02 December 2008

MySpace Rundown: Montana Skies

Montana Skies is maybe part of indie music rediscovering stringed instruments other than the guitar, or maybe a sign that this rediscovery is waning. They have a nice sense of structure--a similar feel for the architecture of string music as, say, Calexico--but end up somehow more genre-bound, in a schizophrenic sort of way.

They often come close to sounding promising: Canyon Breeze has a simple and almost compelling base line, but remains placidly in the easy listening category; Another Brick in the Wall starts out with drive and energy but loses momentum before it ends. Eventually, though, each song seems to fit into the dreamy-sweeping category, or the folksy-bouncing category, with not much in between.

I get the idea that they would put on a lovely, engaging live show; but somehow there's no real reason to listen to their recorded music instead of other, less binary fare. With a little more contrast, a little more harshness or nuance, and a little less sweep, they could be much more compelling.

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Earworm: "Wild Horses" by The Sundays

First, I would just like to say that I am now Dr.Queen of Sheba. Thank you.

This one goes in the category of unexpectedly lovely covers--who would've agreed that The Sundays would do beautiful justice to a Rolling Stones song? It's like agreeing that it would be good to make a movie out of a Disney ride, or to put Keanu Reeves in a dystopian cyberpunk epic; it seems a terribly improbable proposal. But I think maybe being The Rolling Stones distracted the actual Rolling Stones from making Wild Horses as it wanted to be. Nothing else in The Sundays' repertoire quite seems to measure up--their other songs are lovely but insubstantial; but achieving aesthetic rightness is nothing to sneeze at, even once.
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04 June 2007

Earworm: Bob Schneider - Wish

Bob Schneider used to be a favorite of mine, in the years right after college; I haven't listened to him much lately, but Wish off of Songs Sung & Played on the Guitar came up on random the other day, and it was arresting. It's a wispy, insubstantial song, but the understated grotesquerie of the opening image saves it from being saccharine. It's not as cutting as some of Schneider's other lovely, acidly melancholy songs like The King of the World, but striking nonetheless.

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31 May 2007

Milquetoast @ Hennesy's Upstairs

So I've been honored to be asked by the Queen to help keep the blog moving while she plugs away at the dissertation. Although I'm very good at being opinionated, this is my first time telling the rest of the world what to think, so please bear with me while I get the hang of this blogging thing.

As an introduction, I'll start off with the show that I went to last night. There were a number of bands, but, we went out to see Milquetoast to see what the Queen was on about.

They were very competent. The lead singer started of with a solo guitar that reminded me a little bit of Chris Cornell's solo work (although without the distinctive vocal style.) It was nice, and it was interesting to see how he led in, but it didn't grab the crowd. It wasn't until the cellist came up a few songs later that the show really started to move.

The musical styling moved all over from a Tom Waits influenced waltz, to more classic blues riffs, but the musicianship was quality throughout. In fact, so good was the cellist that she made me truly believe that the cello is the most underrepresented instrument in modern music. After I left, I came somewhat to my senses, and realized I must have had one too many Stellas, but it doesn't diminish the depth and breadth that Robin lends to what might otherwise be a fairly tame set.

That's not to knock the composition. I though that Jimmy's songwriting and composition was very solid with occasional gems (the Tom Waits-like waltz comes to mind.) The music also covered a very broad spectrum without getting spread too thin, which I felt was a nice accomplishment.

Finally, like the musical styling, the stage presence was also a bit erratic; which mostly worked. Jimmy had enough charisma to keep the audience with him through a meandering slightly sappy dedication to his mom, and the rest of the time he was entertaining and funny without resorting to stand-up.

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24 April 2007

ATSS Goes Dark

Due to impending dissertation proposal, ATSS will be dark for a while. I'll be back when I can!

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10 April 2007

Myspace Find: Plushgun's EP

Plushgun, who I've mentioned earlier, has an EP up for listening (though not downloading or buying) on Myspace. I'm inclined to be disappointed; the energetic beat of Just Impolite camouflaged the tremendous sentimentality of the vocals, and new tracks "The Dark in You" and "An Aria" aren't nearly as balanced. I'm going to be the ravenous fan and demand more before I make up my mind; you may notice that it's the same mp3 and the same image between the two entries. That's all there is! For the degree of polish in the music, there's oddly few materials available. I'd really like to see Plushgun get some kind of production deal and have enough of a presence that I can finally make up my mind about them!

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09 April 2007

Earworm: Jens Lekman - Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song

Last winter there was about a seventy percent chance that Jens Lekman would be an earworm at some point in the day; but on going back to him now, I find him uneasily precious most of the time. Melodious and soothing and well-constructed, generally, but very precious. This morning, though, I woke up with the twee twinkling opening of Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song echoing in my head. It's from an EP called Rocky Dennis, which apparently led to some confusion about whether the artist was named Rocky Dennis or Jens Lekman, which was resolved by this song. Now all I have to do is find out why Jens has a thing about the main character in Mask.

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04 April 2007

VS: Rilo Kiley and Neko Case

I remember reading somewhere--Phoenix? Dig?--that there are some who have created a rivalry of redheaded-alt-country-singers between Neko Case and Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley); which seems kinda foolish, since everybody can have both. Neko Case was my first exposure, and I was addicted almost immediately: the loping grace in Star Witness was unarguable. The whole of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was similarly stellar, and since the Rabbit Fur Coat tracks that I'd heard failed to grab me, I figured Neko'd won. But then Last.fm starting playing me Rilo Kiley songs, they're now back on more of an even par; A Man/Me/Then Jim is particularly compelling.

Neko has more strength in her sound, but Jenny tends to be more willowy; Neko's lyrics are more likely to be reflective and Jenny's bitter; Neko's more consistent, but Jenny sings with Postal Service! How does anyone choose?

Luckily, no one has to.

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