Friday, April 20, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of April 20th, 2007)

This week has been Quite Musical, Gentle Reader, and for Some Strange Reason, I feel the need to discuss the musical side of my popular culture today.

Wait, let me explain.

There was a time in my life, perhaps as long as ten (!!!) years ago, that I truly had my finger on the pulse of the American and British musical scenes. Indie, of course, although I think we called it Alternative in those days. It Could Even Be Said that I was, yes, it’s true, Friends, a Musical Snob. I sneered down my nose at those In The Popular Know, and I took Great Pleasure in knowing the most obscure bands producing the most obscure tapes in the world.

Flash forward ten years, and I’ve settled, somewhat uncomfortably, in the first inklings of middle age. And now, the hipster students on campus sport band t-shirts with names with which I’m completely unfamiliar. How did this *happen*? I ask myself. When did I become so very divorced from the musical genre?

And it’s not completely true, I realize. But there was a time in my life when I actively would seek out new bands, and now, I’m lucky if a few fall in my lap. But this week, for many, various reasons, found me listening, Quite Intently, to new finds and old favorites. My playlist has been, I must admit, strange and varied this week, and I’ve even had the odd compulsion to burn a CD or make a mixed tape or two.

Yes, it’s true, Friends. It really has been That Kind of Week. Here’s a tiny sampling of my playlists over the past several days.

The Cold War Kids have topped my charts this week, and as I confessed to Mr. Reads yesterday, I find myself with Quite The Talent Crush on Nathan Willett. This kind of Talent Crush, I assured My Dear Husband, hasn’t happened for me since David Bowie reinvented himself in the mid-nineties. But the Cold War Kids, with their Billie Holiday and Tom Waits influence, with their Hedwig-and-Jeff-Buckley croons, have really sparked my admiration in a big way.

Midlake is another new favorite, and Roscoe is truly one of my favorite songs of the year (do understand, Gentle Reader, that I am An Academic; my years begin and end in August). Bonus, they’re from Denton, and I’ve always had a Soft Spot for bands from small university towns.

Amy Winehouse is a powerhouse of a singer, and she’s everything I love about Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Beth Gibbons in one voice. Her song “Rehab” has helped me bounce a bit in a week that has been, I’m sorry to say, decidedly lacking in bounce.

Death Cab for Cutie is a band that I just adore, and have for several years now. Plans may be their best album yet, and I can’t stop listening to “Soul Meets Body.” No, really, I can’t.

Zero 7 is another recent find, and it’s really as if Beth Gibbons found her protégé and gave her a microphone. But they’re not completely Portishead-like, and that small difference makes me enjoy them all that much more.

Jeremy Enigk (and the Fire Theft) is just about my favorite singer producing today. I was (and still am) a huge Sunny Day Real Estate fan, but for me, SDRE was less about the music and more about Enigk’s voice. I absolutely adore his voice, and I find that the music in his solo work and his work with The Fire Theft is far more interesting than his work with Sunny Day.

A few other honorable mentions this week: Martina Topley-Bird, Portishead, Jose Gonzales, Sun Kil Moon, Lily Allen (I can’t help it, really; I adore her), Tom McRae, Catherine Wheel (a true blast from the past for This Humble Author), and Beirut.

As always, Gentle Reader, please share your recommendations with me!

6 comments:

Matthew E said...

Are you just asking us what our favourite music is?

Well, that's easy.

My holy trinity consists of Buddy Holly, Little Willie John and (especially) Warren Zevon. I'd like to be more up on new music, but time and money do not permit. My goal for my musical collection involves collecting all 1104 songs listed in Dave Marsh's fine book The Heart of Rock and Soul (1001 in the original book, plus 102 more listed in the introduction to the 1999 edition, plus the one song he mentioned that would have been 1002nd on the original list). I'm most of the way there, but have really slowed down in recent years.

I believe you would benefit from checking out Blossom Dearie, if you're not already familiar with her. Recommended disc: 'Our Favorite Songs'.

Chris said...

Wow...we seem to have very similar music tastes. I love Jeff Buckley, Bowie, Billie Holiday, Zero 7, Deathcab...awesome post.

May I HIGHLY suggest a band by the name of Ours. Their first album, Distorted Lullabies, is one of my top 3 albums. Very Jeff Buckley-esque and they sound even better live. One of the best voices in music today.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Matthew,
Are you just asking us what our favourite music is?

Yes, I am :)

Well, that's easy.
My holy trinity consists of Buddy Holly, Little Willie John and (especially) Warren Zevon. I'd like to be more up on new music, but time and money do not permit. My goal for my musical collection involves collecting all 1104 songs listed in Dave Marsh's fine book The Heart of Rock and Soul (1001 in the original book, plus 102 more listed in the introduction to the 1999 edition, plus the one song he mentioned that would have been 1002nd on the original list). I'm most of the way there, but have really slowed down in recent years.


I know Buddy Holly, of course, but I don't know, offhand, your other two in the trinity. What kind of music are we talking?

I believe you would benefit from checking out Blossom Dearie, if you're not already familiar with her. Recommended disc: 'Our Favorite Songs'.

I'm not! Thanks for the rec!
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Chris,
Wow...we seem to have very similar music tastes. I love Jeff Buckley, Bowie, Billie Holiday, Zero 7, Deathcab...awesome post.

Thanks :) I'm also a HUGE Portishead and Mark Kozelek (of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters fame) fan.

May I HIGHLY suggest a band by the name of Ours. Their first album, Distorted Lullabies, is one of my top 3 albums. Very Jeff Buckley-esque and they sound even better live. One of the best voices in music today.

Thanks for the rec! I look forward to listening.
Ciao,
Amy

Matthew E said...

Little Willie John was an R&B guy from the '50s and early '60s. He did the original version of the song 'Fever', among many other great songs.

Warren Zevon was one of these California-singer-songwriter guys from the 1970s. Hung out with Jackson Browne and the Eagles and people like that. If you've heard of him at all it's for his song 'Werewolves of London', which was a reasonably big hit. He's got kind of a cult following, but didn't get much mainstream attention until just a couple of years ago, when he died of cancer and was rewarded with a Grammy. Did a lot of sardonic, intelligent, sensitive songs about death and mercenaries and doomed love and stuff like that.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Matthew,
Little Willie John was an R&B guy from the '50s and early '60s. He did the original version of the song 'Fever', among many other great songs.

Ah! Yes, I know him.

Warren Zevon was one of these California-singer-songwriter guys from the 1970s. Hung out with Jackson Browne and the Eagles and people like that. If you've heard of him at all it's for his song 'Werewolves of London', which was a reasonably big hit. He's got kind of a cult following, but didn't get much mainstream attention until just a couple of years ago, when he died of cancer and was rewarded with a Grammy. Did a lot of sardonic, intelligent, sensitive songs about death and mercenaries and doomed love and stuff like that.

I am familiar with Werewolves in London, but not any of his other work. I'll definitely check it out. Thanks!
Ciao,
Amy