Tag Archives: My Brightest Diamond

A Bit (And A Half)

It's probably best you don't ask how I wound up putting this picture in this post

Ever on schedule am I… Most everyone has already taken an eye to the music of 2011 thus far, so there’s not a great deal left for me to do but nod in agreement, wonder why I never heard the most lauded¹, and/or troll old threads demanding to know why no one is giving kudos to my favoured releases.

So let’s pretend I’ve done all that, and move on to something more interesting. At least to me.

At the end of last year, I posted my personal favourites of 2010, and included a list of releases I was most looking forward to, as well as a couple of artists I had my fingers crossed for new material. So far, 2½ out of 8 have granted my wish.

First up was Inga Liljeström with the album Black Crow Jane (the first since Elk back in 2005), and a little birdie tells me that yet another album’s worth of material has been recorded, to be released possibly late 2011 or early 2012 (I think-hope). So that’s one, and since I already wrote about it, we’ll move on.

One of the other artists on my “wish list” was My Brightest Diamond. While since A Thousand Shark’s Teeth Shara’s been directly involved in a number of collaborations, guest appearances and so on, (not to mention having a baby), the thought of a new MBD album puts a little extra skip in my step – All Things Will Unwind was announced quite recently, and with a track currently available to download for free via Bandcamp. (Album due October).

The half is for the continuing promise of an album by Joseph Childress. I said most of the important stuff last year, but if you can’t remember back that far (or never read through to the end of the fairly gargantuan “book”, I don’t just want an album by Joseph Childress, I’m quietly disappointed every day there isn’t one.

The recent discovery of this track on Bandcamp – from a compilation featuring 14 San Franciscan artists, out on City Limits Records – will suffice. For now.

Of the albums I was most looking forward to… I’ve ended up with a grand total of 3 out of 11.

PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake was the first, and though I did once attempt to mention something or other about it here, I daresay there’s not a whole heap I can put out there that hasn’t already been said in one form or another. Do I like it? Aye; there’s even a couple of tracks I’m quite fond of. Favourite PJ Harvey album ever? Nah.

Second was Pillars And Tongues’ recent release, The Pass And Crossings. Ok, so technically it’s not out yet, and owing to a error at the pressing plant, the release date has been delayed, but them’s the perks of my job… (That’s not quite true. I can count on one hand the number of labels I’ve specifically contacted in the hopes of acquiring certain releases. For review purposes, of course, and Endless Nest is one of them. I did indeed gush over review this (on [sic]), so I don’t think there’s much more that I can say.

Last was Giles Corey. I’m still processing this one – I read the accompanying book during the first listen, opened my notepad and jotted down the word “imprisonment” – eventually I’ll (re-)twig exactly why, and I’ll come back and explain. In case it’s not clear, though, this is a recommended release.

So, that’s my recap – if you can really call it that. Though it’s a pretty narrow selection of the music I’ve been digging this year (or am yet to), it’s been more difficult (and expensive!) than ever keeping up with as much of the awesome music being released as I can. Don’t pay any attention to anyone who’s saying this year hasn’t delivered – go and pay some attention to music instead.

S4E

1. I don’t actually need to wonder why – it’s because I’m rarely interested.

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30 Day Music Challenge: Day 27 – A Song I Wish I Could Play

My Brightest Diamond – Hi, Remember Me?

“I hit the wall so hard that I had to talk to Jesus”

Shara Worden is, in a word, brilliant. I love quite a number of My Brightest Diamond songs, but this one really does make me want to go get a keyboard and sit there for hours, probably days, maybe even months, until I’ve perfected it enough to play and sing it at the same time.

I love the sombre moodiness of it, and the way she says “shifty”. Once I have that keyboard, I wanna get me some smoky, subtly accusing eyes, a dark room with a yellow, flickering bulb as a spotlight, and a half-decent voice, then sing this song to myself.

This appeared on a various artist album called Cross-Pollination: The Mixtape Vol. 1, but you can download this track for free via Stereogum.


March’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

 

This month swag - small, but sweet

I haven’t had a great deal of time to actively look for these this month, plus there were a few too good to wait for along the way, so new pickings are a little slim for this post. To make up for it there’s a couple of extra older downloads you may have missed out on that are more than worth your time and bandwidth. And to recap those previously mentioned, don’t forget about these:

Plus…

Pillars And Tongues Live at 2640
Folk/Drone | 118MB – 320 kbps MP3
This makes the third free P&T download in the last few weeks – which is fine by me, I can’t get enough of these guys. It’s apparently a bootleg recording of a live show, offered in one 51:30 minute MP3 (or other formats available via Bandcamp). While I can’t really call a bootleg legal, I only know about it because P&T posted the link on their Facebook profile, thus at least condoning it if not outright supporting it¹. Therefore, I do too. Download it here.

 

Eels Trilogy EP
Rock/Folk | 24MB – 320 kbps MP3s
A sampler to celebrate the upcoming tour, containing one track each from the albums Hombre Lobo (Fresh Blood), End Times (A Line In The Dirt) and Tomorrow Morning (I Like The Way This Is Going). Good for anyone who has ever wondered if they’d dig the Eels but haven’t done anything about it before. Free in exchange for your email – download it here.

 

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake – March 4th (Daytrotter)
Rock/Post-Punk | 20MB – 128 kbps Mp3s
Great session from the female-fronted Denver band, slight pub rock feel mixed with post-punk – reminded me at times of The Cure, in their slightly rockier moments. Download it here.

