GEORGE HARRISON- ALL THINGS MUST PASS I just finished watching Martin Scorsese’s documentary on George Harrison, Living In a Material World, and I forgot how fantastic and ernest this song was. All Things Must Pass is one of the two George Harrison albums that I own, and this title title track is perfect. Harrison was piecing “All Things Must Pass” together during the Let It Be sessions and I can’t help but think how great the song would have sounded in the context of a Beatles record. (Looks like this is the only version of the George Harrison’s track that I could find)
THE DECEMBERISTS- WE BOTH GO DOWN TOGETHER This track might be my favorite Decemberists song. Although the entire thing sounds like R.E.M., it works.
THE KILLERS- A DUSTLAND FAIRYTALE I read the other day that The Killers will be releasing a new album next year, so I relistened to some of their latest album, Day and Age. “A Dustland Fairytale” is one their best songs, and easily the best one the album. It could have worked well in Sam’s Town. I wish The Killers would rip-off Bruce Springsteen more often.
The new EP from The Decemberists is a natural way to follow up The King Is Dead, although there’s nothing really too exciting here. Most the songs linger in Colin Melloy’s usual literary songwriting and the songs here have the same alt-country sound that’s on their previous album. Besides the prog track, “Burning Davy” this release just sounds like an afterthought. Their cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Row Jimmy” is really fantastic, though.
Rating: 6.6 out of 10.
CASS MCCOMBS- HUMOR RISK
Cass McCombs has already stunned me by putting out Wit’s End earlier this year, and now he’s put a another album before the year is up. Humor Risk is great for the same reasons as Wit’s End with his Leonard Cohen-like voice and mellow arrangements. Things are a little bit more electric with tracks “Love Thine Enemy” and “Mystery Mail”, but really Humor Risk is just another nice collection by McCombs.
The Decemberists have a new EP on the way. Long Live The King will be a six-song EP with mainly acoustic tracks recorded around the same time as The King Is Dead. It will be released on November 1st via Capitol Records. Listen to The Decemberists cover The Grateful Dead’s “Row Jimmy” below.
1. E. Watson
3. Burying Davy
4. I 4 U & U 4 Me
5. Row Jimmy (Grateful Dead cover)
The Decemberists are the latest to release an iTunes Session and much like previous bands (Vampire Weekend, Deerhunter) this sounds like more than just a throwaway live EP.
Below are two covers from the session. First is “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” a Leonard Cohen track from 1967. The second is a Fruit Bats cover from 2003 called “When U Love Somebody”. Both songs have the heavy alt-county vibe from their latest album The King Is Dead.
iTunes Session tracklisting:
1. Calamity Song
2. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
3. Shankill Butchers
4. June Hymn
5. This Is Why We Fight
7. The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)
8. When U Love Somebody
The lead singer and songwriter for The Decemberists, Colin Meloy has put up a site for his new book Wildwood.
The book will be the first in the series (no word on how many books) Colin Meloy is known for putting down some the best lyrics in recent times with The Decemberists, and his writing is just as good here. It also features illustrations from Meloy’s wife Carson Ellis.
Here’s a description of the book from the website:
Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.
So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater, as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.
You can read the first four chapters and pre-order the book in various formats and retailers at the book’s site.
OK, these track aren’t really the “best”, just the songs that I’ve enjoyed the most over the past six months. Most of the songs here are from albums that were not on my albums list of 2011. In no particular order.
FLEET FOXES- THE PLAINS/BITTER DANCER
The best track from Helplessness Blues builds and grows for the first two minutes and then it drops out to bring in a sound that’s very close to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. It’s one of those moments where an artist takes an influence, shows respect for it, and then makes it into something only possible that artist.
Her album, Past Life Martyred Saints hit me hard for some reason, but the song “California” struck me more than almost anything else I’ve heard so far this year. Her spoken word delivery sounds like Patti Smith. Lyrics about moving out to a place with some friends, and trying to figure out life and realizing that some people are full of it. “I’m just 22, and I don’t mind dying”
CULTS- GO OUTSIDE
So, the song showed up last year, don’t care. “Go Outside” is care free fun, and what more do you need in a song? Their self-titled album was an entire record of great tracks, but nothing as fun as this. The repetition is all justified by how catchy the song is.
THE DECEMBERISTS- RISE TO ME
I had never been a fan of The Decemberists until I heard The King Is Dead. And no track was as great as “Rise To Me”. The slide guitar fits perfectly, and Gillian Welch’s backing vocals are great. In an interview, Collin Melloy said the song was written about his autistic son. It’s a rare case where knowing the context of the song actually makes the song better.
RADIOHEAD- LOTUS FLOWER
Those handclaps! So, most of King of Limbs left me underwhelmed, but “Lotus Flower” is near perfect Radiohead. The looped drum beat mixed with a great bass, topped off with some of Thom Yorke’s best vocals. Great stuff.
PANDA BEAR- LAST NIGHT AT THE JETTY
Panda Bear pushes his Brian Wilson influence to the next level with this track. It’s one of the few tracks on Tomboy where the album version sounds better than the demo. While most of the lyrics escape me, it doesn’t matter because the melody is so strong. The chorus kicks in, full Beach Boys style. And the creepy atmosphere of the track works better than most of the songs on Tomboy.
ADELE- ROLLING IN THE DEEP
Most of the music that fills up the charts and radio is shit. No need to discuss. But Adele continues to one of the best artists out there in the pop field. No voice can match up (hope she doesn’t loose it!) It makes you want to sing along, and then you realize that you can’t match up to greatness.
MY MORNING JACKET- CIRCUITAL
Jim James brings it with this track. This Spingsteen-Neil Young sounding track continues to interest me, no matter how many times I hear it. Starting out slow and then building to the crashing guitars that then builds to a cool guitar solo before bringing it all back down. It spins for seven minutes, and would have been even better longer.
Their new album, Collapse Into Now, is the best thing the group has put out in years, and I can’t stop listening to it. “Uberlin” is the best track out the bunch. With a great acoustic guitar and Stipe’s lyrics are great. It brings to mind their 1992 track, “Drive”. It’s just as emotionally great as any of their earlier work.
IRON AND WINE- TREE BY THE RIVER
I don’t really know what to say about this song. Except that it’s easily my favorite Iron and Wine track. It’s so optimistic.
ELBOW- OPEN ARMS
After listening to this track 30 times or so, I still can’t form words as to why this song effects me. Every last note is exactly where it needs be. Nothing is out of place. The way the bass guitar keeps sliding down, the strings and backing vocals are a great addition, and Guy Garvey’s vocals have never been better. I’m already calling it the best track of the year. A perfect song.