More Albums to Get You Through

More Albums to Get You Through

So I'm working on a couple interviews that I still have to piece together, and in the interim I thought I would share a few more albums that I've really been digging lately. I'm still trying to broaden my horizons, listen to some stuff I've never heard before, and in some cases some music that I've had for years and have only just begun to truly appreciate.

Without further stalling, my latest album list:

1. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening and Closing

I first stumbled across this band back in high school when I was looking for some music that defied anything I had been listening to at the time. I wanted something truly out there. Little did I know I was not ready to handle the sheer amount of bizarre coming from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I guess you'd loosely call them art metal; the guitars are heavy and technical and lurch over plodding bass and spastic octopus drums, while shrieking vocals (between different voices, male and female) jitter in and out of focus, abruptly running smack into eerie ambient passages featuring delicate bells, sawing violin, a sax here and there, and muted guitars. The tempo shifts are incredible, the most organic I've ever heard in a studio recording, and the band never misses a beat (although I suppose if they did, I might not notice). Rumor has it the band is back together after their hiatus, although I am unsure whether that is true or not. Their performances supposedly include a heavy theatrical element, including faux-science experiments and lectures on similar themes. Definitely a band you want to check out, if only for the experience. Be prepared, though. It gets weird.

2. Tangerine Dream - Rubycon

Edgar Froese (the brains behind Tangerine Dream) is widely hailed as being one of the primary fathers of electronic music as we know it today. His unfortunate passing in January of this year brought a close to a career that began in 1967, and his experiments with new sounds and the technology that produced them led to so much diverse music, basically creating an entire new musical landscape of uncharted territory. Tangerine Dream released over 100 albums, just an insane amount of material, and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface. But Rubycon is a good place to start. Consisting of just two 17-minute tracks, the whole record is beautifully melodic, enthralling, dreamy ambience. There are very brief moments of drums, but by and large the album is built of layers upon layers of psychedelia-tinged synthesizer elegance. Highly recommended for meditation, sleep, painting, or writing.

3. Snarky Puppy - Sylva

When I first heard Snarky Puppy, I found what I had been looking for: modern jazz fusion with a rock edge, played by venerable musicians of stage and studio. Their ferocious take on the fusion style created such bombastic music, with lightning horn sections and kick-you-in-the-face breakdowns, swirling, shredding guitars and squishy, juicy organs. Their latest release (they already have their next two albums planned out), Sylva is a bit more restrained at first, taking a Latin-influenced tone in the first track before opening up wide and fracturing into a million different melodies that create a dazzling whole. At only six tracks long, at first it looks like a short album, but it's still 54 minutes long. The meandering, we'll-get-there-when-we-get-there patience of Snarky Puppy never ceases to amaze me. A must-hear for any fans of jazz, fusion, or rock.

4. Xavier Rudd - White Moth

I've written about Xavier Rudd before (I got to interview him at Summer Camp, it was awesome), but in the context of his newest group, the United Nations. While that is an excellent group which you should go see again and again, his solo work merits discussion as well. Rudd plays several instruments, and when he performs as his solo act, he arranges them around himself (didgeridoos, guitar, stomp box, bells, djembes, and other assorted percussion and string instruments as the case may be) in a complicated setup, since he plays many instruments simultaneously. His music is heavily influenced by a love of the Earth and a desire to protect it and spread a message of peace. Most of the time, those messages can come across sounding hollow and cheesy, but his obvious passion and sincerity really shine and he pulls you into his world with his lyrics. One of his softer albums, White Moth deals with many of his typical subjects; family, spirituality, the Earth, the tragedy of addiction, the passing of generations, and our duty as caretakers of the planet are strong themes throughout the album, and his shaman voice ties it all together in an easily accessible package. Good music for dealing with a hard day or just laying out in the sun. There is no bad time for Xavier Rudd.

5. Chicago Farmer - Backenforth, IL

One of the best local artists around (go see him tomorrow night with Old Shoe in Bloomington! It's so worth it!), Chicago Farmer's music brings the heartland to life. His stories draw you in, his Arlo Guthrie drawl making you laugh, sing, dance, whatever he says. There's a reason his crowds have been consistently getting bigger. His album Backenforth, IL is a wonderful visit into the life of a traveling troubadour making his living on the road. His subject matter is personal, poignant, and relatable. He has a knack for writing lyrics that just about everyone has experienced or at least has an understanding of, and his song structure is beautiful in its simplicity. The yearning in his voice, especially his high-note vibrato, melds perfectly with the kind of backwoods barn-stomping music scene around here. His shows are always a great time. Even the stuffiest of shirts will find themselves grinning, singing along, and dancing like they never knew they could. Do yourself a favor and listen to his music. It's good for the soul.

So there we are, some music for ya. I apologize if I got a little long-winded, but I felt these albums deserved proper description. As always, I hope you like some of it, and happy listening!



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