Wow. So, it’s been a really long time since I posted anything on here that (a) wasn’t about getting engaged or (b) didn’t get me into trouble with my asshole-ish former employer. I figured it’s about time I post something new and (hopefully) inoffensive. Which leads us to my favorite topic on which to ramble… music. And right in time for Christmas!
First up, Joanna Newsom. You can check out a really good example of her stuff here at YouTube. Now, when I made Richard listen to this for the first time, he called it “Ren-Faire fairy music bullshit,” but I think that was a little uncharitable (but really funny). Newsom is a harpist by trade whose obliquely-styled brand of indie-pop music is what I would call “Bjork on a more accessible level, with a harp.” Not to say that Newsom is intentionally derivative; her music seems far too naive for that. Listening to her reminds me of the old fairytale books that I had as a child — Aesop’s fables or the Brothers Grimm — with the faded gold-edged pages and intricate drawings of lions being freed by mice or castles treacherously engulfed by wide swaths of briars and thorns.
Needless to say, this is not really “men’s music,” as Richard eloquently pointed out before. It’s thoughtful and gentle and calming and imaginative and transporting — a very refreshing respite from all of the My Chemical Fall Out Evanescence Killers Lostprophets pseudo-punk, studio-crafted bullshit that’s infecting the radio airwaves today (I’m embarassed I actually knew all of those band names…goddamn viral marketing). You can check out more of Joanna Newsom’s brave music here at her label’s website. And remember: buy indie!
Okay, second up: Lou Barlow. This guy has been around for years, but is so low-key that you may have missed him. Miss him no more! Barlow is one of the elder-statesmen of indie/underground rock, who isn’t paid as much homage or honor as he should be receiving. His songs are funny, poignant, insightful — all of the traditional cliches but without actually being cliched — while still possessing an extremely beautiful melodic quality. One of the things that drove me to love Lou Barlow is his truly awesome website, found here. In addition to viewing some cringe-inducing old photographs of Barlow, you can listen to most of his songs – which are not only gratis, but accompanied by random explanations, hand-written notes and photos of the songs’ subjects. My two personal favorite Barlow songs are “Holding Back the Year” (not to be confused with the Simply Red 80s “classic”…) and “The Ballad of Day Kitty.”
Which kitty? DAY KITTY.
Some nutjob on YouTube has put together a very disconcerting home video of their own cats set to “The Ballad of Day Kitty” – it’s definitely worth watching. Barlow’s work is – for me at least – the musical equivalent of putting on your favorite fleecy pants, old college sweatshirt, and squishing into the sofa with a book that you’ve read about eighteen times. Go, NOW, and listen to him and let your inner geek run free. And remember: buy indie!
Last but not least, Kate Nash. I’m supremely terrified that she’s going to be following poor Lily Allen down the Horridly Overplayed path any day now, which is really selfish of me – honestly. I mean, I want artists to succeed but at the same time, I also want them to remain uncorrupted by the music beast…er, biz. I’m not in the mood to go into all of the moral-philosophical crap behind why you can’t have your scruples and make it, too. You catch my drift. Anyway, enjoy Kate Nash while you still can. She reminds me – obvs – of Lily Allen if Lily Allen were Regina Spektor and vice versa (does that even make sense?). She’s a very engaging mixture of piano-driven sarcasm with a heaping side of self-deprecation and clever wordplay. Check out “Merry Happy” and “Birds” on her Myspace page located here. And remember: BUY INDIE!
That’s it. Merry Christmas, boys and girls!