I Am Not A Robot

I’m completely obsessed with Marina and the Diamonds at the moment. I like her 3 singles so much I think I’m going to explode.

It’s pop, but a little “left-of-the-dial” as the muso types say. She has a weird, passionate voice that jumps around like a giddy sparrow, and her lyrics suggest darkness and depth. There’s a back story that’s pretty interesting as well — she really wanted to be in a manufactured pop band, but never made it. Then she started writing her own songs. She’s not super-hot or anything, but there’s something cute about her, and in her videos she looks like she’s really having fun… and that’s probably better than mere hotness.

If you don’t quite get these songs initially, don’t worry. I took a few listens, but now (all of three days later) I listen to these songs pretty much on repeat.

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Twenty Ten!

I’m back in cold old Boston, and back to google reader-enhanced music discovery.

Firstly, folk sorceress Laura Marling is back with a new video, a new hairdo and a bigger sound. (I stole much of that line from the Guardian. Very apt.)

Secondly, Vampire Weekend is out with their second album, Contra. More Graceland-punk! It’s currently Billboard #1. Who says popular music has to suck?

You can sample it on grooveshark. The song “Cousins” also has a kick-ass video.

And thirdly, Midlake’s much-anticipated (by me at least!) second album is out. Well, technically it hasn’t been released yet, but you can grooveshark it. I haven’t decided if I dig it yet, but it’s growing on me. Their first album — a somber mix of Americana and melodic 70s soft-rock — is one of my all-time favourites now. Since August ’08 it has been permanently associated with the ghat road connecting Gudalur to Ooty. I listened to it on a KSRTC bus early one morning on my way home from Bangalore. It seemed to fit perfectly with the pre-dawn scenery of the upper Nilgiris.

I am unlikely to upload mp3s any more, but they’re easy enough to find. And for full albums just search for rapidshare links.

Here’s wishing everyone a musically satisfying year and decade!

Toujours Charlotte

It’s not exactly a common thing, finding singers who sound as good to me in their late thirties as they did in their early teens. Of course I must freely admit to bias in this case: Charlotte Gainsbourg is one of my favourite actor/singer hybrids (as I have said before, she is fantastic at both- try Jane Eyre for proof of the acting skills, since Antichrist sounds likely to make people queasy). And even if one were to contend that she sounds good because she gets cool collaborators (Serge Gainsbourg= Dad, we need a post on him sometime, Air= fans of Dad, collaborators with Charlotte later in her career), the fact still remains, she sounds amazing. IRM, her latest album (produced by Beck, whom I will always and forever associate with Loser) is no exception to the rule. It’s just that it’s even better than 5:55, less vague in spots, not quite as dreamy- and I strongly recommend listening to the track below, it’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a month and Charlotte’s combination of Brit accent,husk and whisper is as lovely as it ever was. I suspect it’ll probably be one of the best things I hear in 2010, too. 

Charlotte Gainsbourg feat. Beck- Heaven Can Wait

Truly Amazing Romance

I don’t really give a shit about most music in its own right. Most of what I post on here is just things I have been listening to for long enough to know that I absolutely love them, and which I treat like the aural equivalent of a dog’s favourite old bone or chewy toy. And given that the song I’m posting about was first heard at Alexander McQueen’s last fashion show in October  and has since been featured on Gossip Girl, it really isn’t news to anyone. But then I am not the NME, so here goes.

I absolutely love Bad Romance. Lady Gaga songs and I have had a bit of a love-hate relationship over the last year and a bit- Just Dance and Beautiful Dirty Rich were fabulous, but Poker Face makes my ears bleed. I’ve always loved her rather distinctive, cyberwhorish getups though- it’s rare to see a female pop star who takes control of her image so effectively (except Madonna) and doesn’t sell sex in the same mindless formulaic way as every other insipid twit. And I can’t help a rather sneaky admiration for the fact that she insists on being addressed as ‘Gaga’, having managed to create a proper alter ego for herself- all this in her early twenties.

