Friday, April 24, 2009

New and Used Will's Picks:
Leonard Cohen, O+S, Silversun Pickups

Weekly music picks from the founder of New and Used Records...

Live in London, Leonard Cohen
I went and saw Leonard Cohen last week and it was pretty much one of the best shows I have ever seen. Whether you are eager to relive your Cohen experience (as I was), or if you did not have a chance to see him, Live in London is the perfect substitute. The set is virtually equivalent to what I witnessed - even the banter is the same. My one complaint is the inexplicable exclusion of "Famous Blue Raincoat," though aside from that, most classics and a number of new songs are showcased. The professionalism and sheer talent of Cohen's band shines through, as does his vocal power and surprising range. The Webb Sisters absolutely perfect harmonies on "If It Be Your Will" are a highlight. Despite one of being the all-time greatest songwriters, Cohen knows when to step back from the spotlight as well. His class and professionalism as a performer should be duly noted by anyone with musical aspirations.

O+S, O+S
We were fortunate to catch O+S at the Hotel Utah last week, when Kid Mud served as an opening act (Great Northern headlined the show). The band was new to us, but we were quickly taken in by their collage of sounds and hushed melodies. The album is a collaboration between Azura Ray's Orenda Fink and Remy Zero's Cedric LeMoyne. The two recorded their debut (shipping now from Saddle Creek) with a host of musicians and a gang of found sounds ("Haitian rituals, street noises or whatever," says LeMoyne) turned into loops. The album is at times dark, and at times simply lovely, but really like nothing else out there right now.

"Permanent Scar" - O+S (mp3)
"We Do What We Want To" - O+S (mp3)

Swoon, Silversun Pickups
The trend in indie these past few years has certainly leaned more toward the lo-fi. The big production sound that defined much of the nineties (Silversun Pickups' heroes Smashing Pumpkins for instance) has been less of a presence. Some of this is for good reason - listening to the recent work of the Smashing Pumpkins, Coldplay, or U2 is enough to make anyone want to steer clear of a big sound. But where others have failed, Silversun Pickups succeed. The Silverlake quartet have an arena-friendly sound, but the melodies never get lost in the process. Tracks like "Panic Switch," "The Royal We," and "It's Nice to Know You Work Alone" are instantly memorable, proving that big production does not have to mean sacrificing songcraft.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Leonard is playing here tomorrow night. Tix were impossible to get due to the continued shenanigans of those ticketmaster bastards. But I am glad to hear that you were able to go.

We do have the Live cds, but have yet to listen. So much music...