Friday, November 21, 2008

Open up your MIND, man!

But, seriously. I've been a fairly obstinate music listener for the vast majority of my life. Over the past few years, however, I've gone through a revelation.

The variety of music available for us to enjoy is too vast to neglect. The sad reality is that most people's music exploration efforts, if any, occur through avenues that are too familiar and comfortable to us. Friends with the same tastes, websites that specialize in a genre, or radio stations we have always liked, they all remain the same year after year and become routine.

This is all especially relevant in today's music scene - with the exponentially growing number of artists releasing their stuff and the unbelievably easy access to all of it. The thing is, you have to give it a chance. It's not an effortless process for your brain and it may take time, but the reward is invaluable. Think back to the first time you heard your now favorite band. Imagine being able to have a similar feeling more often. Who wouldn't want that?! There's so much brave, unprecedented, creative music out there that gets the cold-shoulder.

So open your ears to the changes in the music scene that are happening RIGHT NOW. Be a part of it, don't wait for others to filter it for you.

Here are a few songs I like that I would have shunned had I heard them pre-"revelation". You don't have to like them, but give them a few tries...for practice, at least.

Have fun exploring,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter is here: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

The first signs of the new season reached southern Indiana last week. It snowed. And, it stayed below 50 for over a week. What does this mean, besides the fact that the night comes sooner and I have to warm up my car every morning? It means I have to stash away all the Bob Marley, Grateful Dead and Sublime that seem to synergize with the warmer climate and break out the dismal tunes that make you feel like someone else too is sharing these cold, forlorn times. I think it's fair to say that not much else predicts human emotions better than the weather.

It's no coincidence that Justin Vernon spent four winter months alone in a cabin in the middle of Wisconsin to record his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon's simple acoustic rhythms and falsetto vocals induce feelings that remind you of the isolation and stillness of the winter. Misery truly does love company, and this album takes on the admirable task of keeping you sane through inclement times.

Past loves. Regrets. Doldrums. The bitter cold. All so meticulously evoked throughout the album.

Here's a little taste. I highly recommend hearing the rest.

Good luck with your winters everyone, I hope I could help.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How it all began: The Allman Brothers - Statesboro Blues (1971)

I guess it would be appropriate to start this off by talking about a band that really turned me on to music in general. I can thank my dad for playing The Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore East on his turntable when I was young. We sat in our living room and listened to the show from start to finish (even the 23-minute version of "Whipping Post", a personal favorite). I remember how good my dad's setup sounded, and thinking - whether I recognized how true or profound this was at the time (for a 7th grader, at least) - how it really represented, to me, the fundamentals of music as a whole. I guess what I mean is that it was the blues, and the blues seem to find its way into all genres, in one way or another, that have developed since its inception.

This album is raw, alive and derived from nothing but the band's love for their craft. That's what always draws me towards a certain group or song; when its creators convince me that they are genuine and unencumbered (some talent helps, too).

The show opens with a classic, "Statesboro Blues" (originally by Blind Willy McTell), and the guys waste no time showing off their most valuable asset: Duane Allman. With a guitar and a slide on his finger, he could accomplish anything he wanted in the world. Fortunately, he chose to make some of the best music ever created and gave me the opportunity to hear it. What a guy. His flawless guitar tone and indespensable blues licks with a hint of his own flare make you cling to every note, with the fear that when his part ends he won't be playing the fill during the next solo break. His brother Gregg's voice reaches deep and pulls out that raspy, soulful yet simple tone that brings you back to the days of the original bluesmen.

Anyway, I could go on forever about this song/album/band, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's get it started in here.

Hey everyone. Here’s how this is going to work. Every so often, Max and I will be posting our favorite songs and discussing our favorite albums in order to spread the good word about what we think rules in the realm of music. The tunes may be new, may be old. Some may be a cacophony resembling nothing close to what you would deem “music”; some, however, may result in spiritual revelation due to their utter sanctity and supremacy above anything any decent, god-fearing man has ever heard. Whichever it is, we urge you to be open and give them a listen (or two).