Thursday, September 02, 2010

Who cares if you disagree?

I can't seem to stop listening to Sara Bareilles' new single, "King of Anything," this week:

Those hand claps! That effervescent right hand on the piano! Those ascending, harmonic "Oh! Oh!"s!

Lost Things Found is eagerly awaiting the release of her new album next week...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Top 10: $5 downloads

The always-wonderful Amazon mp3 digital downloads store has expanded its usual selection of monthly $5 downloads from 100 to 1,000 (yes... 1,000!) for the month of August only. With so much great music to choose from, where to start?

Here's the official Lost Things Found list of top 10 recommendations:

10. Greatest HitsHuey Lewis and the News, Greatest Hits - This selection should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but for those still skeptical, I have one retort:

9. Everybody Got Their SomethingNikka Costa, Everybody Got Their Something - In 2005, with very little fanfare, Nikka Costa put out this album, one of the best electronic soul albums of the 2000s. The title track found its way into a variety of movies and TV shows, but the whole album is strong. Fun fact: Costa is the god-daughter of Frank Sinatra.

8. Corinne Bailey RaeCorinne Bailey Rae, Self-Titled - The first time I heard "Put Your Records On," I was in Louisville, KY and it came on an independent radio station and literally stopped me in my tracks. There have been a lot of imitators to Corinne Bailey Rae's sultry jazz, neo-soul sound, but this is still the best.

7.Greatest Hits: 1974-1978 Steve Miller Band, Greatest Hits 1974-1978 - Summer is the perfect time for classic rock, yes, but there's something completely timeless about Steve Miller Band as well. This collection gets you all the big hits, plus my favorite, "Dance, Dance, Dance":

6. RevisitedDonavon Frankenreiter, Revisited - Frankenreiter's laid-back surf-folk music gets even more laid-back from ukelele-heavy Hawaiian reinterpretation. There is no better music to unwind to - you can practically hear the waves in the background. Here's the original, un-Hawaii version of "Free":

5. The Wild Hunt [+Digital Booklet]Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt - I wrote about this awesome debut album from the Swedish folky a few months ago. It's reminiscent of my favorite Dylan song - thoughtful, melodic and lovely from start to finish. Listen to the beauty of "Thousand Ways" live:

4. TracesPeter Bradley Adams, Traces - The former half of the folk duo eastmountainsouth struck out on a solo career a few years ago, and this album captures everything that's wonderful about his music. Beautiful harmonies and layers, good songwriting and a sound that's almost wistful. Here's "I Cannot Settle Down" live:

3. The Miseducation of Lauryn HillLauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Before we knew the term neo-soul, Lauryn Hill was making amazing neo-soul music, mixing in rap and hip-hop and somehow managing to keep everything perfectly balanced. It's 12 years later, and this album still sounds as fresh as it did the day it dropped. Here's "To Zion" from the 41st Grammy Awards (featuring Carlos Santana):

2. Two Way MonologueSondre Lerche, Two Way Monologue - Something about Sondre Lerche's music reminds me of the Beatles circa "Norwegian Wood." It's charming and quirky and melodic and full of interesting layers. It's also damn catchy. Here's the title track:

1. BostonBoston, self-titled debut - Admittedly, I'm on a bit of a Boston kick right now. I feel they are ripe for revival. And is there any purer joy of rock and roll that "Rock and Roll Band"?

And there are so many more! Albums by Stars, Mumford and Sons, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Phoenix, Belle & Sebastian, Spoon, M. Ward, Regina Spektor, Andrew Bird, Paper Tongues, VV Brown, My Morning Jacket, The Bird and the Bee and so, so, so many more! Happy music hunting!

Monday, August 09, 2010

You know that you can't fake it

I have a friend at work who tells me that he thinks he was born in the wrong era - he'd feel more comfortable sporting the classic styles and debonair demeanor of the early 1960s. Good news for him: Eli "Paperboy" Reed provides the perfect soundtrack for this.

