Thursday, September 17, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

Dear Devoted Readers(?),
My name is Steven Waslo, and I like music. If you’re reading this blog (and I know you are), then odds are you like music too. So we’ve got that connection right there. Seeing as this is my first post, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce myself to you, the intelligent, beautiful, and discriminating public. I am a freshman at the University of Connecticut. I’ve known Conor and Eli for a few years working with them at a wonderful summer camp on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. We spent many a nights driving around in Conor’s car, blaring music the three of us enjoyed, and talking about new artists we thought the others should check out. As the summer progressed, these conversations turned into an invitation to write for this blog. So here I am.
I thought I would start our newfound relationship of writer-reader out with an ice-breaker of sorts. Just like with the little campers, it is important that we learn some key things about each other first, and before you know it we’ll be best friends. Seeing as this is a music blog, I will tell you about music, and you in turn will tell me nothing. It’s a very one-sided relationship.
Our topic for this week is;

My 8 Favorite Songs You May Not Know

1. Thin Blue Flame, by Josh Ritter, from the album The Animal Years

Josh Ritter is a modern-day poet, along the lines of Dylan himself. Ritter’s songs are often simple and folksy in instrumentation, but it’s the words pack that considerable punch. In Thin Blue Flame, the band matches the intensity of the lyrics. In this nearly ten-minute long ballad, Ritter explores themes of faith, justice, returning home, and a whole lot more in ways that tug your emotions in so many directions.

Buy Josh Ritter

2. Carl Sagan, by Loch Lomond, from the album Paper the Walls

I saw Loch Lomond in concert last year, and this song blew the entire audience away. To start with, the band has a whole bunch of musicians and a whole bunch more instruments crowding up the stage. This song starts off with just one guitar and one singer, and builds to sound like an orchestra and choir by the end. The song swells to a glorious high three minutes in that sells the song perfectly.

Buy Loch Lomond

3. Daylight, by Aesop Rock, from the album Labor Days

Aesop Rock has lyrics are smarter than any I’ve heard before, with bigger words than your most hyper-literate indie band. Daylight is so full of metaphors that it is almost impossible to figure out what he is trying to tell you, and instead you fill in the meaning yourself.

Buy Aesop Rock

4. This City’s a Mess, by Said the Whale, from the album Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia

Another song with an excellent build, this track from the upstart Vancouver band features a catchy guitar hook, intriguing supporting vocals, and a very cool repeating chorus to end the song (which I guess is sort of a trademark of theirs. It comes up in a lot of their songs.) The music video, however, makes me suspicious that they might just be furries.

Buy Said The Whale

5. Four Leaf Clover, by the Old 97’s, from the album Too Far To Care

The Old 97’s are an awesome alt-country band. I was lucky enough to see this band last year, and when they played this song, the entire audience went wild. The pounding drum beat and Ken Bethea’s excellent guitar work pulls the song together perfectly with the duet between Rhett Miller (who you may recognize from Kidney Now on 30 Rock) and Exene Cervenka.

Buy The Old 97's

6. Cold Days from the Birdhouse, by the Twilight Sad, from the album Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters

I first fell in love with this band when I realized that the lead singer sounds just like my camp director. I brought this up with him, and he pointed out that I was merely ignorant of other countries’ accents, because both the band and the director are Scottish. All that aside, this is a fantastically well put together song. It starts off with simple plunking piano keys with a single guitar wistfully sliding through the notes, and soon after the singer, James Graham, croons in with his Scottish accent guiding us gently through a tale of love and loss.

Buy The Twilight Sad

7. Blue Skies, by Noah and the Whale, from the album The First Day of Spring

Feeling sad? Listen to this song, and I guarantee an optimistic smile will creep onto your face. A traveling Irishman introduced me to this band, but this song blew away all of their old stuff that he showed me. On a side note, the band turned this entire album into a movie that looks brilliant.

Buy Noah and the Whale

8. To Be Young, by Ryan Adams, from the album Heartbreaker

This is an older gem of Ryan Adams' prolific songwriting career. The guitar work evokes the sound of a different time, while the singing is oddly reminiscent of an old master of folk. This song is not just some sixties cover, though. Adams brings the song to life in our times with his passionate singing and playing. This is the liveliest song on the list, with a great beat and a lead guitar that deserves a good listen.

Buy Ryan Adams

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