Monday Music Roundup
You might be surprised to hear it, but I am reading a really interesting book about zombies. Heck, I'm surprised that I'm reading a book about zombies. But it was an unexpected gift and I'm not one to look a gift book in the mouth, so I dove in.
World War Z is rivetingly creepy, an impeccably-constructed fictional history of our modern world seeing an unknown outbreak in rural China that causes people to become undead, their blood congealed into a black ooze, with a shuffling gait and a low moan. Oh, and a bloodthirsty need to bite the living (like, break into your house in suburbia and feast on your family). Sounds all Halloween, but it's more like Outbreak. The book traces the procession of the outbreak, the coverups, the panic, the turning point in the war, and then the reconstruction of the entire planet -- entirely through short, well-crafted first person accounts of those who "lived through it." It's very believable and globally creative. I like freaking myself out with well-written scares. I recommend this title and am glad I gave it a shot.
Music I am listening to this fine first week of Spring:
This starts like bubblegum with a fresh sweetness and pop, but quickly you get the fuzz and hear the punky influences of Boyracer. Originally from Britain and now in Arizona, this band has gone through over 40 members in the almost two decades they've been making music. Currently the lineup consists of original member Stewart Anderson and two rockin' gals, one of whom he is married to. As my friend who recommended them said, "the killer melodies really come through after a few listens," and I agree -- the overtones are sweetly gratifying, but with enough distortion to balance it so well. They could be from any decade of the last 40 years.
Here's another out-of-nowhere 24 year old who channels James Brown here with a red-hot yowl and big brass soul. I originally read about Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves over on the Bag of Songs blog and as soon as I started listening to the track, I had to go back and doublecheck who this kid was and from which era. Originally from Allston, MA, he honed his musical chops after he up & moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi at age 18 -- in the North Mississippi Delta, and one of the birthplaces of the blues. Holy mackerel. Go stream some stuff on this kid's MySpace; album Roll With You is out April 29th on Q Division.
I The Kite
If you were Texas musican Will Johnson and found yourself sometimes tugged in different directions with your music, you might --if you were especially prolific-- form two bands. And in 2008, you might release a double album with both of your bands on it. Centro-matic often explores the loose and beautiful, but slightly more rockin' side of Johnson's persona, where South San Gabriel is a bit more twilight dusk than burnished afternoon. Hazy but stunning, like a landscape from a Cormac McCarthy novel. According to the guys themselves, "what is distinctive about the release of Dual Hawks is that we get the chance to hear side-by-side the various ways in which Centro-matic and South San Gabriel complement and play off of each other—sort of the full-length equivalent of a split single." Very cool idea, with gorgeous interplay.
A friend has been urging me for months to write something about The Blakes after he saw them randomly on a Friday night in a small club and wrote that "they were awesome…like fuck yeah spirit of rock n roll awesome -- they sort of rip off The Strokes but they do it in a good way, like it is still 2002 and garage rock will rock forever and it isn’t 2008." So yeah, I'll take a listen. This song was originally part of the Sound of Color ad campaign, and finds this Seattle trio taking a bit of a departure from the garage vibe found on excellent tracks like "Modern Man" or "Commit" (on their MySpace) crossing over to a sunnier Kinks/Beatles vibe that evokes nicely their assigned color of blue. Or maybe a cheery aquamarine.
Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozelak's music gives up its melancholy layers slowly, over repeated late-night listens. Therefore I cannot claim to have plumbed the depths of the new Sun Kil Moon album after only having streaming access to it for a few short days via their MySpace. But this one we managed to capture is bewitching. Like one particularly incisive lyric here, "Her hair it twists 'round her necklace / constricts and chokes like ruthless vine," this song is near-eight minutes of ominous impending beauty. The new album April comes out the first day of that month and features guest vocals from Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Ben Gibbard.