Mellow Music without the Wuss Factor
Maybe you and your significant other have called it an early night after a nice dinner out. Or you’re starting your weekend off with an early morning cup of coffee and the paper. In either case, probably not the best time for GWAR.
You want something contemporary, but still laid back so you can relax. But you also don’t want to sacrifice every last point on your man card by throwing in a Norah Jones CD. Especially if you’ve got a young woman at your place. Might as well open a bottle of chardonnay and talk about the latest Twilight move at that point.
The good news is that you do have options in that genre that aren’t entirely stripped of testosterone. The better news is you don’t have to look far for them. Here’s three of the best.
Elbow, The Seldom Seen Kid – $9.61
Dappered Drinks Correspondent (and a guy with much better taste in music than I) Ben Madeska originally suggested I pick this one up. That was a few years back and it hasn’t seen a lot of time out of the CD player since. The most up-tempo song on the disc, Grounds for Divorce, might sound familiar since it was used heavily to promote the George Clooney / Brad Pitt / Coen Brothers weirdfest that was Burn After Reading. It’s a terrific song, but isn’t reflective of the tone for rest of the album. The songs range from sweet sounding (Mirror Ball, Weather to Fly) to lightly tense (An Audience with the Pope, The Fix). Best on a cooler evening with a book and the desire to make a dent in a bottle of port.
Robert Plant & Alison Kraus, Raising Sand – $12.99
Proof that an incomparable woman can change a guy personally or professionally, Brit Robert Plant takes on molasses smooth American bluegrass with a woman who appears half his age. Really. The same guy who once sang “Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg” with Led Zeppelin, gets taken gingerly through 12 tracks of mandolin, steel guitar, and banjo by Alison Krauss. If her voice were a whiskey, you’d develop dependency issues. And even though Plant sounds (and looks) like he’s been drinking something similar for the last four decades, it’s a freak pairing that works out more than well. Here’s to hoping they make another.
Broken Bells, Broken Bells – $11.88
Like Raising Sand, Broken Bells is at first glance a whacked-out collaboration which then unquestionably delivers. James Mercer from The Shins handles the stuff he’s good at, and Danger Mouse warps it all into something incredible. Like a rear-wheel drive pickup on a deserted icy road, this thing floats. But at a decent speed too. There’s a lot of play in every song, and the dip and flow is engaging. Trippy, but not depressing, you can put on this CD for just about any occasion. We’ve even used it for when friends would come over for dinner. It’s worth listening to a few times in a row once you first get it, and the music video for the first single “The High Road” gives you a good idea what the whole project is about: