Tag Archives: The Bird and the Bee

Wrapping Up 2009: Jandy’s Favorite Music

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This is probably the first year that I’ve listened to enough current music that I feel comfortable making a top ten list. Some of my favorite bands released new records that I loved, a few released records that I don’t love as much as I wanted to, and I found a bunch of new bands that took me by surprise, overwhelmed me, and wouldn’t let me go. This list reflects both the bigger bands (though still not big by mainstream, stadium-going standards) and the local bands that I’ve grown to love – I’ll admit my bias for mixed-gendered bands with a focus on female vocals right now, because you’ll notice it anyway.

Ten Favorite Albums of 2009

10. Headlights – Wildlife

HeadlightsWildlife.jpgIf you like perfectly-crafted, sparkling pop gems, look no further than Headlights. I first found Headlights at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2007 – they were a breath of fresh air after a bunch of noisier, less-pleasant sounding bands, and I was an instant fan. Their first full-length album Kill Them With Kindness was on repeat for months. I didn’t care as much for follow-up Some Racing, Some Stopping, but they’re back on top with this year’s Wildlife. From the upbeat yet wistful longing of “Telephones” (“I wish I wasn’t so far from home…”) to the blissfully poppy “Get Going” to the mellow sadness of “Love Song for Buddy” (very depressing yet lovely video here), there’s so much to like about this album.

MP3: Headlights – Telephones

9. Obi Best – Capades

ObiBestCapades.jpgWhen I was checking out my Last.fm charts to see what I’d actually listened to the most this year, I was a little surprised to find that Obi Best was at about #4 of all 2009 music. But I shouldn’t be, really – they’re one of the LA bands that I try to seek out every time they play, because I really can’t get enough of leader Alex Lilly’s whimsical tunes. She also sings back-up for The Bird and the Bee, and you can see some of their influence on her unusual melodic progressions, but she’s really created something special of her very own with Obi Best (and the help of ubiquitous LA musicians Bram Inscore, Wendy Wang, and Barbara Gruska, each of whom are in a whole laundry list of bands). It may be a little twee for some, but I find myself liking it more and more every time I listen.

MP3: Obi Best – Swedish Boy

8. Karen O and the Kids – Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack

WTWTA.jpgI don’t care if it’s cheating to put a soundtrack on here, or that I’m giving Karen O extra love this year. Finding out that she was doing the music for Where the Wild Things Are was the thing that really got me interested in the film in the first place, I loved the soundtrack on hearing it before the film was released, and I’ll grant you that a decent portion of my love for the film is due to this music. It’s simply perfect, both on its own, and for the movie – a seamless melding of joy and sadness, comfort and freedom, all with a wild edge that I doubt anyone but Karen O could pull off with such panache. There are no good videos or clips that I could find to go with this one, so here’s one of the TV spots that features “All is Love,” the main theme. But the track that moves me the most is her cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Worried Shoes.”

MP3: Karen O and the Kids – Worried Shoes

7. Bat for Lashes – Two Suns

BatForLashesTwoSuns.jpgIt took me a while to warm up to Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan), and the aha moment didn’t really occur until seeing her live at Lollapalooza. Even though most people agree that an outdoor festival is not the perfect venue for her, it worked for me, and I look forward to seeing her in a more controlled, indoor venue at some point. Her ethereal voice soars whether she’s alone with a piano or surrounded by intricate instrumentation, melding the influences of her British/Pakistani heritage together into something wholly unique. Her music is enigmatic, and her persona parallels it, appearing innocent and down to earth in some moments and otherworldly and profoundly strange in others. She’s not someone to be easily overlooked or forgotten.

MP3: Bat for Lashes – Moon and Moon

6. Great Northern – Remind Me Where the Light Is

GreatNorthernRemindMeWheretheLightIs.jpgI was practically dragged to see Great Northern by a friend of mine, and now, here they are, on my top ten list. They’ve got the sort of sound that overwhelms you, especially live, coupled with a really unique timbre in Rachel’s voice that sets them apart from most other bands. I can’t seem to find a video that really captures their sound properly, but this stripped down radio station recording is my favorite of the ones that I found. They don’t perform acoustic usually, so take this and imagine it turned up to eleven with electric guitars and drums.

