Library Patron Playlist Request 10.02.12

October 6, 2012

Hi Colleen,

Thank you for requesting a personalized playlist! Based on your musical preferences, here is a selection of titles you might enjoy. All of the albums listed are available for checkout from the library’s collection.

I and love and you/ Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers have expanded their reach since 2000, adding elements of pop and hillbilly country-rock to a bluegrass foundation, and they carry on that tradition with I and Love and You, whose songs introduce a new emphasis on piano and nuanced arrangements. Working with a major label’s budget allows the group to add small flourishes — a cello line here, a keyboard crescendo there — but the resulting music is hardly grand, focusing on textures rather than volume. Scott and Seth Avett share vocals throughout the album, delivering their lyrics in a speak-sing cadence that, at its best, sounds both tuneful and conversational. Given the opportunities presented here — the ability to add strings, organs, and harmonium to the mix — the two devote more time to slower songs, which display those sonic details better. The result is an intimate, poignant album, laced with rich production that often takes as much spotlight as the songwriting itself.- allmusic.com

Vaporize/ Broken Bells

James Mercer and Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) want their project Broken Bells to be seen, and heard, as an honest-to-goodness band, not a side-project dalliance. It’s a little tricky to do that when first listening to their self-titled debut album, since they’re such well-known and distinctive talents: Mercer crafted singularly bittersweet indie pop with the Shins, while Burton brought the Beatles and Jay-Z together on The Grey Album and went on to shape sounds for equally omnivorous artists like Beck and Gorillaz. Mercer’s songwriting skills and Danger Mouse’s production mastery sound like a potent combo, and they are, when the pair balances its ambitions and respective strengths. They work hard — maybe too hard — at avoiding their previous sounds. Mercer’s vocals and melodies will almost certainly evoke the Shins to some degree or another, but he and Burton steer clear of the bright pop that countered that band’s gloomier moments in favor of winding melodies and mellow atmospheres.-allmusic.com

Fixin’ to die/ G. Love

Fixin’ to Die isn’t the first G. Love album billed without Special Sauce, but this one really stands apart from the rest of his discography.  With lots of high lonesome backing vocals and prominent banjo, this actually feels like a country album most of the time. It’s almost entirely acoustic, too. We don’t even hear an electric guitar until track eight, where Luther Dickenson offers up some tasty George Harrison-esque slide. It’s this track and “Walk On” that most resemble Special Sauce, and they almost feel out of place here. Most of the album is far more intimate and introspective, and it’s easy to see that most of these tunes wouldn’t fit into the standard party/feel-good ethos of most Special Sauce tunes, but the production and playing of the Avett Bothers really make it work. After 15 years or so, it’s pretty interesting to hear G. Love in such a different context.-allmusic.com

There’s no secrets this year/ Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups had a bit of a breakthrough with 2009’s Swoon. Moody and fuzzed-out singles like “Substitution” and “Panic Switch” drew new listeners to the band’s particular brand of melodic and rhythmically infectious guitar-based rock. They even garnered a Best New Artist nod at the Grammy Awards despite having already developed a cult following after debuting with their 2005 EP, Pikul. -allmusic.com

Both Hands/ Ani DiFranco

Canon is a document to be sure, a “best of,” but it’s also a testament to something else: that through the biz and media trends, from riot grrrl to the rise of the ’90s and 2000s troops of female singer/songwriters who come and go, DiFranco is always here, has been present, and has not paying attention to the machinations of such things. She’s on a path, and the music here offers that it’s a wildly divergent one sometimes, but it is unquestionably hers, and she doesn’t let go of anything she collects — until she’s ready to, that is, and even then you can see the traces of her own scratch marks all over that thing: fascination, Eros, agape, heartbreak, betrayal, love, violence, celebration, and anger both righteous and petty (she discovers these things herself, it’s not a critical judgment). Or maybe, she simply weaves them all into her own quilt, thread by thread, to be identified and grabbed when needed most. Her street smarts remain intact after nearly two decades of being in the public eye and she has created a place for herself without owing a debt to anyone. Forget the stories and interviews: it’s all in the music on Canon.-allmusic.com

