this album came out a couple of months ago but i felt compelled to write about it now, since the timing is appropriate. in a career spanning roughly 50 years (!!!) and 47 albums, bob dylan has finally recorded a christmas album, which comes as a surprise to some of his loyal fans. first of all, he was raised in a jewish family, second of all, people assume something like this, coming from him, is meant to be ironic and not taken seriously. but he is serious, and his straightforward approach to recording the songs (with background singers and traditional arrangements) is a measure of his appreciation for the music. the album might not be for everyone but if you’re a fan of either christmas music or bob dylan, or both, definitely give it a shot. plus, all proceeds from the album sales in the u.s. will be donated, now and in perpetuity, to feeding america, which guarantees that over 1.4 million families will be provided with meals this holiday season. proceeds from sales in the u.k. and worldwide will go to the charities crisis and the world food programme, respectively.
check out this really cute video, by painter/animator jeff scher, for bob dylan’s “little drummer boy”:
when edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros, who i’ve posted about a couple of times, released their album up from below this year, they held a release party to raise money to help the gulu widows group of uganda so that they could start a farm to sustain their community. this group of incredible women have been widowed, abducted and abused as a result of the continuing warfare in northern uganda, southern sudan and eastern congo.
to thank the band, the women sang part of their song “home” after the first harvest on the farm…watch:
if i had a christmas tree, these are the kind of ornaments i’d put on it. i saw these on pitchfork and I think they’re so cool – they’re recycled christmas tree ornaments made by the glass casters union in oregon, and proceeds from the sale of the ornaments go towards helping homeless and low-income families in oregon. this year’s designs include modest mouse, blizen trapper and the decemberists (shown above). i also like some of the ones they’ve done in previous years:
with today being “tunesday” and all, i thought it was a good time to ask everyone out there…what were your favorite songs and albums of the year? it’s been an awesome year in music, in my opinion, so there’s lots of great stuff to choose from. animal collective, black joe lewis & the honeybears, edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros and grizzly bear released four of my favorite albums this year.
send me your choices for the best songs and albums…i’ll compile a list and reveal the top ten at the end of the year!
you can leave them in the comments section or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
today’s tunesday album is a new compilation of old songs, but good songs… the kind that you can still listen to today and enjoy as if they’re brand new. dreamin’ man live ’92 is a collection of songs that make up neil young’s harvest moon album, taken from various acoustic performances in 1992 (the year the album was released). it’s hard to believe harvest moon came out twenty years after the amazing harvest album, and to listen to him sing these songs you wouldn’t think he’d aged a day, if it weren’t for the lyrics, which take on the tone of someone older and wiser. regardless, songs like “dreamin’ man” “harvest moon” “unknown legend” and “you and me” are as beautiful and poignant as ever, especially in this stripped down acoustic form.
take a listen to the song “unknown legend,” one of my faves…
make no mistake: this is an album about heartbreak. thao nguyen‘s own heartbreak. even though you’re set up for this material to come off as whiney, she somehow manages to avoid this by sending it out with punchy and dancey tunes. a great album to put on as soon as you’re ready to stop crying about your own broken heart.
after years of playing drums and singing background vocals for joanna newsom, it was time for neal morgan to bust out on his own. and on his own is exactly it – just him and his drums layering over themselves to create something entertaining and totally dynamic.
this is the one record this year that i am a bit worried i may literally wear out. it’s fun and romantic and creates a cool, sexy, almost dark atmosphere. it’s a perfect example of the excitement of anticipation – every time you think a song’s going to break out into something huge and deserving of a fist pump, they sit you back down and tell you to hold your horses, they have more ways to whisper something salacious in your ear.
the life story of christopher owen, one half of girls, is so insane that the first time i heard it i thought it was a farce (it involves cults, prostitution and a stint as a gutter punk). you can feel this in the rawness of his voice, but these aren’t songs about his tumultuous childhood, these are just songs about girls. fun, surf rocky, songs about girls. what better subject to fill an album with?!? after ponies.
* these records were purchased at an awesome shop in madison wi, b-sides. they have a great selection and are really nice about making recommendations.
royksopp currently have a new album on the way but their first is a great one for a re-listen, or even a first go. and with the unavoidable buzz and bustle heading into a new year this makes a great soundtrack to just take. a. break.
when this album came out it made new york city a rock star again and amazingly it still sounds fresh. this cover was actually never printed in the us because the band didn’t want buyers to be put off by the bum. luckily, their songs are way more rock ‘n’ roll than that move.
they only have three studio albums to their name and yet they’ve left an indelible mark on music and even defined and created their own genre of trip hop. seriously – there’s one other band that you’d put in the trip hop bucket and i can’t be bothered to name them. every member is now working with and influencing artists that are creating a lot of the best music around. anyway, so what i was saying is this album is perfection and i want to hug it.
guess what. i love portishead. their singer beth gibbons doesn’t escape the love fest with this solo album, though it has a completely different tone; dark and a little brooding, if it was a scent it would be like old libraries and snow.
and now, take a listen to some songs from these albums!
they already released one of the year’s best albums (in my opinion) merriweather post pavilion, and they toured all spring and summer, so when exactly did animal collective find the time to record a new EP? fall be kind comes out digitally today, and the album will be available in stores on december 15th. granted its only five songs, but they’re really good songs…including “graze,” which they’ve been playing live on tour for a while now, and “what would i want? sky,” which is actually the first song ever to legally sample the grateful dead. hard to believe, but true. listen to the song above…give it a second to get going. i haven’t been able to stop listening to it. the band describes the ep as having a somewhat darker sound, and they specifically wanted to release it in the fall because it felt appropriate.
band member dave porter (a.k.a. avey tare) explains, “the title is kind of a play on “fall behind,” when you move the clocks back. everything seems to be very seasonal or weather-oriented for us this year. i wanted to keep it a little bit in line with that. it felt like merriweather post pavilion was really springy or summery. we always try and push for our releases to come out at a specific time…. we even wondered if all these songs feel like a bunch of leftover songs, but i think they definitely do fit together in a sweet way. i guess because i associate fall with halloween, which is my favorite holiday. it just has that feeling, too. i really like autumn; i don’t necessarily feel like it’s a dark season or anything. the transitional seasons are usually my favorite.”