French horn driven suite by J.S. Bach. Interfiled between the throwback gems are several touching, original scores by Dave Palmer and Roger Niell. The back and forth tone of the film, from light hearted to melancholic, are sensibly reflected in this quirky collection. Oh, and by the way, check out the movie. It appears on our Best of 2011 list.
Beginners [sound recording] : the original motion picture soundtrack
Fans of Canadian singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen are anxiously awaiting the release of Leonard’s new release, Old Ideas, his 12th studio album and his first since 2004. With a career that spans more than four decades and fresh from almost three years of relentless touring, Cohen (now 77) presents a new body of work that is as introspective and intensely sweet as anything he’s done to date. Somewhat reminiscent of recordings by the late John Campbell, the album’s dark bluesy feel and Cohen’s deep-throated growl puts this release in a class with recent works by Tom Waits and Bob Dylan—dark, sure, but reassuringly soothing and warm.
Old Ideas is scheduled for release on January 31st, so reserve your copy now. Can’t wait to hear it? NPR lets you listen to Old Ideas in its entirety right now! Go give it a listen. Sometimes, Old Ideas are some of the best ideas.
My first exposure to the music of the Fruit Bats was from watching the movie Our Idiot Brother. Lead singer Eric D. Johnson’s fresh rendition of the hammy Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Ole Oak Tree led me to their record Tripper. Textured folk rock melded to catchy, Beatlesesque melodies (see: The Shins) is what the Bats bring to the table. There’s nothing particularly pioneering about Tripper, nothing that will blow your mind, but sometimes you’re not always going to be in the mood for creative complexity and artistic innovation. Sometimes you just want a catchy jam to get stuck in your head. For other groups who aren’t necessarily re-inventing the musical wheel but who continue to make smart, appealing records worthy of your I-Pod, see: The War on Drugs, Real Estate, Dr. Dog, Vetiver, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Here's one of the best tracks from Tripper and a stylistic nod to 1980's videos.