MP3: Great Northern – Mountain

Click through to see my top five, and few of my favorite live shows of the year.

Continue reading Wrapping Up 2009: Jandy’s Favorite Music

Music Thursday: Melancholia Mix

I was driving home one day last week, really tired after several days of late nights, and I needed a playlist of very calming, down-tempo, melancholy-type songs. And I liked what I came up with so much I decided to hammer it down into a mix. I’ve called it the Melancholia Mix because that most closely approximates the sound I was going for, but really, it’s not morose or depressing music – most of it honestly makes me smile. It’s the type of music that you’d listen to in the fall or winter when it’s raining softly outside and you have a fire in the fireplace and you’re curled up with a book or just staring into the flames with a cup of hot cocoa. It’s a very easy-going, very comforting mix. Which is pretty different for me, since I usually tend to pick upbeat songs for mixes. It’s cool, though, because I’ve gotten to choose a few songs from bands that normally do upbeat songs but this particular one happens to fit the theme – like Babyshambles and Mates of State.

Melancholia

Grab the whole mix in this zip file, or stream and download individual songs below (if you’re reading on Facebook, click through to my blog to stream the music). You can right-click > save on the artist/song title to download each song. Clicking on the album title will take you to Amazon.com [disclaimer: through my affiliate link] to buy the album (in MP3 format when available, on CD when not). If there’s no link on the album, it’s out of print or otherwise not available. If you like the music, please support the artists by buying their music and going to their concerts. If you are or represent one of these artists and would like the files removed, please contact me.

01 Amy Millan – Low Sail
(from Masters of the Burial, 2009)

02 The Beatles – Yesterday
(from Help!, 1964)

03 Belle & Sebastian – It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career
(from The Boy With the Arab Strap, 1998)

04 Broken Social Scene – Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl
(from You Forgot It In People, 2002; yes, this was on my last mix, too – what’s your point?)

05 Viva Voce – Midnight Sun
(from Rose City, 2009)

06 Architecture in Helsinki – Souvenirs
(from Fingers Crossed, 2003)

07 Elizabeth and the Catapult – The Rainiest Day of Summer
(from Taller Children, 2009)

08 The Libertines – Breck Road Lover
(from Demo, c. 1999)

09 Emma Pollock – The Optimist
(from Watch the Fireworks, 2007)

10 The Whispertown 2000 – Atlantis
(from Swim, 2008)

11 Karen O and The Kids – Worried Shoes
(from Where the Wild Things Are: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2009)

12 Babyshambles – Lost Art of Murder
(from Shotter’s Nation, 2007)

13 Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
(from Acid Tongue, 2008)

14 Citizen Helene – ‘Til Tomorrow
(from The Gilded Palace of Gin, 2007)

15 Bat for Lashes – Moon and Moon
(from Two Suns, 2009)

16 Metric – London Halflife
(from Grow Up and Blow Away, 2001/2007)

17 Neko Case – I Wish I Was the Moon
(from Blacklisted, 2002)

18 Angie Mattson – Thank You
(from Given to Sudden Panic and Hasty Retreat, 2007)

19 Mates of State – Nature and the Wreck
(from Bring It Back, 2005)

20 The Submarines – Clouds
(from Declare a New State!, 2006)

21 Rilo Kiley – 85
(from The Initial Friend EP, 1999)

22 The Bird and the Bee – Lifespan of a Fly
(from Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, 2008)

*photo by fotologic

Current Obsessions Mix 9-6-09

Every once in a while I put together a mix that’s unthemed other than it’s what I’m into at the moment. Okay, that’s actually what most of my mixes are. Usually I just make them and foist them off on people and say HERE LISTEN TO THIS IT’S AWESOME because I’m egomaniacal like that. But this time, my friend Lis specifically asked me for one, so this one is specifically stuff that I’m into right now that I know she doesn’t have. Other than, like, Rilo Kiley, who she’s really into but she doesn’t have this one because it’s a non-album track. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, I’m giving her an actual burned copy, but I figured why not share it here as well. Just a snapshot of what I’m listening to in September 2009. Not all of them are new, some of them are from older albums; others are from upcoming albums. The main criteria is I love them *right now*.

