Category Archives: Music Videos

Album Review – THE STATE OF GOLD – Matt Pond PA


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Dear Music Appreciators,

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. This is a great album and you should buy it. If you already know Matt Pond PA you will most likely agree with this statement. If you’ve never heard of these guys, then congratulations, you just found a quality band to sink your teeth into. This is their ninth full length album, including their now out of print debut, and not including Matt Pond’s excellent “solo” album THE LIVES INSIDE THE LINES ON YOUR HAND from 2013. I haven’t heard all of their albums yet, and I’m glad. More for us to discover still, right?

When I say you should buy this album I guess I should qualify that statement with an “if.” Allow me to rephrase:

You should buy THE STATE OF GOLD by Matt Pond PA IF you like one or more of these things:

– Pop-rock music
– “Indie” music,
– 80’s music
– Liberal use of electronic effects and flourishes that enhance rather than overwhelm song-flavor
– A male lead singer-songwriter blessed with a light autumnal rasp that easily adds some extra intensity, importance, or interest to just about anything he sings
– Personal, introverted songs delivered in an extroverted, arms-wide open, almost-cinematic pop package
– Lyrics full of references to nature, light, color, and body parts that can be heard and understood enough to maintain the listener’s interest, but are obscured enough to support repeated listening.

And we’ll stop at lucky number 7 on that list because I’ve got other albums to review and this one is just plain good so no, there will be no specific song references or breakdowns or analysis. Sometimes an album is just great and just needs to be heard, and why should I clutter that up with any more music-geek chatter? So go get this one and enjoy it, will you?


Constat Listener

Album Review – COMING HOME – Leon Bridges

leonbridgescoming home

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Dear Music Appreciators,

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve listened to the new album COMING HOME by Leon Bridges several times now and I’ve come to the following conclusions:

– Leon Bridges is a pretty smooth dude. His vocal phrasings are nicely toasted to the low burning embers of the music – no marshmallows catch fire on this album if you know what I mean, and as the listener I was continually left wanting s’more of Leon’s sound. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing – maybe Leon is a little too nicely toasted at times. Maybe it would be nice to hear him really let loose and catch fire – he certainly has the voice for it. Perhaps he lets things hang out a little more in his live shows – some artists are great on record but even better live.

– I like soul. I need more of it in my life and in my music collection. I go through life with a damper on my feelings most of the time and it can be liberating to listen to a honey-throated heartbreaker sing it with feeling (whatever “it” may be). If I was a singer I think I’d want to be the soulful kind who could sing those “Baby, baby, baby’s” and “Whoa girl’s” like Leon, in a way to make the ladies lean forward and listen.

– “Coming Home” is far and away the best song on the album, which is probably why it is the title track and why it was also the demo song that got him significant radio airplay and attention from major labels, leading to a deal with Columbia. Unfortunately “Coming Home” is also the first track on the album, which could make it a downhill trip from there for some listeners. I’m here to tell you to hang in there and keep listening. “Better Man,” “Smooth Sailin’,” “Lisa Sawyer,” “Pull Away,” and “River” are also standout tracks that deserve attention. Leon’s music has what I call “instant atmosphere” and by virtue of his velvety vocals and smooth, retro style he can make any room and any person in that room feel instantly cooler with the sound of really any of the tracks on this album.

– I’ve seen names like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye written in connection with Leon’s. I see the similarities of course, though his voice doesn’t seem to have the same kind of grit or power or passion of any of these yet, but of course not and so what? He’s awfully close, probably, but I guess I don’t really want him to be any of these guys anyway. I want him to be himself, and on the strength of this, his debut album in what surely could be a long and successful career, he is succeeding wildly at doing just that.


Constant Listener

Album Review – PAGEANT MATERIAL – Kacey Musgraves


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Dear Music Appreciators,

I listened to this album all the way through without knowing a thing about Kacey Musgraves and I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed the whole darn thing. Albums like this are rare for me and they remind me of an apple pie I ate once. So many people rave about apple pie and so often I enjoy parts of it but not the whole thing and the apples make me feel too full. One day my friend came home from his bakery job with an apple pie with a streusel crumb topping and the apples were all finely diced and well blended into the filling and every last bite was delightful. Still not sure if it was Dutch Apple Pie or French Apple Pie but that pie had my attention and interest to the last bite, as did this new album by Kacey Musgraves.

