Saturday, February 17, 2007

Six Organs Of Admittance: School of the Flowers

There are a lot of people out there doing fuzzed out psychedelic music, but among all of them, Six Organs of Admittance really stands out.

There is quite a bit of what you would expect, but with the haunting acoustic lead runs, and the mix of gentle vocals and sweeping soundscapes make this a band that will end up on your playlist more often then you may think on first listen.

There are times when I really sit down, and listen to music. At those times, I need some seriously complex, in-your-face lyrics and/or musicianship. Other times, I'm working, or talking, or doing something that requires my almost complete attention. At those times, I don't want Dylan, I want something like these guys. Their sound really fades into the background and creates a pleasant vibe that everyone can enjoy.

Anyways, these guys aren't a group that I am seriously on fire about. They are a group that is relatively obscure, but that I heartily enjoy. So if you are looking for some nice, mellow, trippy ambient sounds, give these guys a listen. You won't be disappointed.



1042 page hits in a bit over a week. That's really astonishing, I didn't realise I had anywhere NEAR this many readers. From looking at the stats and where people are coming from, I'll do a few more psych folk/indie posts before going on to the next thing (I am thinking of starting a series on Dylan). Next up will be some Six Organs Of Admittance, and I think I will wrap up this whole freak folk extravaganza with Devendra Banharts compilation album, Golden Apples in the Sun.

What I have been doing so far is just posting what I am listening to at the moment. I tend to go through phases. I start by really getting into a genre, I listen to alot of different stuff. Then I start getting the urge for something new, and start looking for cool new stuff. The music from the previous genre starts getting pruned off of my iPod until I have only a handful of albums that I really love, and those tend to stay with me for whenever I happen to be in the mood for them. This is what has lead to my exceptionally eclectic listening habits, and is why the music choices on this blog tend to be fairly schizophrenic (I mean, theres a BIG difference between Joanna Newsom and Mississippi John Hurt).

I know alot of my page hits are people looking for something specific, and that's OK, but I also know I do have regular readers. To develop an audience, typically you need to focus on one kind of music, and I really haven't been doing that. So folks, what do you say? I could probably go on and on for a long time about, say, folk blues and bluegrass, and that would bring a specific kind of audience. I could also continue as I have been, and give people the opportunity to expand their horizons. If you don't dig something now, doesn't mean you wont in a year from now. A big part of finding good music that you aren't into yet is trust, and if you can trust that I won't post garbage, then you will have the opportunity to broaden your taste in music with me.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Joanna Newsom: Live on WMFU

Joanna's voice may be a bit much to swallow for alot of people, but if you've been on board with Neutral Milk Hotel and Devendra Banhart, then you owe it to yourself to give her a fair chance. Once she starts growing on you, it wont stop.

I don't listen to many female soloists, simply because I find that women almost universally go for the tonally sweet vocals that permeate the radio. That's not a problem if your into that stuff, but as you may have noticed from the stuff I have posted so far, I'm really not. I much prefer vocals with "character", people who sound unique, and use their voice for emotional effect rather then the whole Justin Timberlake/Celine Dion thing that most vocalists go for.

Her voice aside, this girl can play. She is an absolutely stunning harpist, and she plays her instrument in ways I didn't even know it could be played. She has a real rhythmic style, one hand doing arpeggios, the other doing bass accompaniment (very similar to fingerstyle guitar). The harp itself gives her the range that a piano gives, and her technique is just stunning to listen to. The harp is a perfect compliment to her bizarre vocals.

Usually I put up studio albums, but in this case, the radio interview is so damn good, that I chose to put it up rather then the album. The songs here are from "The Milk Eyed Mender", which is her first LP. If you are into Devendra and Jeff (from Neutral Milk Hotel), then this is HIGHLY recommended. If you really aren't into that kind of thing, then you may want to give her a pass, as she is even further from the acceptable range of voices then the two I just mentioned.


Blog Changes

As you may have noticed, theres been a few changes here at fourth string, third fret.

First of all, I was getting real tired of that blogger template (what is 897, and why are those numbers all over the place?).

I have had a few complaints about the idiotic thing I used to do with font sizes My excuse is that many of those posts were written at 800x600 resolution, where it looks fantastic. However, at 1024x768, or even worse, 1280x1024, its friggin tiny. So I went through all my old posts, and fixed the font sizes (although I kept my oh so professional humungafacation of the first letter).

There was also that awful, pretentious thing I had in the About Me thingie on the sidebar. First of all, I wrote that five or six years ago, when I was significantly more angst filled then I am now, and secondly, This blog isn't about me, it's about the music I listen to. So instead of about me, I just put the intraductory post to this blog.

Last but not least, it seems like there are alot of people reading this blog. I never really realised, until I accidentally changed the archive password from the old one to what it is now. Suddenly, I got a flurry of emails from every post that had the old password. So, now theres a counter, and we'll be able to see just what kind of traffic we get here.

Anyways, If you guys have any comments or suggestions, feel free to, you know, comment. ;-) Hope you are enjoying it so far, next I am going to put up a radio show featuring Joanna Newsom, an absolutely wonderful harpist, with an extremely unique voice.

- The Google Ninja

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands

Its definately time for some more psychedelic folk stuff. For those who don't know him yet, but are into indie/psych folk, Devendra Banhart will be a real gem.

Im a big fan of psychedelic songwriting, because its highly enjoyable no matter how many times you listen to it, just being carried away by the imagry. Also, it really leaves itself open to interpretation, which is really what art is all about. Typically, singer/songwriters go for introspective emotional prose, which can be good if the person has talent, but most of the time it is angsty, self-indulgant drivel. Devendra however has the soul of a poet.

The man is an absolutely delightful guitarist, his classically based fingerstyle technique is rather unique, and is a great complement to his voice. People like him can end up being real downers, but you cant listen to certain songs (for example; The Body Breaks, This is the Way, Rejoicing in the Hands) and consider him to be a downer.

Rejoicing in the Hands is, in my opinion, his best album. Its actually well produced and recorded (unlike his earlier stuff), and there is a level of refinement to his voice that wasnt there on his first records. His latest album (Cripple Crow) is also fantastic, but the reason I didnt post it is because, while being incredably eclectic (everything from 60s rock to Bossa Nova), there isnt much of what makes Devendra Devendra.

Been getting into alot of what is being called "Freak Folk" recently, expect more posts real soon of similar content.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Men Of Steel: The Art Of The Steel String Guitar

Ok, this one is for the guitar nuts out there. The idea behind the men of steel was to form a guitar group with some of the most talented pickers in the world, and they definately managed it.

First you have Beppe Gambetta. Even though Italian, he is one of the best american bluegrass players in the world. His song on the album, Traveling with Mama, is beyond fantastic (although for the full effect you really need to hear the studio version, they fake the slide in this performance. Then you have Dan Crary, who is another one of the best bluegrass players out there. He has been incredably influencial on flatpicking in general, and in my humble opinion, is the most talented man with a pick alive today. Then there is Montreal born Don Ross, who more or less invented the modern acoustic percussive fingerstyle subjenre (which he jokingly calls "Heavy Wood"). Last but not least, Tony McManus from Ireland, who is an impeccable picker, but whose claim to fame is transposing gaelic bagpipes tunes onto the guitar.

All in all, a highly enjoyable album, especially if you play the guitar. If you aren't a musician, it may be a bit much at times, but still highly recommended and well worth the listen.