Album Review


Dear Readers,

Musical Pairings has moved. Yup, you can now find me and our Musical Pairings, Single Servings and the monthly mixtapes over at Turntable Kitchen: http://www.turntablekitchen.com

So update your RSS readers, bookmarks, etc. , and start following our new Twitter account and Facebook page.  See you there!

Best,

Matthew

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I won’t speak for my readers, but personally I love nothing more than good straight-forward, down & dirty, classical-era inspired rock n’ roll.  The type of album that could only exist because a few dudes hung out and dropped the needle on stacks and stacks of vinyl by folks like the Kinks, Rolling Stones and David Bowie.  I imagine this hypothetical crew thinking: “No one writes them like they used to”.  And who knows, maybe I’m way off base here, but – based on their music – it certainly sounds to me like you could have pretty heated conversations with The Parting Gifts‘ songwriters, Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sounds, Compulsive Gamblers, The Oblivians) and Coco Hames (the Ettes, Coco Motion), about their favorite obscure 60’s garage rock records.

The Parting Gifts debut, Strychnine Dandelion, is a pure, snarling collection of tumbling, raucous rock and roll.  The album features a collection of guest appearances from rock devotees including the likes of folks like The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and The Raconteurs’ Patrick Keeler. This one is scheduled for release on November 9. They also recorded a 7″ for Norton Records Rolling Stones collection that is available now.

Oh – and I should probably mention that things will be quiet around here for a little while.  Kasey and I will be in Toronto next week for a wedding, so we’ll be taking a few days off.  We’ll also be devoting a little additional time to prepping our soon-to-launch new site.  We’re calling our new baby Turntable Kitchen.   Follow us on our new twitter account to stay in the loop.

The Parting Gifts – Keep Walkin’

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The Decemberists are back with a new single from their upcoming new album titled The King Is Dead scheduled for a January 18, 2010 release. The first single is titled “Down By The Water” featuring Gillian Welch on backing vocals and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar.  It is a heady, robust country-tinged rocker with a glistening, earthy acoustic guitar fronted melody.  Oh, and it is notably straight-forward — so those of you turned off by their last album are invited back into the fold.

The Decemberists – Down By The Water

Don’t forget to “heart” our songs on hypem if you like what you hear!

If you have been following me on Twitter (or are aware of my fanatical excitement regarding the S.F. Giants’ World Series win), I imagine you might have expected I’d be all up in here with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” this morning, huh?  Well, it has been hard to concentrate on anything else, but I’ve still found time to uncover great new music this week.

Speaking of which — I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a soft spot in my music-loving heart for a catchy pop tune recorded with a distinct DIY-approach.  So it is with pleasure that I can introduce a recent lo-fi pop-folk discovery:  Solomon’s Hollow.   Solomon’s Hollow is the moniker of Portland-by-way-of-Boise based singer-songwriter Nate Agenbroad who records sincere and contentedly mellow folk, jazz and blues inspired tunes (think: Iron & Wine, Horse Feathers, & early Devendra Banhart) that he mixes, masters, writes and records all by himself.  His latest, Genre Studies, is a spectacularly intimate album featuring a collection of leathery, beautifully evocative melodies constructed around Agenbroad’s gently sly vocals and intricately crafted instrumentation that includes everything from acoustic guitar, piano, and banjolele to jingling a fistful of spare change.  Genre Studies will be available as a free download and via iTunes on November 9, 2010.

Solomon’s Hollow – Silent Film

Don’t forget to “heart” our songs on hypem if you like what you hear!

Kasey and I rarely back-away from recipes that feature hearty, complex flavors.  In fact, many of my favorite recipes are luscious, earthy and rich.  Kasey’s truffled gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms is a great example of this.  It is a smooth, lush recipe with big flavors.  And it pairs well with Sufjan Stevens’ latest epic – The Age of Adz.  At one of his recent performances in Oakland, Stevens noted that The Age of Adz was an album about process.  Previously celebrated primarily as an exceptional songwriter, for his latest work, Stevens abandoned his familiar tools, opting for a less structured form of craftsmanship that focused on development through sonic exploration and process-driven production.  As a result, The Age of Adz is an artisanly blended hodge-podge of coarsely chopped IDM, Kid A-esque electronica, gospel, and folk that alluringly sparkles, bleeps, bloops, organically resonates, and hums in equal measures.

In addition to focusing on new methods of song development, Stevens also chose to no longer drink from the well of his prior inspiration.  And instead of focusing on story-based songwriting using the history of individual U.S. states as a creative springboard, Stevens drew inspiration for this album from the art and life of the reclusive American artist Royal Robertson (a.k.a. Prophet Royal).  Royal was schizophrenic and delusional and suffered from disturbing visions of UFO’s and celestial beings.  His visions led him to believe that his wife was unfaithful and that his children were not his own.  As a result, he pushed them away and lived in isolation until his death.  Stevens, who had struggled with an unidentified affliction during the creation of the album, clearly identified with Prophet Royal’s suffering as demonstrated by the lyrical and musical content of the album which create a sense of a violent struggle to overcome personal adversity.  As a result, one suspects that although it is Stevens’ least direct and straight-forward album (lyrically that is), it is also may be his most intensely personal effort to date.  For example, Stevens mentioned that “Vesuvius” was about Stevens’ own personal struggles that brought him to an edge of a metaphorical volcano pondering the possibility of jumping in (death).  The results of Steven’s exploration are spectacular, and the album is one of the year’s most intriguing and scintillating releases – faltering only (in my opinion) during the listless and unengaging “Now That I’m Older” – a track that always manages to lose my attention.  Otherwise, each track is lush, full, textured, and sonically rich.  Buy it from Amazon on 2xLP or CD.

Sufjan Stevens – Too Much (Short Version)
Sufjan Stevens – I Walked

Head back to eating/sf for the recipe for truffled gnocchi with chanterelle mushrooms.

Generally, I prefer to hear more than one song by an artist before I get all wide-eyed and enthusiastic, but in the case of Young Magic I’ll make an exception – purely based on the quality of the one song in question.  Young Magic is the one-man project of Australian-born Issac who is currently spending time traveling back and forth between Berlin and New York.  His first release is a single by the name of “You In The Air.”  — a billowy, resonant plume of boisterous soul and joyous synth-psych.  Trust me, you are going to trip out on this track.  Watch his bandcamp page for more cuts.

Young Magic – You In The Air.

Don’t forget to “heart” our songs on hypem if you like what you hear!

Los Angeles’ based Young Hunting offer a much needed reminder to the indie music scene that a real honest-to-god band can be dreamy, hazy and sonically laid-back without relying on synths or laptops.  Their slowly percolating, melody-forward cuts are smooth, smoky and mature.  You can call it shoegaze or dreampop, but it really falls somewhere in the middle of the two.  The vinyl 7″ is available for purchase from K Recs.  A digital download is available from bandcamp.

Young Hunting – Sonata

Don’t forget to “heart” our songs on hypem if you like what you hear!

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