I've been swamped lately, learning to manage my new commute, and being overwhelmed by my new job. So I've been a bit lax about the blog; I've missed three weeks in a row for the friday pathological programming; and I haven't been posting my friday random tens. I don't have time to do a FPP post today, but I can at least inflict my strange tastes in music on you. Friday pathological programming will return next week.
- Navan, "Ma Labousig Ar C'hoad": Navan is a wonderful traditional Irish
a capella group. I caught them being interviewed on NPR the week before St. Patrick's day, and immediately went home and tracked them down on iTunes. Beautiful stuff.
- Explosions in the Sky, "Catastrophe and the Cure": post-rock, in the "Mogwai" vein. Not as good as Mogwai, but they're definitely worth listening to.
- The Kells, "The Gander in the Prairie Hole": Another traditional Irish band. This one I also discovered by accident. I recently bought myself a new tinwhistle - a beautiful low-D whistle. Everyone in the whistle community has been talking about the whistles being made by a guy named Michael Burke, so I was checking his whistles out. On his site, to show you what his whistles sound like, he has samples of recordings featuring people playing his whistles. For the Low-D whistle that I wanted, the sample was a clip from the Kells. I bought the whistle, and a Kells CD. They're a really fantastic band, definitely highly recommended to anyone who likes Irish music. (And the whistle is an absolute delight - a good strong low-D, stable tone, just the right amount of backpressure, a really well-made tuning slide, and a brilliantly clever trick to make the lowest hole rotate, so that it's easier to reach.)
- Blackfield, "1,000 People". A track from a band that's a spin-off of one of my favorite neo-progressive bands, Porcupine Tree. Blackfield is, in general, a bit mellower than recent PT, but the overall sound is quite similar. Great track, from a great album.
- Apothecary Hymn, "A Sailor Song": Another NPR discovery. I was driving to New Jersey to visit my father in the hospital, and the New York NPR station had Apothecary Hymn in their studio performing live. They sounded like a fantastic cross between old Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, and King Crimson. So once again, I ordered their CD as soon as I got home. Overall, I think the King Crimson resemblance doesn't come through so much on the CD as it did in the live performance, but the Gentle Giant/Jethro Tull comparison is pretty much dead-on. Very cool stuff.
- Marillion, "The Other Half": The opening track from Marillion's new album. Rather a disappointment, I'm afraid. I've been a huge Marillion fan for longer than I care to admit, and I was really looking forward to this new album, because the last one was one of their best in a long time. It's not bad, but it is rather lackluster overall.
- Edgar Meyer, 3rd movement (Allegro) from Bottesini's Concerto #2 for Double Bass: Edgar Meyer is one of those dazzling musicians who can do anything,
and make it sound good. He's primarily a classical musician, but he's also known
for performing bluegrass, jazz, fold, rock... and he's brilliant at all of them. Hearing him play a piece like the Bottesini is amazing... Seeing him do it live is even more amazing. It's hard to believe that that kind of speed and grace, could possibly be coming from this awkward, hulking instrument. That big heavy bow is just dancing all over the place like it's a feature, his left hand is zipping up and down the next of the base, never missing a note.
- Mogwai, "Stop Coming to My House": A great track by one of my favorite post-rock bands. Mogwai is more in the rock-like side of the post-rock continuum. They're always amazing.
- A Silver Mt. Zion, "Ring Them Bells (Freedom has Come and Gone)": more post-rock, this time from a spinoff of "Godspeed You Black Emperor". Actually, on this
album, they don't really go by "A Silver Mt. Zion"; they go by "Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band". Brilliant stuff, as you'd expect from a Godspeed spinoff. Unlike Godspeed, Mt. Zion tends to actually include lyrics, which can be interesting, but the singers voice isn't particularly great. But still, overall, brilliant.
- Tony Trischka, "Run Mountain": Classic style bluegrass, played with brilliant style by my former teacher, Tony Trischka. Tony's amazing; he's another one of those
musicians who can play anything he sets his mind to. He's also just an all-around really
nice guy. I love to play banjo, but I'm lousy at it. I'm not anywhere close to being what I would consider good enough to take lessons from someone like him. But I used to live quite near him in New Jersey, and someone convinced me to call him about taking Banjo lessons. Much to my surprise, he was willing to take me as a student: Tony's willing to give lessons to anyone who's interested. I learned a lot from him. I'm still a lousy banjo player, but not nearly as lousy as before - and he taught me a lot about learning music by ear.
Brian McCoy, of the Kells, is my whistle and flute teacher. I took some photos of one of their house concerts. It was a good show. :)
I agree with the lackluster when it comes to the straight-out rockers like Other Half and Most Toys. The title track, however, has given me the spine shiver every time I hear it.
I figure the rocker tracks will work better live (Hooks in You, for example, certainly does), but of course we'll have to wait for months before we even find out if they can afford to do a US tour...
With any luck I will be seeing Explosions in the Sky tomorrow, if I can find somewhere to stay after the gig, because by that point the last bus home will be long gone!