Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream
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Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream

Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream will serve as a blog for me to share my thoughts and musings, with a special emphasis on music. The music that will appear in this blog is for evaluation/sampling purposes only, and is designed to promote up and coming bands. Remember, if you like the artist(s), buy the CD! If you are the owner of a sound file and would like it removed, please contact us and we will kindly take it down.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Dixie Hummingbirds

I was at the library yesterday, browsing through the audio/video section, and I came across this album. Now you must understand-I don't usually just pick up albums because of some aesthetic attraction. No. But this time I did. And I was glad I did.

How the hell was I not going to check out a band whose name is "The Dixie Hummingbirds"? Apparently, these five gospel/folk singers recognized the power in the name. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Dixie Hummingbirds (TDH) were not strictly some religious gospel group. Each of them has a unique voice-not your typical good gospel voice by any means-and they are incredibly synchronized. TDH doesn't shy away from the use of guitars or any other instruments they see fit. They don't strictly rely on their voices, but rather use accompanying instruments to enhance their sound. With song titles like "Rasslin' Jacob" and lyrics like "Someday I'll be judged by the race I run...Someday always come to soon."
No, they aren't indie. No, they aren't the most amazing group I've ever heard. But the Dixie Hummingbirds are friggin' sweet.

Listen to "Someday".

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Madeleine Peyroux

Imagine sitting in a coffee shop, looking out over a sea of deep blues and cyans and a glittering sun. The small white caps come tumbling to the shore to the beat of Ms. Madeleine Peyroux's songs. It's really incredible to listen to Peyroux's retro voice over breezy melodies-close your eyes and you'd think that you're on a beach somewhere very far away. Very far away.

For those of you who aren't acquainted with Peyroux, she actually had one of her songs-"Don't Wait Too Long"-from the album Careless Love (2004) on a Dockers San Francisco commercial. But that only disparages her talents. Peyroux has got these Billie Holliday type vocals, that floats and flutters on the surface of your ears. She also possesses and amazing ability to reinterpret old classics, and Half the Perfect World (coming out September 12)is no exception. Nearly two-thirds of the album are covers of old songs: "River" is originally a Joni Mitchell song, a relaxed version of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" from Midnight Cowboy,and Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" from Modern Times, among others. But what's even more surprising are the four tracks that Peyroux wrote/co-wrote. "I'm All Right" makes great use of a jazzy organ while "A Little Bit" seems to be the lead single that features the smart lyric, "I don't want all of it, all I need is a little bit". Peyroux is perfect on "A Little Bit", as she perfectly melds (I used this word two posts ago, didn't I?) her classic voice with a stringed out riff that-as Tom Tucker from Family Guy would say-is just really great.

Buy Half the Perfect World.

Listen to "Don't Wait Too Long" from Careless Love.
Listen to "A Little Bit".

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Material

I love music. So...I'd love to hear about new bands, artists, whatever. I'm always looking. E-mail me.

Andrew Bird

“At this point the violin just happens to be the instrument I have on hand to make the sounds that I hear. I like to abuse it and pull as many sounds out of it as I can.”
~Andrew Bird

I guess that sums up Andrew Bird in a nutshell. The Chicago-born Bird first started out as the lead member of Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, which released three albums on the rykodisc label. Bird then explored solo projects with his 2003 release of Weather Systems, and his most recent release, The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005). Bird has been classically trained in the violin among other string instruments, but he has adapted his skill to make creative rock hooks that reel the listener in. That's not to say that he lacks skill lyrically, as you can see from a song that appears on The Mysterious Production of Eggs. On "Skin is, My", Bird explores the excitement and newness of love:
Let it be printed on every t-shirt in this land
on the finest of cottons and the hippest of brands
in bolder letters than the capital I

"Skin is, My" also features one the best (or only) pizzicato appearances in a rock song. The song gives this jazzy, wavy, cool type of feeling and then brings in the full band to spice it up.

Buy The Mysterious Production of Eggs.

Listen to "Skin is, My".

Listen to "11:11" from Swimming Hour. What a great voice. And that violin? He's for real.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Ultimate Pump-Up Songs

The duck is the true embodiment of the ultimate pump-up song.

I'm going to take a break from our usual activities at CSVMAD in order to investigate the ultimate pump-up songs of all time.

"What is an ultimate pump-up song?", you ask. Well, it's a lot of things, but let's go through the checklist:

1. The song must have a catchy but variating riff. The riff can't be so repetitive that it gets boring, but there needs to be time allowed for the riff to develop. The riff needs to build on itself, as it gets caught in a web of sonic deliciousness. Kick in the drums, add in a guitar solo, or a kickass piano ditty that will make it sweet.
Ex. "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim.