Less pie, more music you say? Here are three reasons to buy PAGEANT MATERIAL by Kacey Musgraves:

1. Although to some it may at times feel a little too cute or preachy, these songs are full of clever lyrics and rhymes and turns of phrase (which is sort of a tradition in a lot of country music), and when these kinds of things are done right, i.e. they appear naturally in the song and are sung earnestly and without trying too hard, they can be like memorable little gems the listener can easily remember and take away with them when the song is over. “I’d rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain’t,” “mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy,” “they own too much wicker and drink too much liquor.” – the list goes on and on and it can be kind of fun to pick these out. With Musgraves’ laid-back presentation I’m willing to wiling to eat this stuff instead of sending it back to the kitchen.

2. There is an easy-going confidence wrapped in a sort of cool retro-country vibe throughout, making this all go down like a cold, sepia-colored drink on a warm country day. Notice how the album cover evokes a classic 1960’s feeling. Notice the prettiest songs with the longest phrasing beginning and ending the album and playing their natural part in the storytelling. Notice the surprise uncredited guest vocals after the silence at the end of the album – they appear as almost a sort of confirmation – “if you’ve been listening to this thinking this girl’s an easygoing natural who knows what she’s doing, well, you’re right.”

3. For all the self-empowerment, life-lesson, and daily affirmation nuggets in these songs there is also a nod to self-questioning and doubt, and with the album ending with the words “are you sure this is where you want to be?” I was left feeling that I’d been listening to an album that was maybe sort of sad and beautiful instead of just plain cute and twangy.


Constant Listener

Album Review – PEDESTRIAN VERSE – Frightened Rabbit



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Dear Music Appreciators,

It always feels so good to find another great album to listen to. Suddenly life is less lame again and there is something new to look forward to. Especially when it’s the kind of album that I can put on repeat and listen to over and over again and each time it starts over, rather than thinking “hmm, what should I listen to next?” I find myself wondering “how soon I can get to the record store to pick up the CD?” As a music junkie with too many songs on his iTunes, this has become the ultimate tribute that my music-pickled mind pays to an album – when the digital copy just doesn’t do it and I feel like I’ve got to take the relationship to the next level. If digital is just friends at school, then a trip to the record store means we’re gonna stay up all night and freakin’ braid each other’s hair.

With PEDESTRIAN VERSES, Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit has made the kind of album I want to invite to my slumber party.

It’s pop, it’s rock, it’s indie, it’s top 40, it’s lyrical Scotch on musical rocks, and because it’s that rare combination of an entire collection of songs that holds my attention from start to finish, I’ll skip the part where I might prattle on about influences or comparisons, quote and analyze lyrics, or use terms like “reverb-drenched” or “radio-friendly” – I’ll skip that part and simply say: buy this album, and see if it can hold your attention too.


Constant Listener

Album Review – SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY – Emmy Rossum


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Dear Music Appreciators,

The first time I heard Emmy Rossum sing was in a little movie called SONGCATCHER back in the year 2000. She was cute as a button and every time she sang I got goosebumps. I still think of that movie every time I cross paths with her work.

This is an album of good old fashioned classic songs.  The drama kids and the choir kids will eat this up.  Many artists have recorded similar albums, but only a select few get it right. With SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY Emmy Rossum gets it right and her album deserves to reach a wide audience

But what it is about these recordings that works so well?

Here’s my guess:

High-quality classical training + God-given talent + love and respect for the material + energy and enthusiasm.

There is also a refreshing absence of what Holden Caulfield might call phoneyness.  Even though Emmy is playing dress-up in a bygone era, something about the music feels refreshingly authentic.

Throw in what I imagine was a top-notch production team and twelve straight cases of picking the right song for the right singer and you get a thoroughly enjoyable album that made me sit up and listen.

Eighty-six years after it was written, when the right singer gets a hold of a song like “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” it can still make a person perk up and feel a little better about life, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t absently-mindedly press down on that gas pedal just a little too much as I was driving down the street listening to Emmy sing that song. I’m sorry officer, I was listening to Emmy Rossum singing “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover” and I guess I got a little carried away…

But I’m afraid if I did get pulled over like that, the cop might not know who Emmy Rossum is, which might mean I’m not getting out of a ticket, which might mean Emmy Rossum isn’t getting the kind of universal adoration she deserves for her remarkable singing ability.


Constant Listener

Music Video – “Berkeley Girl” by Harper Simon


STARRING: Jena Malone and Harper Simon with a cameo by Henry Wolfe
MUSIC BY: Harper Simon
DIRECTED BY: Benjamin Kutsko
PRODUCED BY: Vanessa Black and Jack Richardson
REP: Doomsday Entertainment
EDITED BY: Benjamin Kutsko
FIRST AC: Cary Gallagher
WARDROBE BY: Rachel Kolar
MAKEUP: Sarai Fiszel
GAFFER: Wyatt Denny

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