Quarters for the Jukebox

Album—Learning to Bend by Ben Sollee

Learning to Bend
Ben Sollee‘s string driven debut is an inventive, refreshingly unique introduction, and one of the stronger entries of 2008. With Tobey Maguire looks and cello in hand, Sollee makes a playground of folk, soul, indie pop and bluegrass. Married within his plucked sounds, Sollee’s voice is a soulful rasp emoting tenderness just as easily as it does weariness. The rare gift in this voice is that the believability it conveys, is easily digested by the ear as a pleasant sound. World weary singers aren’t always listened to for their ability to carry a tune, but Sollee pulls it off, and this will only help with his appeal to a wider audience. This sound is integral to the album, as it revolves around the theme of human perseverance — “learning to bend” in the stiffest of winds. Sollee simultaneously acknowledges life’s hardships while empowering you with hope.

The album houses one of the most interesting interpretations of “A Change is Gonna Come” you’ve ever heard; “Panning for Gold” is genuinely moving; “How to See the Sun Rise” is a playful porch-step game … the album is a wonderful achievement. You can hear several of his songs on his Web site—check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: A Change is Gonna Come; A Few Honest Words; It’s Not Impossible; Panning for Gold; How to See the Sun Rise.

Worth listening, if you like: Andrew Bird; Elvis Perkins; Ed Jurdi; Amos Lee; Ben Harper; Damien Rice; Sufjan Stevens; early, early Tom Waits; Ray LaMontagne.


Album — Re-arrange Us by Mates of State

Mates of State
Mates of State are a married indie-pop duo, originally haling from Lawrence, Kan. The new album contains some gems (see below) that offer honest, lyrical storytelling glued together with interesting, cinematic musical arrangements. The songs are mostly uplifting with strong choruses and bridges, even if they don’t sound like it at first. Their music connects. If you’re an indie-pop fan, I highly recommend. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Blue and Gold Print; Great Dane; Lullaby Haze; The Re-arranger; You are Free; Get Better.

Worth listening, if you like: Matt Pond PA; The Weepies; Belle and Sebastian; Tina Dico; The Shins; Death Cab for Cutie; Palomar; Goldfrapp (kind of).

In the Jukebox — May 13

In the jukebox for this week (alphabetically ordered by artist):

  • Big Boi — Royal Flush: Outkast’s shorter half goes solo with this single, but still features Andre 3000 (and Raekwon); “mainstream” fans of Speakerboxxx will be disappointed.
  • City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra — Indiana Jones Trilogy: Grab your brimmed hat and one-liners. Just in time for the new movie, the Prague orchestra performs the music from the three previous Jones movies.
  • Dresden Dolls — No Virgina: Weimar-era-burlesque-alternative-piano-pop-cabaret-punk duo’s fourth full album.
  • Continue reading

Album — Antidotes by Foals

Advantage, Putman ...

Foals are a twitch party band from Oxford, England. The music is poppy electric dance-punk (with roots in math rock) that moves from murky to move-inducing to mixing the two together. The album was recorded in June 2007, but had to be remixed to fit the band’s desired sound. The American version has two extra tracks — “Hummer” and “Mathletics” — compared to the earlier U.K album. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Heavy Water; Big Big Love; Mathletics;

Worth listening, if you like: Bloc Party; The Rapture; Youthmovies; TV on the Radio; Baby Shambles; Razorlight; The Futureheads; Wolf Parade; The Long Blondes; Kenna.

Single — Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan

Jakob Dylan releases a simple, soulful single for his first solo album, “Seeing Things” (available June 10). It’s an interesting choice for a first single as it’s pretty standard folk-pop … not to say that it’s not enjoyable—it is—but it probably won’t be scaling the radio-play charts. It does make me curious if this is a sign of what to expect from the upcoming album—a softer, simpler take on what sounds like Wallflowers’ songs (and I’m ok with that). Check for yourself.

If it were in a movie: montage of old couple doing nice things for each other.

Worth listening, if you like: The Wallflowers; Norah Jones; Amos Lee; Ryan Adams; Sheryl Crow; Michael McDermott; The Jayhawks.