 

 

My Brightest Diamond – Shark Demos
Folk/Rock/Chamber/Acoustic | 54MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Released initially as a bonus for those that pre-ordered A Thousand Shark’s Teeth, then made available to everyone just prior to Christmas 2009. 6 tracks in total of demos and outtakes, including an unreleased song called Music Box. Worth it just for the demo of one of my favourite MBD tracks, To Pluto’s Moon. Available via Asthmatic Kitty.

 

Mount Eerie – Seven New Songs of Mount Eerie
Lo-Fi/Rock | 34MB – 192 kbps MP3s
Originally released as a limited quantity CDr and sold during a 2004 Australian tour, now free  to all and a good way to introduce yourself to the awesomeness of Mount Eerie. Available from Internet Archive.

 

Natural Snow Buildings – The Centauri Agent
Folk/Psychedelic/Drone/Experimental | 193MB – 256 kbps MP3s
A double album released by community label Vulpiano Records, available in FLAC or Mp3 format. Usually, venturing into the weird and wonderful world of NSB isn’t all together easy, as official physical releases tend to be in rather small quantities, and it can be a little daunting owing to the sheer scope of some of them, but well worth it. Download it here.

 

S4E

1. This is, of course, based on the presumption that P&T members maintain that page. Happy to remove this link if the download is not sanctioned by the band.


Sarah Kirkland Snider – Penelope (Featuring Shara Worden)

A bit of a heads up for fans of Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and just fine music in general. Released 26th October via New Amsterdam Records, Penelope is a one hour song cycle composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider, featuring the vocal talents of Shara and performed by chamber orchestra Signal.

With lyrics penned by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, the album (loosely based on Homer‘s The Odyssey) tells the story of a woman whose husband returns after 20 years, suffering from brain damage, memory loss and the ravages of an unnamed war. The description over on the label website sums it up better than I ever could, so I’m going to cheat a little and quote that:

Suspended somewhere between art song, indie rock, and chamber folk, the music of Penelope  moves organically from moments of elegiac strings-and-harp reflection to dusky post-rock textures with drums, guitars and electronics, all directed by a strong sense of melody and a craftsman’s approach to songwriting.

Sound good? It does indeed, not to mention that I’m a sucker for a good story in any form.

Originally written in 2007/8 by Snider and McLaughlin as a monodrama, the work was reconceived and tailored to the inimitable voice of Shara Worden. Classicly trained, there’s very few out there that match Shara’s capacity to sing anything from rock, blues, pop and classical in the blink of an eye and sound absolutely perfect doing so (see – or rather hear – her efforts on The Decemberists‘ rock opera The Hazards of Love, as well as Clogs‘ contemporary classical The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton for further proof, if you need it that is).

The second track on the album, This Is What You’re Like, which as its name suggests sees the protagonist of the story attempting to show her husband who he is, or at least who he was in the way that she remembers him, is available as a free download via My Brightest Diamond’s website, and perfectly exemplifies the above description, combining modern classical and indie rock with a subtle touch of trip-hop. The full album can be purchased on CD or in digital format from New Amsterdam Records. For non-credit card but PayPal inclined listeners, it can also be purchased via Bandcamp.

Aside from being the perfect thing to tide over those eagerly anticipating Shara’s next MBD album – whenever that might be – it’s also the debut album for Sara Kirkland Snider, one that definitely inspires keeping a keen eye out for future work, Shara or no.

S4E


By The Light of the Silvery Moon

More Musical Lunacy
(and I’m not apologising for the pun)

Having recently compiled the quick Bird Songs list, I had a bit of a think about other common themes prevalent in the songs in my library. (I daresay that the most of them are common to most people’s collections). For this list I chose the moon . While an obvious, perhaps cliche, choice, songs that refer to the moon count as some of my all-time favourites.

The moon itself has some very real and intriguing ‘magic’, of which I’m sure the majority of people are aware, so I won’t go into that – I’ll just head on in to the list of top 5 moon songs I have in my library.

Moonlight Drive – The Doors
One of the best songs ever to celebrate the night. The music is lilting and a little playful, the lyrics are almost the same, belying the seedier undercurrent that lurks in the darkness.

Favourite lyrics:
Penetrate the evening
That the city sleeps to hide

The Moon – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
Quite simply, everything about this song is majestic – delicate and hauntingly beautiful lyrically, vocally and musically. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Favourite lyrics:
Shut the door to the moon
And let the birds gather
Play no more with the fool
And let the souls wander

To Pluto’s Moon – My Brightest Diamond
Another incredibly affecting song. The lyrics kind of catch you unaware – you find yourself listening to them all of a sudden and realising their gravity, and the music is absolutely mesmerising. (Ok, so it’s not referring to earth’s moon, but it’s a moon just the same).

Favourite lyrics:
Why did you go like this
I slam against the wall of permanence
(just to add, that line nails the moment you’ve realised something is gone forever so sharply and succinctly).

Drawing Down the Moon – The Tea Party
To this day, even years after they disbanded, and many more since I first heard this song, The Tea Party remain one of my favourite bands. They never really got the recognition they deserved for producing some of the best music of the 90’s, though I’ve probably listened to this song enough for about 100 people.

Favourite lyrics:
She’s drawing down the moon
I can see it in her eyes

Moondance – Van Morrison
Sometimes I’m surprised that I like this song so much, then I listen to it and wonder how I could ever consider not liking it – it’s just not possible. A  lovely song that always puts me in a good mood.

Favourite lyrics:
And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

And because I’m a bit ♥ about this song right now:

S4E


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