For Your Listening Pleasure

If you have ever read any interviews about Jars of Clay, there is a common answer to the question about why we started playing music together.  It was simply that we were all fans of music.  Music allows even the most unadventurous the opportunity to be an explorer. 

The mechanisms for exploration have taken many strides.  Nearly gone, but not entirely, are the days when I could just drop in to my local record shop and gamble on an album based solely on the cover art, and hopefully, be pleasantly surprised by what I heard. 

Even as the influence of a radio deejay who finds a band worth liking and champions them, goes the way of the buffalo, there are more ways to discover new music than ever before.  The technology is changing. It means that we will be forced to adopt new ways of hunting and gathering.  And no one truly loves change. It is the reason we don’t simply rent our clothing. It is why most of us live in homes that have concrete foundations. We like things the way they are. 

I can’t even imagine what it must be like for generations before my own.  If you want to see how terrifying technology can be, spend a couple minutes explaining a push button flip phone to my grandfather, or testing out Netflix with my grandmother. Technological advancement is a scary proposition. But we can’t let these things scare us.  After all, what’s the worst that can happen? 

We may lose a hard-drive, or forget a password, but we haven’t reached “Singularity” yet, so we don’t have to worry about stopping our heart or messing with our actual brain functions because our iTunes password gets corrupted. 

The good news is that music is everywhere.  And still, this can be overwhelming.  There is a scene in the film, “The Hurt Locker,” where the main character, a man shown to be highly capable in the most intensely stressful military situations, and incredibly decisive when needing to choose between the blue wire or the red wire when disarming bombs, becomes paralyzed in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

Where music used to drip down through a single pipeline of vinyl records and then eight track tapes and cassettes and CDs, satisfying our now nearly antiquated need for something tactile to go along with our listening experience, there are now hundreds of tributaries taking the form of digital files and cloudlike subscription based music delivery systems like Spotify and Rdio, and thousands of other ideas yet to grow from their embryonic stages and break through their shells.  

So where does this leave you and I?  We are still explorers who have a desire to discover music and there is a lot of music to discover.  After all, only a growing amount of music could warrant a surge of musical conduits.  Unfortunately, a lot of it is utter crap.  I suppose the massive steaming piles of terrible music can serve a purpose in order to let the good stuff grow out of it.  It’s like musical manure.  But if you don’t have to pick through it all, you might smell better, and not have to scrub your hands as thoroughly before eating.

So, dive in. And as you step further into the wardrobe and start to feel the prickle of fiber-optic fur tree needles, and you realize you are no longer playing hide and seek with your brothers and sisters, we have a few musical recommendations for you.  
Here is a list of musical suggestions for your listening pleasure, in no particular order. Enjoy!  -Dan
My (Dan’s) picks:
1.  Leagues   -The Summer EP (2011)

Singer/Songwriter Thad Cockrell joins forces with Jeremy Lutito of Disappointed by Candy fame, and guitarist Tyler Burkum and Mike Simons.  It is just a taste of beautiful musical chemistry yielding some great summer pop.
2.  Friendly Fires  -Pala (2011)

This might be one of the most satisfying records I have heard this year.  As a fan of electronic music, and a fan of big melodies, this record proves to make my ears very happy.  And the iTunes version of the record has the bonus of a Depeche Mode cover!
3.   Burlap to Cashmere  (2011)

The years in hiding have done wonders for this virtuosic (thanks Randy) group.  Lovely harmonies, incredible melodies, and nods to the harmony game players Simon and Garfunkel make this a must have album.   

Charlie’s Picks:

1. Bon Iver- Bon Iver (2011)

The new Bon Iver record is really beautiful.  I didn't listen to his first record a whole lot, it was pretty dark and depressing (and i tend to like moody music).  The melodies and arrangements on this new record are very thoughtful, sparse, emotional.  I'm not sure what he's saying most of the time, but I keep coming back for more.  

2. Brett Dennen- Loverboy (2011)

I first heard Brett Denned on the Roadshow tour, Bart played one verse of a song on his phone, and I was determined to hear more.  He has the ability to make you feel good- not unlike Paul Simon.  His voice is crazy high and quirky, and songs and melodies are fairly straight ahead, but somehow it's all refreshing to my ears. 

3.  Andrew Belle- The Ladder (2010)

Andrew is a Nashville indie artist.  I've not yet met him, but picked up his record, The Ladder, some months back on, and found myself playing it over and over.  It can be a nice "background" record, but keeps giving as you listen closer.  Great textures and pop melodies.  I'm grateful to be from Nashville with artists like Andrew around...


Matt Odmark’s Picks:
1.  Spoon - Kill the Moonlight (2002)

It’s not new but I am enjoying it. Especially on vinyl.
2.  Yuck   -Yuck (2011)

Sort of a Dinosaur Jr. meets Sonic Youth brought to us via Fat Possum records.
3.  Moby   -Destroyed (2011)

It is hard to make music while touring.  Moby found a way to utilize the insomnia and record in hotel rooms.   Worthy of respect.
4.  Young The Giant    -Young The Giant (2010)


Stephen Mason’s Picks:
1.  Stax 50th Anniversary Collection
It's the Motown of the south.  Many fantastic songs I didn't realize were born in Memphis.  I imagine there are some angels that sound like Mavis Staples when they sing.
2.   Foster the People  -Torches
It's this year's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, IMHO.  That said, I'm still playing Phoenix.
3.  Steve Miller Band   -Greatest Hits
Driving around Nashville, I'm listening mostly to classic rock.