Listening for the week(s) of April 16-April 26
Delta Goodrem: Innocent Eyes
I first heard Delta Goodrem songs during my grad school days. I’m not sure who introduced me to the music of the Australian pop singer but thank you. I tend to purposefully not listen to her for long stretches of time to fully make me appreciate her music. I went through a stretch of time where I listened to a lot of her stuff over and over and over. It got to the point that I would hear the opening to any of her songs and groan. So, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to a full album. I LOVE this album. Okay, I love most of her albums that I have heard. I remember ordering this CD and having to get it straight from Australia. This is her debut studio album, originally released in Australia in 2003. Most of the songs were cowritten by Delta herself. “Lost Without You” is probably my #1 favorite song of hers. In fact, it would probably number among my favorite songs of anyone. This album gave her five #1 singles. Other songs that I really enjoy from this album: “Not Me, Not I,” “Born to Try,” and “Innocent Eyes.” It’s a good album to give a listen to. I give it many solid thumbs-up. If you haven’t delved into the world of Australian pop music, do it. You really won’t regret doing so.
George Gershwin: Then & Now, Pianists: Landsberg & Yount
I know you are probably all thinking – “Finally, a piano album being discussed by the Mad Pianist.” Well, of course. I am a big Gershwin fan. I would like to find a true American that does not like his music. Then, I would slap that person. This album is filled with many short pieces – many Gershwin’s piano arrangements of his vocal stuff (many written with his brother). This is an interesting album. The goal of Landsberg and Yount was to play along with George. Piano rolls of Gershwin playing were converted to computer files. Then, Landsberg and Yount superimposed themselves playing in Gershwin’s performances. They would play introductions, create endings, and do solos. According to their website, “mostly keeping out of his way.” They ended up creating three piano tracks that were played back and recorded separately, and combined into a single performance. Amazing, right? Technology. Sigh. This is a fun album to listen to and it made me want to practice some Gershwin….and maybe make my mom happy by playing something a bit more modern and jazzed up.
Elizabeth and the Catapult: The Other Side of Zero
I don’t know really what to say about Elizabeth and the Catapult – other than I have loved their music for several years. I was first introduced to their albums by randomly happening on them while browsing for new music. It was around 2009 or 2010 and I was experiencing a bit of a shift at the time in the types of music in which I wanted to immerse myself. They are an indie pop/rock group and their lyrics are literature. “I used to hide from the future/Like a child running from the tide/I could dream of nothing darker/Than to look fate in the eye/So scared of the worst/That the best just passed me by.” (from “The Other Side of Zero”). There are a lot of great songs on this album: “Worn Out Tune,” “The Horse and the Missing Cart,” “Time (We All Fall Down),” “Open Book.” Okay, I love 98% of the songs on this album. It was great to revisit this album. I’m looking forward to randomly happening on the others by them, as well.
The Naked and Famous: Passive Me, Aggressive You
I had never heard about this band until I saw them perform a few years back. They were opening for Imagine Dragons and I thought they were an okay band. I then looked them up online and started to listen. I remember that the more I listened, the more I enjoyed. I enjoyed listening to this album this go around but not like I remember liking it previously. It was okay, but I was almost happy when the album finished. This album is the debut album for The Naked and Famous (noting here that they are a New Zealand band – I think I have a problem with Australian/New Zealand musicians. By problem, I mean I like too many of them.) It is a indie electronic album and the post-punk influence can be heard. I still like this band but maybe not as much as I remember liking them. I will definitely give them another listen when I’m in a different mood and see if that has an influence on my ears.
Billy Joel: Cold Spring Harbor
Billy Joel. Need I say more? Okay, I will. This is his first studio album. First! Let me just start by saying that you should google the album artwork because Billy Joel with a 70s haircut and a mustache. Yes, a mustache. This album gives us the first versions of “She’s Got a Way,” and “Everybody Loves You Now.” Billy Joel would go on to release live versions of both of these songs on the album Songs in the Attic ten years after this album. I love Billy Joel. He is a strong musician even from this first album and he just gets better and better and better.
Ella Fitzgerald: That Old Black Magic
How fitting that I would randomly pick this album to listen to this week! Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, was born on April 25. So, I listened to this album during the week celebrating her birth! This album is a compilation that includes some truly great music. I can’t pick a favorite. Ella Fitzgerald is one of my favorite vocalists. I use her music a lot at my job doing music at a skilled nursing facility. It’s gotten to a point in my music group that I say, “Who sang this?” and their first response is typically Ella. She’s terrific and listening to this compilation album is equally as terrific.
Chvrches: Every Open Eye
Chvrches is a Scottish synthpop band. Their music is a lot of fun to listen to during a commute. I found myself singing along because I love these songs. This music is not for everyone but I really enjoy that clean, electronic sound. This is a recent development for me. Every Open Eye is their 2nd studio album and their sound seems to just keep evolving. If you like electronic sounds and loops, check them out. They truly are great.
Dallas String Quartet: Between Us
I am a huge fan of the fusion of classical and pop/rock. I think that there is this thought in the world that you have to be high-brow to enjoy classical music. WRONG. On this album, you hear a string quartet take on such songs as “Thriller,” “Fields of Gold,” “Get Lucky,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I think my favorite on the album is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It gives me chills ever single time I listen – I am sure it is the harmonies. Classical music does not have to be BORING. It can cross over and join the modern stage and reach a whole new generation of music lovers. Instrumental music can be fun, interesting, and awesome.
Jenny Lewis: The Voyager
I heard that Jenny Lewis is getting ready to record or release a new album. I am super excited. I discovered Jenny Lewis through NPR. Maybe she did a tiny desk concert or maybe she was recommended by Stephen Thompson. I’m not sure but she’s fantastic. Her sound is not one that I would normally have sought out but I am glad I gave it a listen. She is an indie rock artist and this was her 3rd studio album. Go take a listen. It’s a good one. I want lots and lots of new music from her.
Brooke Fraser: Brutal Romantic
A New Zealand musician. I tell you, I may have a problem. Brooke Fraser is in my top 10 of musician of all time. This album is probably my favorite of all of her albums. It has a maturity and a sound that has developed. I have heard (and think I own) all of her albums and you can hear the sound progression as you listen. This album gives you more of an indie rock feel and there is more production done on the sound in the editing room. I wrote an entire post on this album soon after it was released. It’s fantastic. I love every single song on this album and have been listening to it at work straight for the last week.
Frank Sinatra: Duets
So, I must admit that I have never been a huge Frank Sinatra fan. I thought he was overrated. In all honesty, I probably thought that because so many people liked his music. I tend to do the opposite of the masses. This album was pretty good thought. It was fun hearing him sing with Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estefan, Natalie Cole, Carli Simon, Liza Minnelli, Anita Baker, and others. The collaborations and the merging of different styles was a lot of fun. I turned this up fairly loudly in my car and would sing along. The songs on this album are tunes from the early to mid 20th century and are very well known. Many of them I use in my music group. It’s a great album that has me rethinking my stance on Frank Sinatra. I’m not sold yet but this is a good start.