“When Stars Go Blue” - Ryan Adams
I mentioned last week that Ryan Adams writes a lot of slow tuneless sad songs, this one is actually one of his sad songs that I really like. The reason why? He actually writes a melody. It’s a lilting little melody that floats like a paper boat on a lake. It’s a beautiful song, really. This version is with the Cardinals, his most recent touring band. This band rather rocks and so even this ballad has some loudish guitar noise with it. I like the earlier version with the acoustic guitars and the sadness.
But this is a nice version and the electric guitar solo here is quite fine. The Cardinals remind me in some ways of the Grateful Dead, and they are obviously fans since on this last tour they covered several Dead tunes. They also keep Adams expanding on his songs improvisationally, giving this tune a real jam. Something it has never had.
“Hole in the Backyard” – Keller Williams
Keller Williams is generally a one man jam band. He tours as a solo artist, but creates a thick, layered song with just him, a guitar and a looping machine. With the machine he can record a quick guitar lick or vocal sound and then continually play it back over and over, while he creates new music on top of it. Add more layers and you get a sound that is unique in the business.
This is one of the better songs off of his latest bluegrass disk, Grass. It’s full of clever, pun filled lyrics about what they’re going to do with a giant hole in the back yard. The music is foot-tapping, shake-your-hips marvelous. It’s the kind of song that means absolutely nothing, but is still a joy to crank up and boogie to.
“Midtown” – Tom Waits
This is Tom Waits that I can dig. It’s an instrumental electric jazz number that sounds like it could be an outtake off of one of Miles Davis’ later albums, or part of a movie score circa 1970 detective stories.
It is only about a minute long, so I’m sure it’s part of a larger whole that I have yet to really listen to.
“The Man Who Would Be King” – The Libertines
from The Libertines
As I start to listen to new music again (as opposed to my countless bootlegs) I find my musical tastes migrate across the sea to the shores of the United Kingdom. This is either because we’re experiencing another British invasion or that several of my writing buddies are from the UK.
These days Pete Doherty gets more press for his narcotics arrests than for fronting Babyshambles or previously, the Libertines which is a shame because he’s responsible for some of the best indie rock to hit the airwaves in some time.
This is a pretty straight out rock number that takes some interesting changes in the bridge, and some impressive “la la la’s” in the chorus. And who doesn’t like la las?
“Train Under Water” – Bright Eyes
from I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
I swear I’ve written about Bright Eyes in Random Shuffle before, but looking through the archives I see nothing. Age is creeping in faster than I thought.
Bright Eyes is basically Ohioian Conor Oberst’s band with various side players thrown in when he wants. He writes painfully beautiful lyrics with a generally acoustic, folk laden musical background (although Digital Ash in a Digital Urn is his attempt at Radiohead inspired electronica).
Bright Eyes are one of my new favorite bands out there. Their lyrics are so often incredibly raw and honest to make one embarrassed while still being inspired. “Train Under Water” is a nice acoustic number with Conner whisper whining right along with the strums of the guitar. But there is enough of a melody and changes in the chorus as to make it head bobbingly terrific.