Monday, September 28, 2009

My Music Year #1

I didn't get my first album of 2009 until the second half of January, which is a bit unusual for me. There was no big reason for it; I was just waiting for some music of interest to come and was still digging into what little I got for Christmas. Whatever the reason, my first new music of the year came in the form of A.C. Newman's Get Guilty.

A.C. Newman is the solo guise of Carl Newman, who is the glue that holds The New Pornographers together. He writes most of the band's material (excluding the songs Dan Bejar writes and sings on and a few other exceptions), fueling their four album run of power pop goodness. This is his second solo album after 2004's The Slow Wonder.

Newman writes pop songs, real pop songs that aren't afraid of melody or subtlety or varied instrumentation. Heck, he's not even afraid to use whistling in the background (see "All of My Days And All Of My Days Off"), to use "yo ho" in the place of a la-la or do-do (see "The Heartbreak Rides"), or even a chorus of "one high, one high, one high, one." (see "Prophets")

The album gets off to a great start with "There Are Maybe Ten Or Twelve," with it's ascending and falling guitar line, soft plucked strings, and a string of interesting lyrics (such as "There are maybe ten or twelve/Things I could teach you/After that well I guess you're on your own/And that wasn't the opening line/It was the tenth or the twelfth/Make of that what you will").

Other highlights include the propulsive strumming and percussion of "Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer" and the mid-tempo pulse of "The Changling (Get Guilty)" with its piano chords and the great first line: "It's not war/It's more like a warning."

The album has many charms and I can also state from firsthand experience that he and his band did a fantastic job translating these songs to a live setting as well. Any album with work written and performed by A.C. Newman is well-worth picking up and this one is no different.

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