Friday News and Notes

Bob Dylan

  • CD Monday update: Hush is a really interesting study in limitations and boundaries. For so much of it, it sounds like Bobby McFerrin is keeping up — compensating for the fact that, especially in the classical pieces, the human voice isn’t made to cleanly switch between tones quickly. But then comes “Hoedown!” and Yo-Yo Ma is the one having to keep up and compensate. That willingness for both to push up against their limits — and push hard, in sometimes less than flattering ways — shows a generosity of spirit that makes this album really special, I think.
  • Sturgill First Listen, if’n you hadn’t yet.
  • I’d recommend the First Listen of this Sam Beam/Jesca Hoop album. I’d also recommend watching this video during the chorus of “Soft Place To Land.” I did coincidentally, and it was pure joy.
  • Two other albums I spent time with this week: Robbie Fulks’ new one, Upland Stories, and Glenn Jones’ Fleeting. I really like “Fare Thee Well, Carolina Gals” from the former and “Mother’s Day” from the latter. Also really like the cover of Fleeting. Gonna be hard to resist if I see it in a record store.
  • No show updates for this week — I’m on full-time daddy duty with Mrs. YHT out of town. Might use this opportunity to engage in some Bob Dylan indoctrination. The adults in the household are split 1 for and 1 against, so Baby YHT has the swing vote…

I vote that everyone has a great weekend!

Little Dragon

Ritual Union

Someone once said that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Or they may have said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture — the first page of a Google search was inconclusive on the matter, and this page creeped me out so I stopped* researching it. Either way, as I understand the saying (which is sometimes attributed to Elvis Costello), it suggests that analyzing music with language is pointless, just a marriage of two unrelated and abstract concepts. Well, I happen to be of the opinion that mixing abstract concepts is super fun, and I was reminded of how fun it can be with five awesome words — “alien Motown in the snow.” That’s how a friend (the same person who recommended Jesca Hoop) described the title track off Swedish electronic band Little Dragon’s 2011 album Ritual Union. Who could resist a description like that? As I was putting my earphones in, I remembered that I’d heard the song a few times, and I mentally played back the section where the vocals first come in, but as soon as I hit play, all I heard was 100% alien Motown in the snow. “Ritual Union” is now impossible to forget. The description is just so apt, and the song so enjoyable when keeping it in mind, that I’m not even going to ascribe my own adjectives to it. Just hit play below to see (well, ya know… hear) for yourself. If you want to hear some more of that good ol’ fashioned a.M.i.t.s., just click here and buy Ritual Union on iTunes.

Little Dragon — “Ritual Union

*Though I did find this, which seems to come pretty damn close to bringing the “dancing about architecture” part of the saying to life.

Jesca Hoop

Hunting My Dress

New Year’s Reso-tune-tion #2 — Get By With a Little Less Help from the Grid

(click here if you missed Reso-tune-tion #1

Another thing about my top 10 albums from last year stands out in retrospect — I walked down some pretty well-traveled roads in 2011. Awesome roads, but well-traveled ones, nonetheless. I can just feel Robert Frost’s disapproving glare from the afterlife. And even though I refuse to fetishize obscurity and can’t claim to be an expert in any esoteric genre (aside from editing the semiannual Journal of Postmodernism in the Underground Hip Hop of Botswana), I could probably stand to stray a little further from the recommendations of major criticism sources. Besides, finding out about music from friends is way more fun and doesn’t come with arbitrary, distracting and dehumanizing rating systems. My resolution to get by with a little less help from the grid started unofficially on New Year’s Day, when I saw a Facebook post authored by Greg, a fellow writer/musician (we prefer to be called wrisicians — don’t we, Colin Maloy?) who has shared some excellent recommendations in the past. Greg’s post was about an artist named Jesca Hoop (NO, it’s not Jessica. It’s Jesca. Stop being so mainstream), and I couldn’t be more glad I Spotify’d her. Hoop’s album Hunting My Dress offers a staggeringly beautiful mix of darkness and light, with songs that feel tempestuous one moment and fragile the next. As you listen to the full-album stream below, I recommend closing your eyes and imagining yourself lounging in a screened-in porch as a summer thunderstorm passes violently overhead. If you enjoy the ride, click here to buy her album on iTunes; and if you’re interested in submitting a scholarly article for the next issue of Journal of Postmodernism in the Underground Hip Hop of Botswana, please mail a copy of your manuscript to Botswana. I’m sure they’ll find it very interesting, and they… um… actually exist.

Jesca Hoop — Hunting My Dress