Friday, August 24, 2007

Two New Discoveries

Besides the Okkervil River album, there are two other artists I have discovered recently that I've been enjoying a lot.
One is a guy I discovered on Pitchfork, named Christian Kiefer, who lives in Northern California and is a fiction writer as well as a musician and songwriter.
Kiefer has put out several albums that are stylistically all over the map, from avant-noise to blues to folk. His new album, Dogs and Donkeys, (available here) is what I would have called alt-country ten years ago. (It actually reminds me of one of my favorite albums of all time, Son Volt's Trace.)
The album features guest appearances by Nels Cline (currently in Wilco), the legendary Garth Hudson and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker from Low.
Here is the first track on the album:
Christian Kiefer - Pretty White Clouds

The other artist I'm really enjoying right now is a DJ from Oakland, CA, called the Sorcerer. (Real name, Daniel Judd.) He has a new album out called White Magic, on Tirk Records, available here.
It's a lovely
West Coast example of neo-disco, one of my favorite genres at the moment. (See my post on Sally Shapiro a few months ago.)
The Sorcerer - Hawaiian Island
There is also a great Prins Thomas remix of "Surfing at Midnight," from the same album, floating around the blogosphere.

Okkervil River - The Stage Names

Okkervil River, from Austin, Texas, and led by singer/writer Will Sheff, just released their fifth album, The Stage Names, and it may be the best album I've heard all year. The album careens between genuinely driving rock and roll songs and indie ballads that border on prettiness. The lyrics are as dense and full of puns and tricks as early Elvis Costello. (Case in point: The song "Plus One," with lyrics like, "No one wants to hear about your 97th tear," and, "You would probably die before you shot up nine miles high..." You get the point.)
The music is complex and layered without ever sounding processed or artificial. The playing is self-assured and the arrangements are consistently surprising.
The album has totally passed the listen-all-the-way-to-work-without-switching-to-shuffle test. Here is the opening track from the album, kindly provided by Jagjaguwar.
Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe

Find out more about Okkervil River here.
Order The Stage Names from Emusic.