Lloyd Cole

Label: Tapete
Genre: Folk

If it weren't for our self-imposed "free and legal" mantra here at 3hive, without a doubt Lloyd Cole would've been post number one, origin of the 3hive species. Why? Briefly, because the guy is my musical and literary guru. His debut album, Rattlesnakes, recorded with his band The Commotions, has miraculously survived decades of repeat listens by this finicky music fan. Its healthy shelf-life is due in part to Cole's smart, literate lyrics, the sweet jangle of guitars, and keyboardist Blair Cowan's keyboard magic, which included his ability, either through his playing or re-wiring, to make his first keyboard, a Korg, sound uncannily like a Hammond. Also, because Lloyd Cole and The Commotions completely avoided the New Wave, New Romantic and other sounds du jour of the 80s, the album retains a timeless quality rare for the decade.

I discovered the album in high school and when I read how Cole found inspiration for Rattlesnakes' title track in Joan Didion's novel, Play It As It Lays, I promptly borrowed it from the library and discovered a strain of literature that infected me more than anything I had previously read in school, or otherwise. It very well may have been the first non-required novel I'd read and ever since I've never stopped searching for my next good read. The highlight of my appreciation for his music and literature tips came when Cole and I shopped for books together at Sam Weller's in Salt Lake City in conjunction with a piece I wrote for the now-defunct Grid Magazine (I should dig that up and republish it here).

Since his days with The Commotions, Cole has output a wide array of solo albums ranging from not-so-different-than-his-work-with-The-Commotions (Lloyd Cole) to lushly soaring orchestral pop (Don't Get Weird on Me, Babe) to ambient electronic (Plastic Wood) to meandering rock (Bad Vibes) to acoustic driven, straight-ahead singer-songwriter stylings (Antidepressant). This month Cole is releasing two expansive collections. Cleaning Out the Ashtrays is a four volume collection gathering b-sides, album outtakes and "pretty much every studio recording from 1989 until 2006 which was intended for commercial release, but which did not end up on an album." You can find the track provided here, "Coattails," on the last of the four compilations representing the most recently recorded songs. Finally, Cole strips down his entire 25-year recording career to nothing but his soulful crooning and an acoustic guitar in Folksinger, a two volume retrospective recorded live last year and five years previous in Ireland and Germany respectively. As Cole himself puts it, "The Folksinger Series is my attempt to document what it is that I do for a living these days...folksinger...I have two guitars and a plane ticket." And I now have a mix of ninety-seven new and familiar songs to revisit and discover and to be re-inspired by my old friend Lloyd Cole yet again.

Coattails [MP3, 7.6MB, 320kbps]

Posted by sean on 01.31.09 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Neil Halstead

Label: Brushfire
Genre: Folk, Slowcore

Today's Christmas special comes courtesy of Brushfire Records. Looking for last minute Christmas music? Download this festive collection and 25% of the profit goes to support children's music education. Lots of stocking stuffers here from Matt Costa, Money Mark, Rogue Wave, and of course Jack Johnson, but I can never pass up Neil Halstead's toe-tapping authenticity song, so I'm passing this one along to you. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Cheers.

The Man in the Santa Suit [MP3, 3.8MB, 160kbps]

Original Post: 5/18/2004:
Voice of Slowdive and Mojave 3 suffers from a brief, but brilliant, case of solo-itis. Hopefully he catches that bug again soon.

Two Stones In My Pocket [MP3, 4.1MB, 128kbps]

Posted by sean on 12.24.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Label: Weewerk
Genre: Country, Folk, Pop

Regarding that which we would term "Americana," do they call it "Canadiana" in the land to the North? Just curious. Ox = American lo-fi alt country from Canada. They showed up on a nice little sampler from Weewerk that I've been listening to like a homemade mix-tape lately. My favorite among these tracks is probably "Transam," which with its wavering vocals and shady narrative (not to mention the Bond-themed guitar solo) kind of reminds me of those Neil Young songs about drug shipments and getting burned. The thing is, download any of these freebies from Ox's two albums and you'll find great narratives wailed over stripped down simplicity. This time less is more.

from American Lo Fi (2006):
Miss Idaho [MP3, 4.8MB, 192kbps]
Surrender [MP3, 5.2MB, 192kbps]
Sugar Cane [MP3, 4.8MB, 192kbps]
747 [MP3, 5.1MB, 192kbps]

from Dust Bowl Revival (2004):
Transam [MP3, 6.6MB, 256kbps]
Surrender [MP3, 6.6MB, 256kbps]
Weaving [MP3, 5.1MB, 256kbps]
Carolinah [MP3, 7.1MB, 256kbps]

Posted by joe on 12.18.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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The Traditionist