Autorock/ Mogwai

Possibly the most accessible yet sophisticated album Mogwai has released, Mr. Beast strips away most of the electronic embellishment of their recent work in favor of a back-to-basics sound that returns to and expands on the approach they pioneered on Young Team. Mr. Beast is also a surprisingly spontaneous-sounding album — in the best possible sense, its freshness makes it feel like a recorded practice session and also helps give relatively delicate pieces like “Team Handed” the same amount of impact that heavy, searing tracks like the closer, “We’re No Here,” have. Interestingly, more of Mr. Beast tends toward the former kind of song than the latter; “Friend of the Night,” “Emergency Trap,” and the glorious, slow-burning album opener, “Auto-Rock,” give the album an unusually refined, even elegant feel that is underscored by the prominent use of piano and lap steel in the arrangements. -allmusic.com

This tornado love you/ Neko Case

There are few voices as haunting as Case’s alto, and she flaunts her vocal chops over a number of semi-ballads, from the cinematic “Prison Girls” (a country-noir love letter to someone with “long shadows and gunpowder eyes”) to the sparse title track. She does a surprise duet with chirping birds during “Polar Nettles” — a result of the pastoral recording sessions, which took place in a barn — before tackling a cover of Sparks’ “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth,” whose title very well may be the album’s mission statement. There’s still room to tackle love from the perspective of different characters — a man in “Vengeance Is Sleeping,” a disbeliever in “The Next Time You Say Forever,” a smitten wind vortex in “This Tornado Loves You” — but nature remains at the forefront of Middle Cyclone, whose 14 songs conclude with a half-hour field recording of noisy crickets and frogs. Moody and engaging throughout, Cyclone is another tour de force from Neko case.-allmusic.com

Postcard from 1952/ Explosions in the sky

Like their home state of Texas, Explosions in the Sky are all about wide-open spaces, preferring to leave the landscape as it is rather than trying to fill every last bit of empty space just for the sake of doing so. It’s this aesthetic that sets the band apart from the busier bands in post-rock and, really, rock in general. More so than some of their earlier albums, Take care, take care, take care can’t be skimmed or rushed, but instead requires the listener to let it unfold on its own terms, giving it time to flower and bloom when it’s ready. While this may not make it the most immediately exciting album of Explosions in the Sky’s career, it easily stands to be one of their most rewarding.-allmusic.com

Ain’t no rest for the wicked/ Cage the Elephant

The more things change in rock, the more they inevitably stay the same — and in the case of Cage the Elephant, that’s a good thing. Actually, it’s a very good thing. Cage the Elephant didn’t exist until 2005, but as this self-titled album demonstrates, their ability to be influenced by alternative rock and classic rock simultaneously is a definite plus. Drawing on influences from different eras, this Kentucky-based band has an appealing sound that combines a strong appreciation of the Rolling Stones with elements of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, hip-hop, and punk. This isn’t full-fledged R&B, but it is certainly funky by rock standards — and that funkiness serves Cage the Elephant well on bluesy, gritty, infectious offerings like “Free Love,” “Back Stabbin’ Betty,” and the single “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.”- allmusic.com

Gold Guns Girls/ Metric

Metric’s third full-length album, Fantasies, is a glossy, slick, and so-clean-you-could-eat-off-it slice of modern rock that may scare off some of the band’s early fans due to the unrepentant commercial nature of the album. Anyone who isn’t repelled by the band’s professionalism and ambition to sound perfect will find it to be quite enjoyable. That Metric title a song “Stadium Love” gives you a clue to the ambition of the band. There’s nothing small or careful about Fantasies — it’s a full-on bid for pop glory and it’s a smashing success.- allmusic.com

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WBER DJ Kelsey’s Playlist

May 22, 2012

Let’s get the ball rolling with our first playlist. This is not a patron requested playlist but one that you may be interested in none-the-less.  Kelsey is a great resource that patrons will benefit from when looking for something interesting and eclectic in the alternative music genre.

