Monday, March 31, 2014

The Civil Wars

Have you ever heard a song so beautiful it almost hurt, but in that weirdly poetic way that it feels good to feel at all and be alive and know that there is good in the world? That's how I feel about The Civil Wars. Whew. I don't listen to them often, but I never regret it when I pluck their album from my collection and just let it play (like, right now).

The Civil Wars are a folk duo that has great range, even if their work is very simplistic. They could play anything and excel. But they've chosen folk and done a wonderful job with it. Joy Williams has an undeniably beautiful voice, complemented wonderfully by John Paul White's grittier vocals and guitar work. The music isn't complex but it still packs a punch. Word on the street is that they've broken up - I'm not sure if that's as a band or a couple? - but if that's true, that's unfortunate, but they would certainly be ending on a high note. And then they become one of those legendary duo's that kept it short and simple and in my book, could do no wrong... not a bad thing. (Although I would be overjoyed if it was all just a myth and we have more to look forward to instead!)

(photo source)

Best Song:
Although I do enjoy the softer side of folk, my personal favorites have a rock edge to them. "Barton Hallow" from the album of the same name certainly fits in that camp (see also "I Had Me a Girl" from The Civil Wars). If you like it a bit more mellow then check out "To Whom It May Concern" and "The One That Got Away" (probably their most popular single; and I would say that was a good choice. I don't think it's my favorite, but damn, if it doesn't get stuck in my head. I'll sing that sucker for days after hearing it.)

Oh! And I can't forget -- "Billy Jean". And you're like, wha? The Michael Jackson song? YES. And they kickass. I'm usually on the fence about covers. Even if I like them, I still prefer the original in most cases. But this time, I think they did better than MJ. I did not make this decision swiftly or take it lightly, but I stand by it. Considering the appearance on songs appearance on both their LP Barton H0llow and the EP Between the Bars, I think they know they did a damn good job too.

Listen Now:

"Barton Hollow"

"Poison & Wine"


"Billie Jean"


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Smiths

Okay. Disclaimer time. I only recently "discovered" The Smiths, but I am nothing if not a huge fan (like, within months found myself getting my first tattoo of lyrics from "I Know It's Over")... so it seems like a good place to start, right?!

So, The Smiths. Although there are other members of the band, it's most famously comprised of (Stephen) Morrissey and Johnny Marr. And it's bloody brilliant. The Smiths is one of those bands that when you hear about them, the fans are all moody and dark, and you're like "man, that must be one really hardcore band. yikes..." But it's not. Don't let them kid you. Although don't get me wrong, it's dark subject matter at times, but it's usually paired with a beautiful sound, and that is most of why I love them. It's like rock poetry. Morrissey's voice is hypnotic and rich, and Marr's guitar work is so innovative and insane...gah, LOVE it.

(photo source)

Best Song:
HA. Like I'm going to be able to answer that... okay, I'm going to try... kind of. The best album is absolutely "The Queen is Dead," hands down. On that album, "Frankly Mr. Shankly" was probably most charming and catchy and got me to listen to it on repeat. (If you've heard it before, don't judge.)... But now, I would say I love "I Know It's Over" the best personally; but musically I think "Some Girls are Biggers than Others" is most interesting. (In fact, my music player just shuffled to it, and I'm very excited about that. So good! I stand by my claim...) And that's just for that album...

And we can't ignore the elephant in the US room -- "How Soon is Now." This is the one that when you start listening to The Smiths, you're like "OOOOH, that's these guys!" I had always loved that song (mostly from The Wedding Singer, ha!), but  I've always (sadly, and unfortunately semi-accurately) considered it their one-hit-wonder...which it kind of was on this side of the pond... anyway. It's a wonderful intro, but as other Smiths fans will tell you, it's not really like anything else they created. The guitar is freakin' amazing, and incredibly noticeable, but really once you dig deeper into their discography, it's okay that they didn't recreate that sound again. The rest of it is all solid on it's own. In fact, I am willing to admit - to make a point - that I just had to google the song's name, because I couldn't remember it. It's just not their best. It's wonderful, don't get me wrong, and I own it a couple times over from their collections, but it's just not their me.

Listen Now:

"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"



Obligatory Introduction

So, A Music Education...

What is it?
This is not Music 101. I won't teach you anything about music theory, scales and the like, musical instruments, or music quality (although I'm working on becoming an "audiophile," but not one of the snobby ones...) This is music APPRECIATION.

No really, what is it?
Once a week or so, I'm going to share here one of my favorite bands/artists/musicians, little factoids, why I love them, maybe a picture, or Youtube video... you get the idea. And when I say "favorite" I don't mean this is going to be some sad thing obsessed with Nickelback. Heck no. I think it's fair to say I have diverse taste - both eclectic and popular, peppy and morose, instrumental and otherwise, are all welcome to my ears (although my range for appreciation is wide, do not be mistaken to thinking it's not discerning.)

Okay, but what's in it for me?
A life of silence just sounds unbearable, and unbelievable. I think everyone has something they listen to musically, even if infrequently. And I don't claim to be an expert. But I do listen to quite a bit, and have views that are as worthy of sharing as anyone else (this is the internet for goodness sake!). I just hope to share what I know with the people I know in a easily distribute-able format, and maybe help someone find an artist that really inspires them that perhaps they would have otherwise ignored.

If there is an artist that you particularly loathe, go ahead and skip my views, or read it to may learn why someone wouldn't loathe them. I don't care. I won't put up with bashing though, let me be clear (although I don't anticipate that level of readership anyway). If it's someone maybe you've heard of but haven't heard, I encourage you to check it out. Even if you don't like it, at least it'll give you greater context for the next time you hear about them. Not a bad thing...

Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Rock on!