New Music Tuesday: the Happiest Day of the Week

May 22, 2012 by

Good morning everyone! Happy Tuesday!

As a music lover, Tuesday is the happiest day of the week because it’s the day that new music is officially released in the US (via Itunes and Amazon).
In case you’re wondering— Wednesday is the second happiest day, because it’s the day that you get to re-listen to every bit of wonderment that you discovered on—you guessed it—Tuesday!

This post is part of a series featuring my top album releases of the week: well-known albums and stuff I’ve dug up through my daily prowling of the interwebs. 




Admittedly, I’ve complained a lot this week about the music industry, both the burden of increasingly low barriers to entry and the competition this creates. To succeed, artists need to also serve as a multi-hat, low-overhead business operation, nimbly playing “the booker,” “the tour manager,” “the PR rep,” “the videographer,” “the promoter,” “the web designer,” and a dozen or so other roles that are so incompatible with making art it gives me the willies to think about.

Please understand. I’m not proposing an alternate paradigm. That’s not what this is about. I’m just bringing attention to fact that aside from the sales, the analytics, the publishing, distribution, labels and managers, and on and on at nauseum… under it all, there needs to be room for a wholesome, creative process. And the musician needs to be allowed to honor this creative process, to cocoon and wiggle and thoughtfully grow in a way that manifests and fosters their talent.

Sure, there are plenty of albums made in 3 days in a studio that sound raw and perfect and shouldn’t have been made any other way. Likewise, there are albums for which someone needs to hole themselves up in a cabin in Wisconsin for 2 years. They need to feel the earth and the seasons shifting around them, to have an existence slow and quiet enough to hear the ghosts of their life flirting with their fingernails.

Here’s the truth. Most times, you cannot tell the difference between an album that was made in 3 days and an album that was made in 2 years. (I have favorite albums that I’ll gladly send you from both of these categories.) You CAN however, hear the difference between an album that was allowed to become what it wanted to become and an album that feels like it was, umm, the only word that comes to mind is “chiseled.” Molded and checklisted and clipped to plan. And if you want a “hit song” that’s as formulaicly perfect as a bonsai tree, this is an OK way to go. But music-making. Real, honest, pained and joyful music-making requires space. It requires the freedom to—after all of the air, and water and attention in the world—look wild and unruly. To look like a shriveled, gangly cactus, if that is what makes sense. Because after all, if the artist’s heart feels like that cactus, then amen. Box those 12 songs up and lemme at them. It’s probably a fine, fine creation.

 Of course, this is a long rant that has nothing to do with it being Tuesday. I does however, have to do with the top releases of the day.

For the past few weeks, I’ve gotten in the habit of writing full introductions to each body of work. I’ve talked at length about who made it, what it sounds like, how it makes me feel and why you should buy it. However, there are three albums I’m buzzing about today and I’ve a year’s worth of thoughts for each of them. Nine whole drafted pages that I’ve deleted in favor of simply saying:

These albums needed to be made, and they needed to grow in the slow, beautiful way they did. They’re albums to fill yourself with anytime you’re feeling sleepy about this whole, rugged industry and need some propping up. (That last sentence is so true for me that I’m almost tempted to double up on it.)

It’s a medical fact that we feel weary when we don’t get enough oxygen to our brain and heart. This is why we involuntarily yawn: to force-fill our lungs and get air to the parts of the body that need it to keep going. There’s a breathing trick that my mother, a yoga teacher, taught me. To feel more alert, you gasp hearty breaths in rapid sequence, as though you’re starving and can’t get enough of the world around you.

The songs and videos below are like said air. They’re something my body needed, and almost involuntarily, continues to ask for. Flowing through, they make the cogs of my mind spin around and pray together. They make me believe.



Robert Francis: Stranger in the First Place



Here’s Robert Francis talking about the process of writing and making the album:






Cold Specks: I Predict a Graceful Expulsion


I dare for you to watch the video for “Holland” and not be changed. Not to feel like the world is bigger and more violently beautiful than it was when you started watching. Do it. For more about Cold Specks and the song “Holland,” I urge you to read FuelFriend’s impossibly brilliant post about it. (Heather, thanks for writing this with such spirit and eloquence.) 






JBM (Jesse Marchant): Stray Ashes


JBM performing new song “Moonwatcher” at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia last week. 



Lyrics for Moonwatcher, by JBM:

The wind blew down
Through the cracks of the home
And the frozen sides of it creaked
One day I’d of liked to see you come
Stay the night and fill me warm
With your sunlight
I just don’t feel right

You sift through the trash
They’ve thrown in your lap
You’re sailing past your feelings
But you can’t ignore ‘em
They’ll again come around
I can see you drowning
In your orders assigned
In the falling in line
I wish for you not a window to crack
But for all of the sun and ground
For your feeling well

Stay your leave
The way you’ve turned isn’t real
But I see it in your eyes
When you’re calm
There’s a leap in you
Face the blast
For all that you’ve been
What do you stand to keep
From running out the field?
There’s only one way out
They’ll wonder how it feels
When you wander out




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