Thursday, November 03, 2011

That Is Where It All Begins

Sad to see them go. Dig the new poppy tune. Could do without the girl from Tom Cruise's vampire movie "emoting" in the video. And yikes, R.E.M.'s new greatest hits album cover is dreadful.

Respect, yo.

The ultimate compilation is out 11/15/11.

Although It's Been Said Many Times Many Ways

It's that time! Time for completely irrelevant and unnecessary holiday albums to celebrate Baby Jesus®. Yes, Beibster, I'm talking to you.

It Girl® Zooey Deschanel's She & Him jumps in with A Very She & Him Christmas. Let's get to it - one minute I love Zooey D. and thinks she's pure delight yet the next minute I want to stick a hot fireplace poker into my ears at the sound of her. It's an odd relationship complicated by extreme cuteness and that voice. That voice. That voice she overuses in superfluous singing moments in her movies and that voice that gets a bit old over the course of an entire album. That voice that transcends time and melds so well with M. Ward's incredible music. I said it's complicated.

Anyway, it sounds as if that voice is perfect for Xmas melancholic classics like I'll Be Home for Christmas and The Christmas Song. We heard hints of it in Elf, but here you get a full 12-song set. I'll keep it on shuffle with Bing Crosby so I don't get overwhelmed, but if you like your Christmas with a bit of gee-golly-I'm-cool hipness, She & Him is for you.

iTunes | Amazon MP3

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In the Cradle of a Song

“You’re the greatest love I’ve ever known.” When Brandon Schott sings it in This Is Home, rest assured it isn’t mere hyperbole. Lesser artists bury such a heartfelt line in flippant three-minute pop songs that sting with fleeting pleasure. Brandon lays it so bare on one of the sparsest songs on his new album 13 Satellites that it resonates through every carefully crafted note on the whole album. In just a moment it is stunningly clear that the stellar 13 Satellites is Brandon’s most ambitious, satisfying, and accomplished album to date.

Lyrically there’s a cozy domestic vibe on 13 Satellites that resonates with this 30-something suburban dad. Brandon writes, plays, and sings from his heart with such sincerity and vulnerability that you can’t help but want to hug the guy. Knowing Brandon I’m sure he’d be game, which is a testament to his honest, personal songwriting. What an incredible feat of courage it is to put your life out there in song and Brandon is making a career of airing it all out. As a listener we are only enriched by the trust and respect Brandon clearly feels for his listeners.

As with his excellent previous efforts, it is pure joy to hear Brandon's influences. In the hands of such a talented songwriter the tunes never sound derivative or unoriginal. In fact, Brandon leaves his original mark on every second of every song. Specifically, Satellite reminds me that as long as the final product comes close to a song like this, every new generation has a right to lay claim to The Beatles’ lasting legacy. The Sgt. Peppery Exploding Angel oozes Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. All the Way Down could so clearly be an outtake from Paul McCartney’s eponymous debut that would sound just perfect next to Junk. Although indisputably and admittedly Beatlesque throughout, 13 Satellites evokes its fair share of Beach Boy harmonies, Elliott Smith depth, Ben Foldsian melodies, and ... something sure is Jellyfishy with Louise Street.

The best thing about 13 Satellites? Brandon sounds happy. He has dealt with pretty heavy issues through his music and doesn't shy away here, but Brandon is clearly in a good place. 13 Satellites reflects a newfound playfulness that proves the good ones don't sacrifice fun for substance.

iTunes | Amazon MP3 |

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Check out the way cool animated video for Satellite below.

On a final note, Flowers Fading is easily the most gorgeously timeless song I’ve heard all year. It. Is. Stunning.