Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Week That Was #1: Firenze

As lovely as Florence was, it is fantastic to be back. For all its downsides, I really do enjoy the information overload. I'm obliged to compile my excessive tourism, so expect some photos in the near future. Aside from the camera abuse, I came to a realization that, while live sets remain my bread and butter, I'm really limiting myself by avoiding "normal" studio recordings. There are inevitably songs and artists that I'd love to mention, but unfortunately live recordings aren't always available. However, in an environment flooded with recommendations, I'd really like to be selective, and really tie these picks to my recent listening patterns. A little structure is valuable, and the plan is to have these weekly updates, on Sundays, and deliver a bit of sonic goodness while looking back on the last week. Through the miracles of technology (namely and bit of neuroticism, hopefully things will work out.

As I wasn't really scrobbling this week, here are some of the songs I heard while strolling by the Duomo, gazing out over the Arno and, of course, pretending to sleep on the airplane. As always, enjoy:

The Delgados have become one of my favorites over the past few months, and this track highlights many of the things that make them so darn good. It begins with perfect vocal interplay between singers Alun Woodward and Emma Pollock, buoyed by a gentle instrumental, and then swelling into a full orchestral (strings and synths). The latter half makes it one of their harder tracks, mirroring countrymen Mogwai in ferocity, but maintaining melody. It's another example of their wonderful sound, and another incentive to give their entire catalogue a listen.

Mp3: The Delgados - Thirteen Gliding Principles
Buy: Here

Not to be confused with "Unfinished Sympathy" (or Linkin Park for that matter), production duo Hybrid takes the synth and string approach to emotional heights. I'm unashamed to say that I was introduced to the song by SSX Tricky; it's the airy accompaniment to the course Untracked. Anyways, as I was investigating the below link, I discovered that they just a released a third album, including vocal contributions from Delerium regular Kirsty Hawkshaw. It's a small world.

Mp3: Hybrid - Finished Symphony
Buy: Here

This is another rocker, anchored by singer Jemma Griffiths, whom I mentioned in passing. Fiona is a pretty good starting point when describing her throaty delivery, but her debut album Finally Woken is so delightful because of its eclecticism, from the pretty straightforward rock of this song to more electronic slants. Appropriately, the copious remixes include drums-n'-bass and dubs. Hopefully, we'll have an equally enjoyable sophomore effort shortly.

MP3: Jem - 24
Buy: Here

It's kind of peculiar what route the hardcore Long Island kids have taken, uh, post-hardcore. Head Automatica and Men, Women & Children have traded their screams for synths and gone disco, while Nightmare of You possesses a Morrisseyian melancholia, or so I'm told. I'm a bit miffed by the scenester detraction in this track (not really), but the style is quite accessible and appealing, particularly in comparison to previous works.

MP3: Nightmare of You - Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf
Buy: Here

The Notwist are another one of those German, Morr-affiliated bands, weaving the surprisingly complimentary elements of organic vocals and understated electronics. This came out a while ago, but the qualities, not to mention quality, of the track make it pretty timeless. It still sounds familiar yet fresh, a beautiful, understated meander. Expect a full live set from the band, uh...let's say tomorrow.

MP3: The Notwist - Consequence
Buy: Here

Reverie Sound Revue features Lisa Lobsinger of Broken Social Scene. While I'm honestly not sure where she fits in between the triumvirate, hearing this EP makes me wish that she had a greater presence. Reverie is incredibly warm, sunny pop, a gem in a scene that always seems to yield them. While the band's future was uncertain a few years ago after this release, they've stated that they expect to have a record out in the Spring. It's probably going to be a BSS-less year, but it's safe to say that the pieces are worth as much as the whole.

MP3: Reverie Sound Revue - Walking Around Waiting Downtown
Buy: Here

In another roundabout case, I became familiar with Trespassers William after hearing vocalist Anne-Lynne William's appearance on the Chemical Brother's "Hold Tight London," one of the many neat collaborations on Push The Button. I was immediately taken with her dreamy delivery, and Tresspassers' "folkgaze" complements her voice even more so than the electronic noodling of the Chem Bros. While the band's recent release is Having, I've really been enjoying their second album, of which this title track is a highlight.

MP3: Trespassers William - Different Stars
Buy: Here

Vector Lovers is producer Martin Wheeler. I came upon his Ladytron remix somewhere in the blogs (pardons, I can't recall exactly where), and really enjoyed it, as I feel that it really struck a balance between preserving the original, while incorporating interesting elements. I didn't actually hear his original material until recently, and what I've heard has been just as interesting. There's a sort of narrative to the work, as names such as "Arrival; Metropolis" and "Kissed You By The Fountain" give his brand of IDM a pretty unique element: context.

MP3: Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (Vector Lovers Remix)
MP3: Vector Lovers - Neon Sky Rain
Buy: Here

One more tidbit:

Emily Haines, fresh off her (21+) show at Hiro last night, plays at the 9:30 Club at, appropriately enough, approximately 9:30 this evening (thanks, Pitchfork). The show will be streaming on NPR, and will likely be avaliable for download after the show.

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