Tag Archives: Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith

Inspired by the downloadable unreleased track Place Pigalle, posted by i guess i’m floating, let’s have ourselves an Elliott Smith post.

At turns, ES’s music is simple or intricate, lush or desolate, prancing or frantic. Or, as is generally the case with either/or (pun intended) options, both. I love his whole body of work (buy), but I like the whirling and raucous album Figure 8 better than the very compelling album Either/Or, which is considered his best by most music geeks. The above download, however, fits in better as an Either/Or song (or any other album, just not Figure 8).

Short two-part aside about his album titles. 1) Either/Or is from Kierkegaard (1843); a sample K quote that speaks to ES’s mental state: “My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known–no wonder, then, that I return the love.” 2) ES says, of the Figure 8 title, though I think the metaphor extends to his songwriting in general, “I just like the idea of a figure eight, of figure skaters trying to make this self-contained, perfect thing that takes a lot of effort but essentially goes nowhere.”

Excellent use of ES’s music in soundtracks includes the following choice songs (each album is worth owning):

Good Will Hunting ~ Miss Misery (this image of him feeding meters serves as my default)

Thumbsucker ~ Trouble (this Cat Stevens song (made famous in Harold and Maude) is much covered, to good effect here and by Eddie Vedder) (read the bio on this soundtrack; ES died, and Tim Delaughter and The Polyphonic Spree filled in)

The Royal Tenenbaums ~ Needle in the Hay (this song evokes the suicide attempt scene so vividly for me, it’s nearly too much to bear)

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The Mars Volta

On Tuesday The Mars Volta released a new cd, The Bedlam in Goliath. Interestingly, you can also buy the album on a 1 gig USB drive that carries the songs and a video and magically gives you additional goodies such as videos, more songs, and b-sides every month for a year. Cool. The band says while writing the new tunes it was channeling dark spirits that cursed them via their purchase of an old Ouija board. Listen to two songs from the album here; download their cover of the Black Flag song I’ve Had It here.

I want to like them so badly, still hoping for a reincarnation of At the Drive-In, who had brilliant music and awesome concerts (watch them go ape-sh*t on Later with Jools Holland). Like Elliott Smith, they’re one of the few acts I rue missing. Sigh. At the Drive-In broke up in 2001, after which the band members split into The Mars Volta and the good-but-not-great Sparta. (Sparta’s 2002 Wiretap Scars disc was very good, but now they’re starting to sound more Coldplay-ish. It does not suit them.)

I saw The Mars Volta open for A Perfect Circle in 2004, and I was ready to give them all the adoration I had stored up for At the Drive-In. Alas, their uber-technical wall-of-sound explorations just didn’t rev me up like I’d hoped. I couldn’t get into them then, and this disc didn’t change my mind.

One caveat: I do enjoy some of their songs with more apparent Mexican influences, like L’Via L’Viaquez. But if I’m going to listen to angry Mexican rock, then I’m probably going to go straight to the more aggressive bits of older Cafe Tacuba or Plastilina Mosh, or even the hip hop of Control Machete.

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Favorite Albums of 2007

I am so incensed by the exclusion of Into the Wild’s soundtrack from year-end lists, I am creating a 2007 best albums list. Everyone else thinks they’re righting the world’s wrongs, too, but so be it.

stellasplice’s favorite albums of 2007:

Boxer ~ The National
MySpace Site Buy

Music for the Motion Picture Into the Wild ~ Eddie Vedder
Buy and Listen

The Shepherd’s Dog ~ Iron & Wine
MySpace Site Buy

Because of the Times ~ Kings of Leon
MySpace Site Buy

Marry Me ~ St. Vincent
MySpace Site Buy

Glory Hope Mountain ~ The Acorn
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Buckle in the Bible Belt ~ Ha Ha Tonka
MySpace Site Buy 

Oh, My Darling ~ Basia Bulat
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Music for the Motion Picture Once ~ Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard
MySpace Site Buy

Rust Belt Blues ~ Oliver Buck
MySpace Site Buy

The Stage Names ~ Okkervil River
MySpace Site Buy

These two were quite good, but I unfairly wanted them to be Wolf Parade and The Shins, respectively, so I never could fall for them wholeheartedly:
Random Spirit Lover ~ Sunset Rubdown
Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? ~ Of Montreal (though it is my fav. Of Montreal disc)

I love the following artists. However good their 2007 discs may have been, they did not measure up to the artists’ previous releases, so they have been relegated to addendum status:
The White Stripes
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
José González
Spoon
The New Pornographers
Beirut (he swallowed up Alaska in Winter, too)
Modest Mouse
The Shins
Elliott Smith
The Polyphonic Spree

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