SONG

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On January 2nd, Jens Lekman announced his plan to record and release a new song ever week for the rest of the year. This is, of course, super great news. The songs will be recorded while he works on his next album, and the way he describes it, they’ll be sort of off-the-cuff thoughts put to music – he says to consider them “postcards… little greetings from me to you”. Considering it was a full five years between 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala and 2012’s I Know What Love Isn’t, this is a welcome change of pace for those of us who love Lekman’s unique brand of lovesick poetry.

Considering how candidly confessional  Lekman’s songwriting tends to be, this is a natural direction for the writer to pursue – and anything that leaves us with 52 more Jens Lekman songs is good news to me. Below is our first taste of what Jens has in store, which is titled, appropriately enough, “Postcard #1”. Enjoy.

And here’s the full announcement from Jens Lekman’s blog:

Happy new year!

Here’s my new years resolution for 2015: While working on my next album, I will sit down once a week, write down my thoughts, turn them into a song and share it with you directly. Think of these little songs as postcards. Little greetings from me to you.
You see, I spend a lot of time on my songs, on their details. I sweep the streets that my characters walk on and polish every doorknob until I feel confident to let other people in. But it does lead to a very isolated creative phase.
And I’ve been longing to share my thoughts and life with you a bit more. I’ve been longing to write about things that make sense one particular day but that might make no sense once the album comes out.
Then at the end of this year we can sit down you and me and listen through these 52 songs, and remember where we were and when we were there, who we kissed and who we missed. I’m looking forward to that.
Yours truly Jens Lekman

 

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I’m actually really looking forward to this little compilation of Buddy Holly covers due out June 28th. Look at that lineup. The Black Keys, Sir Paul McCartney, Modest Mouse, and yes, Kid Rock (!!!)

Buddy Holly was one of the artists I knew as a child. I’m not talking teenage years or even my tweenage years, Buddy Holly goes back to those endless car rides to northern Wyoming to visit my mother’s family. Crammed into a mini-van along with my four other siblings while my parents listened to a steady stream of Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline, and The Beach Boys. (All of these artists can make me feel carsick no matter where I am when I hear them.)

But lets get back into the present and talk about the fantastic cover of Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” by She & Him. Zooey Deschanel’s voice and M. Ward’s guitar have always felt  like they were plucked right out of the fifties, so this cover is just perfect.

mp3: She & Him – Oh Boy
from the compilation Rave on Buddy Holly (pre-order it here)

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When did Alberta become so hip? Between Bon Iver’s new track “Calgary”, the fantastic track Chris just posted from Calgary-native Chad VanGaalen, and everything about The Rural Alberta Advantage I find myself longing for the cold expanses of our northern neighbor.

Let just all agree right now to pre-order the new Bon Iver album and meet back here June 21st to discuss. Deal?

Link: Download Bon Iver – “Calgary”

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Oh hello there! Nice to see you again! Why thank you, I did cut my hair! You’re so sweet for noticing! It’s been a couple months since I’ve carried my weight around here, and that is unacceptable. (Sorry Logan.) But my semester’s wrapping up in the next week or so, so I’ll soon be able to come out of my cocoon and e-shine on the i-webs again!

But seriously, I have so much great music to write about it’s ridiculous. For now, here’s something newish from one of my lo-fi favorites, Chad VanGaalen. It’s called “Sara” and it’s great. Apparently the rest of his new record (charmingly and childishly entitled Diaper Island) is fairly electric, using lots of crunchy guitars and fuzzy production, but you’d never know it from this little gem. Take a listen, and I promise to write more soooooon!

mp3: Chad VanGaalen – Sara
from the album Diaper Island (pre-order it here)

It doesn’t feel that long ago when hardly a week went by on this blog that we didn’t mention folk-rocker  Joshua James. We love him here. And by my count its been a few months since last we saw Joshua grace our blog with his bittersweet voice. So he’s due.

Well the best I can offer you (and its actually pretty good) is a cover of Herman’s Hermits “No Milk Today.” The song is from a TV show called Sons of Anarchy…a show I’ve never actually seen…but its rated TV-MA, so my delicate disposition probably couldn’t handle it anyway. (And just in case any of you ask the same question I asked: “Who are The Forest Rangers?” That is the band of the composer for Sons of Anarchy. Mystery solved.)

mp3: Joshua James and The Forest Rangers – No Milk Today (Herman’s Hermits cover)
from the EP Sons of Anarchy: The King is Gone (buy it here)

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I love this song by MNDR (aka Amanda Warner), the dance pop diva from New York who’s poised to blow up any day now. (That is, if doing a song with Mark Ronson and Q-Tip isn’t blown up enough already.) Her four-song EP released last year was pretty great, a short and sweet introduction to a significant talent, full of danceable beats and swelling sing-along refrains. “Cut Me Out” continues to build on that, boasting more twitchy beats and sparkling synths topped off with her catchiest chorus yet. Suggested listening place: in your car, with the windows down, on an unseasonably warm and sunny day in early March. Woot!

mp3: MNDR – Cut Me Out
from the Green Label Sound single (free)

mp3: Mark Ronson (featuring MNDR and Q-Tip) – Bang Bang Bang
from the album Record Collection (buy it here)

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Wow everyone. It is busy around here. Between writing an endless stream of papers and staying on top of the latest Charlie Sheen news, I just don’t seem to have a spare minute. But long ago, I promised High School Logan that no matter what else was happening in my life, I would always make time for Cat Stevens.