Preview or download individual songs below, or grab the whole mix here: September ’09 Mix zip file. Order in the mix is based on how they sound good. :)

As always, .mp3s are provided for sampling purposes. If you like the artist, please support them by buying their music and attending their concerts. If you are or represent one of these artists and would like the file removed, please let me know. The album titles are linked to Amazon, using my affiliate ID, so if you buy them through here, I get a tiny kickback. Cover image is based on a photo by Stuck in Customs on Flickr, one of my favorite photographers who has amazingly licensed his photos with Creative Commons and allowed derivative works. /disclaimers

Sept09MixCover2.jpg

1) Elizabeth & the Catapult – Race You (album: Taller Children, 2009)
Thanks to Nathan Chase on FriendFeed for this recommendation – I fell immediately in love with this album and have been promoting it all over everywhere. And then they played it in Barnes & Noble the other day. And I was kind of simultaneously happy they were getting exposure and sad that I wasn’t very far ahead of the curve on them.

2) The Bird and the Bee – love letter to japan (album: ray guns are not just the future, 2009)
I have possibly put this on every mix I’ve done since it came out. I can’t get over it, and even though I love every song on the album, this one somehow embodies the whole sound the best. Plus it’s hopelessly catchy.

3) Broken Social Scene – Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl (album: You Forgot It In People, 2002)
This song took me forever to get into. I heard it, and just kinda went, meh, what’s everyone see in this one? And then one day I heard it again and it just clicked. And now every time it comes on I have to put it on repeat for a while. I might have to do it right now.

4) Viva Voce – Wrecking Ball (album: Lovers, Lead the Way!, 2003)
I almost put on one from their 2009 album, Rose City, which I very much like, but “Wrecking Ball” came out of nowhere on random the other day and made me fall in love with it. And I can’t deny instant love like that.

5) Neko Case – Deep Red Bells (album: Blacklisted, 2002)
And I also chose an old one of Neko’s rather than one off her 2009 album. One of my cowriters on Row Three suggested I pick up Blacklisted when I was first starting to get into Neko, and wow, was he right. And this song even more than the others – it just feels so deep and lived-in and worn and…perfect.

6) The Raveonettes – Suicide (album: In & Out of Control, 2009)
Okay, here’s a new one. From their upcoming album releasing in October. I’m enough into The Raveonettes right now that I’ve already reserved a spot in my top five albums of the year for In & Out of Control, so let’s hope the rest of the songs are as good as the three that have leaked so far.

7) Bat for Lashes – Daniel (album: Two Suns, 2009)
It took me seeing Bat for Lashes live to fall completely in love with her (Natasha Khan, that is; Bat for Lashes is her band pseudonym), but now her combination of ethereal vocals, intricate melodies, and innovative instrumentation is right near the top of my faves.

8) Stars – Elevator Love Letter (album: Heart, 2004)
Stars, like Metric and Feist, is connected to supergroup Broken Social Scene, this time through vocalist Amy Millan. They’re a little sweeter, a little less experimental than BSS or Metric, and when it all comes together right, they’re hard to beat for just pure pop goodness. Like here.

9) Headlights – Get Going (album: Wildlife, 2009)
This album is due out in October, and if this track is any indication, it’ll match their first two albums in quality.

10) Johnathan Rice feat. Jenny Lewis – End of the Affair (album: Further North, 2007
In addition to his solo career, Johnathan also does guitar and vocals for Jenny Lewis’s latest album and tour, returning the favor of her appearances on his album and tour. Though she sings vocals on several songs on his album, this is the only one where she’s featured.

