Taken By Trees East of Eden on Repeat

Over the weekend, I downloaded the most recent album by Taken By Trees, singer Victoria Bergsman’s new band, and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. I’d heard a couple of tracks on XMRadio, and then found her featured on NPR’s music site while trolling for new music. Hearing her cover of Animal Collective’s My Girls sealed it for me.

You may recognize Bergsman’s voice from her part on the hit song Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John. Her voice has been an acquired taste for me while the melodies and hypnotic rhythms of her songs had an immediate appeal that’s only increased with repeated listens. The album was recorded in Pakistan and melds Swedish pop with Pakistani musical elements for a truly eclectic collection of songs. Watch the Waves, My Boys, To Lose Someone, Greyest Love of All and Summer Sigh are my particular favorites, but then I’ve listed half the album, so you get the idea.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain Rocks

Hands down, this is my new favorite musical group. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn about an eight person ukulele band, but I’m glad I did. I could watch You Tube clips of their performances all night. They play a wicked uke, they sing, their arrangements are clever and their repertoire eclectic, they’re British, and they’ve got a terrific deadpan sense of humor.

You can bet I’m adding their CDs to my music library and anytime I find myself in a funk or in need of a perk up, I’ll dial up one of these clips to put an immediate smile on my face. I love this group.

Coldplay Is So Much Better With Dance Moves

Every time I hear the Coldplay song “Viva la Vida”, I think of this video from Dooce. I like the song a lot better now.

This Is Pretty Friggin’ Amazing

I learned of this via Dooce’s site. Have you seen it? An amaaaazing video for Grizzly Bear’s Two Weeks (a song I love) created by a fan named Gabe Askew, for fun, in his spare time. I’ve watched it five times (so far) and every time I marvel and see something new. I absolutely love the look of it. Whether it’s a combination of “real” and computer generated or all CG I couldn’t say, but that’s part of the fun.

Listen Up: Wilco’s Latest

Should you be so inclined, you can hear Wilco’s latest album Wilco in its entirety over on the NPR Music site. I’m listening to it now. So far, I like what I hear and can imagine it will age well with repeat spins. After that, I’ll be listening to Bjork’s latest album, also available on NPR Music. I forget sometimes how much I enjoy this website.

Lollapalooza: I Can’t Believe I’m Even Half Considering This

I was listening to Blind Pilot last night and popped over to their website to see if and when they might be passing through Chicago on tour. I was surprised to discover they’re part of this summer’s Lollapalooza lineup. Then I looked at the rest of the lineup and discovered quite a few of my favorites listed: The Decemberists, Neko Case, Band of Horses, Bon Iver, Kings of Leon, Airborne Toxic Event, Animal Collective, TV on the Radio. Enough to definitely make me think it might be worth the price of admission for the three day festival.

Let me stop right there. The fact that I even entertained this idea for more than five minutes is hilarious since a) I hate crowds, b) I hate standing and listening to live music (I’m short), c) unless it’s an opera, I’m not much for live music in large venues, d) I’m “old.” Even when I was in my twenties, the idea of standing at a music festival for hours (and days) in a hot summer crowd wasn’t my idea of fun.

But, then again…

AirPort Express: The Sweet Sound of Music, Minus the Headphones

Yesterday I was at the Apple store getting my defective MacBook battery replaced (no charge) so of course I felt I had to give them some of my money. I used the visit as an excuse to finally pick up an AirPort Express to stream music from my iTunes to the house stereo speakers. For too long now, I’ve been headphoning it while working on the laptop or plugging into a pair of tin box speakers with lousy sound, especially when in the kitchen cooking, which was a lot.

Now, in addition to much improved sound, I have the convenience of piping music wirelessly from the laptop. Sweet. The sound is great and I’m saving my ears by not relying on my headphones quite so much. My playlists will get even more of a workout and I can stream iTunes radio stations (like Radio Paradise) which I haven’t tapped into in quite a while. I can also take more advantage of the Genius feature, which I really like as a way of mixing up the music in my library. It’s a much better alternative to random shuffling through the songs, allowing me to serve up a list centered around a particular song. It’s still random but related, flowing together better than something that pulls from the entire library.

