Archive | November, 2014

Top 10 Songs and Albums of 2014 – Are You Ready?

30 Nov

2014git-790x580

There is much truth to the musical pendulum of “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof; time, like the gold attachment on a grandfather clock, swings back and forth and back and forth and suddenly 2011 turns to 2012 to 2013 to 2014 and now, in one month, 2015. With the perpetual swing of the pendulum is the many moments that make up one’s year. And, within those moments, tucked away like a child in bed, is the music that has stuck with you from the year, nestled comfortably in your mind.

So we have reached the almost-end to another year, and, to stay on the topic of the Music Court, we have seen some transformations. Our kick-ass new writer Zoe Brown has taken an active posting role, and she is doing a tremendous job. Stand up and clap for her; yes, get out of your chairs wherever you are and clap! She has helped establish the Music Court as your source for new, eccentric tunes. Many of those songs might be those nestled in your mind as you reminisce on another year in music. Before we officially kick off the annual top 10 countdown, I thought it might be fun to look back on the winners of year’s past and read a little clip from each post (no 2012).

 

2010

#1 “The King of Spain” by The Tallest Man on Earth

Before the song ends, Matsson holds out the word “the” in this vocal climax that is shattering. It is also a perfect way for me to end this countdown. There is an animation in Matsson’s croon that is warm, inviting and aggressive. This is a true strength in his music. He is a folk musician who can provide the erupting emotion that Spector’s “wall of sound” does, but with only himself and a guitar. He is a one-man-band who is significantly stronger then mostly all of his five or more band counterparts. That is an impressive feat. Heck, he might actually be the “King of Spain”

2011:

#1 “The Afterlife” by Paul Simon

… A hypothetical heaven, though, one scribbled down by the consummate raconteur who knows the meaning of excellent music. “The Afterlife” is a keen, hilarious, zany, unexpected, metempirical, almost practical (I cannot list enough adjectives to describe the song’s utter beauty), take on heaven and dying.

2013:

#1 – “Pompeii” by Bastille

“The song begins with a Blue Swede-like vocal rhythm. This rhythmic chanting sets an almost allegorical tone, meaning the melody is representative of intense Roman religiosity. One can almost hear this dark chanting in a temple of worship – overwhelmingly spiritual and subtly lugubrious … While the song is quite literally representative of the destruction of Pompeii, it is difficult not to take it as a metaphorical look at when any unwelcome change occurs in life. Sometimes it is difficult to be “an optimist” and you must “close your eyes” and dream of better days.”

 

Who will hold the top spot in 2014? You will just have to wait to find out. And, this year, at the behest of Ms. Brown, the Music Court will feature a Top 10 Albums of 2014 list as well, which will directly follow the Top 10 Songs of 2014. Get ready! The list begins tomorrow, and will continue almost every day for the majority of December. You better have your eyes ready for some quality music-related reading. We are counting on you!

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Lyon to San Francisco, All the Girls, My Casiotone

26 Nov

Odessey and oracle

In today’s society of instant gratification, it can be hard to branch out your musical taste. Instead of giving new music a chance, we tend to just skip to the next track that is better aligned with a genre or style that we have connected with in the past. Lose that mindset right now, because unless you already operate on a hearty diet of chiptune and toy instruments, you won’t recognize the greatness of Odessey & Oracle and the Casiotone Orchestra.

This album is a little weird, but in the absolute best way. The first track,”2016,” is dripping with psychedelia and ambience, held up only be the melody of the vocals. That is only the beginning, though; what follows is a collection of endearing and occasionally somber songs, making good use of drones and casiotones. It can at times sound like Rennaissance fair music, but there is something deeper happening beneath the flutes and tambourines. The lyrics, though cohesive and organized, are sometimes spat out in run-on sentences. There is a strategy here, but it depends on every aspect of the music converging to make this vision come to fruition.

