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December 22, 2008 |

By TK Burton | Music | December 22, 2008 |

Welcome to the second round of our musical discoveries of 2008! Hopefully, you’ve either found something new yourself, or you already knew about some of these and can spread the word. Thanks for reading.

Jamie Lidell
OK, anyone who knows me knows I flipped my shit for Jamie Lidell this year. I even stalked him at his concert here in Minneapolis this past fall and got to not only touch him (unfortunately in a totally appropriate manner), but took a picture with him. At first listen you’d think Jamie Lidell is an old soul singer from back in the day. But really he’s a tall, skinny Englishman who has an affinity for cumberbunds.

You may recognize Lidell’s song “A Little Bit More” from a certain Target commercial, or “Multiply” (both from 2005’s Multiply) which was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. But his musical depth is so much more than what mainstream media has latched onto. “All I Wanna Do” is a gut wrenching love letter, which I’m pretty sure was written for me. He was just way too shy to let me know. It’s also eleventy billion times better than the Sheryl Crow song with the same name. Other standouts like, “Little Bit of Feel Good” and “Figured Me Out” will get any dance floor going. Honestly, I love every song on this album. From the ballads to the party starters, I will request to be cremated with this album.

Jamie Lidell’s not too shabby live either. I caught him at Lollapalooza and at the concert mentioned above at Minneapolis’ The Varsity Theater. He brings his beat-boxing and layering skills to the forefront, which honestly wasn’t my favorite part of the show, but it shows his versatility. He also got interactive with the audience, at one point leading his entire band through the crowd.

“Little Bit of Feel Good”

domakesaythink.jpgDo Make Say Think

Do Make Say Think are following a slightly weird trend in my listening habits. They are yet another odd Canadian band that I find myself falling in love with (this trend started with Godspeed You Black Emperor, label mates of Do Make Say Think). As I get older, less and less often do I find myself falling in proper love with new bands, listening to them every minute for weeks on end, sighing and losing myself in their albums. When I do they seem to be Canadian. I don’t know why ,but this is how I love Do Make Say Think.

Technically as musicians they are undeniably skilled. They made me aware of how often I don’t really listen to music because I find myself lost in some reverie, having stopped whatever it was I was supposed to be doing to listen carefully to one of their tunes. It is the grace and elegance of their composition that demands and rewards your attention. They follow an idea through a track and then through an album. While you can listen to the tracks separately, they work best when listened to in the context of the whole album. Their most recent recording You, You’re A History In Rust is a study in hope and optimism. It feels like a band in love with the world and what they do in it.

There is a heavy cinematic feel running through all their albums, and according to their website, they have been used on a few soundtracks. I have found that listening to them on the move almost certainly guarantees some overwrought imagining on my part. “Dr. Hooch,” a track off their first album, has a slightly sinister edge to it and I like to think of it as “the bad alien song,” because I imagine myself being stealthily pursued by an alien ship, being beamed up and then saving the world in some intelligent and athletic fashion just like Sigourney Weaver. Which makes them fantastic to listen to if you are doing something creative.

“A Tender History in Rust” is the only decent quality recording/video I could find on youtube. It’s a song from You, You’re a History In Rust, their most recent recording.

I love this track (honestly I love them all) — I find it unutterably lovely and hopeful. It gives me the same contented feeling I get when sitting on the beach at dusk, throwing stones for the dog without a care in the world or a defined thought in my head.

I worry that by getting sometimes labeled Post-Rock (a label which does nothing but make the band and the person using the phrase sound like comprehensive wankers), that they will get dismissed as pretentious rubbish. In reality, they are a band that plays with their heart on their sleeve but without the more obvious emotional manipulation of some one like Sigur Ros (who I like, for the record). There is an uncomplicated honesty at the center of their music that I both admire and adore.

Their website is but it’s a bit rubbish. Just go buy yourself an album, and if you don’t think you can go for a whole album I recommend downloading “In Mind” and “You, You’re Awesome” from You, You’re a History in Rust, after which you may reassess your spending priorities.

dalton.jpgKaren Dalton

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a trillion times over: I’m prone to exaggeration. Nevertheless, I think there’s a degree of truth when I say I can’t imagine not having Karen Dalton in my life. This year, for the first time, I listened to her album In My Own Time, and experienced that really uncanny feeling of recognizing something immediately. You know when you meet someone for the first time and you can tell that you’re going to be huge friends, or disastrously in love — there’s an affinity there that you can’t put your finger on; something in you responds to something in them, that makes you feel and think things you might not have felt before. Well, there’s something of that in the way I first greeted Karen Dalton. And like the greatest friendships, that feeling deepens with every meeting.

Karen Dalton, it seems, was a singer much favored by the Greenwich Village set in the 60s. Bob Dylan spoke of her as his favorite singer, and her guitar and banjo-playing was greatly admired. She cut a first record, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best, which was met positively and garnered a cult following, featuring a ripe and soulful mix of contemporary folk tunes and old blues. Then her follow-up, which is the one I most love, proved commercially unsuccessful and after a few years she disappeared from the scene. She died, neglected, in the early 90s after living on the streets of New York — a victim of a terrible drug habit.

“It Hurts Me Too”

What a shame that Dalton hated her own voice so much, and succumbed to drugs — but what joy that she left us these superb albums. >In My Own Time especially is so assured and accomplished. Dalton’s voice is an exercise in melancholy, with an obvious similarity to Billie Holiday, with whom she also shares a free phrasing, singing miles behind the beat. The opener, “Something On Your Mind,” is probably the pick of the bunch: it’s got needling bass, country-ish fiddle, and that voice, tinged with regret and world-weariness as she sings, “Didn’t you know you can’t make it without ever even trying?” She seems to have given up on the world - yet there’s something uplifting in the arrangement, which delivers a counter-thread of hope.

What’s brilliant about the album is the way Dalton’s voice, full of ache, can yet tackle more uplifting numbers: her take on “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” is marvelously swinging, as a bunch of men-folk helps her out with the joyous chorus, which she dwells on with a bizarre mix of sorrow and glee. In her incredible version of George Jones’s “Take Me,” she has so much winsomeness and slurry delight in her voice when she sings

Take me to Siberia
And the coldest weather of the winter time,
And it would be just like spring in California
As long as I knew you were mine.

It’s a country number, but she adapts it so well to her own style, picking out the gentle strains of the melody, letting each line fall. Likewise ‘In A Station’, which features piano and jazzy Hammond organ for her broken voice to huddle up against. Her guitar and banjo playing are well featured on folk standard “Katie Cruel” and “Are You Leaving For The Country,” which is more languorous than is decent. And her cover of “When A Man Loves A Woman” is personal and surprising, turning the Percy Sledge version on its head to find its tender heart.

I can’t fault In My Own Time in any way. I think it holds its own in the company of Joni Mitchell’s and Nick Drake’s best work. There’s a song on it for every mood, and the album feels so complete, offering a vivid portrait of its tragic and gifted performer.
—Caspar Salmon

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Our Favorite Discoveries, Day 2
/ Pajiba Music Writers & The Eloquents

Music | December 22, 2008 |

TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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