Pat's Pick - You and I by Jeff Buckley

Pat says:

Posthumous releases can sometimes be dicey. There can be a tendency for surviving friends and family to scrounge up the artist's every last recording and release them all at full price. Recording quality and artistic merit can thus vary widely.

No artist exemplifies this better than Jeff Buckley, the singer-songwriter who accidentally drowned in 1997. It seems that every few years a new collection of undiscovered demos, covers or musical sketches is found and released as a “long lost” album. The latest iteration is You and I which features a mix of all of the above.

Despite some questions I have about the motivations behind releasing this material, ultimately I enjoy listening to these tunes. The recordings feature sudden starts and stops, spontaneous A Capella sections and other quirky little gems. At one point in “Dream of You and I” Buckley stops to talk about a dream he recently had. The recordings are charming and very intimate, which suits his voice quite well.

I have to wonder what Jeff Buckley himself would think of this though. Based on his small sample of studio recordings it seems he was quite a perfectionist. Would he really want to charge full price for some of these sketches? Would he even want to release some of these songs when they are full of mistakes? We will probably never know. In the meantime, I will listen again to his cover of “Just Like a Woman.”

Jeff Buckley playing "Just Like a Woman"

Ch8commended: Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City

Pat (the guitarist) says:

I just got a chance to check out Vampire Weekend's new album Modern Vampires of The City .  I admired the band's two previous albums, but I really love this one quite a bit. They still have their quirky, Gracelandy, aesthetic but they really have dug a lot deeper than they ever have before.

 Singer/Vocalist Ezra Koenig really comes into his own as a vocalist/lyricist on this record. The tune "Step" in particular is a beautiful blend of words and music that summons the virtuoso wordplay of Andrew Bird or Paul Simon at their best.  On the rocker "Diane Young" (I don't think I have ever heard Vampire Weekend kick this much ass before) he more or less symbolically torches the band's preppy Ivy League image and moves on to deliver some great existential musings: live my life in self-defense, you know I love the past cause I hate suspense.  

Producer Rostam Batmanglij (also the guitarist/keyboardist) has some exceptionally impressive moments, not least of which is the aforementioned "Diane Young" with its exquisite use of extreme auto-tune and dub step snare hits.

 Every Vampire Weekend record seems to have a few Afro-Cuban-meets-harpsichord tunes that usually rub me the wrong way. This time however they sound much more soulful and convincing than they have before. "Ya Hey" in particular is stellar.

I could go on and on, but check out some tracks for yourself.