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Archive for the ‘Hey Marseilles’ Category

The end of the year marks a great opportunity for reflection. For a music enthusiast, it’s a perfect excuse to make a list of my top albums and songs of the year. This was relatively challenging for me. I tend to think and live very much in the moment. I get swept up in what’s going on around me right now. And for this exercise I had to abandon, for a second, what was playing in the moment, and reflect on what had been playing over the course of the past 12 months. I am not sure I entirely succeeded. But, alas, below I present to you my top 20 songs and top 11 albums of 2011!

Top 20 Songs of 2011

20. Long Days, Fast Years by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

19. Someone Like You by Adele

18. Another by The White Album

17. Kiss Quick by Matt Nathanson

16. If I Wanted Someone by Dawes

15. Eagle’s Nest by Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps

14. Café Lights by Hey Marseilles

13. Everything (Overture) by Chris Bathgate

12. Anyhow… by Tyler Lyle

11. The Nature of Our Kind by Vandaveer

10. We Will All Be Changed by Seryn

9. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

8. Down In The Valley by The Head and the Heart

7. Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars

6. New York by Blind Pilot

5. Old Pine by Ben Howard

4. Blackout by Pickwick

3. 1957 by Milo Greene

2. Beggar In The Morning by The Barr Brothers

1. Honey Jars by Bryan John Appleby

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Top 11 Albums

11. Gift Horse by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

10. 21 by Adele

9. Ashes and Fire by Ryan Adams

8. Dig Down Deep by Vandaveer

7. The Golden Age & The Silver Girl by Tyler Lyle

6. The Barr Brothers by The Barr Brothers

5. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars

4. Fire On The Vine by Bryan John Appleby

3. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

2. The Head and The Heart by The Head and The Heart

1. We Are The Tide by Blind Pilot

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This is the fourth installment of a weekly collection of the “latest and greatest.” I post two newly discovered songs that have captured my attention and two of my longtime (word of warning, this will be a relative term) favorite songs that are building up dust in my music library.

THE LATEST

Eagle’s Nest by Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps
Last night, in a last-minute bout of spontaneity, I decided to run downtown to check out Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps. They played at The Living Room, a low-key, casual venue in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Caroline has an understated, familiar vibe—she’s the wholesome girl next door, with a funky edge. But when she opens her mouth, her beautiful voice hits you in the face and reminds you of her incredible talent.

The modern, indie-folk sound of Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps filled the room from the very first note. Caroline’s voice is unique, quivering, yet controlled, with a timeless essence of Billie Holiday. Her songs are weighty, the melodies etching themselves into you to last long after the final chord.

My favorite of her songs is Eagle’s Nest, from their September release of Little Wind, a haunting tune about the origin of a daughter’s worth. The song starts off slow; Caroline’s voice is only accompanied by the piano and acoustic guitar and eventually soft drumkit after the first minute. But then the song builds to a powerful crescendo, repeating the following line over and over again:

So bind up the French doors and lace your leather tight
I am taking you to the eagle’s nest tonight”


Elegy by Hey Marseilles

On Tuesday, the Seattle-based group Hey Marseilles will be releasing Elegy, a new 7-inch and the band’s first recording since To Travels & Trunks. In a conversation with Matt Bishop (which will take up a full post soon), the lead singer of the seven-man crew, I learned a little about the band’s instrumental roots:

“We kind of backed our way into the genre that we find ourselves in, in that we were just a group of guys who really enjoyed the complexity of instrumental arrangements and combining that with a pop melody so ultimately it ends up being a very kind of soft sound, in that it has a lot of cello, viola, and acoustic guitar, accordion, it’s not particularly edgy in any auditory way,” explained Bishop. “But it’s also not Americana. You know, it’s not based in the American folk musician tradition. It’s more based in the pop tradition and supported by the complexity of the instrumental arrangements that we have the strength for.”

The Elegy 7-inch is an exciting preview for the Hey Marseilles’ highly anticipated sophomore album, which is expected to hit the stores in early 2012. In the meantime, Elegy and Café Lights demonstrate the band’s maturation and growth, while remaining true to the Hey Marseilles character, with trumpets and strings layered to create a textured, unique sound.

