Commodities of the Abstract Sort

a hopefully-less-pretentious-than-other-pretentious-music-blogs music blog

Live Colin Meloy Solo Album Wednesday January 16, 2008

Filed under: Local,Spring! — Kayla @ 10:56 am

 

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Oh heck yes.  So this is why they weren’t letting people record shows on the Colin Meloy sings Shirley Collins tour.  It comes out on Kill Rock Stars on April 8th and includes Decemberists, Tarkio, covers, witty banter, and two unreleased songs.  I saw the Portland show of that tour, it was the second concert I’d ever been to and still one of the best.  You might say I’m more than a little excited about this album and the ensuing solo tour in the spring.  Tracklist after the jump.

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Time for an obligatory year-end list Friday January 11, 2008

Filed under: album review,best-of list,Local,misc. good non-local music — Kayla @ 12:07 am

Edit: MediaMax decided to mysteriously delete every single one of my files. Awesome. So none of the links in here were working, but I uploaded everything else to another, hopefully less crappy service so they should work now. Anything previous to this post won’t because it’s over 2 months old anyway and I’m not going to go back and find/upload everything again. AND WordPress deleted all my pictures. Thanks, The Internet for continuing to make my life exponentially more difficult than it needs to be.

You know what I always say, “why do something in a timely fashion when you can do it a week late.” Also, “why update your blog when you can…not update your blog.” Yeah, sorry about that. In other news, would anyone like to help this blog be not so sad by writing for it with me? Requirements: know about music that doesn’t suck and be able to form complete sentences in regards to that music. If you fit these requirements leave a comment or email me at commoditiesoftheabstractsort [AT] gmail [DOT] com.


Now, without further ado, my purely subjective list of the top 15 albums of 2007:

16. Writer's Block


15. Peter Bjorn and John-Writer’s Block

 

The world was introduced to Peter Bjorn and John in a big way this year. Had you heard of them before Writer’s Block? Yeah, me either. Now they’ve played a show with Kanye and I’ve heard them multiple times on main-stream radio. If this were a top songs of ’07 list “Amsterdam” would be in the top 5 and “Chills” would be up there too.

[mp3] Peter Bjorn and John-Young Folks

Buy Writer’s Block


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14. Arthur & Yu-In Camera

This is one of the most underrated albums of the year. Arthur and Yu have managed to take the cliche “let’s sound like we’re from the 60s” sound and make it interesting unlike the 7,000 other bands out there doing the same thing. They are a Seattle band on the new Hardly Art label.

 

[mp3] Arthur & Yu-There are Too Many Birds

Buy In Camera

 

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13. The BLOW-Paper Television

The only reason this album is on here is because she has the same name as me. That’s a joke, but she does have the same name as me only spelled crazy weird-like. No one else has made sappy love songs sound so awesome this year. For a while there I was hearing “Parenthesis” on KUPS every single hour which speaks to how insanely catchy both that song and this entire album are.

[mp3] The BLOW-Pile of Gold

Buy Paper Television

 

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12. Shout Out Louds-Our Ill Wills

Oh Sweden, how many more amazing bands can you possibly produce? This album is perfectly dancey while at the same time not being so over-the-top that you can’t even listen to the whole thing in one sitting. It came out at an unfortunate time for college radio play–the middle of the summer, but in the few weeks that we left it up after school had started again it was at the top of the chart.

[mp3] Shout Out Louds-Tonight I Have To Leave It

Buy Our Ill Wills

 

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11. Justice-Cross

This was a last-minute addition, as in I didn’t realize the brilliance of it until after I had made the list and then had to rearrange some things (sorry The Shins, everyone else still loves you). This album is effing amazing. Everyone has heard D.A.N.C.E. (whether you know it or not, it’s EVERYWHERE) but the rest of the album is so much more than that. I love it when albums sound like the band really put thought into what songs when on and what order they are in. This album is like that, it flows so perfectly that it almost sounds like one really long song. Normally I can’t handle entire electronic albums because I don’t like feeling like I’m at a rave when driving to work/making dinner/staring at the walls in my apartment, but this is just the right amount of rave…like baby’s first rave*. Also, I totally respect the fact that “Genesis” is a theme and variations and I’m really proud of myself for figuring that out. Go go 15 years of music education.