11) The Dodos – Fables (album: Time to Die, 2009)
My current favorite of the sub-trend of folk rock, I guess you’d call it. I like them even better than Fleet Foxes – more confident, more catchy, and more jaunty.

12) An Horse – Scared as Fuck (album: Rearrange Beds, 2008)
An Australian duo, they hung out in LA for several months this year, and I was glad to catch them twice. I think this is their best song, and the one that uses Kate’s distinctive voice to the best advantage.

13) The Whispertown 2000 – Ebb and Flow (album: Swim, 2008)
This is potentially not the best introduction to The Whispertown 2000 – it’s a little more experimental and a lot less melodic than most of their songs, but this mix is about what I love and this is the song that completely bowled me over when I heard it live. Something about the slide on “great divide” and Morgan’s a capalla phrases just overpowered everything in the room.

14) The Dead Weather – Hang You from the Heavens (album: Horehound, 2009)
Heh. Okay, this one is less about what I love and more about seeing how far I can push Lis before she stops letting me make mixes for her. I’m genuinely curious to see if she’ll like it. Anyway, I think The Dead Weather are really interesting, but I’m not always sure how much I like the album. I’m somehow drawn to keep listening to it, though, so there’s that.

15) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Young Adult Friction (album: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 2009)
I came at this band randomly, through a Stereogum post, and liked it immediately. Listening to the album more has only solidified that – fits in very well with my move toward a more Raveonettes/Viva Voce-type sound.

16) Rilo Kiley – Jenny, You’re Barely Alive (album: Saddle Creek 50, 2003)
NEWS FLASH: I like Rilo Kiley. What? You knew that? Oh. Well, maybe you’ve still missed this song, which isn’t on any of their albums, but appeared on a Saddle Creek Records compilation a few years back. I’ve been collecting their non-album tracks the past few weeks, and this is easily one of my favorites.

17) Metric – Rock Me Now (album: Grow Up and Blow Away, 2001/2007)
Yes, you also know I love Metric. Interestingly, this song from their first album (recorded in 2001, but due to a label issue not released until 2007), which isn’t particularly Metric-esque nor particularly within my usual taste, is the one that really got me into Metric last year. I can’t explain why I love it so much. But I do.

18) Shout Out Louds – 100 Percent (album: Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, 2005)
One of several Swedish bands I like very much; probably my favorite right now, actually. You just can’t hardly help being happy listening to them.

19) stellastarr* – My Coco (album: stellastarr*, 2003)
Thanks to Robert Patton on FriendFeed for this one; it was listening to his last.fm library that I first heard of stellastarr*, and he also pointed me towards this song as one of his faves. The moment it kicks into high gear? Awesome.

20) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (album: It’s Blitz!, 2009)
Picking just one YYYs song was as annoying as picking just one Metric or just one Rilo Kiley. But this is the one that makes me chairdance the most, so this one won out. I DARE YOU to sit still while listening to this song.

Music Friday: LA Mix

This was going to be a Music Monday. But it kept getting bigger and finally turned into a full-fledged album-length mix full of LA-based bands. Consider this a love letter to LA and the fantastic music scene I’ve found here. It’s literally possible to go to a show nearly every day of the week and find bands you like. Even going much less often than that (two or three times a month), I’ve discovered many bands that keep me coming back for their shows, opening bands that I seek out everywhere they play, and seen what a great and supporting music culture exists here (if you look at the band line-ups below, you’ll find several people who are in multiple bands – nearly everyone is involved in multiple projects, creating really interesting cross-pollination). I’ve arranged them roughly from lesser known to better known (sort of an opening band – second opening band – headliner sort of thing), but that’s not completely accurate. Just a general rule of thumb.

