Music for People Who Live in Gray Climates

Back when we were in Seattle I compiled a sampling of albums I’d been listening to a lot to share with you, and for some reason never published the list. Most of this stuff seems very inappropriate now that we reside in the land of sun and fun and only listen to T.Rex, but it’s really great music nonetheless. I couldn’t not share, so here you go!

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanagan: Sunday at Devil Dirt
I am usually on the fence when it comes to Isobel Campbell. As a longtime Belle & Sebastian fan I of course love her contributions to that band, but I’ve always had issues with female singers who sound like they’re using their “head voices” (that’s what my choral teacher used to call it) rather than their real, diaphragm-driven voices. All that floaty stuff, so high on the register, and so sweet that it’s cloying, just icks me out. This album, however, is fantastic! She sounds great paired with Mark Lanagan (whose magnificent voice I have no issue with), and the songwriting is tight.

Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes are a Seattle band that we sadly missed when they played in the fall. The show was at a sit-down theater, how rad would that have been? Brian says they’re reminiscent of The Shins, I say maybe he’s onto something but these guys sound more like proper musicians to me. Just straight-up good, organic-feeling music. When I don’t know what I want to listen to, this is usually a good choice.

Iron & Wine: Shepherd’s Dog
Um, it’s Iron & Wine. Need I say more?

Electrelane: No Shouts, No Calls
This is my favorite Electrelane album by far. Too bad they broke up and it’s their last album. I’m grateful we had the opportunity to see them play a kickass show at the Black Cat in DC when they toured this album shortly before they disbanded – it was definitely one of the better shows I’ve seen. There’s something about the variety and energy of the songs and the fact that the album still has a nice cohesive feel to it that is just right. Plus, these girls can really rock when they want to!

Comet Gain: City Fallen Leaves
Comet Gain is a British band that I feel is often overlooked. They are consistently, if secretly, awesome. They sound like pop with a little old-school punk mixed in. This album in particular, while from 2005, has a very distinctive old-school sound that I just love love love. The second track, “Days I Forgot to Write Down,” is one of the slower songs on this album and is great for when you want (need?) to play one song over and over again. Not that I do that or anything.

The Breeders : Mountain Battles
My old favorites still have it! I actually prefer this album to their other post-hard times release, Title TK, because it sounds more like classic Breeders to me. According to Brian, who got to see them live this past fall (I was too pregnantly ill to attend), they are aging and their voices don’t sound quite as crisp as they used to. But the production on this album is so good that they sound perfect to my untrained ears! “Bang On” and “We’re Gonna Rise” are highlights, for sure.

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