Apr 7, 2011

Music to My Ears

Hello, dear readers! May I take a moment to tell you how much I love spring in the amazing city of Kyoto? Today is a beautiful 70 degree day, with a few clouds but more than enough sakura (cherry blossoms) to make up for the slightly overcast skies. It seems like yesterday the sakura just exploded while I was at work. I am lucky enough to bike through the Imperial Palace gardens to and from the office (ummm... can you say best commute ever?) and while yesterday morning had quite a few buds, the evening ride home was accompanied by a slight, sweet scent of cherry and pretty pink pedals bursting from all corners. I'm going to miss this city.

But speaking of my amazing commute, not only am I surrounded by incredible scenery and get to bike through a park that royalty and aristocrats used to stroll around, it's a great time to plug in my headphones and immerse myself in a world of melodies before starting (or after ending) a stressful day of prefectural advising (yeah, I just used my job title as a verb). Seeing as I love new music, I wanted to share with you a couple of the albums I've been rocking these days.

Young the Giant, the debut album that shares its name with the band that created it, has easily become one of my go-to CDs. This album is fun and light, with deceptively simple songs that are actually quite layered and complex, though perhaps at times a bit unoriginal. No matter, though, because this is an enjoyable combination of 12 fun songs that doesn't take itself too seriously. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia said that much of the album was inspired by the beach, and its pop-rock vibe and catchy lyrics have already made me incredibly excited for warmer weather. You can be certain that my neighbors will be hearing tracks like "My Body," "Cough Syrup" and "I Got" - with me singing right along - through my open windows come May.

After a ridiculously long five-year hiatus, the Strokes announced to eagerly awaiting fans that they were finally releasing their fourth album in March 2011. I remember excitedly telling the husband about it, but in the back of my mind I was nervous. As a lady who would probably consider this quintet from NYC my favorite band ever, my expectations were high. Really high. Like James-Franco-at-the-Oscars-high (don't deny it, James). "How could they possibly improve? There's nowhere to go but down!" I thought, complete with furrowed brow (which I quickly stopped lest I get wrinkles). But then on February 9, "Under Cover of Darkness," their first single since 2006, was released and my doubts melted into dance moves. The full CD, Angles, was released on the first of March and the wait was proven to be worth it. It's a solid, modern-garage-rock album from front to back that has pulls from the '80s (I first thought "Machu Picchu" was covering a lost Men At Work tune) while also embracing obvious inspiration from contemporary competition - rock bands such as MGMT and Arctic Monkeys. The Strokes are a great example of a band that can grow and deviate from their original sound while not alienating the fan base that made them popular, which is not an easy accomplishment (just ask Bloc Party). On the downside, with just 10 swift songs, you could listen to the entire album one and a half times during a single episode of Jersey Shore. But to be fair, you'd also enjoy the music at least one and a half times more than any episode of Jersey Shore.

How about you? What have you been listening to, friends?

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