2. The song must follow a story-like sequence. There needs to be an introduction that reels you in and gradually gets you ready for the "bomb". Then, there needs to be a progressive build to the bomb that is a little more complicated than the introduction. Next, you have what I call "the bomb"-you know what it is. It's the part that hits you over the head with adrenaline, the part that gets you so psyched for whatever you need to do to the point where you feel like you've just had 4 red bulls (never tried it, but I would assume it is). **Note: The best bomb ever is "Right Here, RIght Now" by Fatboy Slim. Listen to it and pay careful attention at the 1:14 mark.** Lastly, there needs to be a resolution to the bomb. This part brings you back down to an appropriate adrenaline level but still leaves you pumped up.
Ex. "Right Here, Right Now" by Fatboy Slim. I'm not kidding about the 1:14 mark.

3. The song must have a variation of instruments. This means that the song should be played loud and loudness is conducive "pump-upedness". It is neccessary for an Ultimate pump-up song to have the ability to be played multiple times on different occassions. The only way for a song can stay fresh and exciting is if the listener can hear new sounds or understand the lyrics differently each time. With a variation and abundance of instruments, that can happen.
Ex. "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens. See 3:57.

4. This last category is one that is hard to explain. I'll call it "the empowering factor". The empowering factor refers to the song's ability to inspire or empower you to do something. Many times, the reason I listen to an ultimate pump-up song is to invigorate or inspire myself to do what I need to do. This most definitely includes competitions of any sort. An ultimate pump-up song is like sonic steroids. Yea, sonic steroids. Too bad Barry Bonds didn't read this post 5 years ago.
Ex. "Cry of the Celts" by Ronan Hardiman. See 0:52. If you don't believe me about this song, ask my friend Matt-I'm sure he could tell you a little bit about it.

Notable pump-up tracks:
"Hello Conscience" by The Zutons. Go and buy their album, seriously.

"49 Percent" by Royksopp from The Understanding. Great album. Get it.

"Good Girl Down" by Morcheeba. Nice.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

For Once, Being "Under the Influence" is a Good Thing

It's true. When you're "Under the Influence of Giants", that is. Thier intoxicating and upbeat melodies with their well-executed vocal harmonies make Under the Influence of Giants a real Pop-Rock-genre-spanning group. From the very first listen-and I continue to hear it more and more as I listen-UTIOG sounds like Sting and the Police if they were writing and playing music in 2006. They have the same rhythm tendencies, and while I don't think anybody has a naturally higher male voice than Sting, UTIOG makes up for that with their fantastic falsettos. Like Sting and the Police, UTIOG are clearly influenced by a great deal of genres, from blues to funk to reggae to rock, and you can hear them in nearly every song.

Under the Influence of Giants isn't lacking in the lyrical department either. In "Heaven is Full", they explore the possibility that the other world might be filled to capacity-an ironic but well-received theory. The lyrics are accompanied by a neat electric keyboard-pounding that refuses to get out of your head.
"Mama's Room" sounds as though it could be on a Maroon 5 album-catchy guitar and a pretty darn good voice-and then all the sudden it breaks out into a soft southern-disco-like song that wows the listener.

Both these songs can be found on the self-titled album, Under the Influence of Giants.

Listen to Heaven is Full.
Listen to Mama's Room.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Knifeblades + Glowing Bulbs=Razorlight: sounds like a pretty awkward combination, a contradiciton one might say. However, this swedish-english rock band has figured out a way to bring together a unique sharpness and intensity to their music, while also infusing their warm pop tendencies into the mix. The equation is really one of success.

Their self-titled sophomore albumRazorlight builds beautifully off of their debut release, Up All Night, which featured such gems as "Rip it Up" and "Golden Touch". What intrigues me about Razorlight is that they effortlessly walk the line between indie and mainstream rock. Listen to their lyrics and the messages they're trying to convey-you automatically think indie rock. At times, when the words seem meaningless, their sonic quality-along with the accentuation of the words on the part of Johnny Borrell and Bjorn Ognen-breathe a whole new life into the words.
Listen to the catchy pop riffs and vocal harmonies and you might think you're listening to one of the more popular bands on the radio. Don't be fooled.

The song, "Hold On", is more of a feel-good-call-to-arms that features an addicting guitar riff and some dabbling on the keyboards. The sentiments expressed in the song are not neccessarily original but are prevalent:

So stick your fist up prove them wrong
Don't lose the words to the song
Coz its a long way down
I guess you know that by now

But if you hold on
Well I will hold on too
And if you reach up
Yeah I will reach up too

The song, "Who Needs Love?" features 60's-like vocal harmonies with a Grease-like piano rhythm that makes this song a gem.
Be sure to check these two songs out and buy the album.

Check out Hold On.
Check out Who Needs Love?.

I'm Ba-ack!

Caption: Lake Buckatabon in Conover, Wisconsin

First of all, I just want to apologize for the lack of posts over the past two months. I was working as a camp counselor for 9 weeks in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, and internet access was limited. But now I'm back and I've got some great bands to tell you about.