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Music

New Music

12.07.07 | Comment?

Normally, I’m not cool enough to listen to new music, but a friend of mine loaned me a mix CD and a couple of the songs were so good I ran out and bought the whole album.

The first song was “Too Hot Too Sleep” by Eilen Jewell, from her album Letters from Sinners and Strangers. “Too Hot” sounds like something from the Fifties, a sultry torch song for that night when you just want to stay up and party. In fact, it sounds a lot like a soundtrack for Sara Gran’s Dope.

The rest of the album is alt-country, and features a nice variety of upbeat tunes and some slower stuff.

The other song, and the one I was particularly mad about, was “Mad Tom O’Bedlam” by Jolie Holland, from Escondida. “Mad Tom” is just Jolie singing while the drummer plays a little shuffle, but it’s electrifying in it’s Beatnik intensity. Oddly enough, the words are not from the English folk song “Mad Tom O’Bedlam” but from a companion piece entitled “Mad Maudlin Searches For Her Tom”.

When I first listened to each of these albums, I really liked Escondida but I didn’t that that Letters did much for me. Now, I’m the kind of person who would wear the grooves off his records (if I had any records), so I’ve been listening to them a lot, and my opinion has flipped 180 degrees. Eilen Jewell’s album has just a lot of different stuff on it – some happy, some downbeat, in a variety of tempos and styles – and so far I don’t feel like I’m finished with it.

Holland’s record, on the other hand, seems to repetitive. Too many of the songs are her singing against barely-there instrumentation, and I didn’t find her lyrics engaging. To me they tended to sound like “Oooh! I’m in the 11th grade!” philosophizing.

But thereare some really good songs on there in addition to “Mad Tom”. “Old-Fashioned Morpine” is pretty good (and gets bonus points for mentioning “Billy Burroughs”), and “Amen” is really good, too. I just like Jewell’s album better.

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