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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Holiday Music Recommendation: Aimee Mann’s “One More Drifter in the Snow”

Posted by Thirtysomething Finance on December 3, 2009

Hello to my loyal readers! I apologize for not being more on top of updates, but between family obligations with the holidays and a crazy week at work, plus a recent re-dedication to going to the gym (as much, if not more, for my head as for my body — this will be the subject of a future post), I just haven’t had the time to devote to TSF lately.

But I did want to drop a quick note to make a recommendation of some music that you must listen to. As background, let me start by saying that this is my favorite time of year. Call me sentimental and even sappy, but I absolutely love the Fall, especially the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Like Radiohead said, I believe in everything in its right place (note: Brad Mehldau instrumentally echoed this sentiment). And during the Fall, it’s finally cold enough to justify drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte (or “PSL,” as the girlfriend and I refer to them) from Starbucks. I first saw PSLs advertised during the summer, and I was somewhat shocked and appalled — you can’t drink a warm weather drink like a “PSL during the summer!

As with the “PSL, I believe you have to wait until just the right time to start listening to holiday (let’s face it — Christmas) music. And now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s finally time for Christmas music! To oversimplify, you will find two types of Jewish people in this world: those who love all things Christmas, including — especially! — the music; and those who don’t. The Girlfriend and I are squarely in the former camp — we can’t get enough of it!

So now that it’s finally time to listen to Christmas music, who do I turn to? Why, none other than one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Aimee Mann, and her 2005 Christmas Album, One More Drifter in the Snow.

Aimee Mann: One More Drifter in the Snow

Aimee Mann has a really cool story. She started off in the 80s group Til Tuesday — you might remember their song “Voices Carry,” which is actually a great tune. Anyway, post-Til Tuesday, she released a number of solo albums on Geffen Records but did not sell enough copies to keep the label happy (it’s a shame because the tunes are solid).

1999 was a big year for Aimee Mann. She contributed the majority of the soundtrack to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s masterpiece, Magnolia. According to legend, Anderson wrote the story of the movie around certain of Aimee’s tunes, including “Save Me” and “Wise Up,” I believe. In 1999, Aimee also started her own label, Superego Records and has released each of her subsequent albums independently. Gotta love the DIY aesthetic.

Well, in 2006, Aimee released >Drifter, which consists of mostly traditional Christmas songs and also a few originals, including the amazing “Christmastime,” an original tune by Aimee’s husband, Michael Penn (brother of Sean and Chris (RIP)). I highly recommend you check out this album if you’re into the classic, traditional Christmas music record. Her take on the classics, like “White Christmas,” which Irving Berlin said is the best song ever written, and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” are spot on. Her lazy, loungey, relaxed take on “Winter Wonderland” is one of my favorite tunes on the album.

Last year, I saw Aimee on her Christmas show tour, a Vaudevillian tour she has done for the past few years with the help of various guests (when I saw her, the show featured Nellie McKay, Paul F. Tompkins, John Krasinski, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_cera (a.k.a. George Michael Bluthis this thing on?). Well, there was a surprise guest at my show — none other than Amos Lee! He sang a duet of “Winter Wonderland” with Aimee, which was awesome — but the best part was when Aimee’s guitarist played his guitar soloAmos was grooving along with his eyes closed, looking down — but when Aimee’s guitarist played one particular lick (the last lick coming out of the solo, if you’re following at home), Amos looked over at him like daaaaamn — it’s a really tasteful, soulful lick.

If you like Christmas music, you simply must purchase and listen to this album. You will not disappointed.

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Fall Music Recommendation: Lambchop Live at XX Merge

Posted by Thirtysomething Finance on November 20, 2009

Hi gang, this will be my first in what I’m sure will turn into a series of music recommendations. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid — even rabid music fan, and like many music fans, I love nothing more than turning people on to new music. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “new” as in current — I’m equally happy to recommend something from the 70s as I am to recommend something current. That said, today’s recommendation is for an album that just came out!

Are you excited?! I am!!

OK, so I’m taking somewhat of a risk with this first recommendation. The band is pretty obscure and may also be somewhat of an acquired taste. That said, I love love love them! The band is Lambchop (not to be confused with Lambchop), an ensemble band that came out of Nashville in the 1990s (here is a link to their MySpace). They’ve been with Merge Records since 1993, and they’ve just released a live album recorded at XX Merge (XX Merge was a blowout for Merge’s twentieth anniversary as a label). This album opens with a mellow piece from the band’s first album, I Hope You’re Sitting Down/Jack’s Tulips, and contains tunes all the way through their most recent studio album, OH (Ohio). Lambchop’s live show is impressive (I saw them at SXSW in 2006), with the ensemble band, and their tunes really come to life — by the end of this disc, I guarantee you’ll be dancing!

Lambchop Live at XX Merge

Lambchop used to be somewhat associated with the alt country movement, which is best exemplified, IMHO, by bands like Uncle Tupelo (now two separate bands: Son Volt, which has stuck with the alt country thing, and Wilco, which has matured way beyond it), but I think the association had more to do with their being from Nashville than anything else — though with some of their earlier stuff, you can hear it more.

Lambchop’s music, like a lot of music I like, is not easily pigeonholed. Some of it is better classified as soul than country, though it is all extremely soulful — and it’s not country soul in the Dolly Parton/Jenny Lewis sense…it’s just….well, it’s hard to explain. I think of Lambchop as fall music, which is somewhat ironic for a band from Nashville.

Their singer, Kurt Wagner, not to be confused with Kurt Wagner, used to be a working stiff like the rest of us. So the story goes, he worked as a carpenter, installing and sanding down floors, even after the success of the band’s sixth album, Nixon, in 2000. Here is a great piece about Kurt and the band from a few years ago.

I was introduced to this band in 2004 when David Byrne, one of my favorite artists (I’m deliberate here in my use of that word) and the former frontman of Talking Heads, covered Lambchop’s “The Man Who Loved Beer” on his album Grown Backwards. For the Talking Heads fans among us, you will smile and enjoy Lambchop’s returning the favor around the 3:30 mark on the last tune on this live album (click here for video).

I hope you enjoyed this first music recommendation — it surely won’t be the last!

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