Music I’m Digging: Hammock – Departure Songs

Hammock – Departure Songs

All I wanted from the new Hammock album was something that hurts to listen to, in the best possible way. Post-rock, emotional buildups, NOT just reverby guitar with repetitive loud cymbal hits like so much wanky post-rock these days). They added a string section and expanded their sound so much.

I’ve had to turn it off several times because it hits my heart too much.

RIYL emotions. Ok ok. M83, Helios, film scores, early Sigur Ros.

Music I’m Digging Friday: new Freelance Whales!

There’s something really important about having a balance of production and consumption in life.  Whenever I find myself too much on either side of that ratio, my life takes a stagnant turn.  Thusfar in 2012, between Deeper Context needing a bit of a revamp and our move to Atlanta taking up a lot of my mental energies, the balance has taken a turn for the worse.  I know I’m not the most prolific blogger, but I’d like to be sharing more with you.

I used to do a music podcast called Sounds From My Drawers, which some of y’all may have listened to.

As with many things, life started getting in the way of that production, and it turned out to not be as fun as I thought it would be.  I’m thinking about bringing it back with a partner, since the back-and-forth of music geeks is something that can make for compelling listening.

In the meantime, for the sake of people who sometimes ask me for new music recommendations, and in order to start putting more content out there into the world (which I’ve slacked on lately, and am really feeling the effects of), this is the first of what I’m committing to do as a weekly post.  Behold, “Music I’m Digging Friday!” (because Music Monday is too much alliteration for me).

This Week: Freelance Whales – “Spitting Image

I’m a big fan of a certain brand of indie pop, which is typically filed under ‘baroque pop’.  Music that fills the room, with delicate, unusual-for-pop-music instrument combinations (things like cello, violin, flute, etc) is a welcome respite from the slick robotic pop of the 2000s and 2010s (not that I’m not also a fan of robotic pop, of course).

Bands like Camera Obscura, The Helio Sequence, The Format (now better known as Fun.), and yes even Florence + The Machine (their first album, anyway) are never far from my iPod.

Freelance Whales is in a similar vein, featuring la-la-y overdubbed-to-sound-like-a-small-amateur-choir backing vocals and joyful melodies.

This song would be great for a giddy montage.  Their second album comes out in October.

This Track Discovered via:
Learn More: Official Site | Facebook | SoundCloud

The Music Of Conversation

I had the great fortune of attending the Web2Open (the unconference portion of Web2.0Expo, organized by the incomparable Whitney Hoffman) this past week. Sharing space with some of the smartest and loveliest people I know (and some that I just met) is a rare treat.  Being able to interact with people who share passions and are totally supportive of each other is one of the true soul-nourishing activities in life.

Taking a moment to sit back and appreciate the situation got me thinking about how any great conversation amongst engaged people, regardless of the subject or the context, has a musical quality to it.  It ebbs and flows, gets louder and quieter, sometimes there’s silence and sometimes there’s cacophony.

You can recognize aspects of certain genres of music within every communication.  Sometimes the bombast of opera rules, sometimes the polite and delicate nature of baroque, sometimes the high-energy groove of AC/DC.  Of all the options, the style that provides the most joy by far (for me at least) is jazz. Let me explain.

Jazz Trio

A solid jazz trio can anticipate what their band mates are going to do before they do it and are able to dance around the melody without ever losing it.  Each member brings something different to the equation.  The percussion holds the group together rhythmically, bass provides the foundation of the song, and the lead instrument provides the melody and variations. They each come to a song with their own point of view, and each contribution is essential for the success of the whole.  The original song is treated with care, but lightly.  There is freedom within the structure.

The jazz of interplay  is something that may be most apparent in person, but is certainly not limited to conferences. The freedom to riff and build up connection is fundamental to all communication, be it in-person conversation, chatting on IM, posting on Facebook or any other Social Media tool, on a messageboard, through dance, acting, kissing, or even sitting quietly on a park bench with no words at all.

I am eternally humbled, grateful and very thankful for the opportunity to meet, interact and be inspired by these remarkable fellow humans who create so much music with every word.

Great communication is jazz.

Come play.

Its Top 10 Time!: The Sight Below

As a music geek, December is one of my favorite times of year, since its when all my favorite music blogs and fellow geeks on various mailing lists publish their “Top 10 Albums of 2008” lists.

I’ve been keeping a similar list since 2001 (you can see the last 3 years on the sidebar of this blog). Every year narrowing down the list to 10 becomes a challenge. There’s so much great music out there.

Every year it amazes me, upon reading people’s lists, just how much music I haven’t heard, although I consider myself someone who keeps up with a ton of it in many different genres. Through the miracle of Rhapsody, the last few weeks of December are spent queueing up dozens of albums that others love that are totally new to me.

One of the best discoveries I’ve made so far is an album called Glider by the band The Sight Below, on the amazing Ghostly International.

I will not attempt a full review here, but suffice it to say this is hauntingly beautiful beat-based ambient reminiscent of things like Hammock and a less sample-filled KLF “Chill Out”.

You can listen for free via RDio (I <3 the freakin internet)

My top 10 of 2008.

Good year for music, had trouble paring down to 10

In no particular order:

1. Johann Johannsson – Fordlandia (4ad) (just insanely gorgeous)
2. Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect (hydrahead) (the denser more active counterpart to JJ)
3. Dear and the Headlights – Drunk Like Bible Times (EVR) (second time this band has been on my list… great The Band-influenced indie rock)
4. The Weepies – Hideaway (Nettwerk) (Now one of my favorite indiepop/singer-songwriter albums of all time)
5. M83 – Saturdays=Youth (Mute) (lush and beautiful in that 80s shiny way. Nostalgia that’s also a reinvention)
6. Santogold – Santogold (downtown) (Everything that I dont see about M.I.A. I see with Santi)
7. Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde) (Every top 10 list needs a somber poor-me album for depressives. Nobody does it better than Kozelek. Meditative.)
8. Robyn – Robyn (EMI) (best pure pop record this year)
9. Ida – Lover’s Prayers (polyvinyl) (another pretty m/f duet indiepop record, this more melancholy than The Weepies but equally worthwhile)
10. The Hush Sound – Goodbye Blues (decaydance/fueled by ramen) (gets the Nellie McKay schizophrenic-influence indierock award, and a great way to come out of the meditative/depressive coma of some of my other records. Also a heavy Carole King influence which is awesome.)

Kylie Minogue – X (one of her strongest outings in ages, not as much replay value as Robyn tho)
Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster (i remember this being a great record, haven’t listened to it since it came out)
Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It (Columbia) (great record)
Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight (awesome awesome sparkly record, sadly only room for 10. if you haven’t heard it, hear it.)

Most disappointing: Ben Folds … dude… wtf.
Best early ’09 record i’ve heard because I work in the biz: Derek Trucks Band (seriously funky stuff)
Albums I’m looking forward to in 09: Paper Route, the inevitable Amy Winehouse disaster breakup album, NEW A CAMP RECORD OUT ON MY BIRTHDAY VIA NETTWERK.
Best album from 07 that shouldve been on my list but i didn’t hear until 08: Lucky Soul (ruffa Lane) (insanely catchy Cardigans-meets-Phil-Spector stuff)
Best album i’ve rediscovered from my collection: The Autumns – The Autumns
Music-related thing i’m most proud of having done in 2008: Tie between
Thrillercast and 60 Second Soundtracks