castalia: (Decemberists)
NPR has posted a preview, by which I mean THE ENTIRE THING, of The Decemberist's new album The King is Dead. It will be available for streaming until the 18th when the album is officially released.

I'm not in love with it yet, certainly not as enamored as I was with Hazards of Love, but there's some interesting stuff here. Notably, Gillian Welch appears as backup singer! Indeed, there's a lot of American folk/bluegrass influence on the album, with harmonica and fiddle playing a big part in the arrangements plus some of those same guitar riffs from the slow bits of Hazards (making it not an entirely opposite sort of album, though they intentionally went in a different direction here).

I am, however, very in love with the "This Is Why We Fight" track, which in the right hands I think would make an AMAZING vid. *adds that to wish list*

I also quite like "Rox in the Box" - some wonderful riffs there and some echoes to older Decemberists songs.

*settles in for another listen*
castalia: (Decemberists)
Saw The Decemberists in concert last night at the Ryman in Nashville with [ profile] firiel44 and a coworker.


Seriously awesome band to see live. OMG. They did the entire Hazards of Love set without stopping in between songs at all, almost like a proper stage show. Loved it. Then they took a break and came back for a 2nd set and did most of my favorite songs and got all of us to sing along at some points then did an encore and had people join them on the stage for yet another sing-along. Colin Meloy is a consummate entertainer up there and just so cool and dorky and gracious. Wow.

Never thought I'd see a band like The Decemberists rock out on stage like that, but HoL let them do just that. Awesome. So many guitars, the organ, harpsichord settings, a hurdy gurdy, all kinds of stringed instruments I wasn't even sure about. And I am seriously going to have to check out Shara Worden and her group My Brightest Diamond, b/c omg that girl can sing. She was all rocker chick up there, in total contrast to Becky Stark who was all new age hippy girl with all her floating across the stage. Loved it.

Had to work today, after not getting home last night until 3:30 AM, so am absolutely dead but still floating. Best concert experience ever.
castalia: (Decemberists)
So, The Decemberists. I know I've uploaded some of their songs here before, but here are some more and an album review. The Decemberists have just released their new album, "Hazards of Love", their second since they moved from their indie label to Capitol Records. This is my favoritest band in the whole world and it's with only a small amount of bias that I think this is the best album of the year, even though we're barely a fourth of the way into 2009.

I had a hard time choosing just a few tracks to upload, because HoL, even more than The Crane Wife, is meant to be listened to as a single entity. Every track flows smoothly into the next and hearing one song only reveals part of the story. But I've chosen a few of my favorites to share in the hopes that more people will discover this album.

So far most of the reviews I've seen have been polar opposites; people either love it or hate it. And I'll admit, it's probably not going to be for everyone. HoL is a fantasy rock opera of great ambition, a concept type of album that draws from so many sources I'm still picking them out as I listen. Colin Meloy has cited inspiration from an obscure British folk album (of the same title), 60s rock, and Led Zeppelin, to name a few. The songs shift from folk to blues to metal (power chords in a Decemberists album, I'm honestly shocked, but very pleased), from the use of an organ and a very Baroque harpsichord-esque setting on the piano to what I swear are very country/folk sounding guitar riffs. At first part of me was disappointed that this wasn't much like anything The Decemberists had done previously, but after a few listens all the way through, I am thoroughly hooked and incredibly pleased to see this kind of musical growth for the band. Colin Meloy is one of the best songwriters I've ever heard, and while his signature heights of vocabulary aren't as present here as they were in past songs, there are some gems of wordplay nonetheless.

The story follows Margaret, a young girl known for sweetness and generosity of spirit, and William, the shape-shifting adopted son of the Forest Queen. They fall in love and meet secretly in the forest, until Margaret gets pregnant. This makes the Queen angry and she refuses to let William leave to be with Margaret, but after William pleads with her she allows them one more night together. Then in another "hazard of love", of which there are many throughout the story, Margaret is abducted by a rake. William eventually travels to rescue her, but there is, of course, a tragic ending that I won't spoil.

I could go on and on about this album, but instead I'll give you a few of my favorite tracks. The first features guest vocalist Becky Stark (of a band called Lavender Diamond that I'm unfamiliar with) and has an interesting mix of folk type vocals over a blues riff and strong beat. One keeps thinking it shouldn't work, but it does and it's fabulous.

Won't Want For Love (Margaret in the Taiga)

The second starts out with Colin Meloy's usual unique vocals (as the character of William) and more of the harpsichord. Until, of course, it flows into a pounding drumbeat and a squealing electric guitar before introducing a powerful guest appearance by Shara Worden (of another band I don't know, My Brightest Diamond) playing the Forest Queen. I absolutely love the riffs in this track and I wish I could see this performed live. It must be an amazing show.