Taking their name from an album by The Zombies, this French trio is intent on emulating ‘60s psychedelia. Odessey & Oracle currently have a five song EP up on their Soundcloud, which is representative of the strongest tracks to be released on their full length effort with the Casiotone Orchestra. Once you buy the record, though, give your attention to the series of Inventions that weave between the other tracks. They are not the most staggering songs among the other gems, but I do feel the Inventions provide some much needed grounding for the album. This is a testament to a well-structured album.

Odessey & Oracle and the Casiotone Orchestra will be out 12/12 on Carton Records. You can pre-order the album here. Find more information on Odessey and Oracle on their website.

P.S. The title of this article is a nod to Crystal Fighters’ “Solar System.”

No Vacancy

21 Nov

Liza AnneWriting just the title of a song can be a very crucial display of your artistry. Most songs have obvious names, clearly so that a listener may be able to remember it later to look it up and buy it on iTunes. But some bands take a different, but equally tame approach, naming their song something tangentially related or clever. Of Montreal takes the cake for throwing all naming conventions out the window, but my favorite titles are the misnomers. The best example of this is Band of Horses’ “No One’s Gonna Love You”; the lyrics are actually the exact opposite of how callous the track’s name may suggest: “No one’s gonna love you more than I do.” This is so brilliant, so casually passionate. Liza Anne makes her own mark with “Room.”

Especially after my obsession with Glasser’s most recent album full of ideas of physical space, Interiors, I initially assume Liza Anne’s single is a place, an area of her home that perhaps she has felt emotion that she’ll share in the lyrics. Emotion she shares, but the room she speaks of is not tangible. “I shoulda known you didn’t want me, you didn’t have any room to want me,” she accuses. This “room” is an assessment of space, but there is none left. Contrary to what I assumed from the title, there is no room.

“Room” will have a digital release on December 16th. Check out more information on Liza Anne on her website.

Just for Kids: Sadako by Fairchild

20 Nov

It’s springtime in Australia, so winter’s most energetic music is going to come from that area for the next few months. First, I’ve found Fairchild, who provide power pop that is the appropriate amount of fun and drama to their lyrics. Their first single is “Arcadia,” with a funky accompanying video.

Where the toe-tapping rhythm meets drama in “Arcadia,” the rest of Fairchild’s latest EP, Sadako, follows suit. It builds into anthemic choruses, but something feels so familiar in them; I am reminded of the powerful chords on Coldplay’s Parachutes. “Outside” is nostalgic, but not for the past, for the present. It is full of emotion, as is what I find the strongest track on the EP, “Waiting For It”. The buzzing guitars and horse-trot rhythm; then the anthemic chorus comes in, meant to be whispered rather than shouted.

I also would like to share the story behind the title of their EP:

‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’ was a book written by American author Eleanor Coerr and tells the story of a Japanese girl who was two years old when the devastating Hiroshima atomic bomb was dropped. She became very ill and was told of the legend if you make 1,000 paper cranes it can make you better. Feeling inspired by this story, a friend of vocalist Adam Lyons made him 1,000 paper cranes for good luck while he was at university. They hang above his bedroom, where the band recorded and produced the EP.”

I remember reading this book as a kid. I remember wanting to have those cranes hanging in my room. I picked up origami shortly after, but never with enough enthusiasm to make one thousand of anything. This was definitely a daydream I’ve had, where I would fold day and night until I had completed the task, and I would hang each one carefully from the ceiling, making sure to make them varying heights, as if they were all part of a flock mid-flight. I suppose this EP could be a sonic interpretation of that daydream, this nostalgia.

I have no doubt that Fairchild could be a crossover hit, on both mainstream and independent radio. It’s only a matter of getting people to pay attention.

Fairchild’s Sadako EP is out now. For more information, visit their website.

Snippets of Feeling: an interview with Kathleen Mary Lee

14 Nov

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a delightful new folk artist, Kathleen Mary Lee. I discussed her latest single, “Hours Gone By,” and now she is back with a video for the track. I was also privileged enough to virtually sit down with Kathleen (we were both at computers in our respective homes), and ask her some questions about her music and the new video. Continue reading

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