I really can’t get enough of Cat Stevens (or Yusuf, as he now likes to be known). I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, his voice is as strong and magical as it ever was. He really hasn’t missed a beat.

Written in response to the recent uprisings and demonstrations that are sweeping the Middle East and Africa, “My People” is his latest offering and besides being 100% free, its just perfect. This is really my favorite type of protest song. Rather than an overt sense of anger or aggression, you are met with a soft-voiced plea for peace and an end to suffering and oppression. (Its the difference between RATM’s “Killing in the Name Of” and Lennon’s “Imagine”)(Two of the finest protest songs ever BTW)

So although many of you may not share my affinity for Cat Stevens, I hope you enjoy this.

mp3: Yusuf – My People
from the single My People (free)

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I’m kind of ridiculously anxious for The Mountain Goats forth-coming record, All Eternals Deck (out March 29th on Merge Records).  I’m not the biggest MG’s fan in the world (it’d be a full-time job to be a fanboy for someone this prolific), but every few years one of John Darnielle’s records just hits exactly the right chord for me – The Sunset Tree did it in 2005, and Heretic Pride did it again in 2008. Those records were just exactly what I needed right then and I played them pretty much into the ground. Well I’m feeling the stars align once again, and I’m ready for another Mountain Goat fix. Just hook’em right into my veins, thank you very much.

Besides it having been a long winter, I’m not sure what exactly spurred my yearning for Darnielle’s brand of confessional jagged-edge poetry set to music, but it certainly hasn’t hurt that the first taste from the record is the excellent “Damn These Vampires” – it’s just vintage Mountain Goats, and I’ve been playing it a lot lately. March 29th can’t come soon enough. (Also, this is kind of awesome.)

mp3: The Mountain Goats – Damn These Vampires
from the album All Eternals Deck (pre-order it here)

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I’m still not totally taken with Sam Beam’s latest album as Iron and Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean – it has its moments for sure, but overall it just sort of sounds like the “college music” I spent most of college avoiding.

To be fair though, the opening track, “Walking Far From Home”, is an out-and-out gem that right from the start sets the bar unreasonably high for the rest of the album. It’s a gorgeous lyrical panorama along the lines of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” or even Beam’s own “The Trapeze Swinger,” then coupled with a beautifully haunting melody laid over lavish orchestration and production. That over-the-top production has gotten a lot of ink in recent reviews (or a lot of “pixels” I guess is more accurate), both for good and bad. But on this song at least, the production does exactly what it’s supposed to do – it turns a good song into a memorable moment, an artifact that is distinct in and of itself, above and beyond the power of the music and lyrics by themselves. It turns a simple recording of a man singing a song into a work of aural art. Am I waxing too eloquent? Just listen for yourself:

mp3: Iron and Wine – Walking Far From Home
from the album Kiss Each Other Clean (buy it here)

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‘Mermaid’ is a b-side. That’s right, this song didn’t make the cut on Okkervil River’s forthcoming album I Am Very Far (due May 10th). Wow, everyone. Wow. If this is what got cut…how amazing is this album going to be? (A: Very amazing)

Couple that with Okkervil River’s performance of ‘Wake and Be Fine’ on Jimmy Fallon last month and I’d say we’ve got a lot to look forward to in May.

mp3: Okkervil River – Mermaid
from the 12″ single Mermaid (buy it here)

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And “Welcome Chris Tobler Back To Blogging Day 2011” continues! All I can say about this is, YES.

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Hey guys! I’m back!! You may not have noticed, but I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical from the ol’ blog since around the first of the year, just posting a random video here and there. Officially, the reason for the light posting has been this huge national test I had to study for and take (ugh), but to be honest, I also just needed a break from writing-about/seeking-new music – just some time to decompress and soak in all the good music I’ve already got, and even make a little of my own. I’m not gonna lie, it felt really good. But now I’m refreshed and ready to tackle whatever 2011’s got for me!

And oh man! I couldn’t have imagined that the first thing 2011 would grace my ears with would be a new Loney Dear track! But it did! And it’s great! It actually appears on Love SIC Disco, a fantastic little sampler that commemorates the 100th release on the small London label Something in Construction. You can grab the Loney Dear song right below, as well as stream the whole comp under that. If you like it, you can download it for free right here.

mp3: Loney Dear – Loney Blues
from the album Love SIC Disco (get it for FREE here)

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