 

[mp3] Justice-Genesis

Buy Cross

*don’t take your baby to a rave.

 

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10. Mobius Band-Heaven

Can we just talk about how much I inexplicably love this album art for a minute? I have a giant poster of it in my bathroom. This is another underrated one. Actually this entire band is underrated, I had never heard of them despite the fact that they have like 4 other equally good albums. The thing I love most about this album are a) their rock/electronic instrumentation wherein they don’t put too much emphasis on either aspect and thus succeed at both where other similar bands fail at one or both and b) the fact the songs don’t all sound the same but don’t sound so different that I’m jolted by some weird piano/banjo honky-tonk number in the middle. In conclusion, this album is the perfect mix of everything.

[mp3] Mobius Band-Friends Like These

Buy Heaven

 

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9. Sea Wolf-Leaves in the River

I had been waiting for this album since the beginning of time after hearing a couple songs on YANP while I was still in High School. To say the least, it didn’t disappoint. It’s full of perfectly constructed, laid-back indie pop/rock. I would really love to see them live, but oh wait, every venue in Seattle that ever has all-ages shows has closed. Time to move.

[mp3] Sea Wolf-Middle Distance Runner

Buy Leaves in the River

 

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8. Spoon-Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Spoon had a tough album to follow up with Gimme Fiction which is in my top 5 albums of all time. I’ve listened to that album more times than is healthy or sane. I like Ga x5, but it is not as meticulously crafted or put together as Gimme Fiction. It’s not as cohesive, there are more singles rather than one really great album unit. Even so, I love anything Spoon does so logically this is in the top 10. It also helps that I saw Spoon live 3 times in 2007 and every single one of them was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Britt Daniel is an incredibly charming and charismatic lead and their music takes on a new level of awesomeness when surrounded by hundreds of sweaty, screaming strangers.

[mp3] Spoon-My Little Japanese Cigarette Case

Buy Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

 

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7. Le Loup-The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly

This is the most tragically underrated album of the year. It’s original, beautifully orchestrated, and well concieved. It sounds like nothing else that is out there right now but at the same is not weird just for the sake of being weird. I can’t explain it, you just need to listen to it. If you buy one album off this list, make it this one because then you will be able to say that you liked them before they were popular. Don’t lie, I know you people, that’s the most convincing argument I could possibly give. This is the only other band currently on the Hardly Art label (along with Arthur & Yu). Both of Hardly Art’s 2007 releases are among the best of the year in my opinion and I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

[mp3] Le Loup-We are Gods! We are Wolves!

Buy The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly

 

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6. Laura Veirs-Saltbreakers

My love affair with Laura Veirs began last year while sitting in the Minneapolis airport for an obscenely long time and Saltbreakers only intensified it. This is one of the few albums released this year by an artist that I already loved which I thought was better than their previous album. While I love the stripped-down, less produced sound of her previous album I think that her music has gained new life with the complexity of this album. Let’s be honest, I just like the piano.

[mp3] Laura Veirs-Pink Light

Buy Saltbreakers

 

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5. John Vanderslice-Emerald City

I really don’t know how I missed the John Vanderslice boat. I saw his last 2 songs at Capitol Hill Block Party and then proceeded to stream this album all day every day until it came in the mail (sorry about that Barsuk) while reading every interview JV has ever done. I’m still amazed that it was recorded on tape and not a computer, there are so many instruments and it’s so complex and I imagine it would have been exponentially easier/cheaper to do digitally but I don’t think it would have been the same album if he had done that. It would have been cheapened somehow and it wouldn’t have had the timeless quality that it does.

