03 April 2010

Saturday Night Tunes: Iron and Wine

In writing the first few posts of Girl of a Thousand Faces, it's become clear to me that the best way for me to make sure I keep trucking away at it and maintaining lots of variety is to have some structure. I'm a world-class procrastinator and I don't always put 100% effort into everything, but I do, for some strange unknown reason, thrive on lists and calender dates and memo books. I get satisfaction from crossing things out to mark their completion and I get excited when I have weekly or monthly appointments or commitments to look forward to. This doesn't necessarily include stuff like going to work in my college phonathon on Sunday and Monday evenings or going to Biology lab at the ungodly hour of 8:50 AM every other Friday morning. Only the fun stuff- like writing this blog [almost] every day!

So, for the purpose of creating a little bit of structure for my often reckless and chaotic mind, I'm introducing the first edition of Saturday Night Tunes. Every other Saturday, starting today, I'll be either introducing you to or providing you with a bit more information on an artist/group that I personally adore. Now, if you fit somewhere close to the same demographic as me- young boho indie college chick- you might find that you already know all or most of the artists I talk about. But hey, that just means we both have good taste, eh? Anyways, considering most of the people who read this so far are blood related to me I think I can say with some confidence that a lot of the artists I choose will be relatively new to you.

Tonight's Saturday Night Tunes feature a second tier favorite of mine- meaning, when someone asks me who my favorite artists are, this guy doesn't pop into my head quickly enough to make the cut of the four or five I list off. Ask me to elaborate on my preferences a bit though, and he's totally there and I'm wondering why I didn't think of him sooner.

The man is Samuel Beam, known to most by his stage and record name of Iron and wine. He released his first album 8 years ago, the whole thing of which was performed, recorded, and produced in his own home studio. His second album came out two years later in 2004 and was recorded in a professional studio. In between these records he recorded a cover of "Such Great Heights", the popular song by The Postal Service which was at that time unreleased. Interestingly, this cover is one of the most recognized Iron and Wine songs. Beam released a few EPs (albums of only 4 or 5 tracks, opposed to an LP which is a full album), and then in 2007 released his third album, The Shepherd's Dog. This album was voted one of the ten best of 2007 by Paste Magazine. This past year, Beam released his fourth album, Around the Well.

The music of Iron and Wine consists of acoustic guitars, natural-sounding drum beats, banjos, slide guitars, and soft, soothing vocals that have been compared to Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, Elliot Smith, and John Fahey. Indeed, when I made a Iron and Wine station on Pandora, almost all of those artists popped up in between Beam's songs.

I'm a firm believer that mood is something that has to be taken into serious account when listening to music. Since artists tend to stick to their respective genres and styles, they're really creating music to match moods. At least that's what I think- I've met people who think metal is a good fit for any situation, and also people who will sit around and listen to folk all day. How do you work out or party to folk music? I will never know. Anyways, I digress... I was in the mood for Iron and Wine tonight. I didn't know it until a song came onto my iTunes shuffle and I instantly knew what I was going to be listening to for the rest of the night. The mood Iron and Wine creates is calm, serene, thought-provoking, natural, folky, and soothing all at once. It's kind of like taking a contemplative walk by yourself or sitting in a massage circle with a group of interesting friends. It's very earthy and bohemian feeling, which I like. Here, check out one of my favorite songs by him.

That's one of the more upbeat songs, if you can believe it. Other good songs include "Cinder and Smoke", "Naked as We Came", "Love and Some Verses", "History of Lovers", "The Trapeze Swinger", and of course, "Such Great Heights".

You should go onto YouTube and look up some of his stuff, or if you're not sure you want to go to all that work, go to Pandora and make an Iron and Wine channel. See if the stuff that plays fits your mood tonight.

Have a lovely weekend/Easter :)


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip, Emily. I set up a Pandora station for them. (I like Pandora. One of my favorite ways to listen to music. Fits with your comments about music and mood.)Any station that brings up Cat Stevens (which just happened) is a good one in my mind.