Happy Fourth of July! It's a rainy one here, so I'm taking advantage of the day off to be as lazy as possible. Mostly lounging around reading and listening to music.
It seems like a good day to showcase what's been catching my ear this year. I've noticed that lately, rather than downloading singles or letting a bunch of albums shuffle together, I've been listening to complete albums more. Here, in no particular order, are a few that have been in heavy rotation at Stacyverb headquarters in the first half of 2013.
The National, Trouble Will Find Me - I was anxious for this album to come out, and it didn't disappoint. It delivers everything I've loved about past National albums--Matt's gorgeous, cathartic baritone vocals; Bryan's propulsive, Krautrock-ish drums; cinematically striking lyrics; water imagery; and guest vocals from my girl Annie Clark. Another darkly beautiful album about guilt, anxiety, obsession, heartbreak, identity crises, and inappropriate drunkenness. I already have tickets to go see their show for my birthday in September!
Holly Williams, The Highway - Holly Williams could easily cash in on her lineage (she's Hank Jr.'s daughter and Hank's granddaughter) and sign a major-label deal, but she's doing her own thing and has put this album out on her own. With spare melodies and beautiful harmonies that spotlight her raspy, soulful voice, her songs tell stories of mistakes made and loves lost, while never wallowing in any of it. Realllly looking forward to seeing her at Park Tavern in August.
Deerhunter, Monomania - I'd never paid much close attention to Deerhunter because I thought they were a little droney or shoe-gazey for me (also, honestly, I just kept getting all those deer-related bands--Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Deer Tick, The Antlers--mixed up). But with this album they've gone in a bit more of punky direction that really grabs me, and their performance when they opened for the Breeders definitely won me over.
Iron and Wine, Ghost on Ghost - I can't say it any better than Sean Doyle of Paste did when describing this music as "an Instagram filter for your ears, coating everything in gold Polaroid tones." Although the idea of Iron and Wine with a horn section took me by surprise when Kiss Each Other Clean came out, I've really enjoyed the direction Sam Beam has been taking his music. It doesn't feel like a contrivance, but rather an evolution. His clear, pretty voice shines through, whether the music around it is folky or jazzy or something uncategorizable.
Kurt Vile, Wakin On A Pretty Daze - This album didn't make much impression on me at first, or so I thought. But frequently, when I want some music to work by or am just in a mellow mood on a rainy day, I find myself streaming this. His dreamy guitar work and sleepy voice are comforting somehow, yet I constant notice new things about this album (a humorous lyric, an unexpected key change) upon further listening.
Shovels and Rope, O' Be Joyful (Deluxe Edition) - Technically I'm cheating by including this one, because O' Be Joyful came out last year, but it was re-released with some extra tracks this May. I just adore this Charleston wife-and-husband duo--their energy, their DIY attitude, and their obvious love of playing music together. Their songs are by turns twangy and raucous, touching and raw. This clip of them on Letterman just makes me happy--they're clearly thrilled to be there, and are playing their hearts out. "It ain't what you've got, it's what you make." And Dave definitely loves them.
How about you? What are you listening to these days?