Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Acoustic Jams

I believe I am going to slow it down a bit right now, put down some acoustic albums that through and through blow my mind.
Here is the thing with acoustic music- there are SOO SOO many acoustic artists out there and way too much of it is crap, their is also soo soo many bands with insanely good acoustic tracks but they only have one or two on that album.
Say you want an album that is start to finish well done acoustic music, where do you start?
I am hopefully going to be of some help. Once again I am only going to list one album per artists, but if I believe they have other essential albums, I will deffinitly mention them.
Here goes.

The Acorn- Glory Hope Mountain
Now this a band I am pretty excited to write about. Why? Because they are local to my city, and now they are starting to get big. I first got turned onto them when I saw the Soft Disaster open for Raising the Faun (Those bands will get mentioned later, don't you worry) and heard the guitarist was starting up another project. Saw them live and knew they had to go somewhere, and so far they appear to be doing pretty well for themselves, so hopefully you guys will check them out and support some musicians from my area.
Notable Tracks- Hold Your Breath, Oh Napoleon, and Lullaby (mountain)

Alice In Chains- MTV Unplugged
This album ruined Alice In Chains for me. Why? Because after hearing the perfection that is this album it is so hard to go back to listening to their louder stuff. Hats off to the production stuff, one of the greatest sound live albums I have ever come across. There is not a single error across this album, and every member edited the sound of their instruments/ what they do to turn it into an acoustic bliss of beautiful instrumentals. What really needs to be talked about though are the vocal harmonies done between Jerry Cantrell (the guitarist) and Layne Staley. I dont know how they do it, but their two voices blended together are far greater then any of the vocal dubbing done across any other Alice In Chains record.
Notable Tracks- Nutshell, Down in a Hole and Over Now.

Beck- Sea Change
What can one say about Beck? He crosses genres so damn often you can't really label him in anyway, but you CAN label his albums, and he has through and through mastered the art of writing a folkish acoustic art. He changed his lyrical and singing style to fit perfectly with the acoustic blend of music he is now trying to create and he does it damn well. If you have never been a fan of Beck before, this is deffinitly an album worth checking out.
Notable Tracks- Lost Cause, Golden Age and All In Your Mind.

Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man- Out Of Season
Okay, only parts of this album are truely acoustic songs, BUT the album from start to finish still has the same relaxed vibe as an acoustic album would, so I'm throwing it up here anyways. Beth Gibbons brings her beautiful voice down a bit from her Trip Hop band (portishead) to match a more standard style record, and it really really works. A lot of Portishead fans may of been disappointed by the lack of extreme experimentation on a Beth Gibbons solo album, but if you are not expecting it to sound like Portishead, then your set for a very enjoyable listen.
Notable Tracks- Sand River, Show, and Funny Time Of Year.

Blind Pilot- 3 Rounds and A Sound
This album sounded like it was written by a couple of friends on backporches, around campfires and at times that just seemed so important and incredible at the time. Its another one of those albums that just makes you think of old times with friends, and this time it CANT be because I have it connected to memories due to I discovered this album only two weeks ago. Some of the tracks near the middle dip down a bit in quality, but over all this album is really worth a listen too.
Notable Songs- The Bitter End, 3 Rounds a and a Sound, and Oviedo.

Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
Every single review of this album tells the story of how it came into conception so I dont feel as if I need to put it on the internet for the ninety millionth time. You know what makes knowing the story of this album way cooler though? Not learning it until you have heard the album a couple times through, so if you haven't read the story yet, don't until you have gotten into it. I promise it will reveal things about the album you didn't understand before. This whole cd is just a man and his guitar with a rare couple of overdubs, and thats what makes it one of the most honest acoustic records out there. Check it for sure.
Notable Tracks- Flume, re: Stacks, and For Emma.

