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 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!