Sunday, August 28, 2011

Raul's Finite Playlist: August 2011

Raul's Finite Playlist: August 2011

There isn't an all-encompassing theme to my playlists apart from the fact that these are all songs I like and find myself listening to a lot during the month. Most of the songs are new releases or new finds, but there are also old favorites. This month a few of the songs are from acts I saw live. It was a rare month where I saw not one, not two, but three concerts--all within a week! I'm still recovering. Old 97's and Josh Ritter are longtime favorites of mine and they played a show at the Wiltern. "Nineteen" was the first song I recall hearing from Old 97's way back in the late 90's. That's actually a late intro to the band as they had released three albums prior to "Fight Songs," which were arguably their best work.

I first heard Josh Ritter performing a live set on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" in 2003. I fell in love with his poetic bent and rushed out to buy "Hello Starling." He has since released three consistently brilliant albums. That he hasn't broken through big time is a shame. He's an infectious performer. FJ noted at the Wiltern show that he exudes pure joy while performing, something that is strangely absent in a lot of bands/artists. "Change of Time" is from his most recent album, "So Runs the World Away," and can also be heard on an NFL Network commercial that has been airing recently.

I also won tickets to Death Cab for Cutie and Frightened Rabbits this month. I'm lucky, I guess. Both bands are--to describe them in one word--sincere, but not in the off-putting way. Both are too melodic and too talented to be denigrated for being sincere. They wear their hearts on their sleeves but also make beautiful, catchy music. "The Sound of Settling" is from "Transatlanticism," Death Cab's 2003 album, which they used to close out their set. Frightened Rabbits played an impressive opening set. Their songs all tend to soar, which makes for an uplifting and inspiring experience. They didn't perform "The Twist," but here it is anyway.

For new favorites, the list is led by the Belle Brigade's "Losers." The Belle Brigade is an extremely appealing brother-sister duo. Their free show at Pasadena's Levitt Pavilion was a delight in spite of the stomach virus Barbara Gruska was dealing with. Gardens & Villa opened for Generationals in July and impressed me with their sound. The flute figures prominently in their music but that's no mere gimmick. There's a free love vibe to their sound and in "Orange Blossom" it presents itself with a sexy-time groove and vaguely sexual and ridiculous sounding come-ons as "Think of me as a swarm of bees/Buzzing around your leaves/To pollenate means ecstasy." You get the idea?

Dirty Gold's "California Sunrise" is perfect California summertime listening. I don't know much about the band, but I'm definitely curious to hear more. Same goes for Ben Howard's "Old Pine," which seems to be about the joys of summertime camping with good friends.

The morning benders' terrific cover of the Strokes' "Last Night" is their contribution to the song-by-song tribute by Stereogum of the Strokes' seminal debut, "Is This It?". Owen Pallett contributes to the album titled "STROKED: A Tribute to 'Is This It'" along with other bands. It's a free download, so check it out on the Stereogum website.

I've had Seapony's album for a while now but haven't had the time to fuly listen to it, but then "What You See" came on while my iPod was on shuffle and I fell in love with it.

The playlist is rounded off by two old favorites, the Rapture and My Morning Jacket, who both have new albums. "How Deep Is Your Love" isn't vintage the Rapture but it is still undeniably catchy and "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" is a beautful song about mortality as only My Morning Jacket can do.

Enjoy the playlist!