Nik’s Music Almanac

Totally Irrelevant and Off-Topic

The Decemberists

So their lyrics are great, if you're an English major. And the band is top notch. Colin Meloy's voice is good, in a Garrison Keeler kind of way. Their live act is fun as well.

If it sounds like I'm apologizing for them, I kind of am. Their music is good, but it's very hipster. And for me at least, Irony doesn't last the way that other earnest emotions seem to when it comes to music.

Sounds like: R.E.M. crossed with Neutral Milk Hotel, and some kind of hipster group.

Lyrics:

I fell on the playing field
The work of an errant heel
The din of the crowd and the loud commotion
Went deafening silence and stopped emotion

Rating: ✶✶✶

Status: Active.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Courtney Barnett

So it's a weird thing about being an expat. I hear about this great Australian Artist that's from Melbourne, not through any newspapers or flyers, but through some American TV show.

But I like her music. Her lyrics are witty, and maybe a bit sharp. Especially towards the entire ironic hipster thing you see all over. But her songs are more about her perspective than anything else, which is why they're fun to listen to.

Sounds like: Indie Rock and Roll, Australia-style.

Lyrics:

Put me on a pedestal I'll only disappoint you
Tell me I'm exceptional, I'll promise to exploit you
Give me all your money, and I'll make some origami honey
I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny…

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Status: Active!

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Damien Rice

So it's hard to have some perspective on Damien Rice. Mostly because I was going through a very rough time, and his music helped alot. But now when I listen to it, I get those same dark feelings all over again.

Anyways, he's got a good voice, his lyrics are thoughtful and measured, and the music doesn't get too boring or too sad. Just sad enough.

Sounds like: Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, only Irish.

Lyrics:

We might make out,
where nobody's there.
It's not that we're scared,
it's just that it's delicate.

Rating: ♣♣♣

Status: Active

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Death Cab for Cutie

These guys are good, especially on their album Plans. I'm not a super fan, but their lyrics are thoughtful, the lead singer's voice is good. And the band can move from loud, to restrained, to this wall of sound as needed. That takes chops.

The downside is the level of angst is almost too much for some of their songs. The anthem of a few million teenagers over their 18+ years of performance.

Sounds like: Something you'd hear on The OC. Like for real. Also, the Shins, and maybe a hint of Bright Eyes.

Lyrics:

Love of mine
Someday you will die,
but I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Active.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Dido

Ah the late teenage years. I should be ashamed to say I like her music, as it feels like it's from another time.

But her voice is superb, and the music just washes over you in a good way. Sometimes her music can be a little precious, and it's rarely deep and meaningful, but it's still nice to listen to once in awhile.

Sounds like: Something you'd hear on The WB, if it was still around. Also, Annie Lennox, Birdy, KT Tunstall. Only extra English and backed up by a host of electronic musicians.

Lyrics:

I am who I am
I do what I want,
but I can't hide

And I won't go, I won't sleep,
I can't breathe,
until you're resting here with me

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Semi-Active.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


The Devil Makes Three

Their sound is old time, but their lyrics could be anywhere from 1965 to 2015. They're a fun band to listen to, as long as you don't hate Bluegrass or something.

Old Number Seven, Do Wrong Right, and Beneath the Piano are some of their best songs.

Sounds like: Old Crow Medicine Show, Brown Bird, Woody Guthrie

Lyrics:

We went on tour within walking distance
Of my friend Paul’s house
Maybe that’s why no one knew
What our sound was all about

Rating: ★★★

Status: Active.

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Drakkar Sauna

Much loved, and very weird, Bluegrassy duo from LFK. After 12 years they had their farewell concert, which I wish I had seen.

Basically, they're funny, and awesome, and their live shows were great too.

Update: It looks like they’ve managed to release a new album despite the distance between them. And it’s pretty good!

Sounds like: The Devil Makes Three, only there's two of them, and they sing about space sometimes, and bears. So nothing at all like them really. Just like Drakkar Sauna then.

Lyrics:

You’ll be glad you have your mask
When they drop the Saren gas
You’ll be glad that you’ve been patient
When they release the nerve agents

I aimed for the stars,
but, sometimes, I hit London

I was put under arrest
By Hillig and the rest of the SS.
Surely, that’s got to mean something...

I aimed for the stars,
but, sometimes, I hit London

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Status: Retired. One in Maui, one in LFK.

Links: Band Page, Label Site, Farewell Article

Videos:



The Dears

Another bit of an early ’00s downer band. But they've got a few songs that just stick with you. And they're nice to listen to while doing some work as they're easy to tune in and out of without completely distracting you.

Gang of Losers and No Cities Left are their best stuff. I sort of stopped listening after their third album, but they're still going.

Sounds like: Metric, Death Cab for Cutie, crossed with more Electronica

Lyrics:

So you've decided on an art school
So it's not that you were trying to be cruel
All she wanted was a boyfriend
Or a means to justifiable ends

Thirty years ago this wouldn't be
I was happy
Last night I flickered off to sleep at four a.m.
Now it's seven

Well, the ocean is long and deep but I'm gonna try
Maybe I'll die…

Rating: ✶✶✶

Status: Active

Links: Band Page, Wikipedia

Video:


Dri

Dri is short for Adrienne (Verhoeven) and as far as I know, she only has the one solo album. Though she did some work with The Anniversary before she left LFK for California.

It's a fun album to just put on and chill to. The first tracks a bit of a downer, but still good.

Sounds like: Your favorite indie singer does an R&B album for kicks. Maybe?

Lyrics:

You know I tried
Can't stay any longer cause I tried
I tried 3, 6, 7, times.

Tried to get you to feel me
Just sneak out of the party
We can jump in the Caddie and drive

All my ladies, acting crazy

Rating: ♥♥♥

Status: Inactive.

Links: Band Page, Soundcloud, Pitch Review

Videos: