Okay. I might be kind of late on the MPPA train (woo woo). I've listened to "Halloween" over 14 times in the past week. This song is the opener of "Several Arrows Later" and in many ways it is the perfect starting point for a spectacular album. From the beginning, something about this song screams uncertainity and anxiety. The piano along with Matt Pond's voice lends itself to a romantic yet realistic mood, with dimmed lights and whispering closely. The chorus is one of the strongest parts of the song: "Pardon the intrusion/ Could we leave before it gets bad?" It is personal yet general and perfect. It is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to get into Matt Pond PA.
2. Death Cab for Cutie "A Diamond and A Tether" mp3
One thing that DCFC does so well is write introspective tunes. This one, from their new release, "The Open Door EP," is one of the best I've heard in a while. As Gibbard sings,"I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn," the listener believes him. He goes on to spin the tale of someone with serious commitment issues who is perfectly satisfied with being alone. At the same time, he is not alone but always gazing around to see what else is out there. He makes "empty promises" and "countless bluffs." This song, lyrically and musically, seems like a throwback to old-school Death Cab and I like it.
3. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)" mp3
It is no secret that I love just about everything Conor Oberst does. With the latest album"Outer South" (which will be released on May 5, 2009), is a collective effort by the Mystic Valley Band. The opening guitar riffs "Slowly" feature a big band sound similar to the one found on "Four Winds" (from 2007's "Cassadaga" record). This opening track starts off with an incredibly profound yet simple lyric: "Potential, well you're a loaded line." The song has a lot of the same themes from "Cassadaga" but goes steps further to claim the necessity of a vacation from life.
4. The Gaslight Anthem "The Navesink Banks" mp3
On April 24th, I went to see Gaslight at Webster Hall. I had only seen Brian Fallon solo at the Court Tavern in New Jersey and really did not know what to expect. What I came to notice was that the concert was much like the pop-punk shows of yesteryear. There were kids moshing, fist pumping and the like. I hadn't been to a show like that in years. It sure was something.
5. Bishop Allen "The Chinatown Bus" mp3
For me, Bishop Allen is a newish discovery, even though I heard them on KEXP in 2007. Bishop Allen, from Brooklyn, is one of those bands with great lyrical and musical talent. And I love bands that refernece the place that they are from (like the Hold Steady does in all of their songs). From 2007's "This Broken String," this song is fully laden with New York references. It takes about going up the I-95 on the Chinatown bus after New Years Day. It takes of taxi cabs and being a passenger, watching the world go by. The quiet vocals and guitars along with the trumpets and tambourines create a dreamy and calm mood.