I almost passed on this LP. Thinking, because of the title, that it would be upscale retail pop that one hears in “eclectic” new age mall outlets. I’m glad I didn’t. While this Karl Verkade work is ambient and meditative, it does have a sonic texture that doesn’t allow it to be stashed in the background. As the artist states, it is an “accompaniment” to any meditative or introspective down time for body and soul and it does envelope, rather than follow behind you.
Water: Music for Meditation is available as a “Name Your Price” selection at bandcamp.com.
The Stage Names was released in 2007 and Okkervil River does a great job of packing this LP with personal insights and emotion. The record is a combination of traditional Rock anthems and slow ballads. One track, “Savannah Smiles”, is a sad song that would appeal to any parent with a young daughter. I love the raw, unpolished energy of this band. The music is filled with feedback, experimentation, and vocals that aren’t perfectly mixed.
With ridiculous track titles like Placebo Headwound and The Abandoned Hospital Ship, The Flaming Lips have carved out a place for themselves where few dare tread. They are the circus parade of the surreal; a musical acid trip. And I absolutely love them. They’ve eschewed commercialism with their bizarre lyrics and unconventional song structure. And, while the music is extremely experimental in places, there is an underlying rock rhythm that carries the songs along expertly. Clouds Taste Metallic (released 1995) is a wonderful, cinematic surprise.
It’s hard to think of Cat Stevens without the nagging religious overtones. I try not to judge, often unsuccessfully, so, I’ll concentrate on the music. Cat Stevens’ music is known to almost every generation on the planet now. His songs are personal stories that transfer uncannily into our own lives.
Death Cab For Cutie’s latest release is the last album with founding member Chris Walla. Fittingly, Kintugi is the Japanese art of filling cracks in broken pottery with adhesives mixed with precious metal. It could be a subliminal message, that while the band has broken, they are stronger than ever. The music on this LP is some of Death Cab’s best work. There seems to be more emphasis on guitars and percussion than in past releases. It’s a sound closest to the Rock influence of alternative music.
As the Northern Hemisphere exits another winter and our Southern Hemisphere brothers and sisters close in on one, I’d like to introduce my all time favorite folk record. On A Winter’s Night is filled with beautiful, melancholy songs that are best played on a chilly, lonely evening.
The National released Boxer in 2007 and it went on to be selected as album of the year by various blogs and music organizations. This is not an upbeat record, but I find the lyrics poignant, poetic, and relevant. The message from these brooding, introspective songs could be positive or negative depending on ones current situation. It’s a great record to listen to when ruminating on past regrets and future hopes.
“You know I dreamed about you
For 29 years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for, for 29 years”
I’ve always liked the looseness of Broken Social Scene. It’s as if 10 or 20 great musicians would get together at a party and a jam would break out. This latest LP, Forgiveness Rock Record, released in 2010 is the bands last (final?) effort. The record is more tight and controlled, but still achieves an authentic “Broken…” sound. The band is officially on hiatus now, but they do emerge now and then with a live appearance or a piece of music.
Stars’ In Our Bedroom After The War is an easy to listen to , and easy to like alternative music record. A lot of the tracks are composed so as to be a dialog between a man and a woman. The record mixes elements of theater and literature into their baroque music compositions.
The following track is a sad, emotional short story that exemplifies these elements in a beautiful musical fabric.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”