Make the Road by Walking/ Menahan Street Band
It’s kind of difficult to describe what kind of music the Menahan Street Band make, although the ten tracks (there’s also an unlisted 11th track) presented on this debut album share a certain pleasant, easy, and sunny vibe. All are unhurried instrumentals, and while it’s tempting to call this stuff soul, it isn’t that exactly. There’s a jazz feel here, too, but it isn’t exactly soul-jazz, either, and then there’s a certain intangible Jamaican dub feel to how things are mixed, but one can’t really call it dub, and while things get lightly funky now and then, it isn’t funk.-All Music Guide
Chinoiserie/ Medeski, Martin & Wood
Here, the MMW direction and loyalties become very clear; they’re possessed and driven by the fatback funk and instruments of an earlier generation. John Medeski becomes one of the wave of keyboardists in the ’90s who started dragging wonderful old Wurlitzer electric pianos, Hohner clavinets, Hammond organs, wah-wah pedals, and other devices out of the mothballs, and used them almost as quasi-percussion instruments at times. Chris Wood remains resolutely on standup bass, playing with a great feeling for Billy Martin’s supremely funky drumming. -All Music Guide
Human Qualities/ Explosions in the Sky
Like their home state of Texas, Explosions in the Sky are all about wide-open spaces, preferring to leave the landscape as it is rather than trying to fill every last bit of empty space just for the sake of doing so. It’s this aesthetic that sets the band apart from the busier bands in post-rock and, really, rock in general. While this may not make it the most immediately exciting album of Explosions in the Sky’s career, it easily stands to be one of their most rewarding. -All Music Guide
Hoppípolla/ Sigur Ros
Named in part after a sister of one of the bandmembers, Reykjavik, Iceland’s Sigur Rós (Victory Rose) was formed by guitarist and vocalist Jon Thor Birgisson (who later went by the name Jónsi), bassist Georg Holm, and drummer Agust. Formed in early 1994 while the members were teenagers, the trio’s first recorded song earned them a deal with Iceland’s Bad Taste label. Svefn-G-Englar, their first release to be distributed outside of their native country, was hailed as NME’s Single of the Week during September of 1999, launching a press hype steamroller in the U.K. and — to a lesser extent — in the U.S.-All Music Guide
First Tube/ Phish
Their rootsiest and most organic effort to date, Farmhouse is also their most fully developed — these are complete, concise songs and not simply outlines for extended jams, boasting a beauty and intimacy which expands the group’s scope even as it serves notice of a new found pop accessibility. The opening title cut, a gorgeously rustic country-pop ballad, immediately establishes Farmhouse’s muted, relaxed tone, and despite the occasional detour like the sunny funk workout “Gotta Jibboo” or the closing instrumental jam “First Tube,” by and large the set opts against kitchen-sink eclecticism in favor of an evocatively pastoral uniformity. -All Music Guide
Om Nashi Me/ Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
“40 Day Dream,” the Motown-infused, OutKast-inspired, heavily orchestrated “Beatlesque” soul jam that opens Up from Below, serves as a pretty good litmus test for what follows. Listeners who are put off by the robe-wearing Polyphonic Spree’s cultish glazed-eye self-help anthems or cringe when they hear the Mamas & the Papas’ “Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon” would be advised to get off the magic bus early, as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros have crafted a love letter to Laurel Canyon and all of its quasi-mystic juju that is as infuriatingly contrived and retro as it is forward-thinking and majestic. -All Music Guide
Chicken Strut/ The Meters
Rhino’s Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology was the first truly comprehensive and widely available CD retrospective of the groundbreaking New Orleans funk band’s work. These two chronologically arranged discs run down virtually every important track the band recorded under its own name, finally allowing a more general audience to hear why the Meters had earned such a stellar reputation among die-hard funk collectors and sample-minded hip-hoppers. There’s more flash in this music, including plenty of nimble-fingered unison passages demonstrating that the band can be as tight as they are loose. It’s more proof that the Meters were the most telepathic funk ensemble this side of the J.B.’s.-All Music Guide
Paris Sunrise #7/ Ben Harper And The Innocent Criminals
“Heart of Matters” gets back to back-porch soul before giving way to a Weissenborn guitar solo on “Paris Sunrise #7,” before closing with the lone acoustic guitar and vocal ballad on the title cut. The set could have gone out on one of the more uptempo tunes after the instrumental, but it’s a small complaint in this mix.  This is a very informal-sounding record, and one that feels comfortable in showing its unvarnished side, its seams. – All Music Guide
Black Mud/ The Black Keys
Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers. The studio, not to mention the artwork patterned after such disregarded Chess psychedelic-era relics as This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, are good indications that the tough blues band of the Black Keys earliest records is back, but the group hasn’t forgotten what they’ve learned in their inwardly psychedelic mid-period. -All Music Guide

Origin of Man/ The Budos Band

This Brooklyn-based instrumental collective combines slow-burn Afro-beat rhythms with a ’70s soul-jazz aesthetic, the latter sound well-known by those already familiar with the Daptone label’s other releases. The retro, almost blaxploitation soundtrack groove pushes the predominantly Afro style into American soul territory. They call it “Afro-soul,” which neatly sums up the style but doesn’t entirely do it justice; only hearing it does. Horns and horn charts dominate, which, because these sessions were recorded live in the studio, exude a spark and swing that are somewhat ominous yet hypnotically contagious.-All Music Guide