Monday, August 10, 2015

My Personal Summer Jams

Now that the summer is almost over--so swift, so cruel--I thought I'd write about some of the best music I've encountered over the past few months. When it's hot outside, I normally prefer the clash-bang of garage and punk rock, but overall this summer has been slightly less raucous. Here are the three artists that I can't get enough of at the moment:

1) Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends

You can't blame my Ezra Furman obsession solely on my strong affinity for androgyny--you can blame it partially on that, but not all of it. The kid's music is killer. Last summer I was addicted to his 2013 record Day of the Dog, a high energy rock album with a glittery glam edge, reminiscent of David Bowie with its liberal use of saxophone. This summer I'm all about his new album, Perpetual Motion People. It features what I'm going to call "sarcastic doo-wop" music, which I believe to be a stroke of genius. The album's lyrics discuss difficult issues including gender and sexual identity, depression, and Chicago's blatant socioeconomic/racial divide, and to juxtapose these themes with doo-wop, which evokes 1950's white-picket-fence "perfect" (and diversity-repulsed) America, makes his lyrics even more poignant. Listen to "Lousy Connection." Or "Wobbly." Hell, I don't know. They're all so good.

2) Lady Lamb

Lady Lamb was a relatively late summer revelation for me; Spotify has this new feature called "Discover Weekly," where it makes a playlist tailored to your tastes based on the other music to which you've listened. It seems Spotify has noticed my affection for badass female musicians, and I must give it credit for sending Lady Lamb my way. I suspect that generally people would categorized her as a folk musician--she is opening for The Tallest Man on Earth right now, after all--but her music is more like folk with a hot, chainsaw buzz running through it. Some of her songs, like "Dear Arkansas Daughter," move straight into rock. I'd also classify Lady Lamb as a composer as opposed to simply a musician; many of her songs, like "You Are the Apple," have clear movements. As far as her lyrics go, they're often delightfully twisted--"I still need your teeth around my organs" being a personal favorite of mine. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either of her albums--After or Ripley Pine.

3) Asaf Avidan

Yes, I've written about Asaf Avidan on this blog before--he was indeed the artist I traveled to Nice to see, which wasn't that crazy, as I was in Toulouse for the summer anyway. Here's the thing about Asaf Avidan: the man has range. Vocal range, yes. He can sing very very high, and very very low, but that's not really what I mean. His voice is odd in the most wonderful way; if young Marlon Brando were a good singer, he might sound like Asaf Avidan. (His vocals are also very Tallest Man on Earth-esque, now that I think of it.) And his music has range, too. He's another one people probably classify as a folk singer, but that's not entirely true. "Bang Bang" is a blues song. "My Tunnels Are Long and Dark These Days" is essentially a James Bond theme. "The Labyrinth Song" is a haunting folk ballad. "613 Shades of Sad," the first song of his I ever heard, is just kind of poppy-weird. He has lots of albums with past projects, but I'd recommend his two most recent solo albums, Different Pulses and Gold Shadow.

Now you have so much good music to listen to! Why are you still reading this? Get on it.

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