Sunday, February 12, 2012

10 Under the Radar for 2011

Instead of focusing on a best of list, I wanted to highlight 10 albums released in 2011, by artists that aren’t household names. There are so many hard working and passionate artists who deserve to be noticed. The current landscape of the music industry makes it difficult for artist from local and regional scenes to break through. The blogosphere provides a conduit for these artists to be heard, but most bloggers, like those of us here at Twangville, have day jobs  and can’t listen to everything that is submitted to us. However, we try to listen to as much as possible. Listed below are 10 under the radar albums that caught my ear in 2011:

The New Familiars - Between the Moon and Morning Light

The Barr Brothers - Self-Titled

Mark W. Lennon - Home of the Wheel

Hotel Lights - Girl Graffiti

Dan Hubbard and the Humadors - The 
Love Show

Blind Pilot - We are the Tide

Big Fresh - The Moneychasers

River Rouge - Not All There Anymore

Old Californio - Sundrunk Angels
Exene Cervenka - The Excitement of Maybe

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes

Craig Finn has always had a reputation as an accomplished lyricist. In fact, he is as much of a poet as he is a Rock and Roll musician. His lyrics invoke an emotional connection that is evident as the crowd sings along at Hold Steady gigs. After all, this is the man who weaved the suicide of John Berryman into “Stuck Between Stations”. Not surprisingly, Clear Heart Full Eyes brings Finn’s poetic distinction to the forefront.

To be sure, the front man for Hold Steady has not forgotten the importance of the music. For this project, it tends to be more mellow and introspective, but is powerful none the less. My friend David, who has a daughter that is a budding musician at 13, recently made the point that musicians are sometimes far too serious and afraid to make people laugh. In fact, humor is a quality he is trying to encourage in the music of his daughter (Katie Deter). Humor has certainly never eluded Finn, as shown by the song, “New Friend Jesus”. He also invokes religious imagery often on Clear Heart Full Eyes. Consider this verse from “No Future”:

“I’ve been reading about the Calvary. The crucifixion still gets to me. I guess Golgotham meets the mount of execution. The best advice I got comes from ‘ol John Rotten. He said ‘God save the queen’ no future for you , no future for me”.

Finn is a modern day creative genius, and, Clear Heart Full Eyes is the perfect conduit to display his prodigious creativity.