Here's something new. Well, not really so new, but new for my diary.
I've been a subscriber to Paste magazine for years, now, and each month, they send out a sampler cd in their magazine, chock full of new music that they have found. It's usually indie stuff or just artists that aren't well know, yet. The subtitle of the magazine is "Signs of Life in Music, Film and Culture." I highly recommend the magazine.
So, I decided that, starting with this issue, I'm going to give my opinions of the tracks that they chose to include on their sampler. This cd is number 44 and has 21 tracks on it. So here we go!
1. "Red Wine," by Izza Kizza. Honestly, this was almost enough to cause me to throw the cd out. I wish they wouldn't put a track like this as number one on the cd, but I also realize that it's all a matter of taste. There are probably some who will like this. Just not me. I'm not even sure what genre it's supposed to be. Some kind of weird reggae, I guess, and I'm not really a fan of reggae, anyway. So...no stars for the first song. I guess I'm using a five star system for rating, here. Kind of going on the fly.
2. "I'm Amazed," by My Morning Jacket. I'm pretty sure this band is featured on the cover. I've heard of them, but this is the first time I've heard their music. The cover says, "Ferocious Concerts. Die-Hard Fans. A Fearless New Record. MY MORNING JACKET Can't Be Stopped." Hm. Bet they can. However, I really like this track. It's good rock music, in my opinion. Album is Evil Urges. There's even a guitar solo toward the end of the song! 4 stars.
3. "Always A Friend," by Alejandro Escovedo. Upon my first listening to this track, my initial thought was, "Did Bruce Springsteen change his name??" We already have a Bruce Springsteen. We don't need another one. Honestly, this song sounds like a clone of Springsteen. Even the music behind the song sounds like one that Springsteen would have written. The album is called Real Animal. If the rest of the tracks are as unoriginal as this one, I would change it to Cloned Animal. No stars.
4. "Hologram," by Katie Herzog. I've never heard of her before, but I like this track. The album is called Apple Tree. Nice sound, and I like the song. I want to hear some more of the songs from this album, so I'll be checking to see if she's on Yahoo! Music Unlimited or eMusic.com. 3 stars.
5. "Two Ways Out," by Darker My Love. from 2. I really like this band. I've got their first cd on my laptop from Yahoo! Music Unlimited. Singer has a rather deep voice, most of the time. Nice harmonies in this track. I'm anxious to hear the rest of the cd. There's another band that they resemble, but for the life of me, I can't place it right now. 4 stars.
6. "Inside A Boy," by My Brightest Diamond. From a thousand shark's teeth. I haven't heard of this group before. Female lead singer. Musically, it's not bad. But I'm not sure about the vocals. Sounds like she has too many teeth. Does that make sense?? Probably not. But there's a particular way that the "s"-s come out. Ok. I've just done a little research. The lead singer, Shara Worden, is classically trained, with an opera degree from, of all places, the University of North Texas! Right in my back yard, eh? I need to listen to some of the other tracks on the album to have a better judgment, here. Again, musically, I like this track a lot. I'd like to hear some more of Shara's singing. For now, it's 3 stars, with a potential of more if it grows on me.
7. "Around the World," by The Death Set, from Worldwide. After three hearings, this song still sucks, big time. Sounds like it's mostly keyboard-driven, with minimal sounds. I think there's only one chord in the song. Oops...there's another one. Two chords. The lyrics are completely unintelligible. Sounds like several guys all going "yahyahyahyahyahyah." It's boring, unimaginative, and unoriginal. In fact, I can't find anything good to say about it at all. Except that it's finally over. No stars. Wait. -5 stars. I can do that. It's my rating system.
8. "You, Me & The Bourgeoisie," by The Submarines, from Honeysuckle Weeks. Hah. I love this song. It's so happy! And it sounds very late 60's early 70's! Female lead singer sounds with nice vocals. It has a nice message, too, about choosing love and choosing life. It's a duo, male and female, made up by John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard. I'm guessing Blake is the girl, since I don't know any girls named John. Apparently, they used to be a couple? Are they again? I dunno, but I love this song, and want more. My first 5 star vote for this sampler!
9. "Where & When," by Hayden, from In Field & Town. This song has an unusual beat to it. It feels like 4, but the snare hits every three beats. It just feels weird. I'm not really crazy about his vocal styling, either. It's not bad. But the voice a little weak. It's "folky sounding." Oh, there's a trumpet solo. Wait, two trumpets. That's not a solo, is it? I don't like trumpets in folk music. And they're just kind of "wandering" around. Kind of random. And the song just kind of stops. It doesn't really end. Just stops. Meh. 2 stars.
10. "Hard Livin'," by Railroad Earth, from Amen Corner. This is a nice track. How do I describe it? It's kind of, wow. Bluegrass, southern rock? With horns. I like it. Yeah. The vocalist has a bit of a Skynyrd sound to him. Yeah. I like this track. I'll be looking for more from this band. 5 stars.
