i got mad itunes/amazon credits for christmas, and i thought i would update you on what i've been listening to, since i know that is what you are all dying to know.
mostly, i've been going old school alt-country, or to the roots of the alt-country movement. i went through a big alt-country phase 10 or 15 years ago (wilco, son volt, uncle tupelo, whiskeytown, etc.), but i had never explored the roots of that movement too much. re-falling in love with emmylou this fall had reawakened me to gram parsons, and his MAJOR influence on merging country and rock in the late 60s and into the 70s. his influence is hard to overestimate. so i thought i would explore it. i've been spinning these discs as a result:
the byrds' "sweetheart of the rodeo" is an awesome collection of 60's era dylan-esque rock with steel guitar and other country elements merged for what was then a completely unique sound.
gram parsons, who was with the byrds during "sweetheart," went on to play and sing in the flying burrito brothers, on "the gilded palace of sin," and "burrito deluxe," both of which are included on this amazing album. some truly good stuff.
this is also two albums in one, gram parsons' "gp" and "grievous angel," which made him a bit a of a legend. make no mistake, this is pretty twangy honky-tonk stuff, but its really good twangy, honky-tonk stuff! not to mention a steady flow of emmylou singing harmonies. jeff tweedy and ryan adams never sounded so good.
long before the sacred/secular divide in music was "handled" by the creation of a giant contemporary christian music-making machine, country music had its own answer: the louvin brothers. they could easily sing about the need for you to get your right, and then turn around and sing about their own broken hearts. it is music both for saturday night and sunday morning, and it is some awesome sounding old-school country music. i love it.
the head and the heart's sophomore album "let's be still" is a step out from their breakout album, which had a bit more of that mumford, of monsters and men, indie feel. this one sounds like they've grown up, not only musically, but also, emotionally. not as easily accessible, i think, as their first, but very good, and one that will get better with repeated listens.
need a dose of depressing music dealing with divorce, lined with the only the smallest little silver lining of hope? then look no further than william fitzsimmons' "the sparrow and the crow." musically, this album is exquisite. lyrically, it delves deeply into the pain of poor choices and their difficult consequences. therefore, it isn't an album just to throw on for a nice ride to the store. it requires some planning, some thoughtful reflection, and a heart that is willing to embrace the brokenness of life in order to truly rejoice in the redemption.
okay, so i got a few others, as well, but this will have to do for now. also, switchfoot's new album, which i preordered months ago, is finally out today, so i gotta go check it out. and hey, don't forget to push your boundaries, listen to good art, and be inspired to live beautifully......die trying.