Archive for April, 2011

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Again, many months ago I was looking for some new music to listen to, became frightened of writing about it, and waited until now to post about it. A healthy schedule? Probably not. Anyway, what (or rather: who) I discovered was Kurt Vile. I decided to randomly move into the Pitchfork.tv waters and see if my internet at this encumbering school would allow me to watch music videos for once. This story would end right here if the videos didn’t work, but fortunately they did. I stumbled upon Kurt Vile’s performance in Pitchfork’s rooftop series, “Don’t Look Down”.

Hailing from Philadelphia (one more reason for me to like him), Kurt has a pension for ridiculously good acoustic guitar work, extremely laid back sounding yet emotive lyrics, and dawning a long unkempt pot-head mane. After being instantly wowed by the performance on a rooftop of Philadelphia on an obviously cold winter night, I decided to purchase Smoke Ring For My Halo on Amazon. I actually ended up liking the performances of the songs in the videos better than the recordings on the album. In the album I can only assume that it’s just a solo work, but the rooftop performances had a quite skilled full band and I liked that format better. Don’t get me wrong, the album is very solid. I do like both forms that his music has taken, but I definitely enjoyed the full band more. But besides the format issues, Kurt’s raw music is thought-provoking and contemplative. It’s a nice listen.

The important thing to get out of all of this is that I like Kurt Vile’s Smoke Ring For My Halo even if it’s not as good as the videos in my opinion (which you should definitely see).

Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo

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Iron and Wine in concert

Rather than bore you all with another ill-informed “album opinion”, I’ve chosen instead to bore you with a mostly irrelevant episode of my musical life. Well maybe not wholly irrelevant since I gave my opinion of Iron and Wine’s kiss each other clean a couple months ago, but irrelevant because it’s me.

Last night I had the opportunity to see Iron and Wine in concert. Despite an extremely rude, talkative, and drunk crowd at the Cleveland House of Blues (I saw the two buildings!), the show was awesome. They didn’t play any of their songs the way they appear on the albums; I actually liked that a lot. Their new arrangements were refreshing and still close enough that you could sing along and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Also, on several occasions they opened up some of the songs to some incredible jam sessions. Their saxophone player was phenomenal. Every musician on stage (it’s a 12 person band) was able to display exceptional improvisation. Sam Beam and his band truly own their music.

If the opportunity to see Iron and Wine live wasn’t enough, the group I went to see the concert with and I decided to wait around outside his tour bus until he boarded it. Yes. Yes, I know, that sounds like the epitome of crazy fandom. If it’s any consolation, there were two completely normal married couples waiting with us who we happened to bond with well. And no, that bond wasn’t just due to our shared psychopathy. In the end, we determined that all Iron and Wine fans are really nice (the Cleveland House of Blues audience were by this logic not fans). Anyway, after hours of waiting (makes us sound more crazy) Sam Beam made his way out of the building. He is one of the nicest guys I have ever met for five minutes about to make his way onto a tour bus on a relatively freezing cold day of Spring. He even pretended to care about my one friend’s ramblings about the tube amps he makes in his free time. Truly though, the guy was very cordial and I was quite surprised by his altruism.

Crazy fandom aside, the important thing to get out of all of this is that if you’re ever given the opportunity to see Iron and Wine in concert, do it; it’s awesome. And if you can wait a little while to meet Sam Beam, he’s a great guy to meet.

Sam Beam signing my ticket. Cell phone camera. His beard overtook technology and made the picture appear darker (at least that’s what I want to believe).

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Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine

As if I could really conjure an excuse for such a lack of posts, I will offer at least one. I was frightened. Truthfully I just didn’t want to write an opinion about an album when I believe my ability to do such is so…lacking. I decided it better to wait a couple of days before I wrote the post so that I could analyze the album better. Well, days turned into weeks, and then weeks turned into months. Those months rolled into years and then those years into centuries. Fortunately we develop time machines in the future, so I decided to crawl back into the 21st century to write this album opinion. The Bureau of Time Travel allowed me this opportunity, because they determined that my blog posts will have little consequence on the fabric of time – nobody actually reads this nor will lives be changed by doing so.

If I’m going to be honest I only actually like the two singles on this sophomore album by Toro Y Moi. His style is addictive, evocative, and addictive (yes, I said addictive twice, but I was having a hard time coming up with another “-ive” word and I’m severely lazy). It’s almost a nod to 80’s style whilst shaking my bones with effective Rhodes piano usage. I love me some good Rhodes piano (yes, a break from my usual, semi-formal banter). But besides the singles “New Beat” and “Still Sound” the rest of the album leaves me estranged. I just can’t get all the way behind it. I want to, but I guess I’m not indie enough.

Time travel aside, the important thing to get out of all of this is that I like (at least) two songs in Toro Y Moi’s Underneath The Pine.

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