LA Mix Cover

1) Hello from Reno – It Comes and Goes
2) The Sweet Hurt – Bright Ideas
3) The Belle Brigade – 4%
4) Eulogies – Eyes on the Prize
5) Local Natives – Airplanes
6) Obi Best – Swedish Boy
7) The One AM Radio – Old Men
8) Army Navy – Dark As Days
9) Earlimart – Face Down in the Right Town
10) Juliette Commagere – Overcome
11) Lavender Diamond – Open Your Heart
12) Munchausen by Proxy – Uh-Huh
13) Great Northern – Mountain
14) The Bird and the Bee – Love Letter to Japan
15) The Submarines – Xavia
16) The Airborne Toxic Event – Does This Mean You’re Moving On
17) Jenny Lewis – The Highs and Lows of Being Number One
18) Silversun Pickups – Substitution
19) Rilo Kiley – Somebody Else’s Clothes

You can stream the songs individually or as a playlist (starting the first one will play them all in order), or right-click-save any song to download it. Or you can grab the whole mix, including my hastily-thrown-together cover art based on a Silver Lake mural, with this zip file (a little under 100mb). If you like the bands, please support them.

You’re going to want to click through the jump – full mix details are under there, with info and photos for every band. And it took me all week to do. So please. Click through. :) Most photos are not mine. Promo-type photos obviously aren’t. Crappy iPhone-looking concert photos probably are.

Continue reading Music Friday: LA Mix

Class connections…

Two things I’m really grateful for at the moment.

1 – That I chose to do my short paper/panel assignment on Ellen Douglas’ Can’t Quit You Baby, because of all the books we’ve read so far in Southern Lit, it’s my favorite. Each one we read I like better than the previous one, which either means that I like the newest books the best (which is not usually true), that I’m very fickle (which is true), or that I’m getting better acclimated to the class and materials each week (which is probably true to some extent). Anyway, Can’t Quit You Baby has an awesome intrusive narratorial voice which makes me happy. I hope I can work it into my paper somehow. Or maybe write my long paper on this novel, too, and incorporate it (I haven’t even thought about the long paper yet).

2 – That I had the Harlem Renaissance class last semester, because the article we have to read and respond to in the paper/panel discussion is about the relationship between the white employer and the black employee who are the main characters in the book, and whether Douglas is co-opting African-American culture in the form of the black woman order to “save” the white woman from her detached and superficial life. That idea came up a lot in the Harlem Renaissance class, especially relating to music and the ways that white music producers took over jazz and blues and smoothed them out to sell them to white audiences (often with white performers). I haven’t finished reading the article yet, but I already feel like I have a grounding in the point of view the author is coming from, which is encouraging.

I don’t know what I’m going to write yet, or what tack I want to take in the short paper, but at least I won’t be completely lost, like I would’ve been if I’d had to write about some of the earlier books.

I’m also grateful for having acquired the other two Rilo Kiley albums I was missing (three if you include their first self-produced EP), but I think I’ve already done a fine job convincing everyone that I’m obsessed with Rilo Kiley at the moment. I wonder if that will happen every time I got to a concert, or if as I get more used to going to concerts the desire to listen to the band 24/7 for the next several days will go away. Meanwhile, I did find out that Inara George, the singer in The Bird and the Bee, also has a solo album called Rise Up (actually recorded before the band was formed), and based on the 30-second previews at the Amazon.com store, it’s just as good as The Bird and the Bee’s stuff. I wish there were a wishlist for the Amazon.com MP3 store. This is a problem with iTunes as well…I mean, just because the music is digital and I could have it right now doesn’t mean I have the money right now, and I might like to have a list of MP3s to remember to buy in the future when I have money. Just a thought.

EDIT: Third thing I’m thankful for in relation to the paper–there’s a whole Ingmar Bergman connection I think I can make, which will be AWESOME, because nobody else will do that for sure. The main character actually goes to see Persona at one point, there are some similarities between the Persona characters and the Can’t Quit You Baby characters, and none of the critics so far have even mentioned it or tried to examine what a Bergman-Douglas connection might mean! Plus I may even be able to bring in the Spiritual trilogy and its spider-god. It would help if I knew what the spider-god meant, but maybe I can read up on Bergman some, too, which would be good for me anyway.