Not necessarily in any order:
Silian Rail – each/other. Emotive post rock with monster drummer and cool guitar technique. Post rock is often a let down but this is post rock at its best. Hypnotizing, rapturous, brooding and smart as hell.
Field Music – Plumb. Nominated for the Mercury Prize in the UK, this record is pop mastery in the XTC vein and is full of catchy complexity. Led to discovering the rest of their catalog, which is all as good as this.
Kelly Hogan – I Like To Keep Myself In Pain. Exquisitely produced, this is alt-country at its best, with tracks written by Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chesnutt and other luminaries, all belted out by Hogan with her signature style.
Cataldo – Prison Boxing. Local record here, officially came out in 2011, but only got turned on to it in 2012. Really pretty tracks and deceptively interesting song writing.
Matt Slocum – After The Storm. Heard him at Tula’s during Earshot Jazz and this CD has been in constant rotation in the car. Imminently tasteful.
Kinda late to the party on this one, but its never too late to review a good record right? Some may be put off by the vocal treatment, but once you lock into his timbre and elocution, there’s a lot going on with these songs, both structurally and lyrically. Repeated listens reveal clever chord structures, word play and melodic inventiveness. And there’s thoughtful instrumentation and production, with banjos, horns and strings, used tastefully.
Overall, it’s a break up record, but one more of redemption than bile. According to Eric Anderson (the brains behind Cataldo), “I have such happy memories of making this record about such an unpleasant time…I think that disparity, the peculiar warmth of this album’s melancholia, is what makes me proudest now. I hope that feeling isn’t something I’ve imagined. I hope it’s an ornament that seems intrinsic and essential. Like an engraving worn with the characteristic patina of something truly old.”
Finally figured out what the song “Prison Boxing” itself is about: rediscovery of friends after a break-up, people you took for granted whom you now have time to hang out with. “My friends say, ‘How are you? It has been too many years’ And I say, ‘With purity and candor I’ve missed you.’” Don’t know if a break-up song has expressed a sentiment quite like this.
Have to admit, not a big a fan of the really raw tracks (tracks #1, #6-#8). But the rest really holds up.
Check it out below:
Walked in as Cataldo had just started their set. Superb and solid song writing with a clear sense of melody. Songs were wistful but not cloying. Occasionally they started to rock, building to a crescendo from quietude. Some of the newer material got more complex (in a good way) in terms of song structure. All the material was underpinned with a confidence in the melody.
And the between-song banter was spot on as Eric Anderson, the lead singer, owned the stage with aplomb, the cadence of his voice rising and falling like a radio personality. When someone shouted for Iron Maiden, Eric shot back, "Well, that's not going to happen, but there will be plenty of tender folk rock." And there was some other comment about being a "true bespectacled Seattle liberal." His self deprecation was delivered with total confidence. He also asked the audience if anyone had any questions, in the Northwest tradition of Calvin Johnson/David Bazan/etc. (Is that a NW thing?)
Rebecca Gates came on next, starting out solo, her voice lush and sumptuous, filling (and quieting) the bar. Then, her new band, The Consortium, joined her and went into a song off The Ruby Series, I think "Lure and Cast." Then a bunch of new material, more straight up rock'n'roll as opposed to the jazz-inflected Ruby Series tunes, always with that signature Rebecca Gates punch. She did one Spinanes song from Arches and Aisles. Can't say enough about the drummer, who was perfectly complimentary on every tune, never overplaying but so completely proficient and rhythmically complex. Every now and then he let loose, unleashing mad fills. Love hearing jazz drummers play in these kinds of non-jazz contexts. They ended with a cover of "Are You Experienced." Oh and she gave a shout out to the Celtics. Great to see her back with a band and a forthcoming record.