A Few of my Favorites
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, I’ve been slammed with school work. In any case, I just wanted to share a few of the albums that have been on repeat throughout my hours spent in the library.
First off is a series of concept albums by The Dear Hunter, the brain spawn of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo. The group's first three albums (there are currently five or six, I believe) all tell progressing parts of a story; a baby left alone to die who grows up to search for his mother and his meaning in life. The story is great, but the music is spectacular. The styles are too many to count; classical horns and strings give way to crashing drums and staccato guitar just as easily as gypsy banjo turns into lush rainforest opuses of nine minutes or more. I hesitate to recommend any single tracks, as these albums are meant to be taken as their whole parts, but if you’re curious and just want a piece to sample, check out “City Escape”, “The Pimp and the Priest” and “His Hands Matched His Tongue” from Act I, “Smiling Swine”, “The Lake and the River”, and “The Oracles on the Delphi Express” from Act II, and “The Tank” and “Go Get Your Gun” from Act III.
The album that has been really getting stuck in my head though is cult hero Beck’s latest release, Morning Phase. The whole album sounds the way a sunrise looks. Drenched in Beach Boys-esque vocals and soft acoustics over shimmering keys, the album takes the listener on a journey throughout the start of a day. A few of my personal favorites (there are no bad songs) are “Morning”, “Heart is a Drum”, “Blue Moon”, and “Unforgiven”. There are not many stylistic differences between the songs here, they are all hazy, golden acoustic numbers that just make you feel good. Definitely a modern folk masterpiece in my opinion.
In the same vein of sunny, smoky folk music, I’ve been listening to Brightblack Morning Light’s self-titled album a lot as well. It’s a few years old, but the music is amazing, very down-tempo low-key swamp psychedelia. The album can get a bit old for a while (a few rhythms are repeated throughout the album), but as a whole it’s a nice listen that makes an excellent background choice for homework. My personal favorite is the ten-minute “Star Blanket River Child”. This is music for sitting around a bonfire in late June when the sun is still up at nine at night and everybody is just that perfect level of drunk.
The last album that has drilled into my brain is entitled Emmaar by an interesting group called Tinariwen from Africa. The members all have difficult histories with their families and homelands, and you can hear the heat and brutality of their lives in their music: the droning low end underneath skittering, jangly guitar lines that lead to nowhere, constantly humming drums, etc., but with a Deep South blues twist on it. It’s kind of what would happen if Ravi Shankar jammed with the Velvet Underground and Taj Mahal. Also it’s worth a listen just to get to know these musicians better, because after you hear it, you will want to know more.