Energetic roots rocker Taylor Brown is quickly moving up in the local music scene, with a recent spot at the Dogwood Arts Rhythm N' Blooms festival and, with his backing band, a slot opening for 1990s singer/songwriter Edwin McCain at the Bijou Theatre this weekend. Here's what Brown's been listening to lately.
House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars, 2008)
I have truly been won over by this smart, acoustic-driven group and their haunting layers of strings. Frontman Justin Ringle has an equally haunting voice. He seems to have rolled out of bed, picked up his guitar, and cranked out some excellent tunes. One of my favorite tracks is "Helen." The verses force you to lean in and take a closer listen with their "less is more" take on instrumentation, and the chorus erupts into a beautiful arrangement of soaring vocals and strings. Definitely worth a listen.
Franks Wild Years (Island, 1987)
Of course, you can never go wrong with popping in a Waits record, but recently I have been listening to Franks Wild Years while driving around. I am always amazed at what Waits released in the '80s. In a decade where punk and pop battled it out in the public eye, Waits stayed very, well, Waits. This album, like most of his work, is a real piece of genius. My favorite track is "Cold Cold Ground," although it stands alone amid the rest of the album: "There's a bird in the chimney/And a stone in my bed/When the road's washed out/They pass the bottle around/And wait in the arms/Of the cold cold ground."
For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar, 2008)
I've met people who either rave about or seem slightly disgruntled toward the music of Justin Vernon. I think there are better musicians and better lyricists than the frontman of Bon Iver, but few artists draw the listener into a more beautifully contemplative state than he does. I have a great respect for the passion Vernon demonstrates in creating an atmosphere with his tunes. I started listening to him a few years ago, and he will forever be on my autumn playlist.