Let the music play

Rufus Wainwright et al: "What'll I Do?"

As much of a pop junkie as I am, I can still be brought to my knees by a stirring piano piece and dreamy harmonies. "What'll I Do" is an Irving Berlin cover that was featured on The McGarrigle Hour, an album put out by Kate McGarrigle, her friends and family. On this track, you'll hear Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Kate's children, and Loudon Wainwright III, her ex-husband.

MP3: Rufus Wainwright - What'll I Do (Irving Berlin)

A good friend of mine remarked that Rufus sounds "listless" during his sections. I agree, but in a completely different way than what she intended. "What'll I Do" is supposed to be performed in a manner which implies that the person singing it has been emotionally destroyed. In that respect, yes, it does seem that Rufus has drained any semblance of happiness or passion from his voice. Both he and his father seem to be just shadows of themselves. They're heartbroken, and there's no point in trying to hide it.

Finding a Home With The Essex Green

MP3: The Essex Green - Don't Know Why (You Stay)

It's hard to write pop music these days. Though the Beatles, Kinks and countless others have taught the world that songs can be both catchy and groundbreaking, it seems that pop has once again acquired the stigma of being 'simple.' And while The Essex Green's new album, Cannibal Sea, isn't likely to revolutionize a generation, it proves that it is possible to write pop songs that are both intelligent and appealing.

In 1997, the three primary members of The Essex Green moved from a quiet town in Vermont to the bustling musical Mecca of New York City. Chris Ziter, Sasha Bell, and Jeff Baron moved initially to gain more exposure for their fledgling musical project called The Essex Green, but soon discovered that it was a move that would shape the band as well. Cannibal Sea, the band's third full-length, draws heavily upon feelings of confusion and self-doubt that stemmed from, among other things, their newfound home and the https://www.chaturbaterooms.com environment that came with it.

"It's about feeling stuck there," said guitarist Chris Ziter about the new album. "We moved to New York, and not all of us were sure we were going to mix well with it. A lot of the songs on the album are written about the questions 'is this the right place for me to be,' and 'if I leave, am I going to be happy wherever I go?' I'm sure it's something that a lot of people think about in their lives-if they're happy where there's living."

If moving seems like a topic that is personal to Chris, then you'd be correct. While pondering a move away from the band to Ohio (a move he would eventually make), his bandmates wrote a touching and bittersweet farewell about his decision, entitled "Sin City." Its lyrics speak not only to those involved with the band, but also to anyone who's ever had to make a difficult choice that will likely decide a good part of the rest of their life. Who says pop music can't touch your heart?

One of the most often-overlooked aspects of The Essex Green's new album is the significance of the title. According to Chris, "cannibal sea" was a term first used by sailors to describe the dangers of the Carribean Sea. After using it in the song "This Isn't Farm Life," the band noticed that it seemed to apply to their situation.

"In a lot of lose ways, [cannibal sea] could apply to a lot of parts of someone's life," Chris said. "But for us, it's about the sea of people and getting lost in an environment where everyone's sort of out for themselves."

But if little seems to be made of the band's subtle commentary, it's most likely because people seem too busy focusing on of the Essex Green's highly publicized influences. When the trio formed, they were united by a love of 60's pop and an appreciation of folk music. While these are an excellent foundation for an indie-pop band, their influences have become somewhat of a bane for the Live sex band. Nearly every review of the band's early work included something which labeled them as merely a reworking of classic approaches to pop music.

"There's references like that which people just have to latch onto when they're doing a review," Chris said. "Does it piss us off? It's annoying, but I can't blame them for it. I like to think that we've grown into something other than 60s revisionists."

This might not be the album that finally frees The Essex Green of comparisons to bands of a bygone era, nor the one that establishes pop music as both intelligent and catchy. The amazing thing is, it doesn't have to be. For The Essex Green's fans, it's yet another fantastic http://www.livejasmin.cc album by a band that isn't hindered by fears of how they're perceived.

Think About Life: "Paul Cries"

Lead by multi-instrumentalist Graham Van Pelt, Think About Life are the latest chapter in the "Ooooh, Canada!" saga of indie-rock. After only a couple shows, TAL were invited to tour with Wolf Parade, and will shortly be releasing their self-titled debut on Alien 8 Recordings (home to the now-defunct Unicorns).

MP3: Think About Life - Paul Cries

I love how all Canuck-rock sorta sounds like some other bands, but not enough to warrant calling copycat. Case in point, Think About Life kind sound like The Unicorns or Wolf Parade, but not enough to where I'd say it any more than in passing. Rather, it seems that TAL are at the forefront of the quirky art-pop movement that has seen a bit of a lull lately. And while the vocals could be pushed forward in the mix, the 'ba ba da da da's are enough to make up for that production oversight.

Of Montreal: "A Cloud Crashes"

You're going to have to excuse me on this one. Of Montreal posted a "new" song on their Myspace this past week, and I don't have all the facts on it. Some fans are saying that it's a cover of a Japanese band, but they changed the name. Unfortunately, The E6 Townhall is down right now, so I can't refresh my memory on the band or song title ("Chopsticks," maybe?). So for the time being, I'm going with it as if it were a completely new song.

MP3: Of Montreal - A Cloud Crashes

Kevin Barnes might very well be one of my favorite Sex chat producers. Not only does Of Montreal have a distinct "sound," but their songs are always packed to the brim with little things you won't notice on the first, second or third listen. Take this song for example: at various times, it uses a range of guitar effects, a woodblock, and a piano that was so subtle I had to rewind the song a dozen times to make sure I wasn't hearing things. The point is, Kevin doesn't do anything half-heartedly. Every song, be it a new single or a cover for a Japanese-only compilation, is a canvas that won't be complete until he's put his fingerprint on it.

Saturday Looks Good To Me: "Lift Me Up"

I first heard this Saturday Looks Good to Me song thanks to my friend Kathryn (who works for SLGTM's record label, ironically enough). She had it streaming on her Myspace profile and I heard it while attempting to leave a humorous comment on her page. It's bright, sunny and cute; so I just had to put it on YANP.

MP3: Saturday Looks Good to Me - Lift Me Up.

Saturday Looks Good to Me are the sugar to The Grates' spice. While it sounds like they stepped out of the golden era of pop music, there's something decisively modern about their sound. "Lift Me Up" has a special flair that can only come from just the right combination of musicians performing just the right song. Is it musically complex? No. Is it groundbreaking? They're no Radiohead. But it's toe-tappingly good, and that's all I want on a sunny Monday afternoon.

Saturday Looks Good to Me on Myspace

New Smoosh: "Find A Way"

Recent Barsuk signees, Smoosh, have just released a song from their new album, Free To Stay. The album, which is due out June 30th, features Cloe (21) on drums and Asya (24) on keyboards. I hate to sound old, but between them and the Arctic Monkeys, suddenly I feel like I should be in an indie nursing home.

MP3: Smoosh - Find A Way.

Seriously, these vocals came from a 21-year-old? Most girls my age don't have this kind of vocal maturity. Unfortunately it seems like Smoosh have moved into a little more "general" sound, rather than the quirky quality of She Like Electric that I fell in love with (the music! the music!). This could have something to do with the fact that the song clocks in at over three minutes; not all of which maintains the song's overall quality.

Anyone who lives in Lexington and is over 21 has no excuse not to go see The Essex Green, High Water Marks and The Melody Function at The Dame. Don't know if you saw my article or not, but I'm pretty fond of their new album.

Don't forget that today's the last day to enter the Guillemots contest for the EP on vinyl or tickets to see them in NYC.

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