amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Best of Lists: Music

Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow

This is a lush & beautiful album. Each song is at least six minutes long. It's a great combo of whimsy & depth with such songs as the title track, 50 Words for Snow, in which Stephen Fry lists words for snow in various languages. This is a contemplative album, perfect for the dark private spaces we all enter at this time of year. I have been a modest fan of Kate Bush, but this album shall make me return to her music. In her recent interview with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC's Q, I was pleased by how humble & unbothered she seemed by her fame, also I was fascinated to learn how much film & dance have been part of her videos. Did you know that Donald Sutherland was in one of her videos?

Sarah Slean - Land and Sea (Pheromone Records)

A double album with 18 songs, the first half "Land" was produced by Joel Plaskett. Another example of lush pop with beautiful string arrangements & Slean's incredible voice. I like Slean's intensity & sense of theatre in these songs.

My Morning Jacket - Circuital

Once again Jim James' sexy voice combined with the band's mellow accompaniment suits me. I have very little MMJ music, but love all that I own. It's a bit reminiscent of the prog rock of the 70s. I don't have my turntable, red curtains & rec room anymore, but this music sends me right back there. Apparently one of the tracks, "Wonderful the Way I Feel" was supposed to be on the Muppets soundtrack but didn't make it. duh.

Matthew Barber - Matthew Barber

I love this man's gorgeous low voice & he is sure easy on the eyes. I saw him live for the first time at the Ottawa International Writers Festival Fall Edition song writers' circle & i was blown away. (On a sidenote, the man is tall, oooh, so very tall.) Middle of a Dream is my favourite song on this album. Barber is extremely talented; he made this album by himself, including playing all the parts. Some lovely acoustic guitar here. I had heard Jill Barber a few times & loved her voice. Her brother is equally talented. Good genes obviously. I'd love to hear them sing together

Ron Sexsmith - Long Player Late Bloomer

Another beautiful album from Ron Sexsmith with memorable melodies that hark back to Motown Soul, in the case of No Help At All. What I always wish for any Sexsmith album is that producers would have a lighter hand. I have always liked Sexsmith live better than the album versions; however, that being said, I think Bob Rock did a good job on this album; it helped to be able to see what went on behind the scenes via the wonderful documentary Love Shines. Rock definitely contributed good ideas for the arrangements, particularly for the song "Love Shines." See also Ron's terrific short sleeve notes for this & earlier albums. I am still yearning for a live album some day. I also recommend the Massey Hall tribute as part of the Luminato 2011 festival, particularly the song "Wastin' Time," performed by his partner Colleen Hixenbaugh of By Divine Right. What a gorgeous voice she has. She & Ron should absolutely do some duets. I got to see Mr. Sexsmith twice this year when he played the First Baptist Church & made an in-store appearance at the CD Warehouse. my sweet, old-fashioned crush on this man remains in tact.

Andrea Simms-Karp - Hibernation Nation

(already said stuff about this great album & this great singer here)

Feist - Metals

I think this is a richer, deeper album than what I've heard from Feist so far. Apparently the album was inspired by the book " 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles C. Mann about the Pre-Columbian Americas, & was recorded partially in Big Surr. There's something of a soundtrack quality to the album. Feist plays in Ottawa on December 5 at the NAC.

Okkervil River - Golden Opportunities II

Hey, the 2nd of OR's xmas freebie mixtapes of covers from their live albums & it's amazing. You can get it here. & You can get the first one by clicking on the Pitchfork link on the Wiki page.

Okkervil River - I am very far

This band has been prolific indeed. I didn't love this album at first, but it's growing on me. I guess I find the strong rhythm very different from the band's normal slow pace, at least in my recollection. It is growing on me though. It does feel like a very highly produced record compared to previous. & I don't feel like it highlights Will Shef's sexy low voice enough, damn it.

An album I don't have, but I'd like to get is Tom Waits Bad As Me. Have listened to a few of the tracks & enjoyed very much. He seems to be playing a bit of a cowboy with some lovely bright guitar & the goofy bad ass in this one. Not unusual for Mr. Waits, I suppose. Nice that his site has not just a few sample tracks but also the lyrics. I love this man for his song writing, pure poetry.

Speaking of good song writing, I'm also looking forward to Leonard Cohen's new CD, Old Ideas to be released in 2012.

I'm excited about by the Black Keys-El Camino soon to be released. You can hear some of the songs already on the band's site. I love Dan Auerbach's voice, the strong drum & sexy electric guitar. Hey is that a bit of surf guitar I hear on Lonely Boy? Groovy. They could use this album for Pulp Fiction 2.

What are your favs of 2011 & which forthcoming new releases are you looking forward to?

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