Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

This album is great. Do you need to hear anything more? I'm sure by now you've heard that MMJ is the new savior of contemporary rock, so I won't bore you with the details. Ok, at least not all of them.

To be honest, I still have not bought Z. I regret it still, but funds are tight and priorities have to made so I skipped over it in my MMJ collection and bought Evil Urges. However, after a brilliant spectacle like Evil Urges, I think I'll have to find the pennies in my couch to purchase Z.

Jim James' voice soars over each track in perfect harmony as the guitars float seamlessly through the songs, no matter how different they are. "I'm Amazed," the lead single and best track on the album, blends oddly with "Highly Suspicious," a growly, hard-banging song that diverges wildly from the usual "voice in a subway" sound of previous albums. Instead, it features James doing his best Prince impersonation.

The more traditional MMJ sounding "Sec Walkin'" is hauntingly beautiful and more of what you would expect from James. However, even this simple song leaves you wanting more in an early Wilco-like moment. The mellowed out "Smokin from Shootin" blends a nice Ryan Adams sound as James soulfully croons.

I put on Evil Urges to write this post and had almost finished when "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2" came on. It would have been a major oversight on my part if I hadn't included it here in some way. Easily a close second to "I'm Amazed," "Touch Me..." is a great track that gets you involved from start to finish. The Coldplay pop sound is there without the cheese and James speaks so honestly and emotionally that you just want him to let loose and scream by the end (which happens...sort of).

Evil Urges will definitely be in my crowded running for "Album of the Year" with its eclectic and progressive sound. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see them perform live someday because that is truly the test of a band's greatness. Until then, I'll rock out on my iPod and enjoy what I've got so far.

My Morning Jacket
*I'm Amazed.mp3

*Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 2.mp3

myspace link

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Jump on the bandwagon, people. If you haven't heard of Fleet Foxes yet, you still might be drinking Crystal Pepsi. This CSNY-cum-Appalachian sounding group is taking the indie world by storm.

I got hooked on their excellent Sun Giant EP a few months ago, playing their signature track "Mykonos" over and over again. However, I never saw coming such a rich and thorough album follow-up as their self-titled debut provides (only $7.99 on Amazon mp3!).

As excited as I was for their full release to come out. I was actually expecting them to fall on their face a bit. It would be easy for a band like their's to overdue their sound. Instead, the feelings are almost understated as the listener is invited to sing in his or her own head (or out loud...) as a sixth member of the band.

At one point, lead singer Robin Pecknold was quoted as saying he liked being in a band where everyone sings because it provided a family-like atmosphere where everyone participates. I wholeheartedly agree with that philosophy and I hope it serves them well in the coming years.

It's hard to pick out favorite songs from the album because each track has its own endearing quality and sound, but the opening two tracks "Sun It Rises" and "White Winter Hymnal" should give you a pretty good idea about what this band is all about...but also check out the appropriately named "Blue Ridge Mountains" and the My Morning Jacket-esque "Your Protector."

Fleet Foxes -
*Sun It Rises.mp3

*White Winter Hymnal.mp3

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Josh Ritter - Live at Williamsburg Music Hall, NYC 4/28/08

Before I even get into Josh Ritter's performance, I have to say that I'm in love with Williamsburg Music Hall. The Bowery Ballroom attracts most of the best acts, but they would be much better served to play WMH on any given night. An intimate, yet sizable venue, WMH provides exactly the type of experience you would want from Josh Ritter.

It had taken me until April to see Ritter in person when he played a riveting solo acoustic performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Hilary Hahn, a famous violinist. His absolutely stunning version of "Idaho" sold me for good on his work (check out "Girl in the War" from that night on his myspace page). Not that I needed any convincing - see here and scroll to the bottom.

At WMH, Ritter played a great set list with a full band that truly seemed to enjoy playing with him. Unfortunately, Jack the Rabbit met Ritter a few days prior and officially dubbed him as arrogant and aloof (sounds like the perfect JTR artist if you ask me...), but I respect JTR's assessment. However, it was hard to not be moved by Ritter's on-stage presence.

His night managed to capture most of my favorite songs while keeping everything fresh. He didn't just run through The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter absentmindedly as so many artists do nowadays. Instead, he played quite a bit from his entire catalog, including songs like "Come and Find Me" from the Golden Age of Radio and a slew of songs from The Animal Years, including a fantastic "Lillian, Egypt" to close out the show.

One thing I found interesting was Ritter's decision to swap his opening songs from their order on THCOJR. On the album, "To the Dogs..." leads into "Mind's Eye," while in concert, he flipped the two to open the show. Was this a post-release realization of Ritter's or was he just trying something new? Anyone who's ever made a mix knows that the order of songs means just as much as the songs played so it's interesting to see Ritter switch it up so soon after an album's release.

You should probably own The Animal Years and THCOJR at least by now so I won't get into how great his performance was on those songs (and it was amazing...), but I will suggest you go see him live at some point. It's rare to see an artist seemingly enjoy their work so much that they can't help but smile throughout their show. At one point, Ritter asked the crowd to turn around and sing an a capella version of "Empty Hearts" to the sound man on tour. It was fun and definitely a highlight of the night.

Check out the set list below, but I highly recommend buying a few of his albums to get into his body of work if you haven't yet.

Set List:
  1. Mind's Eye
  2. To the Dogs or Whoever
  3. Wolves
  4. Open Doors
  5. Good Man
  6. Come and Find Me
  7. Snow Is Gone
  8. Here at the Right Time
  9. Wings
  10. Rumors
  11. Right Moves
  12. Real Long Distance
  13. Thin Blue Flame
  14. California
  15. Empty Hearts
  16. Kathleen
  1. Temptation of Adam
  2. Lilian, Egypt

*Side Note*
Check out Langhorne Slim. They opened and were so good I bought their self titled album on the spot. Cool sound, great stage presence, and a lot of fun.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jack the Rabbit: This Bud's for You

An email from JTR (italics added by me for emphasis):
"We like the new ray lamontage single that’s been leaked, right? Sounds like it’s harkening back to the heart of the matter.

Worst albums I’ve ever bought:

The Weepies – Say I am You

Martin Sexton – Seeds

The National – Boxer

Ray – TTSTB"

JTR, in response to the last two albums, I have asked Harland Williams to best express my feelings at exactly 0:59 from the clip below. That is all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


You'll thank me later:

Also, if you haven't heard it yet, head over to Heather's blog to check out Ray's new single, "Let It Be Me," off his upcoming Gossip in the Grain. I'm more than excited. It sounds like it could have come off of Trouble (quiet, backing instrumentation and lots of Ray's vocals) and I've already listened to it 5 times at work today.