Feeling classy? We’ve got quite the episode in store for you today. First, we’re switching things up by placing our topic—a multi-pronged preamble for today’s album—before the analysis instead of after. As a grand introduction to Chambers by Chilly Gonzales, we properly thank Doug Ferguson of the Music A to Z Podcast for recommending it, we talk a bit about their podcast, a bit about Chilly himself, and for our topic we address our own experiences with classical music over the years and reflect on the nasty habit of classical “avoidance”. At last, once we’re all warmed up, starting approx. 20 mins. in we begin to tackle Chambers, an album of twelve bite-sized neo-Romantic works featuring Chilly at the piano accompanied by Hamberg’s Kaiser Quartett. So sit back, dive in, check out the Music A to Z Podcast (as well as Doug’s last request), and indulge in the vast multiverse that is music and those who love discussing it.
Welcome to today’s discussion on Varmints by Anna Meredith, the Scottish composer most recently known for drifting between contemporary classical and electro-pop. Varmints flexes her composers’ muscles and takes her “maximalist” sensibilities just a step further, but how big of a step? Let’s find out together! And of course, check out [1:59:02] to hear a self-analytical discussion on our practice of podcast “pre-listens”, i.e., a group run-through. If we assume that tastes are contingent on whatever we’re exposed to, then what about the people we listen to music with? Do friends and colleagues affect our enjoyment of music, like a contagious wave of laughter? You tell us!
Welcome to the first episode of 2016! Join us as we kick off the new year with a new microphone and Björk’s torrid divorce album, Vulnicura, released early last year. Afterwards, we dive into some more heavy material concerning music at large: how easy it is to grow “out of touch”, internet marketing, and postcapitalism! Should be a fun year…
This week we wrestle with the latest project by Ben Folds, this time a solo work (as a follow-up to our much earlier review of the same artist, then with the re-formed Ben Folds Five). In his latest album, So There, the famed pianist is working in two new arenas: the chamber ensemble and the orchestra. Join us in an analysis of the first eight tracks, where he supplements his pop stylings with the incredible talents of yMusic—a New York-based ensemble known for their intensive composer collaborations—and then for the final three tracks, each one a movement from Ben Folds’ much-awaited piano concerto (recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra). Afterwards, stick around for a recap of the vinyl resurgence, as discussed in CC: Autographs Ep. #28…. but this time with Jon!
A special album and a special guest, today we welcome Joe Benjamin (from Joe Benjamin and a Mighty Handful). Steeped in the larger-than-life sounds of big band & swing, the 11-piece ensemble performs the work of the German-born singer, composer, and conductor Joe Benjamin. Listen for some samples of his work, an exclusive interview with the man himself, and finally for the album he brought to place under our microscope (starting at 37:22). That album is called Amour t’es là?, the 2013 release by another massive ensemble, Banda Magda (fronted by Greek native and French speaker Magda Giannikou). More samples from Joe and a Mighty Handful throughout, so listen through!
To kick off “Season 4”, we look at a fairly big name from across the pond: Florence + The Machine. Joining our recent lineup of dynamic female singer/songwriters, Florence Welch (with her expansive melodies and enchanting lyrics) appears to bring it home once more with the vastly-titled How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. (Just how big and how beautiful remains to be seen.) So go ahead, join in the analysis, and field your opinions in the comment board! Afterwards, stick around for a hefty discussion on the fairness of lyrical criticism. Have you ever seen a gem of a lyric fly under the radar? Or an overrated lyric reach Pulitzer acclaim? We’ll be exploring the possibility of a double standard in the critical approaches to lyrical verse vs. standalone prose today on the Crash Chords Podcast!
And then the orchestra met the synthesizer… and it was good. Today we feature a special fan-chosen album for our weekly analysis, courtesy of Heather S. (@wildflowerfever). The album is called In Conflict, by the composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, Owen Pallett. Then we take some time to discuss the particulars of an upper echelon rating system. Why are things harder to rate the closer they come to true exceptionalism?
Never at a loss for notes, Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond is at it again, this time with a brazen tell-all album called This Is My Hand. Join us as we pick apart the nuances of this latest work in our weekly review. After this musical onslaught, we took some time to discuss the impact of “person” in an album. Whether invited to place oneself in someone else’s shoes, or to accept a foreign narrative, this simple literary choice guides our experience of the tale… but does it ever affect the intensity of the experience?
Time for one of our favorite things: another cosmic ballet between traditional composition and pop songwriting. This week we find it in the band Arc Iris, fronted by the highly animated vocalist, Jocie Adams (formerly of the Low Anthem). With the help of her poetic flair, their self-titled debut packs a wallop. Let’s hope we do it justice. Also stick around for an interesting discussion on musical identity and personality, and whether they’re at all linked with staying power.