Friday, June 6, 2008

Music I've been listening to: St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, Goldfrapp, Mika

New blog feature: Music Friday!

So, N____ sent me and some other friends an email:

now, my musicphile friends, i have a special request. ... in the spirit of spring cleaning, i'm trying to knock the cobwebs out of my itunes library. ... i think its time to expand my horizons. can you help guide me to greener pastures? what are you listening to lately? what should i be listening to?
Once I'd written out my response, I realized it was extensive enough that I should also save it for posterity.

So the following is the first chunk of my email response (with added pictures, frills, etc. for blog purposes). I'm saving up some more to use for future Music Fridays. This first post will highlight a few singer/songwriter-based bands/artists; next week's will be about instrumental music of various ilks.

St. Vincent -- Based on the few 2007 albums I've heard, hers was far and away the best album of 2007. She's a seasoned indie guitarist who played with Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree (under her real name, Annie Clark), but this was her solo debut. This is exactly the kind of genre-defying music I'm searching out right now, so I'm hoping this is the beginning of an amazing career for her.
[youtube - Jesus saves, I spend]
Her song "Marry Me" (which has a bridge with lyrics that were probably quoted in every review of her album)  has already been drunkenly covered by the Dresden Dolls' singer, Amanda Palmer.
Speaking of which, I want to marry Regina Spektor! She's the most wonderful thing to come along in quite a while.
[youtube - Fidelity]

[youtube - Us]
Both songs in those YouTube clips have this feel to them that's pretty rare in music -- the only way I can describe it is that you (or at least I) get this feeling of "This is it -- this is what it's all about." I plan to analyze this general phenomenon in a later post.

Here's a mini-documentary about her life. [removed from YouTube]

Goldfrapp -- Their new album, Seventh Tree, is one of just a couple 2008 albums I've heard in full, but it seems destined to end up on every "best of 2008" list. Their older stuff was very anchored in the '80s, but the new album is different -- more of a '60s/'70s vibe. There's something poignant about how earnestly retro they are. If you have any interest in buying physical CDs anymore, get Seventh Tree for the packaging (bonus DVD, nice artwork, etc.). Here are two great songs from it:
[youtube - Caravan girl]

[youtube - A & E]

Mika -- Infectious! I have the sense that he's big in Europe but not that well known in the US. (He was initially raised in Lebanon, then his family moved to Europe to escape the conditions there.) Here's a song in which he totally rips off Queen (even alluding to it in the pre-chorus) but still comes up with something kind of original:

Stay tuned for next week's Music Friday ...


Trevor Jackson said...

If you like St. Vincent and women who've played with Sufjan Stevens, you've got another option: Shara Worden's band, My Brightest Diamond. She's just released her second album.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Thanks, Trevor -- I'll check it out...

Summer Anne said...

Hoorah for St. Vincent!

I hadn't ever heard of Mika until just now. Holy crap. That video is intense, I just sent it to a coupe people I know with a great love of 'glam' rock. Fun.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Great, I'm spreading Mikamania!

Trixie Trinidad said...

Are you sure you want to lock yourself into having to do this every Friday whether you want to or not?

There might come a Friday where you don't want to blog about Music, yet now you are forced to !

Also, what happens if you'd like to blog about music on Mondays ??

Too bad.

This is turning out to be a very rigid and inflexible blog, rather mirthless.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Are you sure you want to lock yourself into having to do this every Friday whether you want to or not?

There might come a Friday where you don't want to blog about Music, yet now you are forced to !

Also, what happens if you'd like to blog about music on Mondays ??

I didn't say I'm going to do it every single Friday for as long as I live.

And I'm certainly not saying I won't blog about music on any other day. In fact, I already have.

This is turning out to be a very rigid and inflexible blog, rather mirthless.

Oh, sorry to disappoint you -- you'll just have to get your mirth elsewhere.

John Althouse Cohen said...

On second thought, Trixie, please give me a few examples of loose, flexible, mirthful blogs that I should try to make mine more like. As George Harrison said to Paul McCartney, "Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it."

Ann Althouse said...

The walrus is Paul. The Trixie is Maxine.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Interesting theory, Mom.

Well, as the girl in the Mika video says, "By my policy, it won't happen again."

One more name for my blog comment blacklist (NOT RACIST).

John Althouse Cohen said...

Trevor: I bought both of My Brightest Diamond's albums plus one of the remix albums -- great stuff!

I misheard those lyrics in the Mika song -- the girl says, "I promise you it won't happen again." Still...

Patricia Smith said...

I remember when the White horse by Goldfrapp was just released, it was like basically every time when you go out to a bar or night club. As for Mika, I think he's adorable and I am so much in love with his song Elle Me Dit as in its video stars my idol Fanny Ardant.

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