Sunday, February 12, 2012

Musical First Finds of 2012: Bhi Bhiman, The Pines and The Goat Sessions


I spent some time sampling new releases on iTunes last week. The music feels good.

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Bhi Bhiman has a very distinctive voice (a yowl or yarble, of sorts) and timely lyrics. His parents are from Sri Lanka.

Bhiman is compared in review to Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan, though I am kind of reminded of The Tallest Man on Earth, given the spare instrumentation and focus on voice and words.

I like the bells in Guttersnipe - they provide just the right amount of change-up to keep the song interesting. Here's an exceprt:

I jumped the first train I saw

It'll surely take me home

If I had a Momma

At least I'd have place to go

But I'm just a guttersnipe

I got no place to wipe my nose.

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The Pines' music is depressing, eerie, melancholy. There is a scarecrow on their new album cover, and the image fits the sound. Here's an excerpt from a review at Minnesota Public Radio:

The Pines are based in Minneapolis, but both members grew up in Iowa. Co-founder Benson Ramsey is often asked to define the "Iowa sound." To Ramsey, it's music that takes its roots seriously. "Definitely there's the folk and the blues thing that maybe come up the Mississippi or something. But there's a real space there also, and I think it just comes from the landscape," Ramsey said.
The lyrics aim for poetry (Be There in Bells), à la Shearwater, and can be quite bad. Also, The Pines could probably be parodied for the NPR alt-folk sound.

Bad poetry and predictable melancholy notwithstanding: I like what I have heard so far!
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Dave Horgan included a piece from The Goat Sessions on 2011's Horgan Hits (thank you Dave for another spectacular effort!).

The Goat Sessions is a collaboration of Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan. I like the music ok, but I particularly enjoyed watching the musicians interact -- with each other and with their instruments -- on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert.

Chris Thile was a bit too dramatic for my taste, but the three classical guys are pure awesome.

I was reminded of Mr. Fagan teaching us, in Stage Band, about improvisation and taking solos. As I write this I am feeling lucky to have had some great musical educators during my childhood. The music feels good.

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