February + Music = LOVE

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the things I’ve been listening to. I frequently post single links to facebook and tumblr but it is rare these days for me to give you a rundown on all of the things I’ve been listening to.

That’s partly because the internet is a vast place. We all know this.

Personally, I savor those periods where I get sucked into the internet’s musical vortexes. Whether I’m finding new artists via spotify’s “related artists” tab or watching random NPR Live videos of artists I’m not familiar with, the outcome is always the same: I find new stuff. Lots of new stuff. Some of it gets lost in the wayside. I’m the first one to admit that I can get fiercely excited about an artist, a song and then a month or two later that artist or song has dropped completely off of the radar. But there are songs that stick. Artists that I could–and do–listen to on repeat.

This blog was primarily started as a place to highlight musicians that I’ve discovered or fallen in love with. Music is a beautiful art form. It has the ability to bring us to to higher places, it has the ability to connect us as humans and remind us that we’re not alone. It helps us remember that our lives are best spent dancing. And those are just a few things.

So keeping that in mind: Here’s a post of the music that I can’t get enough of.

Sarah Kirkland Snider (composer) | Shara Worden (singer) | Ellen McLaughlin (lyrics) | Song: Circe & the Hanged Man.
Album: Penelope: A Song Cycle

While I prefer posting songs that have accompanying music videos, I had to share this particular song. I had the fortune of seeing Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond) accompany The Utah Philharmonia for a special performance of the entire song cycle. The experience itself was absolutely incredible. The musicians themselves were brilliant and Shara Worden’s voice is just beautiful. If you’re familiar with My Brightest Diamond, then you know this. If you’re not familiar with them, you should fix that. Between the brilliant orchestrations, emotionally charged lyrics, and Worden’s voice–it’s a piece that is guaranteed to make you believe in the power of music and storytelling. You will feel deeply with this album.

The story itself is simple. The narrator is a woman whose husband went away for some unnamed war. He shows up at the door 20 years later with brain damage and no memory of who he is/was. In order to help her husband heal and rediscover himself, the wife reads to him passages of the Odyssey. The track I’m sharing here veers from classical to more indie rock territory, and the lyrics here are especially poignant. Before I saw the Utah Philharmonia with Shara Worden, I tried to familiarize myself with the album, but didn’t get the whole way through. When I reached this song–I felt the lyrics strike a chord. When I saw the song performed live: I couldn’t keep the tears at bay.

Artist: Gabby Young & Other Animals | Song: Open
Album: The Band Called Out For More

There’s something magical about the combination of elements that Gabby Young & Other Animals bring together with their music. Big Band jazz/swing/cabaret and pure joy are all to be found here. The band has been on my radar for some, but it wasn’t till this week that I truly fell in love. The band is led by a flame-haired enchantress with a bewitching voice and incredible style. The 7-piece band includes the basics (guitar, drum, etc) but goes further with violins and brass instruments. The music is as varied as the instrumentation: sometimes you’ll find tracks that are so haunting, they’ll crawl under your skin and stay there. Sometimes you’ll find songs so saucy you’ll find yourself impressed by their boldness. There’s a sense of glee in the art of experimentation and new combinations, and they are able to pull the songs off so well that it’s hard not to fall in love with them.

The great thing about this band is that they have tons of music videos that are worthy of being shared–including their brand new music video for the irresistibly catchy song “I’ve Improved” which was unveiled 6 days ago, on Feb. 14. I’m once again going to deviate from the singles (all of which are wonderful) and share my favorite track. The reason it’s one of my favorites is simple. With this band, you know you’re going to get some very upbeat/sassy music. This song goes along with the catchy rhythms and adds on a positive message, and one that’s worth keeping in mind.

Artist: Agnes Obel | Song: Just So
Album: Philharmonics

I am fully, 100% behind the mantra that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. That said, occasionally when I’m roaming the massive collection of albums at the Salt Lake City Public Library, a cover will catch my attention. And since I believe in the fun of experimentation (I discovered my love for Sia and the Noisettes by taking a chance on covers that caught my interest–and the Sia album was nothing like what I expected based on the cover), I checked out Philharmonics. From beginning to end, the album is beautiful, and captivating. On the surface, much of the music seems simple. But when you combine the gorgeous music with the lyrics, it becomes something else entirely. Albums like this are why one should believe in the power of experimentation. The reviews in Rolling Stone and on NPR other such sites have their place, but sometimes your favorite new band/musician is just a matter of luck.

With that, dear reader, I leave you to listen to the music here, check out the links provided, or perhaps go on your own musical journey. Wherever your wanderings take you, may they be be fruitful and fully enjoyable.

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