Favorited ex.fm Songs

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Countdown to M. Ward: 3 Days

The countdown is down to just 3 days! Today's album is M. Ward's 3rd studio album "Transfiguration of Vincent." As Wikipedia (and I'm sure countless other outlets) has pointed out, the title is a nod to John Fahey's 1965 album "The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death." M. Ward has drawn more inspiration than just album titles from Fahey. His style of guitar playing, especially on instrumental tracks that show up on each of his albums to date, is very reminiscent of Fahey's style. I was unfamiliar with Fahey until a few years back when I explored his music after seeing articles referencing him as an inspiration for M. Ward. If you're looking for a good example of this style, check out M. Ward's "Duet for Guitars #3" from this album or John Fahey's "On the Sunny Side of the Ocean" from his previously mentioned album.

Transfiguration of Vincent is also M. Ward's the first album to feature a band. Many of the songs are still pretty subdued, which I know can turn off some people, but there are enough foot-stompers in there too. Best I can tell, this album also started a trend of M. Ward placing one or two cover songs on every album. This album features a neat version of David Bowie's "Let's Dance." I'm not overly familiar with Bowie's work, but M. Ward does a great job transforming this particular song.

I said yesterday that the name O'Brien would reappear today, and I'm nothing if not a man of my word. The song I'm choosing for today is "Vincent O'Brien," my favorite track from the album. If you're starting to put the pieces together, you might realize that the album title is probably a reference to the same friend of Ward (just as yesterday's track was). But since I have no real inside knowledge of what these songs or albums are actually about, there's no point speculating. What I do know is that "Vincent O'Brien" is one of his catchier songs and does a great job of showcasing what M. Ward is about vocally, instrumentally, and lyrically.

If there are any other M. Ward fans out there, I'd love to hear what songs are your favorites from these albums, or if there are other songs these remind you of, or really anything. These comments sections must feel awfully lonely rarely being visited. Anyhow, enjoy "Vincent O'Brien"!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Countdown to M. Ward: 4 Days

With the countdown down to 4 days, we continue on to M. Ward's second album, 2001's "End of Amnesia." For some reason this album actually took me a lot longer to get into than some of the others. Just like "Duet for Guitars #2" before it, "End of Amnesia" is a mostly stripped down sound with just M. Ward and his guitar. Despite M. Ward hailing from the Pacific Northwest, I can't help but feel like this album would be a perfect soundtrack to a lazy afternoon in the rural south. It's the type of album that I can put on and just get lost listening to, really not having a care in the world while it plays.

I wrote a short little post last month about the song "Carolina" from this album. Despite taking a while to warm up to the rest of the album, that song has been one of my absolute favorites since I first heard it.

Another favorite is the album closer "O'Brien/O'Brien's Nocturne." The name will come up again in tomorrow's post. I've read before that O'Brien was a close friend of his that passed away (although I'm not sure where I read this). In the song, M. Ward reminisces about times with his friend and remarks that O'Brien could "always make a string buzz like it was still 1989." That quality of making music that takes you back to an older time is something M. Ward has clearly picked up on himself and is one of the reasons it is so easy to listen to his songs again and again.

Below is a live version of the first part of the song that he performed on Austin City Limits with Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. It's a really beautiful version of the song. I'd recommend checking out the full version somewhere too that features an instrumental outro. Til tomorrow... enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Countdown to M. Ward: 5 Days

I'm going to see M. Ward in Rockford, Illinois this Saturday. As he just so happens to be my favorite artist, and I've only seen him live once (plus one time with Monsters of Folk), I'm pretty excited. Therefore, I decided to do a countdown to the show, with a new song each day from each of his 6 full length albums. The posts will likely be short since I'm still pretty swamped with school right now, but hopefully they'll be a nice short diversion each day.

M. Ward's first full-length release was "Duet for Guitars #2" in 1999. The album is a pretty stripped down, lo-fi, folk sound of just Matt and his guitar. It wasn't until 2006's "Post War" that he really added much more instrumentation. Because of that I know some people find his early music too slow and boring. In terms of being introduced to his material, I wouldn't recommend starting with this album, but that voice and the sweet guitar playing should be enough to keep you hooked and coming back if you're already a fan.

It appears that one of my favorite songs on the album is actually a bonus track that may not have been on the original album, but oh well it's on there now, so it still counts. Below is "Were You There?" The song is a back and forth between the singer and an unknown person (or being) in which the singer asks if the person was around for various moments of the earth's creation. I'm not sure if there is a deeper meaning to it all, but either way I find it to be a catchy little ditty. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"It's what you've become and it's what you'll stay"

I can't write a long post, but I've got this Kevin Devine song stuck in my head. It's an excellent example of why he's one of my favorite lyricists. He really doesn't shy away from being introspective even if it may not make him look great. In light of so many things going on in the world right now, it's a good reminder that nobody is perfect. Everyone's flawed, some less so than others. Anyhow, here's the track.

**There is a little bit of "colorful" language, so feel free to skip this one if that's not your thing**

Kevin Devine - 'Ballgame' by RockSoundMagazine

Because I'm selfish enough to want to get better,
but I'm backwards enough not to take any steps to get there.
And when you realize it's a pattern and not a phase,
it's what you've become and it's what you will stay,
that's the ballgame.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Old school No Doubt

Sometimes I forget that No Doubt was actually pretty darn awesome back in the day. Their first album, self-titled and released in 1992, is good old fashioned unabashed ska music. They retained some of those ska elements on their second album, which had "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak" on it, but they had already started to get away from them a bit. Today their debut album came up on shuffle, and the song "Doormat" is one that stuck out to me as a good example of their early music. It's got super catchy horns, great Gwen Stefani vocals, and a sweet bass riff near the end of the song. If you enjoy this song, I really recommend checking out the whole album. It's albums like this one that remind me that I shouldn't go so long without listening to some ska music here and there. It really makes life more enjoyable.