I’m not gonna lie. Hope Sandoval makes me feel old. I can’t believe it’s been 19 years since the first Mazzy Star album. What makes it seem even longer are the eight years that have passed since Sandoval’s last album. Sure, she’s sang on other records here and there, but one-offs are never enough. Once again she teams up with Colm Ó Cíosóig, who admits he holds back on his work with Sandoval, and that the music exists on “the opposite ends of the spectrum” as compared to My Bloody Valentine, his other band. “Blanchard” is the first single from the album, Through the Devil Softly, due out September 15th. Compared to the songs on her last album, “Blanchard” is downright dense and lush. Dare I say, it sounds a lot more like Mazzy Star (who by the way are finishing up another record, but Sandoval told Rolling Stone that she “has no idea what that means.” I love it. She’s still wonderfully reticent). After an eight year absence, it’ll be great to have Hope Sandoval’s still, small voice flowing anesthetically through my brain. If tour dates coalesce, I hope the venues have seating, because while Sandoval’s voice completed resisted deterioration for the past twenty years, my ability to stand during extremely mellow concert sets has not.
You’ve heard the Submarines by now. They’re getting a lot of buzz nowadays, but even if you haven’t, just think of the commercial for a certain fancy cell phone that everyone seems to have these days. See, you have heard them.
Our motto here at 3hive is “Sharing the Sharing,” where we share free and legal MP3’s. And there are so many times when we want to share an awesome band, but they don’t have any free MP3’s on offer. I’ve been wanting to share an old fave of mine since the start of 3hive, Jackdrag aka Jack Dragonetti, for ages. “Aviating” is one of those songs I just keep coming back to over the years. But no MP3’s to share. Then he formed the Submarines with Blake Hazard, moving on from his eccentric folk-pop to more electric, pure pop. Their song “Peace & Hate” from their Declare a New State LP is one of my faves from 2006. But no MP3’s to share. However, the day of sharing has finally come. For their current tour with the Morning Benders, this now husband-and-wife duo has released a free single covering the Benders’ song “Waiting for a War.” Patience pays, eventually.
I’ve been a patient boy. And today all my quiet suffering and yearning pays off. Hanne Hukkelberg’s new album comes out today and she begins touring the states this week. What Hukkelberg offers this time around on Rykestrasse 68 is fortunately more of the same: beautifully textured percussion, swaying rhythms and her exquisitely delicate voice. Her bicycle returns on this recording along with 29 other different instruments. The best way to listen to Hanne Hukkelberg is to simply shut up. Shut up your preconceived ideas of what a pop song should sound like. Shut up the glut of voices and sounds you’ve been listening to all day today and let her swab your skull clean, like a slice of aural ginger clearing your head of everything before it, and hear the world for the first time again.
A Cheater’s Armoury [MP3, 5.3MB, 128kbps]
(Original Post 10/25/05):
My eight year old started up on the clarinet this year in school. Never having played a reed instrument, I took a stab at it. Wow. Blowing into that little hole to produce any sound besides that of cats mating was impossible. Lucky for us and our neighbors, it clicked with my son much quicker. Segue to a recent CD shopping spree and I bought this Hanne Hukkelberg album based on the cover art alone. Several tracks feature a gorgeous clarinet and I was anxious to play it at home. The rest of the album was simply a wonderful surprise. Ms Hukkelberg’s calm, gentle vocals evoke a female David Sylvian, and her minimal, jazz-like compositions played on, among other things, pots, pans, wineglasses, and bicycle spokes, make for an organic version of BjÃ¶rk.
Lately, everything has just seemed charming. And my last few posts have reflected that. (Uh, I hope?) Ferraby Lionheart completes my “charmed cycle” and, with Clare and the Reasons and Jens Lekman, has been fillling my little apartment with happy sounds. He doesn’t sound like Ryan Adams to me at all, but somehow when Ferraby Lionheart is playing, my brain is somehow right back in Chicago circa 2000 listening to Whiskeytown and driving down Lakeshore Drive watching the leaves change. Or I am in Minnesota listening to the Strokes first album for the first time. In short, this is music to mark time to. Mr. Lionheart is a mishmash–there are strings occasionally, some Otis Redding style whistling, tics sometimes, a little harmonica and a small, appropriate amount of irony mixed up in this man’s music. But mostly its just pretty and solid, and tis the season for pretty, transporting songs.
My friend down the hall, Joe LaDuke, has tossed two excellent suggestions my way in just the last few weeks. The first was Pandora, a subset of the Music Genome Project. If you haven’t seen it yet, Pandora is basically a personalized Internet DJ. Type in an artist or song that you like, and Pandora will break down your selection via a number of musical criteria and then offer up a selection of other artists that match up with your tastes. While it naturally can’t acknowledge my desire to have something cool and ambient after a hot ska set, Pandora is fantastic for exposure to new music. We kind of like that here at 3hive. Joe’s other offering was Hem, and based on what I’ve read about the band, it seems like someone should have told me about them sooner. Favorably compared to Mazzy Star and Cowboy Junkies, among others, Hem offers fat, lush, beautifully-written, unadulterated songs sung wonderfully by Sally Ellyson. “The Golden Day is Done,” from an album full of covers and other band favorites, gives a good hint of Hem’s unique sense of place along the backroads of the American South.