Reed has single-handedly revived Motown - you'll hear Sam Cooke, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations all in one of Reed's inspired wails. Except this music is brand-new and this kid is white, but you'd never know it to listen to him. He's already caught the ear of some heavy hitters, including LTF favorite Daryl Hall, who invited Reed to appear on a recent episode of Live from Daryl's House. Reed performed "It's Uncanny" with Hall from the Hall and Oates repertoire as well as several hits from his debut album:

But the best news of all is that Reed's sophomore album is out today and is streaming free on Spinner. And oh my... get ready to fall in love. There isn't a stumble or a mood-killer on the whole album. It is pure, heart-lifting vintage rock and soul from start to finish. An early contender for favorite would be "Come and Get It", (not least of all for the subtle similarities to Brenton Wood's infectious"The Oogum Boogum Song"):

And when you can't get enough of Reed and his band, the True Loves, head over to Amazon to download Reed's debut album for just $5. Slim suit and martini optional, but definitely encouraged.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scanning the dial and searching the sky

When I was a freshman in college, I bought tickets to see Shawn Colvin live in Columbus, Ohio. But thanks to poor planning on my part, I never made it to that show. It took me 13 years, but last weekend I finally righted that unfortunate misstep when I took my mom to Shawn's 10 o'clock solo acoustic show at the Old Town School of Folk.

She's totally wonderful by herself on a stage. Her wit and self-deprecating humor are endearing and entertaining and her songs are spare and stunning and powerful. But the thing that really stands out when you hear her play live is what a truly brilliant cover artist she is. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised by that, since my introduction to her music was through her 1994 album Cover Girl, which featured Shawn's reworkings of other people's songs.

On Saturday, we were treated to two songs written by Robbie Robertson of The Band, "Acadian Driftwood" and "Twilight," (which is featured on Cover Girl), as well as the Talking Heads' "Naive Melody (This Must Be the Place)" (also on Cover Girl). And then she pulled out a gorgeously sad version of Simon and Garfunkel's masterpiece "America," which she informed us she had recently performed as a duet with Paula Cole at the Summerstage fundraiser in Central Park last week. (That fundraiser is another story entirely -- it paired modern folkies and tasked them with recreating a Simon and Garfunkel hit. She told us that Loudon Wainwright and his daughter Lucy did "Bleecker Street" and Aimee Mann and "some guy I don't remember" (John Roderick) did "Only Living Boy in New York," maybe? Must have been amazing.)

She often jokes that her songs tend toward the depressing and melancholy, and what makes her such a good cover artist is that she is able to draw out the emotional heart of other people's songs in much the same way. In her cover of "America," for instance, I've never really heard the line, "'Kathy, I'm lost,' I said, though I knew she was sleeping/ 'I'm empty and aching and I don't know why'" in quite the way I heard it when Shawn sang it. And her version of Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" is still the definitive version, as far as I'm concerned. (Listen to that and "Naive Melody" on her MySpace page.)

And I had heard Joni Mitchell's "River" a thousand times but I never really knew what the song was about until I heard Shawn's plaintive voice sing, "I'm so hard to handle/ I'm selfish and I'm sad/ Now I've gone and lost the best baby that I ever had."

Of course, her own songs are wonderful as well. I was particularly impressed on Saturday with "Wichita Skyline." I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Here she is performing it at Lilith Fair in 1997:

And listening to it live, I heard "Polaroids" in a whole new way as well. It's a much sadder song than it sounds on the album. Here is a comparable performance from a couple of years ago:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

She & Him in the sun

I had the excellent opportunity to hear She & Him free in Millenium Park last night, and came away a bigger fan than ever before. Sure, I've always enjoyed their twee, vintage-60s-pop-meets-classic-country-meets-surf-music vibe, but hearing them live, I realized this is no throwback vanity project. Adding in some extended solos and a big backbeat to many of the songs in their normally kitschy, short-but-sweet repertoire made for a rocking live-music experience. (I couldn't actually see the stage, but had an amazing view nonetheless!)

They played most of the songs from their two albums, Volume One and Volume Two, and threw in a couple of showstopping covers as well, including two favorites of mine, Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio." As an encore, the amazingly talented Zooey Deschanel tore up a version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins'"I Put a Spell On You."

Head to the She & Him MySpace page to hear a couple of songs from the new Volume Two as well as favorites from Volume One. Then watch the charming video for my favorite Volume Two song, In the Sun:

She & Him - In The Sun from Merge Records on Vimeo.

