Sunday 30 March 2008

Recent Audio Pleasures - A personal View #1

It has been a busy month for my iPlod. There have been quite a few new albums (do we still have albums?) from artists I like and a couple of artists I have discovered. So, like Duffbert does with books here is what I am listening to at the minute.

Artist : Counting Crows
Album: Saturday Nite Sunday Mornings
Year: 2008

My Rating: 9/10

Now it may not be all that fashionable to like erudite Californian band, The Counting Crows there appear to be a lot of people who dismiss them with "oh him with the funny hair" yet last week they were the #1 download on Amazon and iToonies and I was one of those downloaders. I was not disappointed.

This is the long awaited (well by me any way) follow up to 2002's "Hard Candy" and is an album of all new material. The album's tracks fall into 2 parts. The Saturday Night tracks mark the return of Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) as producer and reprises their more rocky sound.
The Sunday Morning tracks are more acoustic and were produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Josh Ritter).

If you like The Counting Crows you will not be disappointed by this album :-) If you haven't yet given them a listen I suggest you give them 10 minutes. I think you will not be disappointed.

Artist : Mike Oldfield
Album: Music of the Spheres
Year: 2008
My Rating: 8/10

It really doesn't seem that long since I was in my bedroom listening to Tubular Bells whilst discussing Kierkegaard's pseudo-dialectic of the aesthetic and the ethical (honestly we never ever discussed young ladies or their breasts!) or the relative merits of Triumph vs. Norton motorcycles with my teenage chums. But it was 1973! 1973!!!!!!! God almighty am I that old?
From the man himself on the sleeve notes this world, everything has a pulse or a vibration. This sound is unique to each living or non living thing and in itself creates a music that no-one can hear. I believe that this has a very powerful resonance with, and a deep effect, on our lives. What would happen if we took this further and apply this to bigger things , more powerful things ; like an entire solar system or galaxy say, what would that sound like?

Musica Universalis is the ancient theory that every celestial body, the sun, the moon and the stars has an inner music. This is a harmonic and mathematical concept derived from the movements of the planets in the solar system. The music created is inaudible to the human ear.

Music of the Spheres is my interpretation of this theory. Every planet and every star; even the whole universe has music within it that no-one can hear, this is what it would sound like if it was set free. This is Music of the Spheres.

Really that says it all ... a very pleasant listening experience, I can see it being listened to a lot on the balcony of the hotel room on the island of Alonissos when I am watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.

Oooh nearly forgot you get classical conductor/composer Karl Jenkins and the Sinfonia Sfera Orchestra, classical vocalist Hayley Westenra and acclaimed pianist Lang Lang.

Artist : Michael Franti & Spearhead
Album: Yell Fire!
Year: 2006
My Rating: 9/10

I am not a naturally big fan of reggae. I like Marley and Aswad, but I have never explored that particular music genre in any depth. However a totally chance encounter with a Spearhead song on a Internet radio site (Thanks jonvon it was heard when looking for the irish track you wanted more info on). The track was " I Know I'm Not Alone" from the album above and I was entranced by both the lyrics and the music. Got the album on Friday evening... today the tracks "I know i'm not alone" and "Yell fire!" had been played 22 and 31 times respectively.

Hard to stick in a pigeon hole .. but the intro of "i know Im not alone" harks back to early U2 but then we get the lyrics sung by a voice like Robbie Robertson (of The Band) .. AND we don't have to put up with that sanctimonious string of weak pish that is Bono.

Artist : Scouting for Girls
Album: Scouting for Girls
Year: 2007
My Rating: 8/10

Apart from being FAR to young, this bunch of Londoners make a very pleasant noise. Pure unadulerated pop and none the worse for that. The entire album is packed with songs with superbly uncontrived pop "hooks" like Elvis aint Dead or It's not about you . It just goes to prove that there is still an audience for decent pop music ... especially pop that includes lines like
She's flirty just turned thirty
Ain't that the age a girl gets really dirty?

Have a listen and annoy your mid-teen children by liking them.

1 comment:

jonvon said...

just catching up here - spearhead! i haven't been following mr franti lately, but i was big into his Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricry project back in the 90's.

great stuff. i have a little spearhead too.

hm. that didn't come out right. so i'm leaving it! ;-)

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