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New Album Purchases

I received a whole lot of iTunes money for Christmas, and here's a list of the albums I purchased with it:

"Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis
In an attempt to expand my musical taste to jazz, I purchased this album after hearing that it is not only one of the greatest albums of all time, but also one of the most accessible to inexperienced jazz listeners. I'll confirm both of these statements. Excellent, mellow and melodic late-night studying music.

"Blue Train" by John Coltrane
My second forray into the jazz world. Not quite as accessible as "Kind of Blue," but (from what I hear) much more accessible than Coltrane's later work. My initial reactions are that it's less melodic than "Kind of Blue," but also very good.

"The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" by Explosions in the Sky
Instrumental soundscapes similar to Sigur Ros, only simpler instrumentation, with two guitars, a bass, and drums. Very much like Hammock. I like it, but I prefer Sigur Ros for originality.

"F# A# (infinity)" by Godspeed! You Black Emperor
Definitely the strangest album I've purchased in a while. (And that says a lot coming from me.) It's composed of three tracks, each which contain about three or four "movements." Yes, this is Canadian orchestral apocalyptic post-rock. Think Sigur Ros meets the apocalypticism of Radiohead. It's very theatrical and incorporates spoken word segments into the music. I haven't sat down and listened to it all the way through with headphones, which I know I need to do in order to appreciate it fully. It still needs more time to grow on me.

"The Name of This Band is Talking Heads" by Talking Heads
This one is currently my favorite of the new albums. It's a two-disc live album which spans most of the Talking Heads career. While I had heard much about the Talking Heads, I had heard very little of their music. I now understand why people always list them as influences. Lots of funk, but with it's own unique new wave stylings. I can hear their influence in much of current indie music (The Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Wolf Parade) and especially the influence of David Byrne's vocals (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Modest Mouse).

"Mockingbird" by Derek Webb
This was the only one of the albums which I'd been planning to buy for a while. My inital impressions are that, musically, it's very strong. Lyrically, I think Derek can do better. Some of his earlier songs like "Center Aisle" and "Wedding Dress" are more poetic than his latest, IMO. The album focuses on issues of politics and social justice, and I think its message to evangelical Christianity in America needs to be heard. However, I have a few questions/disagreements with Derek's apparent pacifist leanings.

So, my recommendations: "Kind of Blue" for being simply a legendary album, and "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads" for an extremely influential band that seems (to me) underappreciated by current indie fans.

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I've been wanting to buy some new music lately, and haven't known what to get, so this will help me out seeing as I have a very wide range of musical tastes.

Also, that is A LOT of iTunes Christmas money. I'm definitely hanging up my stocking at your house next year.

I have to state that not only is "Kind of Blue" a classic, it is the one jazz album that everyone should own. That's what I've been told by pro jazz musicians, and I firmly back it up.

If you're ever looking for some slightly more contemporary (yet good) jazz, check out Charles Mingus - specifically the Mingus Big Band '93 CD entitled "Nostalgia in Times Square". I don't know if it is on iTunes or not, but it's one worth owning anyway. It's actually my #1 jazz CD. "Kind of Blue" is a very very close #2.

"F#A# (infinity)" is a fine album. However, I think my fave Godspeed release is "Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada". It's a shorter album - only two songs - but much more direct and powerful, and not as meandering, as "F#A# (infinity)". "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven" is also very, very good, but at two discs, can be a pretty massive recording to go through.

I'd also recommend checking out A Silver Mt. Zion, which is a side project. "He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms..." is a great album.

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