Thursday, July 06, 2006

Easy Listening

Since I've departed the comforts of college life, I've found myself wanting for exposure to new music. Used to be all I had to do was turn on the college radio station and flip back and forth until they stopped playing Joanna Newsome and started playing something worth my time. I could drop into the record library too and borrow whatever lost, early 90s gem from the Vigilantes of Love I wanted to check out.

In the real world, things haven't been quite so simple. DC is hurting for quality rock radio, decent record stores are practically nonexistent, and there's a lot less time to spend with my headphones. That said, some degree of disposable income has made purchases possible, and I thought I'd share a few recent discoveries -- both new and old -- for your own listening pleasure:

Superdrag - Regretfully Yours. Knoxville's Superdrag remind you of the best one hit wonders of modern rock radio. You'll recognize "Sucked Out" ("who sucked out the feeling?..."), but you'll stick around for the loud but melodic guitar interplay and the band's live show feel.

The Kingsbury Manx - The Fast Rise and Fall of the South. Saying North Carolina's Kingsbury Manx chronicle the rise and fall of the American South is sort of like studying the Kinks' Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire as a landmark academic work in social history. But if there is a musical touchstone for the Manx, it's certainly Ray Davies and Co.'s light and melodic mid to late 60s catalog. This album might not do much for history buffs, but the music's great for retro-fetishists seeking a few Southerners take on British folk-inspired whimsy.

M. Ward - "To Go Home". Probably available for download somewhere, as I did, Matthew Ward continues his remarkably consistent catalog with this cut off the upcoming Post-War. Anyone who saw his tour with My Morning Jacket knows the full-band setup suits him remarkably well. Anyone who heard his last record knows the production quality has continued to improve steadily over his career, adding texture and noise to his brand of folk-rock. Anyone who ever enjoyed any of his stuff at all knows he's best with a resigned verse and a rousing, longing chorus. And for anyone who doesn't fall under any of these categories, start by downloading "Vincent O' Brien" and "Helicopter". If it works for you, continue here. His is one of the most unique voices in indie rock, and easily the most tuneful alt. country songwriter I've heard since Messrs Tweedy and Farrar were still plyin' their trade.

Drive-By Truckers - "Wednesday". The Drive-By Truckers are the kind of band rock geeks love because they ask all those rock fantasy questions that inhabit our dreams and conversations with fellow insiders. Their breakthrough album (some would say their best, but I disagree) Southern Rock Opera asked what Skynyrd would've sounded like if fronted by revisionist Southern historians. Two albums later, The Dirty South wondered how exactly Carl Perkins coaxed such golden performances out of Elvis, while the track "Danko/Manuel" equated DBT youngster Jason Isbell with the late Richard Manuel of the Band. On their most recent album A Blessing and a Curse, standout track "Wednesday" seems to hypothesize as to what the Replacements would've sounded like with a dynamite three-guitar attack. The answer is the best slab of guitar pop I've heard all year and track #1 up to this point on my best of the year list.


At 12:32 PM, Blogger qwackwacker said...

How about the album "White Mansions?"

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Graham said...

I haven't actually heard it but I've read about it. Know if it's still in print?


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