Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Music of Late

Okay. Light fare today. I've run into a few more groovy tunes that I've added to my library. Yeah, this is yet another appendix to my ongoing series on the cultural aesthetics of 21st century music (The Postmusical Age and The Postmusical Age II). But you can go there for the background. This time I'll just survey my latest faves, and that right quick.

Okay, I admit it. Gnarls Barkley is a genius pair (of Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green). Creative and cool. Don't dig all of it, but some of it is just damned good. Like I've said before, I want stuff that's more like music and less like rap. So, "Run," "Who's Gonna Save My Soul," "Going On," "Crazy," etc. are my thing. Does this count as retro-nuveau 70s soul? Like, but better? Oh totally, dude! And lo, for as we slaver in the postmusical age, how about a sound exactly the opposite? Try this. I'm somewhat digging the Bristol band Portishead. But only selectively. They've been around since the 90's, but I only discovered them recently. Creative. Weird. Occasionally good. I'm very much loving the idea of making rock tunes that sound like they're being sung to cool movie soundtracks. Put your ear to their "Sour Times" and you'll see what I mean.

And then scuttle, hurry to some surprisingly good retro-nuveau 80s pop. Ever heard Santogold? If not, you should. You know you're in the postmusical age when you're listening to a black female ex-punk rocker with a dual-major college degree and corporate resume in music production branching out into a brilliant solo career in eerily futuristic 80s retro. Say that three times fast. Hold on. Is she channeling the Pixies and Siouxsie Sioux? And yet sounding entirely different from everyone else in the history of music? Is that even possible? Why, yes. In the postmusical era of course.

But no need to look only for retro. The 80s greats are still here. For example, the new B-52's album rocks. Did I say B-52s? Yes indeed. They just released Funplex, which somehow manages to sound totally like the B-52s and yet completely updated and new, with a clean, electronic dance tune sound and yet still a good dose of that bizarro B-52s charm. Meanwhile, for a different crowd of 80s fans, the new Echo & the Bunnymen album Siberia is also pretty good. It wouldn't have sounded odd even had it been released in the 80s, and yet it's still that interestingly unique folksy 80s pop the Echo always was. Kudos.

But it's not all about the 80s, you know. The postmusical age would never have that. So you want something totally awesome but not even remotely like anything above? Why, just pick up the latest Minnie Driver album. Yes, the Minnie Driver. In fact, buy both her albums. Every track is beautiful. And that's rare for any artist. She knows how to pick her players and writers. In fact, she writes most of her own songs. And she can sing. For real. What's her style? Folksy smokehouse blues? What country western would sound like if it were actually good? Chick music that makes Sheryl Crow and Tori Amos sound like pretentious hacks? (Well, aren't they? Oh, did I say that out loud?)

But okay. Switch on over now to the latest 50s retro. I just discovered Holly Golightly. No, not the Holly Golightly...well, I guess, yeah, the actual one, since the original one was a fictional character, and Holly Smith's parents really did name her Holly Golightly Smith (when I told my Jen that, she
quizzically remarked, "Did her parents even watch that movie?"). Her best work is on her latest album Truly She Is None Other. Highly recommended. Just in case you didn't know from her 50s Americana sound, she's actually British. Yet she could be playing a Kansas farm-town prom in 1955. Postmusical age, here we are! Oh, and by the way, just to drive home the point: this is also another female ex-punk-rocker. You know, the kind of girl who would actually sing a song like "C*me into My Mouth" while dressed like a guitar-wielding nun (no, I'm not kidding). Oh, but don't worry, pornophobes can rest assured that her solo stuff is mostly goody two-shoes, and even when not, it's never exactly shocking.

Bit of a strange story, though. How did I discover Holly? I heard a brief track on a cellphone commercial that sounded awesome. So I Googled my way to discovering that it was a custom in-house bit not for sale anywhere. But among the many, many others who were, like me, trying to find out how to get that damned track, one guy said he thought it sounded like Holly Golightly. Say who? I don't think he's right (unless Holly is trying a totally new sound she hasn't released yet). But I went over to iTunes to find out who she was, just in case he was on to something. What I found was a complete surprise. Not least because I recognized her voice right away. She did a duet (or do you call it a triplet?) with Meg and Jack White,
"It's True That We Love One Another," one of the White Stripes' inside-joke tracks (which is pretty funny) on Elephant. I had always wondered who the hell this other chick was sharing a song on a White Stripes album, and with a British accent no less, all out of the blue with no explanation. Well, now I know.
Okay. End boring personal trivia. I'll close now with another recent 50s retro group (are there any others out there? Do tell!), this time Danish (yes, you heard that right): the Raveonettes. I don't like their passion for adding grunge noise to their tracks. I prefer the clean sound of their album Pretty in Black. But I'm not totally off their other stuff. This couple has potential. So keep a look out for them, too.

That's it. Signing off.


freethoughtguy said...

Good, eclectic choice of tunes, as usual. Not that I'm a brooding and melancholy kind of guy, but I really dig Portishead too. After 11 long years, they just released their "Third" album, and it's just as Euro-depresso good as the old stuff. Best listened to at the end of a long day, alone, with a stiff drink or two.

Richard Carrier said...

Hah, well.

For salve if you need it there is the new Goldfrapp album, Seventh Tree, which as usual is totally different their every other album, more resembling some warm 70s Bud Cort indy film score, you can almost hear the peasant dresses and bell-bottoms next to the strummed guitars and quiet tambourines. And yet still eerie and beautiful. I know some fans were disappointed. But this one grew on me. And it's more happy happy than Portishead.

Just FYI. In case you want music for every mood.

Ben said...

I'll have to check some of this out when I have access to itunes.

Grégoire said...

I'm so glad someone else found Portishead interesting. They've been one of my favorites for ten years. I got there through Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, and the ambient supergroup Delerium.

You've got interesting tastes Richard.

Rarus vir said...

Check out Mara Carlyle, youtube has a video called Baby Bloodheart, good stuff man. Think you'd like it.
Hey ARU, DaVinci here. Nice to see ya.

Unknown said...

Hi, this is JT from Missouri State - we've e-mailed. ;) It seems your interest in music is as diverse as your interest in all things academic.

Some friends and I run a fairly heretical blog where I, being a music major, recently did a piece explaining music theory in a way that people will hopefully find interesting. Since you seem to be a sucker for understanding how things work (as well as interested in music, apparently), I thought I'd throw it by you. :D

Thanks for everything you do, and for giving us an occasional glimpse of who you are behind the badass.



Richard Carrier said...

JT: Thanks! BTW, from one blogger to another, how do you get audio files (with an in-line player control panel) into a blogspot post? I've always wanted to know how to do that (and can it be done with video clips, too?).

nisemono3.14 said...

Sure. :)

Well, you have to have some place to upload the audio to, and it just so happens that xanga, where ARU and I also blog, has an audio uploader.

To get them into a post, you need an embed text, and either youtube or the xanga audio uploader will provide you with that once you have the item in question uploaded.

From there, you click the "edit html" button in an entry and copy/paste the embed text where you want the player to be.

It's kind of hard to explain here, but if you need to do it in the future, e-mail me for my phone number and I'll walk you through it. :)

Take care, and thanks again for everything you do.


Unknown said...

PS -

The above is what happens when you let friends check their blog on your computer. ;)


Ben said...

Finally got around to browsing through your recommendations through itunes. The Minnie Driver stuff was actually pretty decent in that soothing kind of way, but I can't imagine when I'd actually listen to it. So I didn't find anything this time around. Last time, I bought two albums plus, so perhaps next time, eh?

Ben said...

Haha, JT. At least she's cute.