[mp3] John Vanderslice-White Dove

Buy Emerald City

 

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4. Interpol-Our Love to Admire

Before you make fun of me for a) still liking Interpol even though they “sold out” to a major label and b) still liking Interpol so much that their album is #4 let me just add more wood to the fire and say that I like this album WAY better than anything else they’ve done. I honestly can’t explain why, but I will outline things that helped. 1. “Pioneer to the Falls” is probably the best album opener of all time, it starts out spartan and creepy and slowly builds into this great epic ending with driving 8th notes in the drums and strings/brass bringing in a new melody right at the end. Brilliant. 2. There is piano. Everything is improved with the addition of piano. 3. This picture 4. The songs on this album sound less the same than their previous albums. Admit it, every single song on Antics is exactly the same. 4. This is the best driving music ever and I got it on an actual CD right in time to drive my boss’s giant/terrifying industrial van around every square foot of the Seattle metropolitan area. I think this made me give it more of a fair chance than I would have otherwise

[mp3] Interpol-Pioneer to the Falls

Buy Our Love to Admire

 

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3. Menomena-Friend and Foe

Menomena is on here purely because they have figured out how to use sax in their music without sounding like Kenny G. I can’t tell you how many bands try this and FAIL miserably. In fact, Menomena manages to pull off all kinds of things that most bands try and end up making incredibly corny and cliche: far-away/echoey vocals and instruments, weird drums, piano in octaves, etc. Their videos are the coolest, their album artwork is the the most confusing and awesome, they had a full choir when I saw them at Bumbershoot, you can totally tell they would be awesome people to have a theoretical beer with, what’s not to love?

[mp3] Menomena-Wet and Rusting

Buy Friend and Foe

 

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2. Elliott Smith-New Moon

I don’t even know what to say about this album. Elliott Smith’s music is so intertwined with my life, it’s almost like a soundtrack at this point and now my soundtrack has gained another album. That is an incredibly corny and “sad emo girl” thing to say and I feel kind of gross about it, but it’s true. I feel like everyone has their own association and thoughts about Elliott Smith and it doesn’t matter what I say about this album, if you like him, you like this album and if you don’t, you don’t. I’ll just let it speak for itself.

[mp3] Elliott Smith-Angel in the Snow

Buy New Moon

 

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1. Radiohead-In Rainbows

I would have thought that this would have been at the top of more year-end lists, but it’s conspicuously absent. I debated about leaving this to next year because the actual physical album didn’t come out until Jan. 1st, but then I realized it would be kind of depressing for next year if I pretty much already knew what my #1 was going to be on Jan. 1st, so I decided to let it be tied with Andrew Bird. This is kind of a big deal because prior to October 10th of this year I could not stand Radiohead, which I now realize was just that I can’t stand “Creep” and that’s the only Radiohead song you ever hear. Ever. Above everything else this album is brilliantly arranged, the perfect entrance of strings and piano just before 3:00 in “All I Need”, the slightly out of time drums on “Videotape”, there are a million little moments like these and I find more every time I listen to it.

[mp3] Radiohead-Videotape

Buy In Rainbows (like you haven’t already)

 

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1. Andrew Bird-Armchair Apocrypha

This is one of 3 albums that I’ve successfully listened to on repeat for an entire double-shift at work (14 hours). The other two are In Rainbows and The Mysterious Production of Eggs. I don’t like this album as much as MPE because it’s not as cohesive (similar to Spoon’s album), but the individual songs are just as good. The addition of Martin Dosh on drums and other miscellaneous electronic things definitely added to this album. I saw Andrew Bird 3 times in 2007 and one of them, the one at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland was the best show I’ve ever been to. Period. Andrew Bird continues to be one of the most musical indie artists of our time and it really shines through on this album.

[mp3] Andrew Bird-Heretics

Buy Armchair Apocrypha

 

Bumbershoot 2007 Tuesday September 4, 2007

Filed under: Local,show review — Kayla @ 11:26 pm

Bumbershoot title card

Here are a lot of my pictures from Bumbershoot. It was my first time using a digital camera (I know, I know, what can I say? I love my circa 1986 manual SLR), so they aren’t fabulous, I also don’t know how to compress them without making them all blurry. Maybe I’ll get better? Maybe someone would like to educate me in the ways of digital photography? Maybe I should just go hide in my dark room and continue to shun the digital revolution? I don’t know, but I took all these pictures so I’m damn well going to use them.

Saturday

The Shins

They were good, but they would have been better if the crowd hadn’t decided that they were appropriate crowd-surfing music. Come on…The Shins, really? My friend Jessica who was with me on Saturday is convinced that James Mercer looks like Kevin Spacey. I think she’s mistaken because Kevin Spacey is creepy and James Mercer is adorable.

