For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Rhapsody online. I have the “radio” membership wherein I pay a monthly fee to listen to unlimited music. It’s a great way for me to preview whole songs before buying and it also provides a way to buy music that isn’t iTunes. (Steve Jobs scares me).
The past few weeks, I’ve listened to three different projects via Rhapsody that have impressed me.
Stars – The Five Ghosts
I caught this Canadian band on Q, a podcast/radio show from the CBC. Their live performance didn’t necessarily blow me away, but I liked it and their interview was pretty fun.
Stars is Roquil Campbell and Chris Seligman and this most recent project is an ethereal, paranormal collection of songs that seem to focus on ghosts, broken hearts and longing. As indie pop goes, all the basics are there – drum loops, new wave sine waves, plaintive lyrics, etc. But it’s a surprising record that doesn’t depress even in it’s darkness. The band builds most of their hooks and memorable moments into the vocals rather than allowing the band to be the shining force.
Mainstay – Become Who You Are
It’s been a long time since I sat down and listened to a pop-rock record. Thanks, mainstream radio. I’m almost as leery of Christian pop rock stars, but I caught Mainstay on Pandora not too long ago and was immediately hooked. There’s a lot of typical, unoriginal “modern rock” flavors, but the songwriting and vocal power on this project is astounding. Like the previous record mentioned, vocals are definitely the strong suit here. I’m frustrated by predictable lyrical turns, but more than enough songs make up for it.
Josh Ritter – So Runs The World Away
Josh Ritter is one of those guys I like in principle. How can I not like a guy that most critics claim as a modern day Bob Dylan? I hadn’t heard the new project until a week or so ago when I heard “The Curse,” one of the most heart-wrenching, creative songs I’ve ever heard. Ritter still plays and writes from an Americana perspective, but this new record allows his random, lo-fi, abstract songwriting and arranging to take center stage. Sometimes, a record captures you because it’s so different and unexpected. This is one of those records.