TDP Recommends: “The Gardener” by The Tallest Man on Earth

Kristian Matsson is a talented folk singer/songwriter and performer who goes by the stage name of The Tallest Man On Earth.  His music incorporates elements similar to that of Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder, with undertones reminiscent of Bon Iver, an artist with whom Matsson has toured.  His songs are typically home-recorded folk tracks featuring just his guitar and his voice, which provides a stripped-down sound that conveys his strong personal connection to his music. Although he sticks to one genre, his work is evident of his range as an artist; each song varies in sound and content. His narrative song, “The Gardener,” highlights Matsson’s enchanting music and poetic lyrics.  Dig it, Devils!


TDP Review: Chris Thile – “Bach Sonatas and Partitas 1”

For fans of: Classical, Bach, Genre Bending, Mandolin

Watching mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile play his instrument is mesmerizing.  His eyes close and his body predicts Thile-Bach-Square-1024x1004every sound that will erupt from his mandolin.  His brilliance for music lies in his passion for music and his instrument, not in any one genre.  Thile, a 2012 recipient of the MacArthur genius grant, has never been one to respect genre barriers; rather, he pushes himself to new unexplored terrain.  His music career began at the age of eight when Thile formed the later Grammy award winning band Nickel Creek with childhood friends.  Since then, his projects have ranged from traditional bluegrass with Michael Daves, playing with his progressive bluegrass band Punch Brothers, touring with Jazz Pianist Brad Mehldau, and recording a fusion of bluegrass and classical known as The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan.  Now, Thile attempts a new solo challenge as he releases an album of Bach sonatas and partitas on mandolin.

        The challenge with the endeavor is put nicely by Thile himself in an interview with PBS. Thile explains, “In bluegrass, a mistake can become the rightest thing you do…Not in Bach.” So what does the mandolin bring to the classical scene? Thile explains, “It’s so precise, painfully precise.  You have plastic pick hitting metal strings.  There is no doubt when the note happens.” The question then is: will Thile’s genius shine through the strict nature of Bach?

        The answer is absolutely.  The mandolin has the ability to pick up where violins, the instrument Bach originally wrote the sonatas and partitas for, leaves off.  Thile opens the album with “Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 1. Adagio,” and immediately the listener hears the ring of the mandolin.  The space Thile allows between the notes is just as important as the actual notes being played, as it allows the rich tone of Thile’s mandolin to shine through.

        As Thile starts playing the second part to “Sonata No. 1, Fuga: Allegro,” the tempo picks up and the notes become more tightly condensed.  Here, it becomes clear what Thile meant when he said in terms of how precise the mandolin is.  Where, in my opinion, a violin can begin to sound convoluted through the rapid note change, the mandolin allows for each note to be showcased without being too blended with the next.  Probably the best example is on the eighth track of the album, “Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: IV. Double: Presto.”  Despite the rapid succession of note after note creating an intricate melody, Thile allows each note to be as pronounced as the one before.

        Overall, the album is incredible.  The only thing more amazing than the sonatas and partitas is the feeling Thile brings to each piece.  Through the mandolin, Thile introduces Bach in a unique way where emotion is carried throughout.  As familiar to Bach as you may be, listening to Thile’s pieces will be like hearing Bach for the first time.  Not necessarily the best album for a rockin’ rager, but when mellow and classical are needed Chris Thile’s Bach: Sonatas & Partitas 1 delivers miracles.  Bring a new level of elegance to your playlists, BHS, and as always stay classy.

Overall rating: 5/5

TDP Music News: Yoko Ono Releases “Bad Dancer”

Yoko Ono, performance artist and widow of Beatles member John Lennon, recently released a new music video “Bad Dancer.”  The video is studded with famous faces such as Mike D and Ad Rock from The BeastieBboys, Questlove of The Roots, radio personality Ira Glass, comedian and musician Reggie Watts, and many more.  So what brilliance have these creative geniuses put together for the video?  Just as the title suggests, they spend the video dancing… poorly.  Will this song go down in history for its musical genius? Probably not.  However, it sure is catchy.  Not to mention extremely entertaining.  So bust out your worst dance moves BHS, and check out Yoko Ono in “Bad Dancer.”

TDP Recommends: “Young Man in America” by Anaïs Mitchell

Anaïs Mitchell is a versatile folk musician known for her haunting voice and unprecedented songwriting skills. She continues to leave fans breathless as she tackles endeavors such as a folk opera adaptation of the Greek myth of Orpheus, as well as an EP of traditional English and Scottish folk ballads.  The title track from her album “Young Man in America” is no exception, leaving listeners with a sense of awe after hearing the American dream inspired track.  Dig it devils!

TDP Recommends: “Victory” by Trampled by Turtles

Although not a commonly heard genre, bluegrass packs a powerful punch and serves as the perfect vehicle for “Victory,” by Trampled by Turtles.  The song opens with somber lyrics depicting a longing to be in a better place.  However, the soulful voice of lead singer Dave Simmonet is complimented by traditional bluegrass instruments to deliver a feeling of hope throughout.  Each element of the song comes together to form a beautiful piece, and a great introduction to bluegrass.  Dig it, devils!