Simon and Garfunkel

Bookends

Important Vinyl Update … The Artist: Simon and Garfunkel. The Album: Bookends. The Store: Deep Groove. The Price: $4.

It’s the summer of 1993. “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors is the bees knees. The fam takes a trip to New Jersey, and while we’re there, my 60’s-music-loving uncle hands me a copy of Bookends. Being 10 years old and painfully unhip, I figure, “Oh, it’s those two princes everyone’s talking about.” Who knows how long I carried this horribly wrong assumption. I still can’t look at the cover of Bookends without thinking of the Spin Doctors. On Sunday, I found a gently worn copy, which filled a hole in my record collection and gave me an excuse to listen again. Each time, I hear something new to love. This time it’s the exhilarating hand-clappin’, foot-stompin’ percussion on “Fakin’ It.” See what I mean?

James Blake

James Blake

I dunno about you, but I’m not always an early adopter of new music. Often I’ll hear a new artist’s name and read a good review or two, but it usually takes a push from the right person at the right time to get me to dive in. Such was the case with James Blake. After some encouragement from a very trusted source, I finally heard his eponymous album yesterday, and it’s fantastic. I don’t care whether you call it dubstep or not (seems like a silly distinction to me, and James Blake agrees). All that matters is that it’s one of the most elegantly produced albums I’ve ever heard. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time with this one.

Josh Small

Juke

Important Life Lesson, Part II: Yesterday, I made a case for going early to concerts, because you never know what the opening act gods will send your way. This goes double for Justin Townes Earle shows. First it was Joe Pug at the Southern, and then Friday at the Camel, I found out about Richmond local Josh Small. Within moments of starting his opening set, his passionate singing and foot-stomping steel guitar playing made it feel like we were all sitting on the back porch of a cabin deep in the woods, soaking in his intricate and energetic brand of southern-influenced folk. I picked up both his albums (sound familiar?), and am so happy I did. His most recent is called Juke and features the same passion I saw live, but with the added bonus of eclectic instrumentation.

Joe Pug

Messenger

Important Life Lesson: Go early to concerts! I wrote yesterday about how I first saw Justin Townes Earle when he opened for Old Crow Medicine Show. So I went to see JTE at the Southern in Charlottesville … you see where this is going … and that’s how I discovered Joe Pug! HIS opening set was so compelling, I walked directly to the merch table and bought both his full-length albums, Messenger and Nation of Heat. Both are full of thoughtful, personal folk songs that contain some of the sharpest songwriting you’ll find anywhere, with vivid lyrics that stay with you long after the album has finished. I’m sad to say I just missed him headline at the Southern, but I have my fingers crossed that he’ll come to Richmond soon.

Justin Townes Earle

My friend Giselle and I like to argue about who told who about Justin Townes Earle (you’d think we’re both claiming to have told the other, but it’s the opposite … weird, eh?). I DO know the first time I saw him live, he opened for Old Crow Medicine Show, and he made a hell of a first impression. It’s a few years later, and I listen to his music nearly every day. I saw him at the Camel this past Friday, and he was outstanding as usual. He’s the consummate performer – tells stories, sings with raw emotion, and he occasionally slows his songs down live, which has a deeply haunting effect. Here’s a slow, contemplative, soulful performance of “Midnight at the Movies” from his album of the same name.

Brian Eno-David Byrne

My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

I filled up my laptop’s hard drive (mostly with music), then tried starting a DVD conversion project. Turns out computers don’t like to boot up when they’re too full. Whatever. The upside is that transferring music to an external drive has helped me discover music I own but haven’t explored yet. For example, a while back, my friend Tex homeshared with me My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and after finally diving in, I found that it’s a fascinating record, full of rhythmic craziness and imagination. All the vocals are sampled (IN ANALOG, which must have been an unholy pain in the ass), which makes each track a unique piece of art, worthy of exploration and enjoyment. Hard to believe this record was released in 1981.

Jogger

This Great Pressure

Important Follow-Up Message: Jonathan Larroquette, half of the hilarious podcasting duo that gives us Uhh Yeah Dude (described below), is also half of a musical duo named Jogger. I learned about Jogger from the same friend that recommended UYD. Their album, This Great Pressure, features rich and diverse electronic music that’s anchored by guitar and moves from one genre to the next fluidly. The album is at once sparse and chaotic, dark and uplifting … it’s an immersive roller coaster ride, perfect for people who love all types of music. As my friend who told me about them would say, “Get that shizz!”

Uhh Yeah Dude

I have a friend named Giselle who has crazy good taste in music. She’s also the one that told me about Uhh Yeah Dude, a two-man podcast that is hilarious, meandering, abstract and brilliant. The two LA-based podcasters are named Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette, and in each hour-ish long episode, they chat about recent events, scientific studies and celebrity goings-on, among other topics. The show has never failed to make me laugh out loud. If you like being happy and random conversations, subscribe on iTunes ASAP. Seatbelts.

Johnny Otis

Rock 'N' Roll Revue

Important Vinyl Update … The Artist: Johnny Otis. The Album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Revue. The Store: Plan 9 in Richmond, VA. The Price: $5.

My father-in-law recently told me about Johnny Otis, a musician, composer and band leader who was most successful in the 1940’s and 50’s. (he’s also the father of Shuggie Otis). This album is upbeat and fun – part big band, part rhythm and blues, part early rock. Well worth your $5. Johnny Otis fun fact: he once said, “As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black.” Just a Greek dude keeping it real.