As a bonus, here's video from the Millenium Park show of one of my favorite She & Him songs from the first album, "Sentimental Heart." Could she be any more adorable?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Troubles will be gone

Wild Hunt
A little over a week ago, I made the fun-but-inadvisable decision to stay out WAY past my bedtime on a schoolnight, and as a result, I missed the Tallest Man on Earth show at Lincoln Hall the next night, which everyone has assured me was one of the best concerts ever performed in public. Of course, it was inevitable that it would be. The modern Bob Dylan-with-a-melodic-bent could not disappoint.

I fell in love with the Swedish folksinger's debut album, The Wild Hunt, a few months ago… and I fell hard. His voice may take some getting used to for those who are not huge Dylan fans. (He definitely affects a Dylanesque gravelly delivery in his own unique tenor.) But the melodies are so instantly beautiful and the ringing guitar tone (punctuated by mandolin and a handful of other acoustic instruments) so clear, this is modern folk at its absolute best, truest, most lovely. (Occasionally, the songs remind me of early Simon and Garfunkel in their simplicity and purity, and Woody Guthrie in their timeless lyrics.)

Listen to the rollicking "King of Spain" on TMOE's MySpace page.

And then check out the two encore numbers from the show I missed last week, both Dylan covers: "I'll Keep it With Mine" and "The Man in Me."

Truly gorgeous. Learn from my mistake, LTF-ers. See him as soon as possible.

"I simply lost the words to tell you I'm afraid" - From "Troubles Will Be Gone"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nothing but a miracle

Bible Belt

Last night is likely the closest I will ever come to seeing Joni Mitchell live in concert. Or Carole King. Or Laura Nyro. As my musical heroines have mostly given up touring (or in Nyro's case, passed on to angelic choirs of the great beyond), I gladly turn to a new generation of musical genius. I had the good fortune of seeing Diane Birch at Park West last in a surprisingly intimate show (I think there were about 100 of us in the audience) and she completely blew me away. I even got to meet her after the show, and she is both clever and gracious in the way you hope your musical idols will be:

I have been in love with her debut album Bible Belt since it came out last October. From the minute I heard the first notes, I was transported to a golden era where soul music and a folk-based, singer-songwriter genre intermingled. Or to quote my friend Emily, who attended the show with me last night, "It's such a throwback sound, but it's vintage in a way that's never been done before."

Even more reason to love her? She's a favorite of Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates). Check out this full ep of Live from Daryl's House featuring Birch. (They mostly cover songs from Birch's album, but throw in a great rendition of Hall & Oates' "Fall in Philadelphia" and a transcendent version of a forgotten Aretha Franklin gem, "Daydreamin'":

The video for her single "Valentino" is adorably clever as well:

Above all is just the sheer power of the music, at turns soulful, rollicking and contemplative. Last night, she opened with a rocking version of "Choo Choo" and played through the entire album with so much passion that we were left somewhat dumbfounded. There was even a soulful, extended cover of Hall and Oates' "Rich Girl"... pure heaven. (And that gorgeous white Rhodes keyboard throughout the whole show was pitch-perfect!) If you get the chance to see her live, do yourself the favor. Top 10 show.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The city resonates; we hum along

The Paper Raincoat
I used to play the bells in high school and college (for those who lack a certain concert-band savvy, "the bells" are a lot like the xylophone, but with metal keys – the marching version of the bells is better known as the glockenspiel, or the "glock" in nerd parlance), and as a result I am somewhat partial to pop music that incorporates that character-building instrument. Also, you know I like happy music, and there is no such thing as a sad song that features the bells.

For this reason, and many others, I am love love loving the debut album from The Paper Raincoat. Thanks to the ever-wonderful Paste Magazine, you can stream the whole album right now and even download the first two tracks, the charming "Right Angles" and "Sympathetic Vibrations." Each week, they will give away another track from the album, so collect come back often enough and you'll collect the entire album! (If you can't wait that long, go ahead and download it here.

The sound is alternately lush and symphonic and then charmingly intimate, full orchestra with strings one moment, then pizzicato violins and the bells ringing out happily the next. Gorgeous layered harmonies between Amber Rubarth and Alex Wong keep the music from sounding too twee.

I am totally and completely smitten with the album's only a cappella song, "Rewind." You just have to hear it to understand. In the meantime, check out a live performance of the excellent "Brooklyn Blurs" on the Luxury Wafers Sessions: