365 Day Music Project Week 11
This week was a fun trip through my Facebook feed! I initially posted this idea to any interested friends and family members that wanted to suggested some albums to add to my listening list. I got such a wide variety, and I’m happy to have weeks like this where the entirety of my listening experience is chosen by recommendation! It was cool to hear some new sounds, material from artists I had only heard one or two tracks by, and change up the genre pool that I would pick from. So, thanks to all who made suggestions, maybe yours is on this week’s list! More suggested albums will be included in future posts!
(Note: This is coming out late due to a very busy last couple of weeks, pushing hard to get back on track. I appreciate any who take the time to read this!)
Thank You Happy Birthday by Cage the Elephant
The only material I had ever heard by this band was any song included in an advertisement, particularly related to the Borderlands series (Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked). This album definitely caught me by surprise, because they have such an eclectic and inventive sound for being a group in the pop spotlight. The combine different electronic noises and sounds with an indie rock base, reminding me of acts like The Hive with their energetic sound. It’s definitely an album I’ll revisit and it gives me hope that more acts are playing around with their music without trying to adhere to a popular sound.
Ben and “Sweets” by Ben Webster and Harry “Sweets” Edison
These two jazz legends recorded this release in 1962, the third album they recorded together after Sweets (1956) and Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good To You (1957/58). It features Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet, Ben Webster on saxophone, Hank Jones on piano, George Duvivier on bass, and Clarence Johnston on drums. It’s a classic sound of the 60’s, putting an emotional rendition on some classic standards like “My Romance” and Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” while including original tracks from both Webster and Edison. It’s an album you can zone out to reading in a coffee shop as much as it is a great album to analyze for some great, lyrical horn playing.
Oh Wonder by Oh Wonder
The debut release from London-based duo “Oh Wonder” is a great addition to my listening list. This album is the product of Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, who sought to write, record, and release one song per month in 2014 until their debut dropped in September 2015. Their vocal sound is a combined one, with each track featuring both artists singing over the music they've crafted. It’s got a soulful, mellow R&B vibe to their sound, and it makes sense that they follow up a strong release with some tour dates across Europe and in major American cities. What is crazy is that before the album even dropped, the tour dates were already selling out before the duo had ever played publicly. It’s clear this group is hitting the ground running and seeing the fruits of their year-long project paying off.
True Colors by Zedd
So I know this artist is clearly famous, but it was interesting to hear the music behind the hype and technicolor light show photos plastered on my Facebook wall every time my friends when and saw him live. What is clear right away: this man has played acoustic instruments before. There is an organization to his music that feels like he played it on regular instruments for ideas instead of just plunking out notes on a midi keyboard or solely sampling. There were some songs that I enjoyed, but about halfway through the album I felt that it hit a plateau, reminding me why I don’t listen to a lot of electronic artists. Harmonies, melodies, and instruments/sounds were good and had great production, but I’m so used to other styles that I feel like it’s a collection of radio hits. I get it, he’s really good at making a strong product and a great live experience, it’s just not what I would seek out on a daily basis. It can no doubt elevate a party or keep the energy going in between sets at a concert, but it’s not an album I’ll go out and buy. Keep doing what you do Zedd, I respect your hard work but I’m not on the hype train just yet, maybe I have to loop your entire catalog to find out.
Meddle by Pink Floyd
It’s cool to have some classic rock on the docket, as I know it’s a source of inspiration for many, including my earliest listening experiences. This album is a full of awesome electronic experimentation, moments of jamming as well as carefully orchestrated moments, and it culminates in a 23 min track at the end that shows just how much Pink Floyd can do when given time to record an album. It’s devoid of any popular hits that creep onto radio stations, but it shows a band unafraid to take risks when exploring their ideas. It let me zone into their atmospheric moments while also giving me some great rock moments to vibe off. Take a listen if you’ve only just gotten your feet wet with Pink Floyd if you want an album off the beaten path.
The Near Future by I Fight Dragons
I had no idea who this band was other than hearing their name mentioned in passing. After listening to this album, I definitely would add this to a playlist for a revisit! They have a video game infused rock sound that combines elements that remind me of Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy, making some great modern rock that isn’t trying to be a Breaking Benjamin clone or something in between rock and heavy metal. They have a fun approach to their music when infusing the Nintendo-style synth sounds into a familiar style, boosting each track with a dash of nerd nostalgia. They also have some great talent in the band too, with some really solid guitar solos woven into certain tracks. Check this band out if you want some great driving music or another rock band to add to a party playlist!
In Colour by Jamie xx
Never heard of this guy, but another interesting suggestion! He’s got credibility in the pop and electronic world with his distinct beat-making style, being sought after by artists like Adele, Alicia Keys, and Florence + The Machine for collaboration. He’s got a chill vibe and some cool ideas on how to build loops, beats, and samples that keep him separate from different subgenres of electronic music. Check him out if you need some music to zone out to while working like I used it for! It's got some great ambience and Jamie xx knows when to push the song forward naturally.