Bright Eyes- I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.
One of my favourite albums of all time. For sure my favourite lyrical attempt of all time in my opinion. Every single thing this man says just seems to have so much relevance to every single part of your life and its all wielded over simple chords and light vocal melodies. It needs to be heard. Enjoy.
Notable Tracks- First Day Of My Life, Poison Oak, and We are Nowhere And Its Now.

City and Colour- Bring Me Your Love
The second acoustic solo attempt from Alexisonfires Dallas Green. His first solo attempt, "Sometimes", felt as if he was searching for a sound to call his own. This album is where he found it. I believe that it is improved in every possible way in comparison to his first attempt, and it is deffinitly more accessable then his first record. Anyways, if you enjoy Dallas Greens work, this is one of the most essential things one can own.
Notable Tracks- Waiting, What Makes A Man, and The Girl.

The Cranberries- MTV Acoustic
I promise not to put down every MTV acoustic album that has come out. Pretty much another one that was done damn well. A lot of bands do acoustic versions of their songs and all they do is play their songs, but quieter, but the Cranberries rearrange a lot of the instrumentals so it fits perfectly with the new sound of the songs. Anyways, its good.
Notable Tracks- Dreaming my Dreams, Linger and Zombie.

Damien Rice- O
Another album that just leaves me speechless everytime I hear it. His voice was made for the acoustic guitar. No wait fuck that. The acoustic guitar was created for his voice, thats how god damn well it works. And he does not use that as an excuse to through off poppy hooks and overdone lyrics, although he could and sell like mad, he still writes original sounding material that is just breath taking.
Notable Tracks- Volcano, Cheers Darlin' and Cannon Ball.

Death Cab For Cutie- Plans
Those goes under acoustic in the same way Beth Gibbons did. Its not REALLY an acoustic record, but the entire album blends in with its few acoustic songs that it may as well have been. This is another one of those records that I have been coming back to for years, truely marking it in my catologue as one that will stay.
Notable Tracks- I Will Follow You Into The Dark, Marching Bands Of Manhattan and Soul Meets Body.

Elliot Smith- Either/Or
I have to say, I am not the hugest Elliot Smith fan (did i just offend the entire internet at once?) but this is a stand out album for me. Start to finish it has a sort of melancoly optimism to it that is seldom heard. Its one also one of the few records out there that sounds like Elliot Smith wrote this album for himself and no one else. Its worth checking out.
Notable Tracks- Between The Bars, Alameda and Angeles.
I would also listen to Twilight and The Biggest Lie by Elliot Smith, off of different albums, but still soo soo soo good.

Feist- Let it Die
Everyone has heard a lot about Feist and then forgot about her by now (she DID have a song on an ipod commercial), but this album was far more then just a couple singles and a terrific voice. Its a fucking fantastic voice across tonnes of great music, not to mention she is in The Broken Social Scene, which will deffinitly be touched upon later.
Notable Tracks- Let It Die, Gate Keeper and Mushaboom.

Matthew Good- Hospital Music
Once again, this COULD be argued that it is not an acoustic album, but I like to believe that it is. Truely a work of art, Matthew Good has managed to stay on top of things to release mind fuck after mind fuck of brilliant albums across his long career and his newest solo attempt is no different. I almost feel like a jerk only giving a couple lines to this album, but alas, I have a lot of general writing to do tonight if I want to start doing real reviews, which this album will for sure get one. I can't get enough of it, check it out, you can't go wrong.
Notable Tracks- Moon Over Marin, Champions of Nothing and Black Helicopter

Great Lake Swimmers- Bodies and Minds
Really really down tempo acoustic folkish music, backed by eerie sounding instruments, the vocals guide you through some really well dynamics in respect to the melodies through the full album. This whole album has a general vibe to it that will suck you in and drag you into the music.
Notable Tracks- Songs For The Angels, Bodies And Minds, and I Could Be Nothing.

Iron and Wine- In The Reins
I find this to be Iron and Wine's greatest effort to date. My main problem with other Iron and Wine albums is that there are too many places where the album drops in quality a lot, so it becomes hard to want to listen to it from start to finish. In the Reins is different, every song appeared to have the care paid attention to it that should have been, and it shows for sure.
Notable Tracks -He Lays In The Reins (live bonus version if you have it), Sixteen, Maybe Less and Dead Man's Will.