 

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Menomena

Menomena were my favorite act of Saturday, but it kind of seemed like they were holding back. I’ve never seen them live before, but from reading other reviews of their live shows that seems to be the case. They had a choir for some reason, it was weird. You couldn’t really hear it at all, but they were kind of entertaining. I think they would have added a lot more if the sound guys had known what to do with them, I look forward to seeing Menomena in a non-festival setting at some point. Jessica was really excited about them even though she had only heard one song before. This kind of surprised me because I didn’t really think she would like them, but apparently it is actually physically impossible to not like Menomena

 

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Other people I saw but the pictures didn’t turn out:

 

Tiny Vipers: They were TERRIBLE. They didn’t talk at all, they played like 5 songs in an hour set all of which were 3+ minutes of the same line repeated over and over, and the lead singer seemed angry and hostile toward the crowd. As Jessica said when we were walking out, “I think I may have just meditated for an hour.”

 

Devotchka: They were AWESOME. Their violin/accordion player was insanely amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play accordion so fast. Their drummer was also really good, and their bass player doubled on sousaphone (essentially the same thing as a tuba). Throughout the show the lead singer was waving his arms around in front of this thing that looked like an old-timey radio and it took me a while to realize that it was a theremin. I can’t possibly think of a weirder combination of instruments, but when put together they make for a really engaging and unique sound.

 

Sunday

The Apples in Stereo

They were kind of disappointing, but I can’t really explain why. I wanted to like them and care about their set, but I really didn’t. For some reason on Sunday the Broad Street stage, where they performed was overwhelmingly loud, so that may have contributed to it. I was also a bit confused as to why random keyboard guy #1 was the only one dressed up like a member of Of Montreal. On the plus side, I found myself in a picture of this set on Pitchfork, so that was exciting.

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Ian Ball

 

You may recognize him from Gomez. I caught the end of his set because I was trying to get a good spot for Andrew Bird. He was alright, your basic generic indie blah-ness. I felt kind of sorry for him because there wasn’t really anyone there for him, only people waiting for Andrew Bird. He was very good at banter though and he definitely wins best quote of Bumbershoot with, “so who wants to hear a song about premature ejaculation?”

 

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Andrew Bird

Hands down the best set of Bumbershoot, but that was to be expected. I’ve seen him 3 times in less than a year and I would still shell out obscene amounts of money to see him again. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to spend the rest of my life working in the music industry as is my plan now, and Andrew Bird is the person who convinces me that yes, yes I do want to do this thing that everyone I know thinks is insane and unfeasible because people like him exist and the world needs to know about them. That would probably be really creepy to him, so, sorry Andrew Bird. Don’t worry, I’m not going to like, come to your house and steal your panties or anything I just think your pretty awesome. Aaanyway, his set was amazing as always, but not as good as when I saw him a few months ago in Portland. First off, there was a barrier so even though I was in the front row, I was still like 20 ft. away from the stage, and that’s just annoying. Also, he didn’t have his weird spinney phonograph things for some reason. These were extremely minor things though and this set was still better than 95% of concerts I’ve been to. Can we just talk about how brilliant the combination of Dr. Stringz and Fake Palindromes is? (dangling preposition alert!) Because seriously, it’s the second time I’ve heard him play it and both times it’s been the highlight of my life.

 

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(I’m kind of in love with Martin Dosh because he has an abnormally large head)

 

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I was also randomly picked to be interviewed for the Seattle PI on this day mostly because I was by myself and eating really bad Phad Thai on the grass in front of the giant fountain. I got all flustered and just blathered on about Devotchka’s theremin and how awesome the Flatstock poster convention was, so they probably didn’t use it, but I haven’t been able to check because I don’t know where to get the PI.

 

Monday

 

I didn’t take any pictures Monday because I only really went to two things: Miranda July (no cameras allowed) and Ted Leo (too far away to take anything decent).

