Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recommended listening: Elbow "The Seldom Seen Kid"

Earlier this week I joined the sea of humanity on the lawn of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for a concert by Coldplay.

The foursome put on an memorable show, complete with dazzling lighting, multiple stages (including one out on the lawn!), a Michael Jackson cover and countless giant yellow balloons.

As engaging as the headliner was, it was one of the opening acts that left the biggest impression on me.

Elbow are an established British band that has yet to make a splash on this side of the pond. They've been around since 1990 and have released several albums and EPs including their latest - The Seldom Seen Kid- which I've been listening to nearly non-stop since Monday.

The band opened their set with the album's lead-off track - "Starlings" - which is about as mellow of a song as I've ever heard, that is until the guitar players picked up trumpets, unleashed one long blast of brass and then went right back to their axes as if the exchange had never happened.

The rest of their set followed suit - mostly mellow pop music along the lines of Pink Floyd and Radiohead - with enough melodic and harmonic twists to keep it interesting. Front-man Guy Garvey engaged the crowd with his witty between-song banter and self-depreciating and at time comical lyrics.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recommended website: Nippertown

Thought I'd change things up a bit this week and recommend something other than music ... by recommending a website that writes about music - and lots of other art-related happenings in the Capital Region - Nippertown.

Nippertown is an online magazine created by former Times Union scribe Greg Haymes and his wife Sara Ayers. The two write about art, music and anything else that interests them. Of particular note at this time of year is the ongoing Real Good for Free list of free performances in the area.

Greg's weekly column in the Times Union's Preview section was unparalleled in its coverage of the local music scene and it's great to see him back at it online!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Recommended listening: Jesse Lewis "Atticus"

When I met guitarist Jesse Lewis earlier this year, he gave me a copy of his second album Atticus and I was blown away.

The record is a collaboration between Lewis and bassist Joseph Davancens, also an avid songwriter and composer of electronic music. Other musicians featured on the recording include Obed Calvaire (drums), Rohin Khemani (percussion & tabla), Jon Irabagon (flute), Amali Premawardhana (cello) and Pascal Archer (clarinet).

There are so many musical styles seamlessly blended together on Atticus that I don't even know how to begin to describe the sound. Best bet is to take a listen for yourself.