OK, apparently it’s time for me to give you what you’ve been asking for — more for less.
I’ve been conducting an informal poll among readers recently, seeking their likes and dislikes about the blog and its content, and what I’m hearing is great. Lots of compliments and positive comments, like, “It’s so good I don’t like to read it all in one sitting,” or, “I’m saving your articles to read later, when I have more time,” or, “There’s so much good information here, I just can’t take it all in,” or, “I get it in my email but I haven’t had a chance to open it yet,” or, “It sure is intellectual,” or, “You use so many big words,” and so on.
This is terrific feedback, believe me; it’s all very helpful and certainly flattering. But when I listen closely, what I hear between the lines is that today’s readers are too busy to peruse lots and lots of copy each week and occasionally want something less encumbered by, well, words. So, here, dearly polled, is my solution — a week’s post that’s short and to the point: just some recommendations and (almost) no blather. (Admittedly, it’s also a reaction to the fact that I spent all my “free time” playing over Memorial Day weekend, so I must be brief to be on time.)
Here are five new songs that I’ve been listening to lately and think you should find and own right now. They’re in no particular order, available on iTunes (and elsewhere), and perfect for summer, which just had its unofficial kick-off on Monday. Enjoy!
Diane Birch, “Rise Up,” Bible Belt. The breezy, piano-based groove at the heart of this R&B-leaning call-to-arms rolls like an old Van Morrison song, but with someone a little more tender at the mic, like Phoebe Snow, Janis Ian, or even Sheryl Crow. It’s a good-time tune for driving around town on a hot afternoon, with the windows down and your eyes wide open.
Grizzly Bear, “Two Weeks,” Veckatimest. Do you occasionally want music that’s as light, heady, and refreshing as your favorite summertime drink? Then grab and down this track right away. A concoction of effervescent keyboards and electronics, swirling Beach Boyish vocal harmonies, and a strong backbeat, Grizzly Bear’s latest release will provide you with enough good vibrations to last all season.
Art Brut, “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake,” Art Brut vs. Satan. I’m a longtime fan of this band (and the working-class-Brit-speak-singing of Eddie Argos) and their funny, edgy, postpunk sound has never been spikier. In this song, Argos admits he’s a late bloomer and may never grow out of his devil-may-care, boyhood ways because, as he says, “some things” — like the combo named in the title — “will always be great.”
Dan Deacon, “Of the Mountains,” Bromst. If this song is any indication, Deacon will no longer be one of Baltimore’s best-kept musical secrets. It’s a wild and woolly mix of electronic and found sounds that builds in rhythmic intensity like a backyard at twilight. At once cinematic and grand, melodic and enigmatic, corny and twee, it’s what you might play while lying in a hammock at the end of the day.
The Veils, “Sit Down by the Fire,” Sun Gangs. Anthemic, romantic, brooding, and cathartic, this folk-rocker releases its emotional power gradually, the way U2 songs used to, when the band was at its best. With an infectious melody, lush vocals, and hard-strumming guitars that smolder and blaze, this song will draw you in from the night’s shadows to join the circle around the band’s comforting conflagration.
So, there you have it — five must-have songs to start your summer. As always, leave a comment and let me know what you think of my selections.
And don’t worry, I’ll be back next week with more of the usual long-winded jibber-jabber that you’ve come to expect from Scribbleskiff — and that causes you to smile uncomfortably at me from a distance or avoid me at parties. I know you love it, despite what you say.