Monday, June 14, 2010

What I'm Listening To June 4 - 10, 2010

1. The Californian - Sea of Love EP (self release - Gold State Music)

2. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop)

3. The Henry Clay People - Somewhere On the Golden Coast (TBD Records)

4. The New Pornographers - Together (Matador)

5. The Hectors - Sometimes They Collide EP (Tarantism Records)

6. Everest - On Approach (Vapor Records)

7. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop)

8. Matt Pond PA - The Dark Leaves (Altitude Records)

9. Vetiver - Tight Knit (Sub Pop)

10. mewithoutYou - Catch For Us the Foxes (Tooth & Nail Records)

The Californian EP continues to dominate my listening, just can't get enough of those four songs. I was happy to run into lead singer, John Graney, at Spaceland during The Henry Clay People show last Tuesday and tell him, again, how much I want more, and he assured me there will be a full length, sooner rather than later. Speaking of The Henry Clay People, and their new CD, Somewhere on the Golden Coast, I only picked it up at the show on Tuesday and in three days it managed to climb to my number three position. It's an expertly produced , fast-paced 33 minute CD that goes by so quickly, you believe the band has stumbled onto the ability to make time move faster. Neat trick, guys. (Can you fold space also?)

Avi Buffalo is the album I keep coming back to in order to center myself. It's like jumping in the ocean and clearing all the cobwebs away. And I keep hearing new things in the arrangements that make me say, "Wow, how did they know to do that?".

Also at The Henry Clay People show I picked up a complimentary copy of The Hectors EP and it's a winner. I never realized how much Corinne Dinner's vocals can remind you of Stevie Nicks and Nico Case, but the recording also reveals a tight band playing smooth, jangly indie rock. I was sorry I arrived too late to see their set that night, but I won't miss the next one.

I bought two new CD's that are burning their way into my brain and I think they're both pretty extraordinary. As a huge fan of Blitzen Trapper's last two releases, I picked up Destroyer of the Void the day it was released, and I'll admit I was a little disappointed on the first listening. It didn't seem to have the immediate appeal or amazing melodic hooks I was expecting. WRONG. I kept going back to it and with familiarity came appreciation. And with appreciation came lots of respect for the band's daring. It's still filled with the amazing Northwestern folk sound that permeates that area and that I love so much, but with a compositional sophistication I find hypnotically stimulating. It's also beautiful and moving, with lyrics that tell of fables that sound as if they've always been a part of the national landscape.

The other purchase was The Dark Leaves by Matt Pond PA, their seventh full length. This was one of the bands that got me back into rock and roll, back in the middle of the dark Bush years (2005), when music became such an important force in my life. Because of a video I saw for "Closer" from Emblems, I went on a mad search trying to find anything by this band that reminded me, slightly, of Fleetwood Mac, but with a distinctive style all their own. You have to realize, this was back when I'd only heard about ten current bands and after twenty years I didn't really know my way around the rock and roll section of a record store. I could never find any Matt Pond PA under 'M' or 'P' and figured, maybe they were so independent they weren't available in stores. I went to Arons, Virgin, Tower Records and Amoeba (only Amoeba is still with us) and finally at a Wherehouse (also gone) I found a Matt Pond PA selection on a soundtrack for some TV show called O.C. Getting it home it turned out to be a cover of an Oasis song called "Champagne Supernova". I liked the song as performed by Matt Pond PA, but I'd never heard of Oasis. (And I probably never will) Anyway, when I got to the third song on that album, it was "Fortress" by Pinback and my world changed in about four minutes. I repeated the song about seven times, realizing I was hearing music I had always wanted to hear but hadn't discovered until this moment. There's something unexplainable and unknowable about why some music strikes you the way it does, when it just feels right. Like every note is in it's exact proper place, and you're imagining this music as you're hearing it. Like Bach. That's been my relationship with Pinback ever since.

This has turned into a ridiculously long discussion on a very minute point, so let's just say, I found a bunch of Matt Pond PA CD's over the years and have seen them numerous times in concert, but I think The Dark Leaves may be their crowning achievement. There's great variety in the writing and their typical clean playing makes every song count. I can't elaborate until I've heard it more, but so far it's really growing on me.

Because I saw both of them last week, I listened to Tight Knit by Vetiver and mewithoutYou's Catch For Us The Foxes, which is a mind blowing album. And it was a mind blowing concert.


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