11. "Freeway," by Aimee Mann, from @#%&! Smilers. Ah, Aimee. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Aimee has been plugging along with these solo albums since her early days with Till Tuesday. I kind of like her, but my real gripe is that all her stuff sounds the same. This song sounds just like all the songs on the previous two albums of hers that I have. She just doesn't change at all. But I guess she doesn't have to. It's not a bad sound. But it's always pretty disgruntled. I'm thinking Aimee is a pretty unhappy person, if you listen to her songs. I do remember one scene where she was brought on to play a gig at The Bronze on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. She had the honor of being the first (perhaps only) musical act on the show that ever got to actually say a line. Her line? "I hate playing vampire towns." But I digress. I will give this track 3 stars, just because I still respect Aimee.
12. "Dream," by Priscilla Ahn, from A Good Day. This is a nice piece. It's quiet, relaxing and zzzzzzzzzzzz....just kidding. But it is that kind of song. Very acoustic. Lots of strings. Mellow voice, very soothing. Calming. I like it. This seems to be very positive. 4 stars.
13. "Listen," by Amos Lee, from Last Days At The Lodge. With a name like Amos Lee, how could it be anything but country? It's not bad, though. (I'll try not to offend any of you that like country music...) This songs has a pretty good sound to it. Whoa! Doyle Bramhall, Jr. plays on the album. Does that make it blues? There is a little bit of bluesy flavor to it, I'll admit that. I'm kind of unsure about it at the moment, and would like to hear more of his stuff. 3 stars.
14. "Testify," by Carney, from Nothing Without You. Starts out sounding suspiciously like "Run Through the Jungle." Then this husky female voice comes tearing through it. Yowzah! Found the website...heh. The girl looks rather Goth. But the music. Wow. It's kind of hard to describe. There's this really distorted guitar solo in the middle. It's definitely rock. I like her voice. Holy crap! I don't think that's a girl! Man. I haven't been fooled like that since I heard Kill Hannah. I guess the girl on the front page of the website is just a picture...I'm so confused...My apologies to the lead singer. Well, whatever, I still like the band. This song is kind of eerie. Like I said, the beginning and ending riffs are reminescent of Creedence and "Run Through the Jungle." 5 stars. Plus a bonus star for tricking me.
15. "Bang My Drum," by Daniela Cotton, from Rare Child. Black country singer. Unusual. At least it sounds country to me. And the title refers to what she is going to do, not an invitation to bang her drum. It's kind of a "survival" song. You can push her down, but she'll keep singin' her songs and bangin' her drum. I kind of like it, actually. She's got a good, strong voice, and the message is pretty positive. And she plays a Rickenbacker!! Wow. That gets her an extra star in my book. 5 stars.
16. "Oh No," by Kaisercartel, from March Forth. The name comes from the two members, Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel. I kind of like that. It's cute and clever. Musically, this track is very indie sounding. I'm a little unsure how much I like it, but it is interesting. Has a bit of folky sound to it. I guess they are a couple, too. At this point, I'll give it 3 stars, but it could grow on me some more.
17. "Beyond the Pale," by Scott Kempner, from Saving Grace. This track begins with a single electric guitar and the vocalist, who has a slightly deep, husky voice. Nice vocal, though. Very folky, if not country, but the vocal doesn't sound country. The song builds, texture-wise as it progresses. Has a guitar solo in the middle. I think I like it. 3 stars.
18. "How Am I To Be," by The Watson Twins, from Fire Songs. This is a debut release from a pair of identical twin sisters, Chandra and Leigh Watson. It's kind of hard to categorize, genre-wise. Kind of folky-pop. I'm not crazy about it. 2 stars.
19. "Carbon-Dated Love," by I See Hawks In L.A., from Hallowed Ground. First of all...that's a really dumb name for a country band. I'm sorry. It just is. This is way too country for me. The vocals aren't bad, and they harmonize pretty well. But this is full-blown country, complete with wailing fiddles and steel guitars. Nice steel solo, I'll give them that. I'll give them 3 stars, not because I like them, but because, as country goes, it's not bad. (Trying to be a fair reviewer, here...)
20. "Saint C3cilli4," by Sunlight in Architecture, from Sunlight in Architecture. I don't know about this. They sound drunk. And they put numbers in the name of their song, which makes me expect to hear rap or hip-hop. It couldn't be much further from rap or hip-hop, thank God. But I don't think I like it very much. It's sloppy. There's not much to it, musically. On the other hand, it's kind of trippy-folky. The sloppiness of the vocals makes the lyrics hard to understand. 2 stars. I want to hear some other music by this band, though.
21. "The Poor House," by The Boxmasters, from The Boxmasters. Argh. More country. This one even starts with what appears to be another recording (you can hear the record-scratches) of a steel guitar solo. Then the real song starts with, surprise! A steel guitar solo. Not a good track to finish the cd with, in my opinion. I See Hawks was better. 2 stars. And the final note of the track is kind abruptly cut off.
There you have it. At some point, I might try to listen more intently to the lyrical content of these tracks to see if there is some wisdom in the lyrics. Some songs seem to be deeper than others. I don't know if anyone will find this to be of any value or not, but, hey. That's what we do on Diaryland, anyway, isn't it? We write stuff and hope that somewhere, someone will get something out of it.
But, as always, there are quite a few really good tracks on this sampler, and I will seek out more songs by the same artists with which to populate my mp3 player (which, by the way, is an iRiver, rather than an iPod).
So, now I guess I will do some work (if I can find any to do...it's really slow here on Thursday nights) and listen to the new Coldplay album, Viva La Vida.