Listening Assignments 12.3.07

1. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Down in a Hole - We'll say right off the bat that it's not every day we get to hear an Alice in Chains cover, but are you really surprised to hear this troubadour cranking it out? This is right up Ryan's alley, full of tension and longing. It limps along on wounded legs, evoking Neil Young and, yes, Starsailor. [from Follow the Lights|buy]

2. Alaska in Winter (feat. Beirut) - Close Your Eyes, We Are Blind - This starts like pretty much every Beirut track, the layered strum of a tinny guitar and a ukulele, then come the accordions, then the spiraling melodies and harmonies, positively minstrel-like. But unlike every Beirut track, this one changes for good at the halfway point, shifting into a more electronic backbeat and keyboarded vocals, building up to the group-sang outro. [from Dance Party in the Balkans|buy]

3. Arrah & the Ferns - Science Books - As soon as the wurlitzer bounces in, we all pretty much know we're in for a happy number, probably sung by a cute-voiced female, probably a tambourine somewhere along the way. And of course, we're right. But it doesn't mean it's not an adorable song. [from Evan is a Vegan|buy]

4. Belles Will Ring - Mad Love - Those Aussies are crazy for their homeland music, and this band is no exception. ("absolutely brilliant album from another incredibly talented bunch of Oz artists. I consider myself lucky to have heard it and now I can subject my ears and body to the aftereffects of Mood Patterns whenever I want" -user review on amazon) Lofty praise, no? Still, the jangly guitars recall a time before my birth, probably the '60s, and it's welcome. This one'll hook you. [from Mood Patterns|buy]


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