Saintseneca, especially “Frostbiter”
Lead singer Zac Little has got a sort of plaintive tone to his voice that I just love. The album is full of dynamic folk/art rock and droll lyrics. “Frostbiter” begins dramatically with some swooshing sorts of organ sounds, and then Little begins to tell us that “When Grandad died I got his knife.” Oh my gosh, he’s such a good story-teller that I’m sucked in immediately. The song just gets better from there, and it was definitely my favorite of the summer. “Pillar of Na” is a reference to Lot’s Old Testament pillar of salt. (Na symbol for salt, get it? I didn’t. I had to be told.) The album was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), which goes a long way towards explaining why I’m captivated by the way this album sounds.
Juliet Naked, soundtrack
The new film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s wonderful novel Juliet Naked doesn’t seem to be playing anywhere in Maine, so for now I’ll have to content myself with the soundtrack. These songs sound like ones that the mysterious, used-to-be-sorta-famous main character Tucker Crowe might have written. They are of an era, not spell-binding like a Dylan or Leonard Cohen song, but good enough that we can imagine a cult following built up around them (think Nick Drake or Alex Chilton). Ethan Hawke, in the role of Crowe, deftly handles the vocals on most of the tracks. Highlights include Robyn Hitchcock’s meditative “Sunday Never Comes” and Conor Oberst’s “LAX,” which gets three different treatments on the soundtrack, as a wistful ballad, an urgent rocker and a bare bones demo from Oberst himself.
Not so current…
I didn’t make the transition from cds to digital music until this year, but subscribing to a music service is now making the way I find music much more spontaneous. I can be working out on the elliptical machine at the gym, listening to some song I saved to my ipod years ago from some compilation cd, and suddenly become curious about the band. A quick search as I’m pedaling, and I can jump right to more songs from some band that had barely been on my radar. I can imagine twenty-somethings giving me blank looks right now, wondering what the big deal is. They don’t know how hard it used to be track down obscure records or how expensive it could get to indulge every musical whim. Here are my latest indulgences:
The Allah Las
This is the band I found recently on an old compilation cd. They sound like the Moody Blues met the Ventures, and then time traveled to the new millennium. Their most recent album is from 2016. Check this out:
The New Mendicants
Another recent band channeling long ago sounds, these reminiscent of top forty radio from about 1967. Imagine the happy flower power of the Cowsills, but with lyrical content. Their first song on their 2014 album Into the Lime, “Sarasota,” may or may not be about the land boom of the 1920s, but it’s lovely: