What I Am: Listening to This Week

I am usually a couple of years behind on my new music acquisition these days. Another of the many sacrifices I’ve needed to make in order to buy diapers. Thank goodness for my local library and iTunes. I had to give up my subscription to Rolling Stone, too, because it simply filled me with unfulfilled longings. Some women buy shoes; I buy music (or, I would, anyway).

I would like to thank Pandora for introducing me to Arcade Fire and The Killers. I would talk about how deeply indebted I am to her, but then she might hit me up for money.

Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (2007)
I do not know how to put into words the dark, compelling beauty of the music that Arcade Fire makes. Call it art rock, call it indie; these terms simply do not encompass the lush soundscapes and epic lyrical scope of each and every one of their songs.

What can I say? My critic chops are rusty, yo.

And into these tracks of beauty and darkness are injected upbeat, almost-pop songs like “No Cars Go” and “Keep the Car Running”. Songs that make your heart joyful, make you seat dance, and yet there are still wonderful dark undercurrents here that will simply pull you under and drown you.

If you like Radiohead and/or the Decemberists, then put Arcade Fire on your playlist. That is all.

rpm choice track: Very difficult to pick one. Gun to my head? I’m still deciding between “Keep the Car Running” and “(Antichrist Television Blues)”. And “Black Mirror”. And the title track.

Yeah, I know. Bang.

Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs (2008)
As a happily married women and mom of two, I always think I should be beyond Death Cab for Cutie. Ben Gibbard sings about love and longing and loss in uplifting, plaintive, and, frankly, sometimes creepy ways. But I just can’t quit them.

Narrow Stairs is less orchestral than Plans (their 2005 album), but still hauntingly melodic. The instrumentation is much more straightforward, even occasionally rocking: guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, Gibbard’s vocals over everything.

The build-up and execution of the single “I Will Possess Your Heart” is perfection. And no other band can make a song about a twin-sized bed so poignant and lovely.

rpm choice track: The 8-minute epic “I Will Possess Your Heart”.

The Killers, Day & Age (2008)
If I had to write a one-word review of The Killers, the one word would be: earworm. Catchy, poppy, light-hearted, with lyrics that belie the bouncy-ness of the tunes.

Brandon Flowers’ voice seems to ache with longing, although I don’t mean to make him sound like a total drama queen. I’ve heard The Killers dismissed as a “construed Las Vegas boy band” although the boys do play their own instruments as far as I can tell. And they are from Vegas. And Bono from U2 has his eye on them, with a modicum of respect.

Alls I know is I like ’em.

rpm choice track: Spaceman

What is your new favorite album? Anything turning you on so far in 2009?

7 thoughts on “What I Am: Listening to This Week

  1. I’ll have to check out Death Cab for Cutie.

    I listen to The Offspring whenever I get the chance. I’ve been going through an 80’s thing lately, downloading like crazy from Itunes. REM, The Vapors, Kim Wilde, Violent Femmes, Dropkick Murphies, Indigo Girls, The Ramones…Fun stuff.

  2. The Bird and the Bee! Been listening to them nonstop for the past three days. Who knows if they’re new, but they’re new to me.

    Also, I tried to send you a book but it came back undeliverable.

  3. If you have never listened to Funeral (the previous album) by the Arcade Fire you should check it out. I feel that it is more passionate than Neon Bible. My favorite track is “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).”

    I was really getting into The Heartless Bastards; although I found them a bit disappointing live when we saw them a few weeks ago.

    I’m not as up on new music as I should be. At work I’ve been more compelled to listen to WOXY Vintage rather than regular WOXY.com, which obstructs my exploration new things. I mostly rely on the hubby to introduce me to new bands/songs. He listens to a lot from a lot of sources, but I know that the NPR “All Songs Considered” podcast is often a good source.

  4. @JuliaO’C: If the ’80s stuff is what you’re really listening to these days, you definitely should check out The Killers. They’ve got that synth-pop sound. You’ll probably dig them. Then go for Death Cab for Cutie; start with Plans or Transatlanticism.

    @Zig: I think I’ve run across the Bird and Bee on… something. Maybe Pandora, maybe WYEP. I’ll check them out.

    @KimZ: Love Funeral. That’s what lead me directly to Neon Bible. I would agree with the passion — I think the subject matter on Funeral is much closer to the bone than some of the stuff on Neon Bible. Still: dark, beautiful, engrossing.

    Thanks for the comments, ladies!


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