Thursday, October 27, 2011

Raul's Finite Playlist: October 2011

LINK: Raul's Finite Playlist - October 2011

Two of the best movies I'll probably see this year are "Weekend" and "Drive," and both have excellent, evocative soundtracks, songs from which appear on this month's playlist. John Grant's "Marz" runs over the end credits of "Weekend," punctuating a heartbreaking romance with its melancholy piano melody. Similarly, "A Real Hero" by College featuring Electric Youth caps off the moody, stylish, and surprisingly tender action of "Drive." Its chorus pretty much sums up the development of the film's lead, the unnamed Driver, played brilliantlyl by Ryan Gosling, as he finds himself to be "a real human being and a real hero." I'm hoping "A Real Hero" is eligible for Oscar consideration because it deserves to win.

The rest of the October list leans towards the moody. Maybe I was just in that sort of mood this month. I decided to open the list with two of the more upbeat tracks, Mates of State's "Palomino" and Fool's Gold's "Wild Window." Mates of State are back with a strong album and "Palomino" is a slight departure from their sound. It sounds a little more ragged than we expect to hear from the Mates but it is still catchy, proving once again my theory that any song with a "woohoo" chorus can't go wrong. "Wild Windows" is also a burst of cheerful pop from a band I've just started listening to. Their album, "Leave No Trace," sounds a bit to me like a west coast version of Vampire Weekend, with hints of world music but less cheeky.

Speaking of Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij, the gay, Persian member of the group, has several side projects. As ROSTAM, he has unfurled a languourous, beguiling song called "Wood," which features Eastern musical influences. It's quite a soothing song, perfect for relaxing in the grass.

Soothing can also be used to describe Feist's music. Her new album just came out and it is excellent. It's more of the same from her, but it doesn't get old. I think the fact that she remains true to her aesthetic is admirable. There is no song as delightful as "1234" on "Metals" but each song is as lovely as anything Feist has done. I really had a hard time singling out a song to pick from the album, but I eventually settled on "Graveyard" if only for the chorus of kids (another you-can't-go-wrong-with pop trick).

I've been listening to a lot of "Morning Becomes Eclectic" ever since I started this new job, so it's no surprise that it has had quite an influence on my musical tastes as of late. Blind Pilot, Jessica Lea Mayfield, James Vincent McMorrow, and Grouplove are all heard frequently on the show. Blind Pilot has a sound that at first seems indistinguishable from other indie pop acts, but songs like "We are the Tide" have an understated charm that makes them stick. Jessica Lea Mayfield, too, fits an MBE mold, quirky, pretty vocals, carried throughout pretty songs. "Blue Skies Again" is a highlight from her album. Grouplove is a local band and as their name suggests there is a free love vibe to them. They are apparently a good live band and their debut album is quite good. I eventually settled on "Tongue-Tied" to include in the list, but for a while I was going to go with "Naked Kids," but then even after that I thought of changing it to "Colours." In other words, they have a solid collection of songs. I've only heard "If I Had a Boat" from James Vincent McMorrow, so I can't comment on his full album, but I like this song. He's a soulful, singer-songwriter.

Fiona Apple hasn't really been heard from in a while, but I just got a Buddy Holly tribute album that features Fiona Apple's simple but perfect cover of Holly's "Everyday." I wonder if she's got anything new being cooked up?

To close out the list, I included two instrumental tracks from Andrew Bird from his score to the film "Norman." I haven't seen the film, but the soundtrack gets my thumbs up. Not only does it have Andrew Bird's music but it also has tracks from Chad VanGaalen and Wolf Parade. Bird is an excellent composer and I think he would do well scoring more films. His music, even without vocals, have tremendous emotionality that isn't that easy to pull off. The tracks I chose from the soundtrack are "The Bridge" and "Hospital."

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