Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old Ceremony

Just back from an Old Ceremony show at the Cats Cradle, and I am truly inspired. This is the first time I've heard them live, and this band is VERY impressive. Although I'm not an expert critic, to me, their sound seems really tight, confident, and innovative.

I seriously felt like their songs could have been part of a Broadway play, they were so solid. Yet the sound was quirky and grassroots enough to speak to me in a bar. The xylophone in particular was an incredible addition to Django Haskins' already impressive guitar riffs.

The lyrics were as clear and impressive as the sound. This band's songs spoke to me. They were sincere, challenging, and meaningful. Django Haskins' words exhibit leadership. Their band's songs address the core issues of my life and, I would argue, of our time. How do I create a world of love, peace, and happiness? How do I negotiate and try to resurrect politics in a world where corruption is the only way to win? How do I overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles...and how do I do so with courage, hope, and tenacity?

I was inspired tonight not just by the Old Ceremony's sound, but by their musical thoughts on these questions. I think we should all listen. I showed up to the show with little cash, or I would have walked away with an album. I'll buy one anyway, and we can share.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't blame me

When you also become addicted to this band: Great Lake Swimmers. I've listened to 3 of their albums, the most recent Ongiara is the real gem, in my opinion. The track "Your Rocky Spine" carries a crisp banjo tune, as do most of the other tracks, but that got my attention to begin with. The shuffling drums and guitar that accompany it paint a slightly sadder background, and Tony Dekker's vocals also have a slightly dour tone, leading to obvious comparisons with M. Ward with fewer pack-years. Ongiara overall is a strong, cohesive album. Their sound is well established and well represented on that album. Other standouts on the album are "Passenger Song" and "Where In The World Are You " which carries a similar theme of allegory and love. I've also enjoyed Bodies and Minds, the album released prior to Ongiara, particularly the song "Various Stages." The first album, Moving Pictures Silent Films, a) lacks a banjo and b) lacks some of the musical cohesiveness of the later albums. Admittedly, I haven't listened to it too much to get a real feel for it. It has potential.

Also - here's a good thing to do for bands you love: Vote for NPR's best CD's of 2007. It's also a great reference for music we need to hear for ourselves.

We'll try to get parlour #2 set up before Christmas, keep an eye out.