Sunday, February 22, 2009

Never ending quest

While I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I am on a never ending quest for self improvement, or just expanding my knowledge base. It could be technology, meditation, cooking...anything goes. But on a fairly regular basis something catches my fancy and I run with it. Some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t.

Towards the end of last year I decided I was living with a very narrow range of music in my life. When I’d read the list of the top ten songs or CDs and didn’t know about 90% of them, I decided it was time to explore.

I grabbed the Rolling Stone issue that listed their choices for the top CDs of the year. It proved an invaluable tool for making me feel like a fuddy-duddy. But it was also a fabulous check list for embarking on my musical journey. I started reserving titles from the library and the tunes came rolling in.

Of all the music I discovered, there were three CDs of artists new to me that really stood out. Not possessing any musical talent, or having the skill to understand theory or orchestration, I lean toward strong vocals and catchy melodies. I love music that is “singable” – that means I can understand the lyrics and I have fun crooning along.

Here are my current favorites, in no particular order.

I had in the past mistakenly dismissed Pink as just another tough, punk party girl. Wrong. This woman has the goods. Her new CD, Funhouse, runs the gamut from rock, to rant, to ballad. Her voice is strong and so are the songs. Fueled by the break up of her marriage, there’s a lot of emotion in the music.

Raphael Saadiq has been through many incarnations over the years, including performing in groups and producing. His solo CD, The Way I See It, hopefully is a mode that will stick for a long time. He was nominated for Grammy’s in R&B, but I think his work falls much more in line with gold ole 60’s soul music. It’s sultry, it’s smooth…try to listen without moving to the groove.

The freshest sound and most infectious music I have heard in a long time comes from the young group, Vampire Weekend. Thank goodness Rolling Stone recommended it, because with that name, chances are pretty good I would have never plucked it off the shelf of my own accord.

In a time when it’s often hard to tell one band from another, this group clearly has a unique, easily identifiable sound. I’ve played and played this self titled CD and love it more with each listen. Everything I like is here: distinctive vocals and harmonies, wonderful percussion and a terrific use of string instruments. As a bonus, the lyrics are printed in large type so I can read/sing along while driving. Maybe not safe, but so much fun!

I’m still on this quest, so let me know if there’s anybody else I should be listening to.


Cowguy said...

Life is too short to hang yourself with just one or two genres of music. Good for you for looking around.


libhom said...

Pink's music improved dramatically when she got one of the women from Four Non Blonds to start writing it.

I've been expanding my tastes to include folk. There's a lot of liberal politics in the folkie stuff too.

Anonymous said...

I'm boring when it comes to music...I love rock-n-roll!

Classic and alternative rock.

Vampire Weekend. That is definitely an interesting name, I'll have to check out their sound.

BTW Pyzhan, I left ye something at me blog. Go check it out when ye can, k?


Utah Savage said...

I'm horribly old and stuck in my taste for Jazz, so I cannot comment intelligently here, but I am here to steal your http thingy for my blog roll. Sorry it's taken me so long.

KJT said...

Not knowing what you already have in your collection, might I suggest two titles...

the first comes out this Tuesday (the 3rd): Neko Case "Middle Cyclone." She has an amazing set of pipes - if you've never heard the song "Deep Red Bells" off of her "Blacklisted" CD you must, if you have you know what I mean.

the second is the Kings of Leon - a band I've been getting into more and more recently. Their last two CDs, "Only By the Night" and "Because of the Times" are excellent.

Pyzahn said...

KJT ....thanks for the suggestions. I will check out Neko Case. I have tried Kings of Leon. Didn't stick, but I'll try again cause everyone says great things about them.

Bruce said...

I have downloaded so much free music over the Internet in the past 8 years that it will take me the rest of my life to listen to all of it....about 80% of it is crap, but once in a while you find some gems.

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