Unfortunately the song is not available to preview yet, so I don’t have a link to stream. As soon as it’s available I’ll put it up. And trust me, it’s worth the wait.

THE GREATEST (covers edition)

Heartbeats by José González
José González plays a mean guitar. This Swedish troubadour’s gripping acoustic reinterpretation of the Knife’s “Heartbeats” rips my heart out every time I hear it. Clocking in at well under 3 minutes, Heartbeats is probably his best-known number and is the centerpiece of his 2006 debut-album Veneer. The gently plucked guitar is the only accompaniment González’s hushed tenor needs. Through his unadorned approach, he has created a modern folk classic.

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

In the spirit of brilliant covers, I am struck time and again by Adele’s rendition of Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan. As with much of Dylan’s music, which is better heard through the voices of others, Adele breathes new life into Dylan’s beautiful lyrics.

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love.”

There are not enough words to describe Adele. She popped onto my register a year and a half ago, when one of my favorite Pandora stations continued to feature songs from 19, her critically acclaimed debut album. Her soulful voice has been compared to the likes of Kate Nash and Amy Winehouse. Adele has earned every accolade with her powerhouse vocal delivery.

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This is the first installment of a weekly collection of the “latest and greatest.” I will post two newly discovered songs that have captured my attention and two of my longtime favorite songs that are building up dust in my music library.

THE LATEST

In the last several months, I have been inundated with music, thanks to some new friends and an expansion of my blog-roll (see the “Necessary Bookmarks” for my favorites).

To Travels and Trunks by Hey Marseilles

Hey Marseilles, a seven-piece folk-pop band from Seattle, have made quite an impression on me. They have a rich sound, which is supported by a surplus of instruments: cello, viola, accordion, trumpet, snare drum, cymbal, tambourine, and acoustic guitars. A friend of mine introduced me to Rio, when he featured a beautiful solo, acoustic version on his blog. But when I got my hands on the album shortly thereafter and took it for a spin, To Travels and Trunks was the number that really spoke to me. Matt Bishop’s voice blends perfectly against the grand instrumental backdrop of the cello, violin and accordion; in this song, Bishop is my ideal reincarnation of Ben Gibbard. Not to mention, my heart melts when he sings out: “All I want is love eternally / with your heart facing me.”

The best description of Hey Marseilles that I’ve read came from their own Facebook page: “It’s modern vintage, a folk-pop jam session at a vanished cabaret on the Seine, an indie rocker’s fantasy of his grandparents’ first kiss.”

Beggar In The Morning by The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers, a Montreal-based band centered around brothers Andrew and Brad Barr, just released their self-titled debut album. Beggar In The Morning is the song I keep coming back to and playing on repeat. It is beautiful. I have a feeling I’ll be writing much more about these guys in blogs to come.

“Oh I want an angel to wipe my tears / I want my dreams, my hopes, desires and fears / We may capsize but we wont drown / Hold each other as the sun goes down.”

Check out this very cool video of the song.

THE GREATEST

The Chain by Fleetwood Mac

When I was first learning how to play the guitar I was fascinated by fingerpicking. I learned Blackbird by The Beatles and drove my parents crazy by sitting in my room playing it at every chance I got. Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, the album’s most complicated compositions, blends Lindsey Buckingham’s fingerpicking with the electric guitar, creating a distinctive guitar/banjo sound. I particularly love that it is the only track that all members of the band collaborated on. Stolen from my mom’s music collection, The Chain remains one of the most influential songs in my library.

Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel


Sometimes I wish I was born in an earlier decade, just so that I could have heard Simon & Garfunkel perform Cecilia at their prime as a folk duo. I imagine the room filled to its brim with energy, harmonies bouncing off the walls, the percussion shaking the floors and a musical enlightenment for those lucky enough to be a part of the magic. In honor of my first “latest and greatest” blog post, Simon & Garfunkel’s masterpiece Cecilia from their 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water takes the cake for the greatest song in my collection.

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