 

Miranda July was incredibly enchanting and all-around awesome. She talked about her Learning to Love You More project and then ran an auction of mundane objects collected from the audience before the show which included a coin purse and an exceedingly dull pair of scissors owned by this really awesome high-school-age girl who looked exactly like Myla Goldberg. With the money collected from the auction ($160) Miranda created a “grant” and asked us all to close our eyes and then told us that whomever felt that they would significantly benefit from receiving $160 to raise their hand. Then she walked into the audience and handed it to someone anonymously. If you have no idea who the hell I’m talking about you need to go rent You and Me and Everyone We Know RIGHT NOW and watch it.

 

I only caught about half an hour of Ted Leo because he overlapped with Miranda July, but the little bit I saw was amazing. He had so much energy on stage and he was really feeding off the energy of the crowd. He declared it “funnest show in a long while” and came out to do a solo encore after they had already turned on the “show’s over, nothing to see here, move along” music. I am definitely filing him away in my “people I want to see” list for future reference. He was the perfect ender because as my companion for that day said, “I didn’t have to pretend to like him.”

 

I also saw maybe a third of Siberian because we had nothing else to do and they were the only act we had heard of besides Viva Voce who we had both previously seen and were not especially impressed with. They were pretty boring, they were trying hard to “rock” but it seemed so forced and fake. The lighting in Sky Church was pretty awesome though, and it was inside which=air conditioning so it wasn’t all bad.

 

So, all in all, a good Bumbershoot experience. The lineup was better last year, but I can’t complain, because any weekend spent entirely on going to shows is a weekend well spent.

 

You should maybe go vote for me…. Monday August 20, 2007

Filed under: Local,mix — Kayla @ 4:28 pm

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Well…I kind of didn’t have a real job for a little bit there and so I took to doing things like entering mix cd contests hosted by Bumbershoot. Now, in the way of those sad unpopular girls who launched largely unsuccessful campaigns to get nominated for prom queen every year I need you to vote for me. It’s easy, you just go here and follow the directions. You can vote more than once! Kind of like American Idol…only with less looking at Clay Aiken’s face.

 

I’m number 35 and my cd is called “Obscure Time Signatures are for Lovers.” It’s all waltzes because a) I really like waltzes and b) the all-waltz mix cd brought me my second ever win of anything in the Trail mix cd contest last semester (this is a different mix though because the songs had to be by current or former Bumbershoot artists).

 

Here’s the tracklist:

 

1. Bird On a Wire – Rogue Wave
2. MX Missiles – Andrew Bird
3. Let It Die – Feist
4. Waltz #2 (Xo) – Elliott Smith
5. My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist – The Decemberists
6. When I Was a Baby – The New Pornographers
7. Enchanted Forest – P:ano
8. Sad Songs and Waltzes – Cake
9. Death of an Interior Decorator – Death Cab for Cutie
10. Drink Deep – Laura Veirs
11. Weird – Menomena
12. My Mathematical Mind – Spoon

 

I don’t have it uploaded on the internet, but if enough people want it I will go through the hassle…because I love you guys and because I still only have half of a real job.

 

Album Review: Saltbreakers by Laura Veirs Sunday April 29, 2007

Filed under: album review,Local,local-ish — Kayla @ 6:29 am

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Yes, this album came out over a month ago. I started writing this at that time and it’s been languishing half-written in my drafts folder ever since, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Laura Veirs is a singer-songwriter who is originally from Seattle, but recently moved to Portland. She has previously performed solo, but is now working with a backing band. You may recognize her name from the duet of “Yankee Bayonet” that she did with Colin Meloy on the latest Decemberists album.

I relatively new fan of hers, I saw her open for a Colin Meloy solo show about a year and a half ago, and was not really impressed. Then one day I forgot to bring my CDs to my radio show and had to search through the thousands of CDs in the station for an hour worth of music, which ended up being pretty much everything in there that I had actually heard of, including Laura Veirs. I discovered that her music makes a lot more sense on CD, when she is not having to loop things to get her lush sound. Fast-forward a few weeks: I had to make an unplanned trip to North Dakota over Thanksgiving break and I found myself listening exclusively to her Year of Meteors and +/-‘s Let’s Build a Fire while fighting my way through airport-on-Thanksgiving insanity. Consequently these two albums have become two of my favorite albums of all time. A tough act to follow, and something that the holders of other albums on this list have not been doing so hot at (ahem…Modest Mouse, I’m looking at you), but Laura Veirs has managed to put out the first album in months that has lived up to its predecessor and I might even venture to say, eclipsed it.


Saltbreakers starts off sounding very similar to Year of Meteors with Veirs’ clear voice floating over guitar and some mild electronic beats. The third track, “Don’t Lose Yourself” is where the album really takes off. That track marks the first use of piano for Veirs and it’s a wonder it has taken her this long to realize that her music is made for piano, it fits seemlessly with the dense guitar and string sound prevalent in her music. There is also a children’s choir backing her on “To The Country”, which came off a little creepy the first time I heard it, but has definitely grown on me. “Phantom Mountain” takes a more rockin’ turn, only to be followed by the simple “Black Butterfly” with Veirs singing to a simple piano accompaniment. The concluding song, “Wrecking” includes the backing strings common to Year of Meteors and ends on a maddeningly unresolved chord, which seems an odd choice, but I guess she was going for the “leave them wanting more” effect.

In addition to being her best album yet, Saltbreakers is also Veirs’ most accessible. The songs have distinctive, catchy melodies and there are fewer lyrics about “trees and wind and rivers and fish and shit” as my music director at the radio station puts it than her previous albums. This is the perfect background music for reading boring textbooks because it is interesting enough that you break up the mundanity of reading yet another thinly veiled Russian analysis of religion absconding as a “novel” but not so manic that you can’t concentrate. If you’ve always wondered who this Laura Veirs person is, this is the album to use to find out.

[mp3] Laura Veirs-Pink Light

[mp3] Laura Veirs-Don’t Lose Yourself


Official Site | Myspace | Buy Saltbreakers

 

 

Jordan O’ Jordan Thursday April 12, 2007

Filed under: Local — Kayla @ 3:39 pm

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Jordan O’ Jordan wins most ridiculous CD purchasing experience for sure. Two months ago I ordered his CD, Not Style Nor Season Nor Hard-Handed Lesson after finding him on one of my myspace time-wasting excursions. Yesterday it finally got here along with personal check for $5 and a hand-written postcard explaining that a rat ate the silk screen they used to print the covers and that’s why it took so long to get here. I must say that the personal check (complete with cell phone number and address) was a first. This CD was totally worth the 2 month wait though.

 

Jordan O’ Jordan is Jordan Smith and just exactly as much banjo as you can shake a stick at. He is originally from Waverly, OH but now lives in Seattle. His music is simple; most songs with just him and banjo or guitar, although there are a few with female vocals and strings and piano. His lyrics cover everything from failed relationships to fashion and there are a healthy number of waltzes on this CD.  Here are a couple tracks, and there are a few more on his myspace.

 

[mp3] Jordan O’ Jordan-An Old Foundry Fable

[mp3] Jordan O’ Jordan-By Balloon or Sinking Ship

 

Myspace | Buy Not Style Nor Season Nor Hard-Handed Lesson

 

Cataldo Wednesday March 28, 2007

Filed under: Local,misc. good non-local music — Kayla @ 9:33 pm

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I cannot say enough good things about Cataldo. He is without a doubt the best thing I have discovered in recent memory (and I’ve discovered some good shit in recent memory). Cataldo is basically Eric Anderson, a college student from St. Paul, Minnesota/Moscow, Idaho along with some friends. He regularly tours to Olympia which is how my friend/neighbor Caitlin (of Menomena obsession fame) found him. He is unsigned and is not actively searching for a label, which is pretty awesome. His self-titled 2005 release is one of those rare albums on which you will like every single song. It is full of well-written and performed love songs with guitar and some electronic backing (and hand claps!). Don’t let the lack of a label fool you, this is a well recorded and produced album full of amazing songs. A second album is slated to come out this summer after the minor setback of having his computer with all of the songs he had recorded on it stolen a few months back. Check out these two tracks and head over to his website for 3 more (and an all-around entertaining experience).

[mp3] Cataldo-Wedding Cake
[mp3] Cataldo-Headed Back to Boston

Official Site | Myspace | Buy Cataldo