Posts Tagged ‘nick drake

15
Jul
10

MIDLAKE – The Courage of Others (2010)

On Monday I posted my second installment of Print o’ The Week and some have emailed me asking what the Midlake in the print meant; good question right?  The print is actually concert poster created by Portland, Oregon artist Dan Stiles for a Midlake show in that city.  But, clearly more of an explanation and album review of the band Midlake would be appropriate.

I stumbled upon Midlake when I began to get interested in Iron and Wine; I had been a die hard Elliot Smith fan for years and the natural progression to these bands makes sense since to a degree they follow a similiar formula and would be catagorized in a similiar genre of music.  In my opinion if you are familiar with the bands Dolorean, Kingsbury Manx, or Chatham County Line and like indie-folk-rock, you will also find Midlake appealing as well. 

Midlake is not a new band by any means, they have actually been together since 2001 and have released 3 albums prior to The Courage of Others (2010).  Midlake’s previous album Trials of Van Occupanther (2006) brought the most notoriety for the band; although remaining relatively an underground album it did gain them a larger loyal following.

Mellow and serene, lying on your back on a sunny day staring at big puffy clouds and dreaming about life and what it all means would sum up what listening to Midlake is like.  Lead singer Tim Smith has a Thom Yorke  (Radiohead) quality to his singing, but defines himself with a lullaby quality that is complimented by the always apparent folky flute and piano balladesque indie-folk-r0ck tempos.   The Courage of Others takes the band down a similiar path as Van Occupanther, however, there is a greater sense of sincerity in this album.  The first song Acts of Man is a deeply moving, honest and just a simply fantastic arrangment highlighting the use of harmony that the band  mastered and created as a signature of their music.  Winter Dies starts off with a faster tempo that is quite unexpected and then regresses into a solid mellow mood that just continues to keep the album together. Songs like Small Mountain,  Core of Nature, and Rulers, Ruling All Things exemplify Midlake‘s wholehearted and ernest attention to detail writing songs over the course of four years between albums.  Like their songs, it is apparent that their work is not taken lightly and not rushed into with wreckless abandonment; clearly the band wants every album to be worthwhile to the one listening.

Midlake’s music is consistently mellow, this is not rock album by any means.  Midlake keeps the mood  and tempo consistent throughout every song.   That is not to say that Midlake’s music is monotonous or repetative, it’s not, however Midlake does keep to a pretty consistent formula never really straying one way or anothe.  In many ways this album, and their previous releases, feel like a story and each song is a the next chapter.   Midlake is not for everyone, for some they might find themselves absolutely bored to tears with this album; others might find it a true gem.  Yet, as I mentioned earlier, if you do like mellow folky-indie sounding  singers or bands you should like Midlake. They fall in between Nick Drake and Dolorean I guess.  If you are able to pick up a copy of The Trials of Van Occupanther do yourself a favor and check it out as well, it is a landmark album for the band.

Midlake is currently touring in Europe and I hope they swing back in the US for some dates.  The band hails out of Texas, so I’m sure upon their return they will play there first.  Check out Midlake’s website at www.midlake.net to hear a few songs in their entirety.

You can also listen to a dozen or few samples of Midlake’s music from various albums by clicking here .

22
Dec
09

Christopher O’Riley – Home to Oblivion (Elliott Smith)

Being an Elliott Smith fan I was really sad to hear about his passing a few years ago; it was a huge loss to the music world.  Smith’s work, although popular among certain circles, remains still unheard by many, even posthumously he has not received the accolades he deserves for his profound contributions he made with his music.

A few years after his death I was introduced through a segment on National Public Radio (NPR) about a number of tribute albums being released in his honor.  One in particular that caught my attention was by classical pianist Christopher O’Riley.  O’Riley had been a fan of Smith’s compositions and noted how complicated and uniquely structured they were for someone who was not formally trained in writing music; he decided to transcribe them for piano in honor of Smith’s genius. 

Home To Oblivion: An Elliott Smith Tribute (2006) is O’Riley’s fantastic representation of a variety of Smith’s work in the classical style.  O’Riley hand picked the songs he liked from a broad spectrum of albums spanning Smith’s early work on Roman Candle (1994) to his last album A Basement On The Hill (2004) which was unfinished and released shortly after his death.

The album is sincere and slow, clearly O’Riley’s intentions were to create an album that would both represent the beauty of Smith’s arrangements yet also create a mood for the listener to reflect upon how much more could have been if Smith was alive today.  O’Riley has done several tribute albums reflecting the music of Radiohead and the late Nick Drake. 

Although a solid album a  highlights  would be “Let’s Get Lost” and “I Don’t Understand”, simply incredible and worth buying just for those songs alone.  You can listen to the album in its entirety prior to buying by going to LaLa Music and typing O’Riley’s name in the search bar.

Christopher O’Riley’s Home To Oblivion: An Elliott Smith Tribute gets 4 out of 5 stars.

21
Dec
09

LaLa Online Music

Upon my recent review of Pandora and my excitement to share it with the masses I have discovered that has become first of all limited in its availability worldwide, and second, the artist profile that one creates barely plays the artist’s songs.  Sorry Pandora, but I’m not impressed any longer.  My “Zappa station” now plays ONE Zappa song per 10 songs and often, the same song? Lame.

I was introduced to an alternate online music source called LaLa and I have to say that I am rather impressed with the variety of artists available and also the amount of control the user has over listening to what you want (and all songs in their entirety!).  Please check this online source out and ditch Pandora since they are clearly a “bait and switch” site.  When they first introduced Pandora it was much cooler, not anymore.

I’m impressed how much Iron and  Wine, Nick Drake, and Elliot Smith they have, you can buy whatever you like at any time, but you can also create personal playlists to play, nice.  Ok, so here’s the catch- you can only listen to one song in its entirety once then you have to purchase it.  So, yeah, it’s free…but then it’s not, but the songs appear to be cheaper (.79 cents vs. .99 cents or more depending) to purchase than iTunes and the variety is pretty good. 

When you initially visit the site they give you 25 credits towards web songs you can add to a LaLa player which is free.  Each song is one credit and you can build a 25 song playlist after setting up a free account.  A cool thing is that you can listen to as many songs as you would like in their entirety prior to adding them to your playlist.  So, if you customize a playlist of things you might listen to all the time you might find the value in it.

Granted, Pandora is absolutely free but it has very serious limitations and becomes horribly redundant in its variety. 

Check out LaLa by clicking here and tell us what you experience.  Worldwide readers, please let us know if you can access this player as well.




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