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The Illin' Music Thread

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Tag Archives: folk


Andrew Bird’s career arc is epitome of what any musician dreams of accomplishing. Though he began as a virtually unknown classically trained violinist / folk musician, he has built not only a remarkable worldwide fanbase, but created a unique image and an unbelievably characteristic sound through persistence and perseverance. On the past few LP’s, we’ve heard walls of sonic beauty created by violin lines over violin loops over violin loops over guitar over bass and drums, complimented by other bell instruments and virtuoso whistling. Not to mention the eloquence and subtlety of Bird’s voice, ranging from singing virtuoso passages full of wordplay to mumbling incoherent phrases to repeatedly humming just a few notes.

With Hands of Glory, Bird has returned to his midwestern roots. Where recently his bluesy, folksy violin background has been relatively contained, serving more as his influence (starting with 2003’s Weather Systems), Hands of Glory marks their full re-emergence. In fact, this album bears the most resemblance to The Swimming Hour and all of his older, pre-2003 Bowl of Fire releases. It is stripped down, down home-y, and artfully simple, sidestepping the scientific lingo on recent releases (calcium mines and measuring brains) and almost constant wordplay (“Anonimal”, for example). With this collection of country covers and album reworks, the listener is presented with lines such as “take your apples from the earth” and “if I needed you, would you come to me?”. Complicated riffs in 7/8 have been substituted with genuine sentiment over simple grooves – a testament to Bird’s musicality, versatility, as well as his ability to make heartfelt, stripped down music in 2012. The album feels like it was recorded in your living room; there are no barriers between artist and listener. That’s probably because it was recorded in a barn, around a single microphone.

In an today’s age of the explicit, Andrew Bird has managed to release an introspective, nuanced, minimalist, and beautiful album. And there’s no saying where he’ll go next. And that is a good thing.

You can go and stream the entire album for free here.

This is a fall album if I’ve ever heard one… seems like the perfect soundtrack for walking through fields of fallen leaves and apple picking all while drinking a hot cup of cider. Or trying to find a job. That too.

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If you have ever read John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, you may recognize this band’s moniker. In addition, you may also understand the vibe of this album–warm, subtly tragic, and incredibly human. Although this album isn’t exactly a soundtrack to the book, and while there is a definite lack of valves, the fact remains: Oh Fortuna’s music is about as big-hearted and tragically sad as the story of Ignatius J. Reilly.

These guys are rocking my world. If you need a new band to get obsessed with, get obsessed with these guys. The first time I listened to The Fireworks of Electric Human Love, their debut album, I was charmed, but not really moved. The second time around, I started to understand that–holy shit! These guys are unbelievable! How have they not been featured on The Illin’ Music Thread?

This album seems like it was made by a bunch of human beings creating an album about how amazing it is to exist in this strange, beautiful world called Earth. Atmospheric soundscapes, catchy-as-hell melodies, unforgettable lyrics, and pumping electronic drums dominate this album. I also really enjoy their use of certain electro clichés–cheesy synth bass lines (see: “Woodpaint Rainbow”), gated saw synths (see: “St. Bernadino’s Fire”), etc.–in a completely different context. That’s just to say, it’s just one of the many things that makes this album FRESH.

Download these guys. Seriously. You’ll get hooked. I guarantee it. I don’t guarantee many things, but I this I will. I’m putting the whole album up–The Fireworks of Electric Human Love has made it onto my list of “perfect albums”–albums that I can listen to any track of and love. Check it, yo!

Click here to download Oh Fortuna’s The Fireworks Of Electric Human Love!

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I love Totally Nebular. I’ve basically been listening to these three crazy kids from Florida non-stop all week. Their weird melange of indie rock, electro, Animal Collective-esque loops, and psychedelia played at rocketship speeds makes Totally Nebular buckets of fun to listen to.

I downloaded their debut album Boat Boat and was immediately struck by how they seem like me. Not in terms of the music I make or listen to or anything. It’s more like I feel as though I completely understand the sources from which they drew to make their music. I was born in 1989, and the whole 1980s nostalgia of the 00’s is lost on me. I feel as though myself and people my age have started to figure out that the whole 1980s pastiche thing of the last decade is wearing pretty thin. How can we identify with a feeling that we weren’t around to feel?

That’s where Totally Nebular comes in. To me, they sound like getting that Nintento 64 in ’96, or like going to the carnival in ’98, or like eating watermelon in ’95. They sound like things I can understand and identify with. They sound like the cheesy keyboard bells and whistles, playing a SNES simulator on my parents’ slow desktop computer, and going to the pool with my brothers.

Totally Nebular will make you feel good. I posted a link to their music video for “Captain Benson” above. It’s pretty good! And if you want to download their debut album Boat Boat, click here! My favorite songs are “Green Tops”, “Captain Benson”, and “Fred & Doe”. Check it out!

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I’ve kind of been going on a Whitehaus Family Record binge recently. I’ve been crusing the interwebz, looking for free downloads from bands like Peace, Loving, Many Mansions, and, of course, MANNERS. Hailed as one of the leading figures in the Yes Wave scene, this dude makes beautiful outdoors sunlight music. Also, look at those stylish pants! ME-OW!!!1LOL

I just downloaded his WINTOUR E.P. off of archive.org. Described as a series of “meditations”, this album reminds me of Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Quiet, unassuming drones, starkly unadorned yet never boring, reverberate through this 32 minute EP. It’s a calming record to listen to; you can put it on and do some work, or just look out the window at the grass leaving winter behind. He’s got a nice voice, too.

My favorite track is “Folk Legend Sun”. I like it because it reminds me of raking leaves in the fall, and it also has percussion in it, which is nice. I really like banjos, too, so that’s always a plus. It really is a lovely, quiet song, and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Click here to download MANNERS’ “Folk Legend Sun” from his WINTOUR E.P.!

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I remember seeing these guys back in 2006, I think, in some random back yard in Newton with Jon Davies and Mark Saldana. I think the guitar player played through like 20 reverb pedals. Or maybe that was some other band. At the time, I thought they were all right, in that annoying high school way I thought bands were cool. The Craters were just a guitarist and a drummer. They played that unique kind of indie rock specific to the mid-2000’s that was kind of a boring and weird watered-down version of Modest Mouse-type bands. That was four years ago.

Jump ahead to 2010, and The Craters just released a cassette tape called “Teenage High School”. OH MAN. So much better than The Craters I remembered. I checked their myspace after randomly recollecting that weird concert full of bands with names like “Velveteen Streetcars” or something. Maybe that was the name of a song? Who even knows. Maybe Jon does.

Anyways, The Craters fuckin’ rock now. Lo-fi, analog synth sounds are interweaved between distorted drum machine beats. The hook of the song (“Everybody goes theeeeeeeere”) has been stuck in my head for a few days, now. The music has a strange mood to it, like when you remember all the idiosyncratic things you and a friend or two did that seemed so important at the time, but eventually got forgotten about a few years down the line. Like that concert in Newton. I think I got in trouble with my parents for going to that concert. Oh, man. All these memories are flooding back right now. YIKES.

Anyhow, here’s The Craters’ “Cool Enough For School” from their new album Teenage High School, available through Breakfast of Champs Records. Click here for the download!

* EDIT: I just downloaded another song from The Craters called “Weekends Or Not”. Click here to download it!

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Gracious Calamity are those two lovely ladies in the front. Study this picture and learn it well.

These guys are also part of the Whitehaus Family Record. I also love them. A lot.

To quote:

“When a Gracious Calamity song begins, tiny areas of your body begin to remember the microscopic sensation of moisture and air molecules. The history of the country where you were born begins to race through your head and you start to remember for the first time. You remember choosing your surname. You remember generations of the canoe, fishing along the ice. The hallucinations are persistent and real. ”
-Morgan Shaker

They make me really happy. Like, really happy. Their voices are just so perfect. My friend Lucie Berjoan once wrote on her facebook page, “what happened to the beautiful music of our grandparents?” I feel as though this band is a sort-of answer to that question. They sound as real as the bottom of a river and as beautiful as pine trees. I highly recommend listening to these wonderful women.

In fact, in order to listen to them, here are some links!

Click here to download “Angel Band”.

Click here to download “The Great Haircut Song”.

YEAH!

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I LOVE THE CUPS SO FREAKING MUCH

So I’ve been trying to get more into the Whitehaus Family Record thing. I downloaded a bunch of EP’s and such off of their website, and came upon this band called The Cups. HOLY SHNOOKUMS. I absolutely love these guys.

I’m posting their entire album up here because it is one of those “perfect albums” where I am perfectly happy listening to any one of the tracks at any time. Maybe you’ll be disappointed if you only like a few songs off it, but whatever. I dig it. Perhaps you will, too.

THEY’RE JUST SO LEGIT

Here’s the link for the download. Click it.

😀

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