Staff Picks: Music
Known widely for his collaborative work with director David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti’s movie and television scores are both haunting and beautiful, resulting in a stirring mix of ominous undertones splashed with gorgeous melodies. His most well known work is the Theme to the television show Twin Peaks but he’s also scored the films Blue Velvet, A Very Long Engagement, The City of Lost Children, The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive; all of which are fantastic movies filled with unique stories and oddball characters.
Music for film and television
I love to make music mixes for my friends. When I can get the response, “Wow I never would have listened to that song if it wasn’t on the mix you made me,” I feel like I have done my part to push good music out into the world. My seven year old daughter considers a good mix one in which you can roll down the windows and turn up the volume. Below is a playlist that consists of what I feel are the best tracks of the first six months of 2011. Mix it up and roll down your windows.
1. Weekend by Smith Westerns (Dye It Blonde)
2. Take Me Over by Cut Copy (Zonoscope)
3. Rolling In The Deep by Adele (21)
4. Sad Song by The Cars (Move Like This)
5. Discoverer by R.E.M. (Collapse Into Now)
6. Me, Me, Me by Middle Brother (Middle Brother)
7. Make Some Noise by The Beastie Boys (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
8. Dig A Little Deeper by Peter Bjorn and John (Gimme Some)
9. Don’t Carry It All by The Decemberists (The King Is Dead)
10. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars (Barton Hollow)
11. Sim Sala Bim by Fleet Foxes (Helplessness Blues)
12. Shadow of Love by Sloan (The Double Cross)
13. Helena Beat by Foster the People (Foster the People)
14. If I Wanted Someone by Dawes (Nothing Is Wrong)
15. Future Starts Now by The Kills (Blood Pressures)
16. Till I Get There by Lupe Fiasco (Lasers)
17. Damn These Vampires by The Mountain Goats (All Eternals Deck)
Stripping away all of the electric guitar distortion and big rock sound that has defined the majority of his substantial body of creative work, J. Masic’s new solo album Several Shades of Why showcases the immense talent that is cloaked within one of rock musics ultimate slacker personas. I’ve always considered Mascis (best known as lead singer of the mighty alt rock band Dinosaur Jr.) stylistically to be a sort of Neil Young of Generation X. And like Young’s singing, you either enjoy J.’s twangy rasp or it grates on your nerves after a matter of seconds. I happen to be in the first camp, so I was pleased to hear his vocals front and center on this his first solo effort. Mainly acoustic guitar driven and stripped to a bare minimum of added instruments, Several Shades of Why is beautiful in its simplicity and allows the quality of the songs and the talent of the performers to really shine.
Several Shades of Why
Kalamazoo's Arcadia Creek Festival Place has been a summer concert hot spot for many years now, hosting music artists storied for filling stadiums full of fans, now playing more frequently to modest-sized audiences. This summer, bands such as Great White, 38 Special, and Gin Blossoms take the Arcadia stage, adding (or returning) their names to the growing list of the venue's veteran performers.
While most fans will be cheering loudest for the big radio hits, in some cases they'll be getting earfuls of new sounds. Gin Blossoms, for example, released No Chocolate Cake late last year. None of its tracks are dominating the airwaves as their mid-'90's string of power-pop classics had, but some of its cuts will fit nicely alongside the more familiar songs in the band's setlist. Listeners need to be patient, as the disc is front-loaded with generic tracks that don't highlight the group's strengths (Byrdsy guitar lines, wistful lyrics, memorable vocal hooks). Those guilty pleasures make their appearance a few cuts in, with a couple of curveballs in the mix (check out the horn section on "Dead or Alive on the 405") that let you know the combo's not interested in settling for nostalgia-act status.
Even so, more than a few Arcadia concert-goers will be singing along to the songs they know best this summer. Mark those calendars and start getting those voices in shape!
No Chocolate Cake
I've discovered some of my favorite music and artists from watching television. When songs play in the background or at the start or end of a show, I often search for the lyrics online to find the name of the song and the performing artist. This has served me well. House and Fringe (as well as various commercials) have provided insight to artists and performers such as Massive Attack, Damien Rice, Editors, Langhorne Slim, and Ryan Adams.
When watching a recent episode of NCIS, Cote de Pablo's character, Ziva David, was singing Temptation--a Tom Waits creation. So, in true form, I went online to search for it to see where I could find a version of her singing it (beautiful rendition!). And, that is when I found that NCIS has two soundtracks available. I was able to easily check these two CDs out through our MeL interlibrary loan system.
While I recognized artists such as Jakob Dylan, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Keaton Simmons, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones, I was able to add artists such as Oasis, Blue October, and Sharon Little to my list of new folks to investigate.
NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack