hello.column #1 — Favourite Music

hello.column

The DEBUT column! This week Mike, Aryn and Greg chat about a few bands that they have been heavily listening to and what makes them so great to go back to.

Okay so this is kind of an experiment so bear with us…. Basically we are going to attempt to create a conversation on one particular topic in email discourse and then once a week post as a weekly column. The topic might be a movie, record, television show concert review or recommendation, news, politics, books, favourite albums or films or concerts, the art of a good band name or song title or thought process for lyrics or writing a song…this is different than the blog in that the blog will now outline the processes of making the Hello Come In album…

The first column we talk about a favourite band we have been listening to a lot recently…it could be new or old, mainstream or unheard of or anywhere in the middle and in general, why we like the band, any particular albums, or moods it invokes etc. So here we go, jumping solidly into the fire:

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Mike: A band I seem to not be able to get enough of recently is My Morning Jacket. I think their newest album Z is perhaps my favourite, but mostly b\c I think that was the first one I fell in love with and made me pay attention to them. It’s their first five songs on the album: ‘Wordless Chorus,’ ‘It Beats 4 U,’ ‘Gideon,’ ‘What a Wonderful Man,’ and ‘Off the Record’ that sit just perfectly on the record. Each one has a different feeling and mood but their style just weaves them all together.

What I really like is the use of vintage sounding recording like the reverby vocals and guitars and the old keyboard sounds. It just sounds like a great 70s rock album. The singer Jim James has a great sense of vocal range and falsetto that comes out on top of the dark atmospheric sounds. I love just putting this on my iPod during my walk to the metro on a sunny day. I think in the same way certain cds are great road trip albums, or night driving albums, or party albums, this one pumps me up for starting a crisp fall saturday morning.

Aryn: My music melody preference is currently residing on a mister Andrew Bird. This local chicago player has created an excellent album, one that invokes an uplifting mood that grows with each track. I love the orchestration of this album, it seems to move away from the standard rock sounds and into a more exciting realm.

The whistling melody on the track ‘A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left,’ gives that almost cattle drive feel as it moves along. Almost every track is memorable in some way… complete with short interludes later on in the album reminding of the previous enjoyments. Fantastic twangy guitars and spindly violin hits pop this thing along. Easily one of my favorite albums of the year.

Greg: I agree that Andrew Bird is really unique- The Mysterious Production of Eggs has a lot of great songs on it, but i always go back to opposite day. there’s something about that song…

I have been getting back into electronic/dance music.In particular, I am in love with the Chemical Brothers new album, Push the Button: ‘The Boxer,’ ‘Hold Tight London,’ and ‘Surface to Air’ are awesome songs!! Although the alternating I to IV progression in ‘Surface to Air always reminds me of ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ by U2- but ’tis OK.

I love moody electronic music artists like Air, Amon Tobin, and 4 Hero, but normally avoid the more mainstream ones like the Chemical Brothers. I think a lot of their songs are usually kind of gimmicky and somewhat lacking in depth. But this one just caught me for some reason.

Two other tunes that are older but I can’t get out of my head lately: ‘Deathly’ by Aimee Mann and ‘Truck On’ by Simple Kid.

Mike: The thing with Andrew Bird is that he takes all of his classically trained violinist skills and adjusts them towards a more singer\songwriter approach. What a twist: a rock musician who can read music and compose arrangements that arent really doughnut gig simplistic. He takes a page from the George Martin school of pop production and really his violin is not a gimmick here but just the instrument he begins with. In the two songs I saw him perform here at NPR, I knew I had to go back to that record.

I still feel like we missed out seeing him and Sam Prekop double-headline in Chicago. And you know, I can never get enough of Prekop’s post-rock Chicago sound… once again here are a group of musicians that are so different but come together in these strange projects… Tortoise, Jim ORourke, Isotope 217, Wilco, Loose Fur, Jeff Tweedy, Stereolab, Prekop, Sea And Cake etc etc. But you know all this. It definitely has influenced the way I play music.

Aryn: That (missing the concert) was a big screw up. But I had a SECOND opportunity recently that i passed up, where he was playing with Dosh, whom I would also like to see. But alas it wasnt extremely meant to be due to the lack of expendable income, and it being in milwaukee, and me being in Chicago.

Granted not too far of a distance to travel for something amazing, but it just wasnt in the cards. It is always nice to run into new music where talent is something that is praised over just commercial value. I like things that are so good that they force commercial value. Not something that is forced a commercial value because someone puts a shitload of money behind it.

Mike: Its hard to know what to spend your hard-earned dollars on. We are living in a material world, and I definitely spend like Madonna, when i have it to spend. I mean between normal expenses like rent, phone, internet, television… all of a sudden we have this desire for new music. So we go out and buy new music.

Then we are tired of our clothes…so we buy a new pair of jeans or a shirt. Then we go buy some new tv show on dvd, or a book or whatever. Then you are back to being bored w\ music again and you are back to where we started. This is where our money goes…its a trap, but somehting I enjoy because I love absorbing this form of entertainment. Call it short attention span, whatever…

It interesting to see bands like Andrew Bird or MMJ or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or even the Arcade Fire sprout up, just on the idea that a few years ago, NO ONE would have heard them, or even care. What is also impressive is that they are doing it on their own terms. Even when Death Cab signs with Atlantic, they were already so put together sound-wise that they had the clout to make the album they wanted.

The media is catching on, as are fans who are transitioning them from underground and ‘indie’ to well-known entities. Is it that our tastes have changed dramatically in the last few years or that for once the music that is considered popular from television\movies like Six Feet Under or the OC is actually GOOD pop music?

I think a lot of good music is the popular music for the first time probably since the early stages of grunge when nirvana and pearl jam were ON the radio. We are seeing that a bit with new bands…but really there are so many outlets out there for finding out about music whether its the internet or people at work and so on that its easy to feel like it all came from nowhere.

Aryn: It’s all about the internet. As long as we have a free and open web, bands like that can be found and cultivated, pushing what should be marketed into the realm of the known. I am amazed that the RIAA keeps pouting that pirating is hurting record sales, and all that rubbish, when bands embrace it and use it as a marketing tool end up doing better than trying to stifel it.

But I guess when you have nothing to lose, anything will make you stronger. And as long as bands have their battle helmets on and keep innovating and putting out newer better more interesting things than before, eventually someone will listen. Maybe not the big time record producer, but someone gets to hear it. Thus helping to create the next great band..

Mike: We see it all the time, and there is no dispute but look at the influence the internet has on music and the ability for bands to break. It happend most recently with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a fairly mediocre band with a GREAT record. And before they could even catch themselves up as a band to the quality of their record, they hav exploded. It helps that there are hundreds of sites and blogs and online magazines devoted to this, but really if they hadnt put their album online, word of mouth would never have played the role.

Word of mouth worked brilliantly for fringe music in the past, whether it was bootlegs, old jazz broadcasts, Phish tape trading, Wilco putting their rejected Yankee Hotel Foxtrot online before its eventual release, or even Fiona Apple salvaging her twice abandoned, rejected and leaked Extraordinary Machine.

If the RIAA or bands like Metallica really think going against this is good business sense, then they are really chopping off the hand that feeds them. Like anyone BUT metallica fans would want to seek out the newest record, leaked before its release date. Sometimes you got to just accept that if the music is QUALITY for once, it will be heard somewhere.

And that is the point…it will lead to everything else.

So what are you listening to? Email us at hellocolumn@hellocomein.com

Coming up NEXT WEEK: Aryn & Mike wax on about the film V for Vendetta!

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