Friday, April 24, 2009

#23 (More Sigh Than Sing Edition)

Laura Gibson

We're trained as listeners to appreciate singers who project, who have voices that abound, that can break glass, that can match Pavarotti in operatic resonance. Virtuosos, most say, have lions' voices. Life and music are not always declamations, however. Sometimes a sigh steps over a shout. Such is the case with the following two songs off recent releases from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Laura Gibson. Both Karen O of the YYYs and songwriter Gibson suspend on a wispy cloud of vocal ether far above the grounded instruments. Enjoy their transcendence and enjoy the temperate temperatures.

Plentiful Penumbrae,

Friday, April 10, 2009

#22 (Daring You Not To Bop Edition)

I quintuple dog dare you, gentle(wo)men, to listen to the following songs and not bounce, nod, juke, shake, shimmy, and/or bop. Roughly half of the songs that end up in this space are the result of recommendations from friends. This is the first case where three friends recommended the same band in one week. With that sort of groundswell, I really had no choice.

Phoenix is a French rock band that would sound as comfortable in a stadium as they would in a basement rock club. They live within the hi-hat drum snap dance band genre while also working atmospheric synth parts into their cocktail. Vocals? Yelpy and with urgency. My jeans are get tighter, my v-necks deeper cut, and my kicks more neon with every listen of these guys.

Phoenix's fourth studio album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix comes out in the States May 25th.

Boppingly Yours,

Phoenix, "Lisztomania"

Phoenix, "1901"

Friday, April 3, 2009

#21 (Dutifully Duetiful Edition)

Not to get all heteronormative, but I really like coed duets. Usually this format offers artists a way to cover a wide melodic range while also maximizing vocal harmonic opportunities.

"Train Song" presents Feist and Deathcab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard covering Vashti Bunyan's 1966 song of travel, love, and distance. The song has power for me beyond delicate lyrics and a typically transcendent vocal performance from Feist. Namely, I love that the two sing in octaves for the duration of chorus only to add two differentiated voices (one males, one female) during the last line of the chorus. This makes for a striking and unexpected harmony on "it's many hundred miles and it won't be long." The moment represents pure beauty, as does the song.


Feist and Ben Gibbard, "Train Song"