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A new month, time for some new music, would you not agree? Oddly enough, the album to kick this edition off is called The First Days of Spring. Must be symbolic, or something (wink).

Noah and the Whale - The First Days of Spring

The First Days of Spring

Noah and the Whale

Released: August 31, 2009 (UK)

Charlie Fink, why so sad? Oh, that’s right. The First Days of Spring is his breakup album for former band member/girlfriend, now solo artist Laura Marling. While this isn’t Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (which is on my top ten albums of all-time, so wasn’t likely to be dislodged), it is certainly a poignant expression of one man’s sorrow.

As expected by the band’s name (allusions to Noah Baumbach’s movie The Squid and the Whale), Noah and the Whale are fans of Wes Anderson (who produced The Squid and the Whale) movies(which makes them instantly likable to me). So, naturally the next step for them was to make their own movie, styled after Anderson. On the deluxe editions of the album, there is a movie that runs the length of the album. Based on the trailers I’ve seen on YouTube, it is swimming with Andersonian style.

For a taste, check out “Blue Skies”, the trailer to The First Days of Spring film


So walk with me
On this new spring morning
I’ll walk you ’till your fears are none
I’m a new baby weeping
I’m the flower you’re keeping
That without love will wilt and die

– I Have Nothing

9/10

Imogen Heap - Ellipse

Ellipse

Imogen Heap

Released: August 24, 2009 (UK)

Three things to talk about when it comes to Imogen Heap & Ellipse. The first: Imogen’s crazy business model. The second: her crazy personality. The third: her crazy album.

As outlined by a fellow blogger here on wordpress, Imogen Heap has made full use of technology to create an organic connection with her fans that is both admirable and effective, which is often hard to do all at once. She uses YouTube, Twitter and other online tools to engage with fans worldwide, and did so constantly through the process of making Ellipse, a two-year journey, sharing everything. That is something that as an artist I have the utmost respect for. Indeed, I am finding it quite difficult to share much of the process of finishing Something Like Ideal, as I have found it quite difficult throughout the past almost two years that I’ve been working on it. There is a vulnerability as an artist that is never fully protected, and even more so difficult when your work isn’t complete. Criticism, or more likely, the fear of harsh criticism can be debilitating. Imogen Heap deserves a world of respect for throwing all that to the wayside in order to create an intimacy with her fans. She’s not crazy for doing this, she gets that it creates a real connection for the fans, and a reason to support her.

That, of course, leads to a discussion of who she is. It’s clear through her interaction with the fans that she gets that they are important to her success, and there is a clear appreciation for their continued support. An amazing sense of humility and humour always comes from Heap in her posts, interviews, etc. She’s not crazy, she just happens to act like a real human being, and not an industry created elite, who couldn’t be bothered to interact with people outside of obligated performances.

Finally, the album (you know, why I write these posts…). It is really enjoyable. I love that she recorded it in a studio she built in her old family home. It’s well-produced, with that atmospheric, layered sound you’d expect, but has heart (of course!) to boot. Speak for Yourself may end up being regarded as the more acclaimed album in her career, but listening to Ellipse is certainly easier to connect with Imogen, likely a result of the interaction between her and fans throughout the process. A closer comparison for Ellipse, though obviously different, is Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree, an album that I gave high marks for last year.

For a taste, check out the video for “First Train Home

Bodies disengaged, our mouths are fleshing over
Is this an echo game?
Irises retreating to ovals of white
The urge to feel your face, and blood rushing to paint my handprint
A Frisbee one by one; your vinyl on laminate, desperate for some kind of contact

– First Train Home

8/10
The Dodos - Time To Die

Time To Die

The Dodos

Released: August 31, 2009 (UK)

Time To Die? Oh, God, not another thrash metal album. Not even close! The Dodos fall into that category of Northeastern indie liberals. The kind of kids that read Stuff White People Like. In fact, they are Stuff White People Like. The first track, the menacingly titled “Small Deaths” is more Brian Wilson than Blunt Force Trauma. In case I have confused you, in no way am I suggesting that The Dodos are a thrash metal band. That was a horrible attempt to play with the title of the album. If you like Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes, you will like The Dodos, and you will love Time To Die.

For a taste, check out the plaid-shirt-wearing, live-venue performance in Seattle of “Troll Nacht” (how much more “indie” can we get?)

Comes a flooding of this stage
We’ll be wading in its wake
Sifting through old men in their place
Leads us to greater thoughts to crave

– Small Deaths

8/10
Athlete - Black Swan

Black Swan

Athlete

Released: August 24, 2009 (UK)

“Love Come Rescue” is really the black sheep- er swan on this album. It’s quiet, acoustic and filled with simple, emotive lyrics sang in an engaging way – that listeners might actually connect with. The rest of the album, as it were, is not as easily accessible, something that should be cause for worry for Athlete. Black Swan is an album full of anthemic, stadium-crowd, radio-friendly melodramatics that would make U2 and Coldplay weep (as I’m assuming they are receptive to exactly that approach).

For a taste, check out “Superhuman Touch

There’s a swallow on the phone wire
Singing songs unto my pain
Songs I will remember
To lift me up again

– Love Come Rescue

7/10

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