Best of Patron Requests: Music (April 2012 Edition)
This list is a monthly compilation of my own personal favorite patron requests for music. I hope you will check out some of the great music that Library users have suggested we acquire!
Provided are some great preview tracks for each. Just click on the titles to be taken to the catalog.
The Music of Vladimir Martynov by Kronos Quartet
FIND OF THE MONTH! I have this friend, and he orders CDs and DVDs for a major city library, and sometimes he gets fatigued by people requesting stuff that's not out yet, titles that rank somewhere far south of good, of patrons putting in multiple requests for things that are simply out of print, or of trying to guess just how many copies his library users will want of Saw 4, or the next "dumbass (his word, not mine) top 40 artist that will make some flash-in-the-pan talentless pretty face too much money that they'll probably spend on drugs and wind up in rehab." And sometimes he would roll his eyes and say, "oh brother."
Then one day a patron requested The Music of Vladimir Martynov by the Kronos Quartet. When the CD came across his desk, he popped it in, and all the frustration in his heart quickly melted away, and his soul was transported to heaven, where all the music was enjoyable, and all the movies were beautiful, all art and literature was culturally relevant and socially responsible, and he always bought the exact right number of copies to make everyone happy. And it was a magical place. He could see his grandmother's face, and she was happy and smiled at him like she always did. And it was so beautiful and sad and happy and wonderful. He held her hand and felt that everything was going to be OK with the universe after all.
Afterwards my friend felt very silly for all the times he felt frustrated with those patron suggestions, "because it's those same patrons that introduce to me, and to other users, music that is beautiful and that the library needs. And for that I am eternally grateful."
Anyway, he played the CD for me and indeed it really is incredible. And though I'm not as weird or touchy-feely as my friend, I swear when we were listening I thought I saw my grandmother's face too. And I got to be honest, I got a little choked up. You should check it out: (PREVIEW)
Tango Argentino by Trio Pantango
If I were to rank my favorite instruments, clarinet would be somewhere between the glockenspiel and the vibraslap; that is, before I heard this little gem. The clarinetist on this album is just brilliant! When combined with the wonderful guitar and the accordian players (with occasionally added double-bass and piano), it makes for a wonderfully listenable sampling of Tango music. But the overall sound here remains sparse, something you would here under the open air, not in a concert hall. If you've ever sat at a sidewalk cafe in Spain, Italy, or I have to imagine, of course, Argentina, and been serenaded by street musicians, you'll probably recall those memories while listening to this one. But these guys are nothing short of top notch and they won't even ask you for money afterward. (PREVIEW)
Mediterraneo by Miloš Karadaglić
Don't let the good looks fool you! Maestro Miloš was born in Montenegro, a country I often forget exists (how do you say "sorry" in Montenegrin?), with its population roughly the size of Boston. If you enjoy solo classical guitar, and it's hard for me to think of anyone hating it, I'm sure you'll enjoy this wonderful collection. His love of playing comes through so perfectly! This is what seems to me so impressive here. He was born to play guitar; he knows it; and you'll know it too in about 8 seconds after pushing play; but he seems completely unpretentious about it, humble even. Picking a good clip on line from this CD is like shooting fish in a barrel. This guy's playing will amaze you! (PREVIEW)
Electric Cable by Lightships
I'm not sure what's going on in Glasgow, but they sure are cranking out the top-notch, C-86 influenced indie pop bands like nobody else recently. Lightships is Gerard Love of Teenage Fan Club's solo project, if that means anything to you. It falls very neatly into a genre shared by other great, reflective pop bands like Camera Obscura, The Radio Dept., and Belle and Sebastion (who, along with the Pastels, appear on the album). And, well, it's just that these jangly yet melancholy guitar riffs floating above the lush, shoe-gazy orchestration makes me want to close my eyes and dream. I find it all fantastically emotive. (PREVIEW)
Seasons on Earth by Meg Baird
I'm staring at a computer screen, which I do for about 7 hours a day. My eyes are dry from the florescent lights above. The ceiling keeps the sun out; the walls, the world. My cubicle is made of synthetic materials that will be in a land fill 20 years from now: plastic phones, plastic printers, blinking harddrive lights, and a whirring fan to keep the machine cool. Outside there are skyscrapers, buses, taxis. A machine woke me up this morning; a machine brought me here; and in fact a machine is playing this song for me right now. But it doesn't matter, because now I am somewhere else, surrounded by humans singing songs about being human and the machines can't get to me now and my eyes are no longer dry.
Humans: 1 - Machines: 0
Black Sands by Bonobo
Well, humans, I hope you enjoyed the lead while you had it, because I'm scoring this one for the machines. This right here is what we call Downtempo, electronic music; if that genre is unfamiliar to you, you'll do well to start right here. Complimented by an impressive array of perfectly chosen and executed samples and self-manufactured, ambient sounds; I believe Bonobo gets his inspiration on how to develop a beat over time from mimicking biological evolution itself. He is, after all, named after a monkey. These constant moments of fleshing out sounds, some elements take over while others disappear, yet all so seemingly organic, growing directly out of what came before, and anticipating what will come next. The CD, then, is nothing short of the abridged version of the history of life on this planet via digital sonification. Overstated? I think not! I guess machines, under the direction of proper human supervision, can do some pretty interesting things after all. (PREVIEW)
Portamento by The Drums
The first video that popped up with these guys was one of the most (purposefully) hilarious things I've ever seen, but after I stopped laughing I realized, as far as synthy, sassy, pop goes, it was quite a sweet little song about a guy who lost his best friend. I was intrigued. These folks must have been brought up on a steady diet of moldy bread, The Smiths, and The Cure... or think Joy Division with just a little ray of hope added. I like'em. They obviously have a sense of humor, I hope they keep at it. (PREVIEW)
Kinshasa One Two by DRC Music
DRC Music, or Democratic Republic of Congo Music, is the brainchild of a one Damon Albarn. It's easy to like someone like Albarn: someone who met with an impressive degree of "fame and fortune" in his days as the front man to Blur, then used that notoriety to bring attention to legitimate charities like Oxfam, and to share his social critique in interviews with quips like, "We need to dismantle very significant parts of our culture and really re-examine them. I suppose you start with the celebrity thing... I think for a start you have to get rid of things like The X Factor immediately." He's stated he would like to "get rid of 99% of the media" while talking to the media. Brilliant! But back to Kinshasa One Two, the whole thing was orchestrated by Albarn to not only benefit Oxfam's work in the Congo, but to bring more attention to many of the wonderful Congolese musicians one encounters in the streets there. Over 50 local musicians are featured here. Albarn acts as producer, playing around with the sounds in post-production: manipulating, looping, adding sounds here and there; but the original sounds of the Congo take center stage, and Congolese musicians are in no way strangers to adding electronic elements to their music. So it works out quite nicely. (PREVIEW)
Stronger Than Pride by Sade
Just... shame on me! Shame on me, that it took a patron request to remind myself of this album. There's just too much music swimming around the world, from the Congo to Argentina, every suburb and city of the States, classics not yet discovered, new talents emerging. And even if you spend the time to filter out whatever you subjectively think is not worth the time, you're still left with too much music to listen to in one lifetime. It's just like literature, or film; there's just too much humanity out there, and so many wonderful ways stories are told. But this here is an oasis; a beacon; like an ancient monument, half buried in sand yet still existent, made more poetic by its recording of the centuries of wind and rain on its stone facade. This album is almost 25 years old by now. OK, not quite an ancient monument yet; but the moment of humanity it recorded, its story, is still as vibrant, as visceral, as it was decades ago.
"Haunt me in my dreams if you please...
and if you want to sleep i'll be quiet like an angel
as quiet as your soul could be
if you only knew you had a friend like me."
Sixth in Sixes by XBXRX
Warning: punk rock bands may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome when listening to XBXRX: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bone pain; chest pain or discomfort; dizziness or light-headedness; fainting; bleeding of the eyes; general feeling of existential crisis and/or discontent with existing social mores; muscle pain or weakness; severe or persistent headache, nausea, or vomiting; sudden, unexplained rage; heart stoppage, swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; unusual stomach pain or discomfort; unusual episodes of violence.
Do not take XBXRX if you are currently taking any of the following: Kenny G, Lady Gaga, Nickelback, McDonalds, Dancing with the Stars, Usher, Wal-Mart, rom-coms, Maroon 5, suburbia, and/or malls. This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. (PREVIEW)