Not Too Old to Enjoy...
Recommended by Jim, a regular contributor to the Canton Public Library's Internet Branch.
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It's hard to tell how many albums these twin sisters from Calgary have released, but of the four I've heard there's a marvelous evolution of what I have no hesitation in calling "pop genius." I'm a sucker for well constructed pop songs and their preceding album, So Jealous, had a handful of listen-over-and-over-again tunes like "You Wouldn't Like Me." Co-produced by Christopher Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), The Con extends even further as a collection of near-perfect songs.
I've heard Dennen described as a pure original, yet in his folk-based music you hear many notable influences, especially Paul Simon. Don't be distracted by photographs that make him appear to be in his mid-teens, he's at least reached his mid-20s and is clearly old enough to write soul-searching lyrics such as, "in a world of suffering, why should I be so blessed?" You can only hope that So Much More wasn't the album Dennen was born to create, that there is something even better coming in the future.
This Montreal band with its big sound and well developed orchestral arrangements could fit nicely as part of the progressive rock movement of the 1970sat times it's easy to imagine them as colleagues of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. But Arcade Fire's formation dates back only to 2003, and it could just as easily call David Byrne and Talking Heads as contemporaries. Neon Bible is the group's second album. Its first, 2004's Funeral, is worth hearing, too.
I started out buying Matt Pond PA tunes online, then became so enchanted by this "quiet core" group that I began picking up the commercial CD releases. My first was 2005's Several Arrows Later. The music is heavily acoustic with cello and violin playing important roles. It's warm, it's comfortable, it's captivating, so much so that I have trouble picking out favorite songs. There's "Halloween," "So Much Trouble," "City Song," "The Moviegoer" and....
Just when you think Ritter is a Dylan disciple ("To the Dogs or Whoever" or "The Temptation of Adam"), you hear a bunch of tunes that peg him as a man exploring enough styles to establish his own unique identity. I really enjoyed the variety on this CDrock, pop, folk-rock, alt country. I've purchased some of his songs online from previous albums, but The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is the first that I liked as an album.