Staff Picks: Music
I’ve always thought of Neil Young as the Miles Davis of rock and roll because of his prolific career and the way in which he has embraced different musical styles and genres while inventing a few along the way (not always with the best results). The plaintive lyricism and beauty of his work during the early 1970’s is on display with classic albums “After the Gold Rush”, “Harvest” and “On the Beach”. There’s no better example of Young’s hushed and deeply personal laments during this time period then his “Live at Massey Hall” album from 1971. This album is a lovely soundtrack to the emergence of fall weather and color. Unearth that dusty cardigan, grab a cup of coffee and watch the early morning sun rise from behind the auburn and burnt umber landscape of autumnal Michigan.
Live at Massey Hall 1971 [sound recording]
I was one of the luckiest people in the world last night. I witnessed a concert by the Icelandic quartet that moved me and left me quite speechless. The music ranged from quiet, choir-like musings to heart-pounding, floor-shaking numbers. When the four serious, professional, multi-talented musicians gathered around the organ and the lights ebbed and glowed in rhythm with their notes, it was a truly beautiful moment. Everyone should get to witness such a moving event. Check out the music of sigur rós to bring home a piece of that magic.
Contemporary electronic music may not be everyone's cup of tea, and the ever-changing multitude of subgenres can make even the most hardcore music lover's head spin. The offshoot known as minimal techno or microhouse can be particularly difficult to enjoy due to an extremely repetitive, "less is more" philosophy. German musician Axel Willner, aka The Field, creates loop-based songs that manage to break free from the coldness that characterizes much of the rest of the genre. Layering dozens of tiny bits of sound like the skip of a needle in a record's groove or a single syllable of a vocalist from a long-forgotten song, Willner makes meditative, propulsive music with a surprising amount of emotional depth. While on a surface listen the songs may sound static and repetitive, a deeper listen reveals an almost fractal-like range of tiny noises building up to a larger whole. Despite the use of a 4/4 time signature on most of the songs, The Field's music is meditative as it is energetic, and it's this mix of ambience and ceaseless energy that makes From Here We Go Sublime so fascinating.
From Here We Go Sublime
What distinguishes the Avett Brothers from their alt-folk peers is how seamlessly they weave together various musical genres and traditions without it sounding derisive or lodged within the unforgivable sins of retro-parody. Synthesizing rock, country, folk, and pop together within an economical songwriting framework that neither sounds fixed to the past nor particularly contemporary, situates their beautifully-crafted songs of broken hearts and lost love on the cultural shelves next to other artists (The White Stripes e.g.) who deftly balance both their respect for tradition with their impulse to creatively advance new forms. For beginners, try their album “Emotionalism”.
Weezer once again proves they know what makes good music. Each song on this album has a different feel and each will stay with you (to your delight)! "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" showcases the melodic talents of the group, while fans of the older tunes will love the rhythms of "Pork and Beans" and "Troublemaker."
The Red Album
After I joined a gym about a month ago, I decided I needed to find some upbeat music to keep me motivated while exercising. I lucked out when I discovered Santogold. Santogold's music is a pop-punk throwback to the best of the 1980s, and perfect if you want something fun to sing along with.