Archive: February 2007

Sibling music exchange

When I was growing up, my siblings and I had this competitive rule — if one of us bought an album by a particular artist, that person had dibs on the rest of that artist’s catalog.

That meant my oldest sister had a lock on Andy Gibb, my brother put dibs on Sting and Madonna, my other sister had first crack on stuff I don’t even remember, and I was left to my own devices with Duran Duran and Eurythmics.

By the time we entered college, that exclusivity rule started to loosen up. Our individual tastes solidified to the point where our tastes would rarely even interact. There were, however, a few instances of exchange.

My sister took to Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, whereas I thought (and still think) the album sucks. My brother absolutely took to Sinéad O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, whereas I thought it wasn’t as good as The Lion and the Cobra.

On a recent nostalgia binge at the music store, I bought a bunch of CDs I previously owned in other formats. Some of those titles are artifacts from that long-ago lockout. In other words, albums I probably wouldn’t have listened to because my siblings were "into them".

More »

Julee Cruise: Floating Into the Night

In April, I hit the half-way mark between 30 and 40. One thing I like about getting to this age is how less seriously I take things.

When I was 18, I thought Julee Cruise’s Floating Into the Night was a moving, haunting listening experience. When I was 28, I thought the album was just part of a silly phase, where I tried to be precocious about "getting" the whole David Lynch thing. (Twin Peaks, anyone?)

So I bought the album on cassette. Then I bought the album on CD. Then I sold the cassette because I don’t listen to cassettes anymore. Then I sold the CD because I was laid off and needed cash. Now I own the CD again, and I’m enjoying it all over.

Perhaps it’s nostalgia. More likely, it’s an appreciation of the judgment I had when I was younger.

Because Floating Into the Night is a haunting album, and it did move me. And that isn’t anything I should dismiss.

More »

365 Days, 365 Files: Clannad – Closer to Your Heart

"Closer to Your Heart" was the first song I ever heard by Clannad. I bought it as a 7-inch single.

A friend from high school got me into Enya, and he mentioned she was related to the members of Clannad, of whom I’d heard of as far back as grade school. (Ah, music magazines — a great way to learn names without ever hearing the music itself. How did I survive my youth without the Internet?)

Sufficiently curious, I bought "Closer to Your Heart" and was immediately drawn to Máire Brennan’s voice. So I took the further leap and got Macalla, which cemented my Clannad fandom.

Macalla is still a staple in my collection, and it never gets old. As much as I love "Harry’s Game" and certain portions of other Clannad pop albums — their traditional era is somewhat unassailable — Macalla is the strongest of Clannad’s latter-day work.

[File expired.]

365 Days, 365 Files: Clannad – An tu’ll

Fuaim is the only Clannad album on which Eithne Ni Bhraonáin served as a full-time member. She also appeared on the album Crann Ull. Eithne left Clannad afterward to launch a solo career as Enya.

While latter-day Clannad and modern-day Enya share a penchant for the ethereal, a reunion between the two don’t seem to be a priority for either. That leaves "An tu’ll" as the only time Enya took lead vocals on a Clannad song. (The liner notes of the 1993 reissue states she sang on "Buaireadh An Pho’sta", but that sounds like Máire to me.)

Clannad had already established itself as a premiere interpreter of traditional Irish music in the ’70s, but as the ’80s dawned, the group reinvented itself as a pop band. Fuaim is the bridge between the two aesthetics. Although consisting of traditional material, the arrangements steeped deeper into pop territory.

On "An tu’ll", Enya sings with a sweetness subsequently wrenched out of her atmospheric overdubbed sound. It’s as foreign as hearing Enya sing with a drum set. (That sound file comes up later in the year.)

[File expired.]

Don’t you know who I think I was?

A few weeks ago, I downloaded an EP from eMusic by a gay folk musician named Dudley Saunders. It was titled The Billy White Acre Sessions, and it struck me as unusually rocking, compared to the mellowness of his other album, Restore. I ended up liking what I heard anyway, so much so, I ordered it from CD Baby.

Imagine my surprise when I put the CD in my car player and heard not a single note of what I downloaded a few weeks previous.

When I got to my office, I previewed the MP3 excerpts on CD Baby. Sure enough, it was the same as the CD. So what exactly what was I listening to, thinking it was Dudley Saunders?

It turns out eMusic swapped Saunders’ The Billy White Acre Sessions for one titled Penturbia by a group called Troubled Hubble.

You can imagine my dismay for having dropped money on a disc I did not originally want. Now I feel like I ought to give the CD a fair shake. Troubled Hubble themselves broke up last year, and CD Baby is out of stock of their albums.

How embarrassing for eMusic.

UA releases new single in May

UA is set to release a new single, titled "Oogon no Midori/Love scenes", on May 5, so says Bounce.com. "Oogon no Midori" has been described as "acid pop" (huh?), while "Love scenes" is reminiscent of her old single "Milk Tea".

CD Japan e-mailed me an announcement a few days back mentioning one of the coupling tracks was written by Hatori Miho of Cibo Matto.

For the last two albums, UA hasn’t really done anything appropriate for a singles format. Does this mean a return to more melodic terrain? As challenging and daring as her work has been lately, something tuneful would be a welcome direction.

Quruli guitarist leaves band

Guitarist Omura Tasshin has left Quruli, so says Bounce.com. Omura’s final performance with the band was at Countdown 06/07. He was brought on as a full-time member in 2002, bringing what was once a trio to a quartet. Since then, Quruli has gone through two drummers. With Omura’s departure, that leaves only singer/guitarist Kishida Shigeru and bassist Sato Masashi. Support drummer Kikuchi Yuuya currently rounds out the band’s membership.

365 Days, 365 Files: Chris Butler – Davey’s Sister’s Home from College

Featuring a single track off of Chris Butler’s The Museum of Me, Vol. 1 really wouldn’t do the album much justice.

Butler uses an array of vintage recording devices for the album, and the fidelity ranges from tinny to convincingly hi-fi.

"Davey’s Sister’s Home from College" would have been a pretty good song recorded in a fancy studio, but as a barely audible demo, a certain spunk comes through that might have otherwise been buried under compressors, EQ and digital audio.

And I love how Butler introduces the song, like a home recording it could have been.

[File expired.]

365 Days, 365 Files: Chris Butler – The Devil Glitch

I’ve written about Waitresses founder Chris Butler many times before, but it’s easier just to listen to his music.

Let me just copy and paste what I said about The Devil Glitch:

Butler recorded the longest pop song in the world, as certified by the Guiness Book of World Records. While writing "The Devil Glitch", Butler kept adding lines to his impossibly long chorus.

He sent out a demo of the song to various friends, who then wrote their own music over the song. Butler collected those recordings to fashion a song that continuously evolves and remains engaging for all 69 minutes.

I was incredibly tempted to create an MP3 of that 69-minute track, but that wouldn’t give listeners an incentive to get the CD itself. Butler was merciful enough to make a short version, so perhaps that can serve as an appetizer.

[File expired.]