I got my MacBook shortly after Thanskgiving when my Compaqcrap laptop decided to start turning off randomly while I was using it. Around that time I got slammed with school work. I had finals, papers and a 25+ page senior capstone paper to write so transferring my music to the new Mac didn't fit onto my To Do list. I was really looking forward to transferring everything to the Mac over Christmas but I somehow managed to forget the power cord for the PC in Boston and that means it wouldn't so much as turn on. The worst part was that I was unable to manage my iPhone from a computer. Apple's wonderful protection prevents you from syncing music to more than one computer. So for all of this time new music has been building up on my hard drive just waiting to be listened to. Of course, I could have listened to them on the computer like a normal person. I like to listen to new albums for the first time when my attention is undivided. It's difficult to really pay attention to the music while I'm reading blogs or the New York Times or wasting time on Facebook or Twitter. Now that I have an abundance of free time in Boston my computer situation has been taken care of and I've begun to catch up on all the albums I've been saving.
Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Andrew Bird is one of my favorite musicians. His lyrics are unusual but enthralling and his melodies, beautiful violin playing, whistles and hums make the songs have a life of their own. His previous album, Armchair Apocrypha, came out in Spring 2007 during my sophomore year and when I think about that semester in Boston I immediately think of that album. I had eagerly pounced upon it when it leaked online that year and hadn't been able to put it down. I had been anxiously anticipating Andrew Bird's newest album since he started blogging about the song writing process on the New York Times' Measure for Measure blog last spring. When Noble Beast appeared online several weeks ago I was excited but also nervous. Armchair Apocrypha was one of the few albums that had held my attention for so long. I listened to it time and again in Belgium, sometimes at a friend's rampant insistence, and continued to listen to it through the Fall. I enjoyed every Andrew Bird album but I wondered how anything could compare to Armchair. I finally put Noble Beast on my iPhone yesterday and listened to it on my way to work and home. It came across as a more mellow album at first, with fewer foot-tapping, head-bobbing songs. I didn't know what to think as I went through it initially. Which song, I wondered, would be the next Darkmatter or Heretics? Which song would have a melody as beautiful as Plasticities, where I could put it on repeat and listen to over and over again in my room? I'm still not sure I have an answer to those questions or whether they should even be asked. Because it was such a highly anticipated album for me, any first impressions could be completely wrong. I do know that I enjoyed it a lot. Two songs really stuck out: "Not A Robot, But A Ghost" and "Anonanimal." I'll be listening to this album several more times before Friday evening when I'll see Andrew Bird live at the Orpheum in Boston.
Bon Iver and Beirut are two of my other most listened to artists and they each released new EPs recently. Blood Bank lives up to Bon Iver's potential and is ripe with the elements that made his first album such a hit. Beirut is set to release a double EP in February, although it's already available online for the resourceful listener. March of the Zapotec includes a 19 piece Mexican funeral band playing along and has the wonderful eccentricity that Beirut is known for. The other EP, Realpeople: Holland includes the song My Night With the Prostitute from Marseilles which is one of my favorite Beirut songs. The songs are more electronic-y feeling on this EP and not quite as unique but I highly recommend both.
Carl Newman, frontman for the New Pornographers, just released a new solo album under his monniker of A.C. Newman titled Get Guilty. The songs more closely relate to the New Pornographers rather than Newman's previous solo work. It's worth a listening to.
I'm hooked on Amadou and Mariam's new release, Welcome to Mali. For those who don't know, Amadou and Mariam are a blind Malian couple who sing in French and English. It's a good introduction into African/World music and a great album overall.
And finally, I'm almost slightly embarrassed to admit that Katy and Kevin finally got me listening to Nine Inch Nails. I first realized I might actually enjoy some NIN songs when Katy put in a CD while we were driving to pick up their cat, Mumkin. Still, I resisted until I downloaded the song Disgrace for the Tap Tap Revenge game on the iPhone. I completely succumbed last week and asked the two of them for album suggestions. With Teeth has quickly become one of my usual picks to listen to in the gym.
I realize that in this post I sound like an Apple fanatic, a music snob and quite possibly a little demented. Thank you for bearing with me through this snow day edition of listening party.