Friday, June 23, 2006

Worthy Pursuits and Playlists - June 25, 2006

New music you should look (and listen!) for:

Keane -- East Sussex, England, UK - Interscope

This English trio is back with the follow up to their 2004 debut Hopes and Fears, from which we got the hit ballad "Somewhere Only We Know" (unfortunately it is being used right now to promote the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves movie about that magical, time-defying "Lake House"... I digress). Keane's new single, "Is It Any Wonder?," is a complete change of pace -- it rocks... and the video reminds me of being on Space Mountain. Find it on the new album, Under the Iron Sea. It's got the same experiments with looping and analog synths as the debut release (Keane doesn't have a guitar player), but this time around, the band gives us a more depressing view of the world. Just look at some of the track titles -- "A Bad Dream," "Broken Toy," and "Put It Behind You"? But I guess everyone needs some songs like that for the low moments in life and to put things in perspective. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Coldplay, Travis, Doves, the last two U2 albums. Album out now.

Jim Noir - Manchester, England, UK - Barsuk Records

Something you may or may not know about me is that I watch TV for the commercials. Blame it on my advertising days, but I just love to know which agencies did which spots for which companies, and most importantly, which indie artists they're tapping for music. Case in point: Adidas ads running during the World Cup matches (you know -- with the little kids running around with the pro footballers?). Well listen closely and you'll hear "Eanie Meany" by 24-year-old Jim Noir. His music is a reminder of why I wish I'd grown up through the 60s music explosion -- it's very psychedelic, soothing, and easy on the ears. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: The Kinks, Badly Drawn Boy, The Beatles (circa Rubber Soul). Visit for downloads, music videos, and a garden gnome. Debut album out in August.

My Brightest Diamond - Brooklyn, NY - Asthmatic Kitty

It's a bittersweet symphony, composed by Shana Worden (leading this project as My Brightest Diamond). The emotional complexity of the lyrics and music is pretty astounding. Not surprising, though, considering Shana was raised by a national accordion champion and a church organist, studied opera in college, and later went on to be an Illinoismaker for Sufjan Stevens. Don't go thinking, "Oh... so it's classical instrumental stuff... yawn...," because it's not. Listen to the first single, "Something of an End," on MySpace (NOTE: the link I provided in the email version of this post does not work... sorry! You can also go straight to the Asthmatic Kitty site and get it) When you hear her sing, "And then the earth started shaking, yeah it was crazy, heaven and hell came crashing down... it came crashing... it was beautiful and terrible" you might just know what she means. Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: PJ Harvey, Bjork, Portishead. Album out August 22.

Corinne Bailey Rae - Leeds, England, UK - EMI

I'd heard the name Corinne Bailey Rae coming up in conversations at my office, but didn't spend any time with the album. Recently I saw her on VH1s "You Oughta Know," though, and figured maybe you oughta know, too. She makes laid back neo-soul sound comfortable and confident -- perfect music for a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the summer, when you don't feel like doing much at all. Catch some clips from the self-titled debut on her website, (NOTE: this was also listed wrong in the email version... and to that I say, some days are just better than others...). Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Billie Holiday. Album out now.

And a playlist for the week (inspired by my trip with Jessica to Athfest)

New Music From Athens, Georgia -- Athfest Compilation CD
1. AN EPIC AT BEST - Weight Of Words
3. R.E.M. - Wanderlust (Clayton St. Studio Version)
4. VENICE IS SINKING - Undecided
5. LONA - February Rose
9. PATTERSON HOOD - Heavy And Hanging
10. THE WHIGS - Can't Hear You Coming
11. NATE NELSON - A Sing-Song Fashion
12. NUTRIA - Under The Clay
13. MODERN SKIRTS - Indiana Indian
14. THE PENDLETONS - Put That Record On
15. SUMMER HYMNS - What Kind Of Bird
16. THE BEARFOOT HOOKERS - I'd Rather Two-Step (Than Twelve-Step)
17. MICHAEL HOUSER - Can't Change The Past
18. GINGER ENVELOPE - Caretaker

Buy the CD at

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