The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid

I had some trouble picking just one more, but I really love this next track. The title comes from an old British folk song which I'm quite fond of, so it was interesting to see it here in another context (but still telling a similar story, with two lovers on opposite sides of the dangerous river). Much of the song is very true to its folk roots, but my favorite sections are when all the instruments drop out and are replaced by a gorgeous organ and beautiful vocals in harmony.

Annan Water

I can't recommend this album enough. It's absolutely epic and I haven't stopped listening to it since I got it. The CD will be in stores on Tuesday, and for now iTunes has it available for download. It's also streaming here on Entertainment Weekly (though I had some trouble getting the player to work for me). I heartily recommend listening to the entire album in the correct order.
castalia: (Hugh as Prince George - fabulous!)
I've reached approximately halfway and it's going so much faster now that I'm into the actual research and specific experiments. Those aren't hard to describe and critique so the rest shouldn't take much longer. I have something to send my supervisor and the rest will be finished after mother's visit. Several lovely people have helped me get access to articles I couldn't get and I love you all for it. *smooches [ profile] nzraya and [ profile] cteare*

I ran into several classmates at the library today who were also working on their reviews. They were surprised and envious that I'd started the writing process at all, which relieved most of the stress I had about my progress. Most of the others are still reading, so I'm doing well in comparison. They also said they'd talked to the course director about the reviews and what the acceptable length was (5 to 10 thousand words is a big range) - the verdict was that they usually expected around 6,000 for it to be acceptable. Damn, that's much better than I'd thought. I'm still aiming for 7 or 8 thousand, though, which shouldn't be a problem to reach. Yay! Now I should be able to relax and enjoy myself when mum gets here tomorrow. I have so much to do! Should vaccuum, tidy the front garden, take out all the trash, etc.

Also have a haircut tomorrow, as the back is getting far too long. I fear the mullet.

In celebration of progress, I give you the gift of music. I checked my iTunes list of the 20 most played songs, took out the ones I'd already posted for you guys, and uploaded the others. I haven't had iTunes very long, so the list is mostly recent acquisitions and a reflection of my habit of listening to new songs over and over obsessively. Here you go:

Musical memeage - Top 20 Playlist )

You're all tagged. So there. Let me know if any links run out.
castalia: (Paul & Alva hard at work)
B/c I'm avoiding work, you get more music. As with the previous post of music, let me know if any of the links run out and I'll re-up them.

The Divine Comedy, Cry Cry Cry, and randomness behind the cut... )
castalia: (Flight of Dragons (Gorbash))
I've been meaning to post some of my favorite music for a while now, and this is as good a time as any, especially since term starts back next Monday (insert long, put-upon sigh here). You'll find some choice weirdness behind the cuts.

The Decemberists, Ookla the Mok, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, and a mixed bag of obscurity... )

More later. I have a ton of things I want to share.
castalia: (Default)
Some of you may have heard about the new, complete recordings CD collection just released last month for Fellowship of the Ring. For fans of Howard Shore's LOTR score, it's a dream come true - the entire score for the first movie, along with an annotated score (you can download the PDF version from the site) that outlines the varies motives used throughout the movie, instruments, vocal performers, everything.

Alas, the coolness of this item is reduced only by its ridiculous price tag. Listed at $60, Amazon is offering it for just under $50. Considering the DVDs of the movies themselves cost way less than this, I'm not sure how they're justifying the price of this set. Especially as I'm sure the complete scores for TTT and ROTK will cost about the same, making that a $150 investment (not counting the previous soundtracks most of us already purchased).

That doesn't stop me from wanting it, of course. But it's not realistic right now.

I've been fascinated with Shore's LOTR score since the first soundtrack came out and everyone started analyzing it and discussing the amazing complexity of his leit motif style. For lyrics, one site is particularly invaluable, Tolkien's Languages in the LOTR Soundtrack, which has the lyrics to almost all the choral pieces in all three movies along with translations. Many of these have been confirmed by David Salo himself, the Tolkien linguist who translated all the Middle Earth languages for the films, and various other linguistic experts.

For a deeper look at the leit motif with all its themes and rhythmic styles, A Magpie's Nest: LOTR Soundtrack Analysis is the best place to go. Contains probably the most extensive listing of motives I've seen for this score, along with where in the movie they're used. Nicely organized.

The movie score geek in me geekgasms every time I read about this stuff. I LOVE how much structure and complexity Shore put into this music. The sheer scope of it all is something I doubt we'll see in a movie score for a long time, possibly ever.


castalia: (Default)

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