Label: Better Looking
Genre: Folk

Here's one that's been hiding right under my nose, Joey Barro, aka The Traditionist, a gentle-voiced crooner chronicling the details of his life through song. The liberal harmonica and slide guitar on "I Know My Ocean" makes it sound as if Barro's an Austin 6th Street local and when he sings about the "sting of pine needles" on "Driftwood Doll" you imagine he's recording in some cabin deep in Montana's mountains. These assumptions would be wrong. Barro could be found guilty by association associating sonically with such surf-folk artists as Matt Costa or Neil Halstead. The loose and bouncy "A Sleep Be Told" easily charms and surprises when fuzzy guitars and a bubbly organ percolate their way through the bridge. Barro's soft and poetic strains are a welcome antithesis to Huntington Beach's unfortunately traditional dude-buddy-bro-jack-up-your-four-wheeler attitude.

A Sleep Be Told [MP3, 3.9MB, 160kbps]
I Know My Ocean [MP3, 4.4MB, 160kbps]
Driftwood Doll [MP3, 9.0MB, 160kbps]

Posted by sean on 12.16.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Lex Land

Label: Intelligent Noise
Genre: Folk

Hands down, Lex Land is one of the more gorgeous voices we've featured on these pages of late. Although Lex Land is somewhat of an antithesis to my usual selections. My favorite songs are the ones I can sing along to, songs with hooky choruses and witty verses. I'm drawn to songs that make me want to sing. The "quality" of the music or the "ability" of the musicians in question are secondary. I listen to music with my gut, not my brain. Lex Land reminds me that I can't sing, because man, she sure can. However, Lex Land does leave room for the untrained among us in her songs. My favorite songs of hers, and my favorite parts of this song, are the small, intimate, almost reluctant moments when she almost falters, moments that leave me holding my breath, hoping she pulls it off. Those moments are plentiful, as are the ones where Lex Land soars far beyond anything I might muster.

As Much As You Lead [MP3, 6.4MB, 192kbps]

Posted by sean on 11.26.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Ben Pilgrim

Label: 75 or Less
Genre: Folk

"God should have made you ugly, 'cause that's what you act like." No doubt Ben Pilgrim wasn't talking about how the rest of the country is treating Detroit these days, but like Bob Marley said, if the cap fits... I've never felt more clearly like I wasn't a part of the United States, like I was living in some backwater colony that had outlived its mercantile usefulness. Hey remember, people live here; it's like being in the South before the Civil War. Maybe we should start talking nullification. Anyway, Ben Pilgrim is a Rhode Island crooner, sloppy and heartfelt and primitive. And he's welcome to visit the D whenever he wants (assuming the whole state of Michigan isn't purchased by Ontario for a year's supply of Timbits).

God Should Have Made You Ugly [MP3, 2.7MB, 128kbps]

Posted by joe on 11.20.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Blind Pilot

Label: Expunged
Genre: Folk, Pop

The coolest thing about Blind Pilot (besides the music...I'll get to that in a second) is that they just finished a tour of the West Coast on their BIKES! Gear and all, they pedaled their way down from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California. It took them just under two months. As a fellow bike commuter I'm extremely impressed by this feat. Taking the length of my commute into consideration (1.1 miles), this admiration shouldn't come as a surprise. Likewise, after one listen to these Blind Pilot songs you'll understand my admiration for their music. Simple, stripped down, yet completely majestic. "Go On, Say It" benefits from swelling strings and doubled vocals, but even those basic flourishes are just that. Flourishes, not crutches. "Paint or Pollen" proves Blind Pilot is capable of capturing and perfectly harnessing that elusive little thing we call pop music with nothing but the bare essentials.

Go On, Say It [MP3, 3.8MB, kbps]
Paint or Pollen [MP3, 4.1MB, kbps] [bike tour site)

Posted by sean on 11.18.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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Sam Bennett

Label: None
Genre: Folk, Pop

Sam Bennett's music is for the post-sarcastic, post-ironic believer in &mdash what did Obama call it? oh yeah — the audacity of hope within all (some? a few?) of us. As Detroit lurches towards extinction right down the expressway from my house, I'm thinking the honest, upbeat, youthful dreaminess of this British singer-songwriter will temper the total depression that's surely going to soak southeast Michigan. (Either that, or a huge meteorite will blast us into oblivion; right now, I'll take Bennett's positivity instead.) Listen to "I Love" first to get a sense of what to expect, then check out "I Am A Lighthouse" if you're still into it. And for those of you who are all snarky, who live in a state where the unemployment rate is lower than a typical mortgage rate, for those of you who are still listening to that which celebrates our impending darkness, don't even bother. Personally, I think we need more lighthouses among us.

I Love [MP3, 3.2MB, 192kbps]
I Am A Lighthouse [MP3, 4.4MB, 192kbps]

Posted by joe on 11.13.08 | Buy from Amazon, Insound
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