I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner.

My iTunes Library: The Zero Playlist

In my recent shenanigans prepping the trusty iPod for vacation, I finally got around to culling from my music library a lot of the junk I’d accumulated over the years. (Where did all these INXS songs come from?!) I was continually coming across music I didn’t recognize or had completely forgotten I owned.

A few weeks ago, I created a playlist of all the songs that have never, ever been played and I’m going through them one at a time, listening for clunkers (hit delete), winners (rating them 4/5-stars where they’re dropped automatically into a faves playlist), and sorting songs into various other playlists. Every day I chip away at the list a little bit more–only 1,648 songs to go.

Blind Pilot: 3 Rounds and a Sound

I’m finally initiating a new feature on this blog that I’ve had in mind for a while. For lack of a better name, I’m calling it My Favorites. Whatever of the moment is striking my fancy and carrying me away—music, TV, web site, restaurant, snack food, whatever—I’ll make a point of sharing it on the blog. So, here’s my first installment of a rave on a fave.

Two months ago, I made a mad dash to find new music. Really new, as in never heard of the artist before “new.” I scoured the usual places, sifted through my own reminder lists of songs heard here and there, sampled them on Amazon, and made some purchases. All of them were winners but the album 3 Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot was (and still is) my favorite by far.

Prior to this, I’d never heard of them before and now I can’t imagine not having this album in my music library. It’s good to know that no matter how old I am, when I get a new album that I love, that for whatever reason strikes me as perfect and perfect for that time, I will listen to it over and over and over again, just like I did when I was 15. I’m sure I’m wearing a groove in my digital library where the Blind Pilot songs reside.

3 Rounds and a Sound, the debut from this duo out of Portland, Oregon, continues to be my go-to choice of music. It never fails to raise my spirits. I put it on frequently when I’m cooking and in no time I’m bouncing around the kitchen. Dangerous when knives are involved.

Blind Pilot is primarily acoustic guitar, drums and harmonizing vocals accented with trumpets, strings, banjo, and xylophone in orchestrations that are simple but layered. I loved their sound from the first but it was the songwriting, the unusual melodies and the lyrics that really hooked me.

There’s not a song on 3 Rounds that I don’t like but my particular favorites include, “Paint or Pollen,” “Go On Say It” “Poor Boy,” “The Story I Heard,” and “One Red Thread.” The latter two have terrific locomotive rhythms, songs made for road tripping, flying down the highway, singing at the top of your lungs.

The slow brushed drum rhythm on “The Bitter End” and the album’s title track get me head-bobbing and harmonizing every time. The latter tune, which wraps up the album, introduces two halves of the song and ends by perfectly blending them both together, one voice under the other.

Plus, these guys tour (when possible) by bicycle!

Saturday 3 p.m. ~ BVI Soundtrack


My iPod will be traveling with me down to the British Virgin Islands. Turns out we’ll able to plug it into the boat’s sound system, which includes speakers in the cockpit. Sweet. So I’ve been organizing and adding to my music library like crazy this past week. It’s actually been an interesting exercise. There was a lot of music that had fallen through the cracks. Albums and songs I’d either forgotten I’d had or had me puzzling (“Now where did I get that from?”)

I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon loading discs into my iTunes library and last night I shopped the iTunes store and Amazon for more. I’ve created a number of playlists: BVI party, BVI mellow, Latin jazz, and one that mixes everything together.

Artists in the mix so far include: Wilco, Los Lobos, Bob Marley, Iron and Wine, Beatles, various discs from the gang from Buena Vista Social Club, Eric Clapton, Kings of Leon, Snow Patrol, Spoon, Amy MacDonald, Neko Case, Ry Cooder, Bon Iver, David Gray, John Hiatt, The Shins, Sam Cooke, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Emmylou Harris, Sam Phillips…