In Bad Romance, Lady Gaga  manages to tick every one of my boxes. She appeals to my fuckoff side (does anything she wears look like it’d be worn by someone who gives a shit about what other people think? No). She appeals to my pop tart side (insanely, insanely catchy). She appeals, in a MASSIVE way, to my fash-hag side (Alexander McQueen SS10 massive clumpy 1 foot high armadillo shoes! She walks in them!).  And the video is beyond awesome. It is the reason I’m not posting an mp3 for this post, since it’s better if you watch rather than just listen. And I  bet everyone’s done plenty of listening already.

DT Post #268

What if Dream Theater had an another singer? One just as capable, but with a deeper, throatier, more mainstream voice?

It boggles the mind, it does.

My mind, at least.

And many others’.

PS

This just goes to prove that whatever you may think of his tone, James LaBrie actually does sing very well– he’s powerful and accurate. (In the studio, at least.)

PPS

Original voice clip:

Two little playlists

Today I went wandering around Cambridge looking for a Halloween costume. Didn’t get one. Wasn’t ‘feeling it’, although I think I know what I’ll be. The question is whether to roll up my sleeves and go D.I.Y., or dish out the dollars.

It’s pretty chilly in Boston now, and I picked some music for the walk that was appropriately autumnal. I listened to Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Noah and the Whale, Wooden Shjips, and The Big Pink. All highly recommended.

Here is a sampling of their wares, in the form of an imeem playlist. Let me know if it works fine. You’ll need to sign up I think, but it’s completely free. (lala is also pretty good, but you can only listen to each song once for free.)

It’s amazing how the music in your earphones colours the scene you’re walking through. (It’s a neat analogy for the way our consciousness filters all experience.) It’s as if you find yourself in a movie, with the soundtrack clueing you in on what sort of movie it is. A dog running around in a park could make you feel vertiginous nostalgia or envigorating excitement, depending on the backing track. Elvis Perkins’s ‘123 Goodbye’ sounds to me like a song at the very end of a tragic-yet-uplifting American film. You know the movie is almost over. Someone’s driving off in a car, glancing into the rear view mirror. There’s a lump in your throat perhaps. You wish it could have ended differently. Nevertheless, it’s an end, and it’s time to say goodbye. Soon the credits will start rolling.

~

string

I’ve been listening to vast quantities of The Incredible String Band these days [listen!]. They’re a Scottish psychedelic folk band from the 60s. They capture hippie idealism, spirituality and humour perfectly. I love them, but it’s entirely possible that you’ll hate them. They’re fruity. (For instance: they have a song sung from the perspective of a flower. It goes “turn your quivering nose in my direction”.) They mix Indian and Middle Eastern music with English and Scottish folk, and American country and blues. I find myself increasingly drawn to their lyrics. They’re mystical and poetic. I’ll leave you with some quotes:

The Hedgehog’s Song

Oh, you know all the words, and you sung all the notes,
But you never quite learned the song, she sang.
I can tell by the sadness in your eyes,
That you never quite learned the song.

The Water Song

Water water see the water flow
Glancing dancing see the water flow
O wizard of changes water water water
Dark or silvery mother of life
Water water holy mystery heavens daughter

God made a song when the world was new
Waters laughter sings it is true
O, wizard of changes, teach me the lesson of flowing.

Maya

The great man, the great man, historians his memory
Artists his senses, thinkers his brain
Labourers his growth
Explorers his limbs
And soldiers his death each second
And mystics his rebirth each second
Businessmen his nervous system
No-hustle men his stomach
Astrologers his balance
Lovers his loins
His skin it is all patchy
But soon will reach one glowing hue
God is his soul
Infinity his goal
The mystery his source
And civilization he leaves behind
Opinions are his fingernails

Maya Maya
All this world is but a play
Be thou the joyful player

These songs can be found here.

Keep The Faith..

paloma faith stone cold soberThis is a bit of a cheat post, given that I posted about Paloma Faith ages ago on Nonsense on Stilettos (here), but she finally has an album out – for a month now, and it’s every bit as good as it should be. Though it’s not as bonkers as some of her awesome stage costumes, the songs are more than well worth a listen- I do rather adore her slightly throwback style of singing- to borrow an apt and very cool turn of phrase, it puts me in mind of having the auditory version of cream poured, very slowly, into my ears.
Paloma Faith – Stone Cold Sober

Paloma Faith- New York

EDIT: Turns out I gave in two links pointing to the same song..sorry, and it’s fixed now!