Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sibylle Baier - Colour Green (2006)

This record is a perfect example of the fact that ninety-nine percent of the world's best music never makes it to the radio. Recorded by German actress and singer/songwriter Sibylle Baier at home on reel-to-reel between 1970 and 1973, Colour Green was almost never publicly released. It wasn't until around three decades later when her son compiled the songs on compact disc and distributed them to family members as well as J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., who then showed the album to legendary indie label Orange Twin, who released it in 2006. Baier's whispering melodies carry deeply personal lyrics like, "I grew up in declivities, others grew up in cities where first love and soul take rise. There were times in my life when I felt mad and deprived, and only the slopes gave me hope," over fluttering finger-picked guitar. I can't believe this was kept away from the world for so long, but now that it's been released, I'm unceasingly grateful for its presence.

For fans of: Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jeff Mangum - Live at Jittery Joe's (2001)

Recorded in 1997 by documentary filmmaker Lance Bangs (known for the awesomely spastic video for Death Cab for Cutie's "Talking Like Turnstiles," among many, many others), but released in 2001 to combat the gargantuan prices that bootlegs were going for on eBay, Live at Jittery Joe's is a recording of a solo performance by Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum at Jittery Joe's in Athens, GA. It's a wonderful and intimate performance, as there was no official setlist prepared, so Jeff accepted and honored requests from audience members. Being that's it's Jeff Mangum and it's not a studio release by Neutral Milk Hotel, it of course includes the track "Engine," as well as a cover of Phil Spector's "I Love How You Love Me." The rest of the setlist is a captivating mixture of songs from both of Neutral Milk Hotel's studio releases. Get comfortable, plug in your headphones and give this a listen. It's really something else, and has that prodigious quality that a choice few records possess, and that is that it never plays the same way twice. It's unpolished and unadulterated, but as most of us know, some of the world's most prolific beauty can be found in imperfections.

For fans of: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, The Olivia Tremor Control

The Anniversary - Designing a Nervous Breakdown (2000)

The first full-length release by legendary Lawrence, Kansas emo outfit The Anniversary, Designing a Nervous Breakdown houses a sound that bridges the gap between classic second-wave emo and what at the time paved the way for third-wave emo. Let's be clear, I'm not blaming them for third-wave emo, I'm just saying that this record was among the first of the emo albums of the new millennium and its catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics still hold their own to this day. The band's sound had shifted by the release of their second (and final) full-length, Your Majesty, but this record, now being over 10 years old is a delightful pop classic that will be enjoyed for years to come.

For fans of: The Get Up Kids, Hot Rod Circuit, Hey Mercedes