Sunday, January 29, 2006

ester drang

i posted about ester drang back in november of last year when word of their third album, rocinate first began spilling off tongues, just as a faint whisper. some of you that have been with me for awhile may remember that post and may still have the song of theirs which i shared. not long after i posted "come back alive", i was emailed a link from a kind soul to mp3s of the rest of the album's songs. so i've been listening to it for a couple months now. but for most people, this week was the first opportunity to finally listen to rocinate in its entirety, as it was released by jade tree on january 24th.

many bands fail to grow musically because they find a sound that feels good to them and then they just start churning out music in that same mold for each subsequent album, never stepping outside their comfort zone. on rocinate, though, ester drang have taken another decent-sized step away from the bounds of their comfort zone. they've managed to successfully add a few new elements and dimensions to their repertoire without straying to far from the sound that won over many fans like myself.

so, once more, i'll post "come back alive", the first cut off the new record.
also, here are two more songs that i feel really illustrate the growth ester drang have made:

MP3: "come back alive"
MP3: "smoke and air"
MP3: "caledonia"
from the album: rocinate
release date: 01/24/06
label: jade tree

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

cat power

it's gals week here at 'the camera as pen.' or so it seems, huh?

with new releases this week from both jenny lewis and cat power, i had a tough time deciding which of these two countrified songstresses deserved the 'album of the week' distinguishment. but when all was said and done, i had to give the edge to ms. chan marshall. the greatest just seemed to be the more...timeless of the two albums. besides, if i gave it to lewis, how would that effect the validity of chan's album title? it would make it a lie. and we here don't like to point fingers and call people liars. so i'll give her the benefit of the doubt and pronounce that this week, cat power is, in fact, the greatest.

sure she's traded in some of her electric guitar noodling for lapsteel and horns, and it could be argued that it's either a step in the wrong direction or something that completely suits her. but whichever side you're on, marshall's sultry vocals and angsty lyrical themes are still the centerpiece here and that's all it takes to make this...album of the week!

MP3: "the greatest"
MP3: "lived in bars"
MP3: "the moon"
from the album: the greatest
release date: 01/24/06
label: matador

jenny lewis

here are a couple songs off of jenny lewis' brand new solo record, rabbit fur coat. this is her first venture into the world of solo artistry, having honed her skills previously with the band rilo kiley, whose 2004 album more adventurous turned out to be quite the endearing little record. this one is not too shabby either. but it's hardly just lewis and her guitar here. besides the appearance of benjamin gibbard, m. ward and conor oberst on one song ("handle with care"), she is backed up by the watson twins - are we supposed to know who these girls are??? - throughout much of the album. also, rabbit fur coat is co-produced by m.ward and mike mogis. the presence of these two guys in the making of this album lends it an immeasurable dose of credibility, at least in my eyes (and ears).

if you're not like me, though, and you have a certain number of hangups about some of the supporting cast involved on this record, you can just forget them. because once you sit down and listen to this record, you will surely put them out of your mind and latch onto lewis' charm, her biting wit, and the honey voice with which she tells her tales.

for whatever it's worth, here are a few songs that i've enjoyed listening to and have selected to share with you. pay special attention to the lyrics of "the charging sky", as that was the main thing that i liked about it. also, it's a weird connection to make, but i do have to say that lewis' manner of singing on "melt your heart" reminds me a lot of...elliott smith.

MP3: "rise up with fists"
MP3: "the charging sky"
MP3: "melt your heart"
from the album: rabbit fur coat
release date: 01/24/06
label: team love

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

acid house kings

from the very same swedish label that brought us the radio dept., the legends, and suburban kids with biblical names, here come the acid house kings singing and playing sweet little pop tunes just as well as any of the aforementioned bands.

MP3: "do what you wanna do"
MP3: "this heart is a stone"
MP3: "7 days"
from the album: sing along with the acid house kings
release date: 09/13/05
label: labrador

Monday, January 16, 2006

brian mcbride

anybody that likes the stars of the lid or the films of david gordon green should love this brian mcbride 2005 solo album, when the detail lost its freedom.

mcbride is one half of stars of the lid - adam wiltzie's solo work as the dead texan is amazing, too - and this album is gorgeous. mike linnen does a lot of the guitar work, and you can see at mcbride's kranky page, that linnen has worked on music for several of david gordon green's movies, which are all astounding: george washington, all the real girls, and undertow.

really beautiful stuff.

MP3: "a gathering to lead me when i'm gone"
MP3: "our last moment in song"
from the album: when the detail lost its freedom
release date: 10/31/05
label: kranky

Sunday, January 08, 2006

shugo tokumaru

MP3: "mist"
from the album: l.s.t.
release date: 2005
label: compare notes