Jose Gonzalez- Veneer
His guitar playing is just unreal, and the best part about it, is he makes it WORK. Its not very complicated playing, but you can tell that there are no filler notes just to carry on the tempo. Every single note is carefully searched for and found in a blend of perfect melodies. His voice is better live, I don't know why it lags a bit here, but whatever, its still just so good.
Notable tracks- Heartbeats, Crosses and Hints

Kings Of Convenience- Quiet Is The New Loud
This duo sounds like a new age Simon and Garfunkle if Simon and Garfunkle kept with the little bit of awesome they had and turned down the suck ultimately. Point being? This is some of the most well done acoustic guitar playing you will hear. Their song writting abilities are almost unheard of and leaves for a masterpieces of an album. For some reason the term "delicate" pops into my head everytime I think of them, so take what you will from that.
Notable Tracks- Winning A Battle Losing A Way, I Don't Know What I Can Save You From and Parrellel Lines.
Also check out the track Carman Islands, although it is on their other album.

Mark Lanegan- Felid Songs
I am new to Mark Lanegan, but from what I have heard over this album he is totally someone I will be getting way more familiar with. His deep southern sounding voices is so powerful over the soulfull sounding songs that you can't help but believe he is almost hurting in every word that he speaks. For people looking for a bit more energy but still the depressing vibe that comes along with most acoustic music, this one is for you.
Notable Tracks- One Way Street, Don't Forget Me and Love

My Morning Jacket- At Dawn
Now I'm really straying from the acoustic music label, but this album just has that feel of acoustic album again. I don't know what it is, but for some reason in my mind I associate it with a lot of the other albums I have listed, so I feel as if its place is with them. Another southern sounding voice, I find them to just seem to sound way more honest then other acoustic musicians, although I have absolutely no reason to back that up. I am from so far not south, so I don't even have ties to the land.... I guess it just does something for me, music is tricky that way. Anyways, this shit is just incredible.
Notable Tracks- Xmas Curtain, At Dawn and Lowdown.

Neil Young- Live at Massey Hall, 1971
Neil Young alone with an acoustic guitar and piano. No one could say it better then that.
Notable Tracks- Tell Me Why, Old Man and The Needle And The Damage Done.

Nick Drake- Fives Leaves Left
This album is legendary. Nick Drakes debut onto the music scene, and although during his lifetime he never got big at all, Nick Drake has been cited as a main inspiration to too many artists to count. This album is hauntingly beautiful, from the oddly tuned guitar, to the low voice and lyrical content to all of the string arrangements written for it, it stands forth as a truely timeless album.
Notable Tracks- Day Is Done, River Man, and Three Hours
Also there must be an honorable mention of his second album, Bryter Layer. Its also a masterpiece.

Phil Ochs- Farewells and Fantasies
This man is such a legend that I dont need to say anything about him. If you haven't heard about him or haven't got into him, this is a good collection of his work that may lead you to other albums of his.
Notable Tracks- Changes, When I'm Gone and Song of My Returning.

Steven Von Till- If I Should Fall To The Field
Only started listening to this man about two days ago, but I feel as if I have left this album on repeat for so long that I know every nook and cranny (and theres a lot of them).
So alright, first we can mention that Steve Von Till is in Neurosis for all of you heavier music fans, but this is still a worth while acoustic type album. His guitar playing makes me envious everytime I here it.
Notable Tracks- Breath, Running Dry, and To The Field.

Well, it looks like that is it for an acoustic list, although there are some bands in here that should not have been, and there are probably some bands who I should have put in here but will end up in a different section. Oh well, after I'm done doing a slight review of all the music I think is worth while on my Playlist and start doing real reviews I will find an easier way to find the artist you like.

Alright...... what should I tackle next?

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