Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sing a Song For Me

It seems I'm only updating about one thing these days. Well, there's a lot going on right now in the sweet, sweet world of music.

A couple of years ago, Jenny Lewis (lead singer of Rilo Kiley and little-known member of the Troop Beverly Hills) went the way of Gwen Stefani and Beyonce®: solo. She billed herself just above a duo called The Watson Twins on her first foray, Rabbit Fur Coat in 2006. While great and listenable, this album felt a bit forced, a bit gimmicky. On her new CD, Acid Tongue, it seems she has settled-in as a solo artist. On songs like "Tryin' My Best" and the title track she channels the old school white soul artists that inspire her. There's a twangy Patsy Cline tone there too. It never verges on the one-off vanity album vibe (like the excellent Volume One from She & Him) and feels entirely genuine. I'll be listening all winter long.

My music-consuming patterns are often very seasonal. You won't hear a ton of dance beats between November and March through my headphones. To the constant dismay of my boyfriend, my winter playlist includes dreary and drippy songs with lots of strings and wailing vocals. I live for this stuff.

Topping the list this winter is Antony and the Johnsons' new album, The Crying Light. A sneak-EP will released on October 7th, but you can get the first single, "Another World" here. It's a stark and creepy song about, among other things, climate change. If you know anything at all about Antony Hegarty (lead singer and sometimes-strange bird) you know that he sounds like an avant-garde Nina Simone who sings seemingly simple songs about gender and family. Friends and collaborators include everyone from Rufus Wainwright and Nico Muhly to Lou Reed, Bjork and the Euro-disco-dance-machine Hercules and Love Affair. Some people laugh when they hear him, but I do not.

Another album about to drop is the long-awaited sophomore release from Rachael Yamagata. I hate to categorize or oversimplify music, but for the sake of description she falls into that Fiona Apple slot. Girl at a piano. Moody and introspective. But she does it with well, unlike, say, millions of other sad girls. She is an artist I listen to year-round, every year, constantly. Her songs are poetic, but straightforward. Melancholy without being whiny or immature. She is honest and alarmingly candid. In "Even So" (from 2004's Happenstance) she writes about cheating on her boyfriend and says, "For I love you like you'll never let yourself be loved again," succinctly breaking the heart of every listener. Her second album promises some of the same, and with a second disc of more rollicking material, something new too.


  1. "My lady's story" is my all time favorite from him.

    I will also never forget the first time I saw that man play... I was unprepared.

    I guess it's what everyone else experienced back in the day with Rick Astley: I was totally expecting some crazy, tall, gender bending black guy.

  2. Ahhh...Rachael. How I love her so.