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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Music Blog

I've been feeling nostalgic lately.  I think it has something to do with seeing the new first-year students wander the halls during orientation.  As I watch them, I can't help but think about my first night in Little Rock a little over a year ago, when a friend and I went to see half of a set by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, a truly wonderful band from Indianapolis.

We only saw half of a set because the band's lead singer walked off the stage halfway through the set.  His complaint: the crowd wasn't paying close enough attention to the music.  It was such a deliciously rock 'n roll moment that I was willing to overlook the fact that we missed out on a good deal of good music.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's debut full-length album, The Dust of Retreat, is simply brilliant.  I've seen a couple of reviews refer to it as chamber pop (for instance here).  I don't know what that means (Eric Fink, do you have any thoughts?).  But I'd group them with Bright Eyes, Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, and Neutral Milk Hotel.  So check them out and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Posted by Zachary Kramer on August 19, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink


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"The Dust of Retreat" has been on repeat in my household for a longtime now. It's a great CD that I just happened to pick up because my local indie CD shop had it highlighted with a brief description of the band and bands its similar to. I took a chance, and I've been richly rewarded.

Posted by: David S. Cohen | Aug 20, 2007 1:50:08 PM

Chamber pop? That's unfortunate.

Posted by: Bart Motes | Aug 20, 2007 1:27:41 PM

Since we're on the subject: The Able Tasmans (a 1980s New Zealand Band) is one of the best baroque/chamber pop bands that's ever been.

Posted by: spinner | Aug 20, 2007 1:06:02 PM

Yeah, I know I'm definitely a Menshevik when it comes to Sufjan. Having spent five happy years in the Land of Lincoln myself, I wanted to like him. But somehow I just can't seem to.

I, too, heart NY -- he is pretty much the apotheosis of everything I love in pop music.

Posted by: eric | Aug 19, 2007 6:40:12 PM

Patrick, I'm a Neil Young fan too. I'm always in the mood to listen to Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.

Eric, I'm with you about Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom. I couldn't even get through Kate Bush's most recent record. But I love Sufjan Stevens. Of course, I'm originally from Illinois, so I'm somewhat biased in favor of people who sing about Decatur, IL. I hadn't heard of Okkervil River before. Great stuff!! Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Zak Kramer | Aug 19, 2007 6:26:08 PM

Though I've heard the term before, I've never really known what "chamber pop" means either. Having now looked it up, I see that Wikipedia associates it with "baroque pop" (another term I'd heard but never quite grasped), and describes it as "characterized by an infusion of orchestral arrangements or classical type composition within an indie or indie pop setting". Their listing of "Popular baroque pop artists today" includes many that I love -- e.g. Jens Lekman, the Decemberists, Elliot Smith, Okkerville River, and others -- and several that I deplore -- e.g. Kate Bush, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom. Based on the very catchy sample track in the Spin review, I'm now adding Margot etc. to the former category. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by: eric | Aug 19, 2007 12:52:08 PM

Well, my computer speakers aren't working and I barely find the time to listen to all the music I have, let alone keep up on all the new stuff. Hence when I get time, it's old Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Patsy Cline, Dion and the Belmonts, Kinks, Cream, Ventures, Allman Bros., etc., etc. But I do like to know what other (especially young) folks are listening to these days, if only because it allows me to follow at least some of our daughter's conversations or know who she's going to see in concert. And, in any case, I love the names: Decemberists! Wow, that's great.

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Aug 19, 2007 11:46:00 AM

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