malleus&incus

Introductions

Posted in Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwiter by dc3 on June 27, 2010

Nick Drake

Inaugural posts always shoulder the burden of having to be profound or enlightening simply because they are first in order. I’m usually a sucker for those kinds of unwritten rules, but profundity aside, an introduction must be made.  An introduction of two sorts: the music and the irrelevant blog that attempts to frame the music in so many words.

I’m not sure how this music blog differs from any others except that it presents our favorite music in our own words. I’m not sure that a music blog should do more than that. This project sprang from what all projects by young people spring out of these days, boredom tinged with some restlessness and dissatisfaction. A group of friends and acquaintances decided to jump on the bandwagon and go public with our musical tastes. We all have pretty different preferences so you’ll probably hear a variety of music on here loosely connected only because they happen to appear in the same library that we’ve built up over the years. In a sense, then, the music reflects something about us; but that’s also the kind of sentimental bullshit that doesn’t mean anything. I can’t speak for the other authors on here, but music is the easiest way to avoid originality and speak through other people’s words. How else could you package a generation’s voice into neat rhyming verse? I guess because that’s what I love and hate about music, that’s how I’ll speak from now on.  So hopefully you won’t find anything frighteningly democratic or hilariously incomprehensible here. Instead, we’ll try to pick music that’s interesting and tell you why. It might not be the newest stuff or critically acclaimed, but hopefully other people see something in the songs that we do.

In a desperate attempt not to come off as a snob, I won’t try to categorize my musical taste as mostly indie folk, folk rock, indie pop, brit pop, twee, low-fi, and singer-songwriter. In other words, place any two unlikely genres together, add “indie” in front of it, and you’ve got an excuse for music. Good music usually consists of a voice, an acoustic, and not much else; but then again, not every college kid is a good artist either. Since this is an introduction, I’ll start at the roots, digging back into the family tree of good music. Indeed, if my music taste has a lineage, these would be its ancestors:

The Beatles

I’ll Follow the Sun // Beatles for Sale

Long, Long, Long // The White Album

Don’t Pass Me By // The White Album

The Beatles are the Adam and Eve of pop. This isn’t even remotely an exaggeration considering how every single song today with any pop sensibilities draws its influence from the Beatles. I discussed this with a friend and he cleverly remarked that the Beatles are woven into the very genetic fabric of modern music. This is why no one actually dislikes the Beatles. Ask anyone the only person who’ll say yes is the angsty teenager who loves being edgy because it’s edgy.  They just wrote a lot of music and almost all of it was good.

Bob Dylan

I Want You // Blonde on Blonde

Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) // Street Legal

His folk roots and unique singing-songwriting make him the grandfather of modern indie folk and folk rock. The grandfather that refuses to die. The fact that he can churn out so many albums usually generates either admiration or exasperation that he’s outlived his time. It does tend to break the sentimental mood of the folk tradition a bit that the God of folk, as some people must call Dylan but that I haven’t personally verified, still lives and performs along with its lesser members. Surprisingly, he has never made too deep of an impression on me. Something about his voice is indescribably distracting. Uh oh, I think I just blasphemed.

Leonard Cohen

Suzanne // Songs of Leonard Cohen

Folk’s other grandpa, more introverted, poetic, and somber. Also strangely alive and still making music. I imagine falling under the spell of Leonard Cohen while waiting at a deserted train station at night. In other words, perfect for unabashed sentimentality that life sometimes calls for.

Nick Drake

Which Will // Pink Moon

Free Ride // Pink Moon

Easily one of the best singers in the last half century with a voice that can’t be forgotten. His influence can be felt strikingly in Alexi Murdoch and Iron & Wine. Nick Drake’s life is full of the depression, drug-use, and death-at-a-young-age material that seems to be a prerequisite for good folk music these days (a bit exaggerated since the only person who comes to mind is Elliott Smith).

Cat Stevens

But I Might Die Tonight // Tea for the Tillerman

Miles from Nowhere // Tea for the Tillerman

Guiltily have not explored his music much. Discover for yourself.

Simon & Garfunkel

The Only Living Boy in New York // Bridge over Troubled Water

Why Don’t You Write Me // Bridge over Troubled Water

Though the Graduate popularized them, S&G’s Bridge Over Troubled Water best captures their folk and pop genius. I’m almost glad they ended their duo careers with it. Paul Simon has also made some great music and Art, well at least he’s got this

image source: http://www.terjealnes.com/nickdrake.htm
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3 Responses

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  1. molly said, on July 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I’ve been going through this blog just to get caught up so that I can follow you guys in the future. Throughout each post there hasn’t been one artist that I have not thoroughly enjoyed (with the exception of Holden Caulfield, but Sam, much to his dismay, already knows that I have never been much of a fan). So if I start commenting too much and you guys get sick of whatever pointless comments and/or musical recommendations I might make, just say so.

    dc3: Way to go on perfectly capturing the “family tree of good music”. The music industry would be nowhere without these masters. At each stage in my life I was introduced to one or more of these guys; I would have been lost without them. And I have to admit that while I know you feel differently, I adore Bob Dylan’s voice. It’s part of what makes him…well, him (aside from the glorious, folk-y combination of acoustic guitar and harmonica that makes my heart melt). Or maybe I just have a thing for odd voices since some of my favorite, more contemporary artists include the slow, almost humorous vocals of Stephen Merritt of the Magnetic Fields (and other projects), the raspy Kristian Matsson a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth, and the delightful yet always out-of-breath Ray LaMontagne.

    What you guys are doing here is great. It’s actually giving me something enjoyable and worthwhile to do with my time. Please keep it up!

    • jurbanik said, on July 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      Molly,

      I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you. It means a lot to know that our posts actually mean something to someone and that we have a legitimate active follower – one who listens to the music instead of just reading the post and moving on.

      Insofar as your worry about too much commenting… I would stop worrying. I didn’t sleep last night because of a problem set, and getting this kind of appreciation and feedback brought a smile to my weary face. It’s always nice to get some criticism, and your ‘pointless’ suggestions may actually be stuff some of us haven’t heard… We’ll be sure to give you credit if we end up blogging it.

      I’ll leave it up to dchen to respond to the parts addressed to him, but once again, thank you.

    • dc3 said, on July 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

      molly, I echo jurbanik’s post and really appreciate your enthusiasm for the blog. It’s great to discover that other people have similar tastes in music.

      As for unique voices, it’s definitely true that sometimes the singer rather than the song makes the music incredible. Nick Drake has an unparalleled voice and Stephen Merritt of Magnetic Fields rocks. you must listen to Luckiest Guy in the the Lower East Side again on 69 Love songs. Vocals by Dudley Klute. Probably my favorite Magnetic Fields song. That shit is amazing. I’m gonna have to disagree with bob dylan. Great man, huge influence. Folk owes the world to him, but his songs just don’t strike me as much as the other artists on the list. I’ll give him a few more listens though because you think his voice is unmissable.

      glad to hear your opinion on this stuff.


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