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Have One On Me
March 1, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian on Joanna Newsom's latest album - triple album! - Have One On Me, released last week. But why read the critics when you can listen to the entire 2 hours, 4 minutes and 8 seconds on NPR Music. Previously on Newsom.
posted by degreezero (73 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not a big deal, but there's no second 'e' in her last name.
posted by umbú at 8:22 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bought album. Love album. Love Joanna Newsom.

HATE ANDY SAMBERG.
posted by kbanas at 8:27 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could fit that on two discs. Wasteful is what that is!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:29 AM on March 1, 2010


You could fit that on two discs. Wasteful is what that is!

Well, there's always the Authenticity Edition: six mismatched TDK cassette tapes, each side of which cuts to about three minutes of a taped-off-the-radio live-in-studio rendition In The Court of the Crimson King.
posted by griphus at 8:39 AM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Previous FPP about this album.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2010


I am not sure how the Guardian review is supposed to be interesting. Even the Pitchfork review is better. And, longer than a single paragraph.

And considering the structure and density of the album, the 3 CDs makes sense.
posted by Theta States at 8:45 AM on March 1, 2010


Umm....

Newsom?

Newsom?

Newsom?

Newsom?

Not newsome.
posted by orville sash at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2010


I bought this album last week and haven't fallen in love with it as I did with her last two, but I think it's because I'm trying to listen to it in the car instead of sit down and just give it all my focus at once. I was excited by the previous post that linked to an article calling Newsom possibly the best composer of her generation. While superlative praise, and dismissive of other artists, it was thrilling to see such respect given to a female musician, and an "outsider artist" at that! As for her voice, I like its quirkiness. Some of the rough edges are polished off of it in this album. If they're using Autotune, they've done it very tastefully. I'm a big fan of Kate Bush, and Newsom reminds me of her. Both of them inspire me.
posted by xenophile at 8:56 AM on March 1, 2010


And considering the structure and density of the album, the 3 CDs makes sense.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have done it. We have perfected "heavy" music. This music is so dense, full up to the mother-fucking brim with emotion, wordplay, and sheer fucking musicality, Red Book standards could no longer apply. That's right, it's too dense to be fit into the confines of linear time, but must also account for the girth of the sound.

Good news: we can cram it into standard compact discs, so your run-of-the-mill CD players can still handle this heavy sound. But we can fit 45 minutes max on there, so this epic muvva spans standard CDs. Take or leave it, people. And you better be ready to take it in the ear hole, because we're bringing it, like it or not. (Also available on 1xSACD, 1xDVD-Audio, and 25x 7" vinyl).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Also available on 1xSACD, 1xDVD-Audio, and 25x 7" vinyl).

It also comes on a Laserdisc which plays interactive music videos if inserted into a Space Ace or Dragon's Lair cabinet.
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Based on all of the good press I thought that this would be album that wins me over to Joanna. But I've tried several times over the past week to make it through the streaming album and can't do it.

If you had to pick two songs from the album for a non believer to start with, what would they be?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:05 AM on March 1, 2010


Some of the rough edges are polished off of it in this album. If they're using Autotune, they've done it very tastefully.

Bite your tongue!

Newsom developed vocal cord nodes in spring 2009, and all that came out when she opened her mouth “was like the hiss on opening a Coke can”. For two months she went around with a notebook, forbidden from singing, speaking or even crying. “In fact crying was the absolutely worst thing I could do to my voice. So I was constantly telling myself, don’t feel, don’t feel, don’t feel.” On recovering, she mourned when she realised that her old voice was never coming back, though she says she must give “full disclosure” and admit that further vocal modifications have been deliberate. (from here)
posted by Bromius at 9:10 AM on March 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm seeing her in the middle of the month. Pretty stoked. It took me a long time to get over the fact that she sounds exactly like Adam Sandler, but I eventually did. (And now Big Daddy sounds just delightful.)
posted by painquale at 9:12 AM on March 1, 2010


I found the album disappointing. I loved Newsom's rhyming and language play on her first record but as she's "grown" as an artist, she seems to think telling lengthy stories is the way to go; I don't agree. This is definitely the last album of hers I'll purchase without giving a thorough listen first. Also, I assume her next record will be a quadruple because she doesn't seem to understand that more isn't always more.

Also, Drag City touted the album as "Extravagantly Packaged". I assumed that meant interesting or neat packaging. It didn't. It's a box with three cardboard sleeves in it and a lyric booklet. I can't think of any way they could have made such a package less extravagant--for instance, double gatefold would have been more desirable for me. Cardboard sleeves are the worst way to store CDs which means scratches are inevitable. The vinyl doesn't have any anti-static or poly bags in the sleeves either. Not really necessary, per se, but absolutely not extravagant.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:15 AM on March 1, 2010


Also, no DL code for the vinyl. Drag City's gotta get with it. $30 for a new release that I can only enjoy at home? Lame.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:17 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The biggest challenge with Have One On Me is its sonic density. Newsom is doing a dozen weird things at once, and she's constantly varying her style, so each song really requires a focused listening to appreciate. It's not background music. And we get two hours of this at once. I tried listening to this in one go when I first got it and was exhausted.

Six songs a CD means that each CD has got a good 40 minutes of music on it. That's a good length. It's not as dense as 69 Love Songs, but 69LS has music that's more easily broken down into separate listens. For music that's actively going to challenge you, 40 minutes is a good length. It makes the music more approachable.

And this is easily the most approachable Joanna's ever been. Her voice is astonishingly refined, her music is tighter than it's ever been before, and Ryan Francesconi's orchestration technique is more grounded and diverse and fascinating than Van Dyke Parks's was. This music doesn't carry off to such fantastic places as Ys and The Milk-Eyed Mender did — it feels like Joanna's singing about the real world — but even that makes it easier to instantly get into.

The titular song blows my mind. The way it opens with that beautiful plucking glissando, and slowly bursts out into a dance, and especially the six-way vocal harmony at the song's climax, just floors me. I don't think I've ever heard so many beautiful things crammed into such a short period of time. Not in modern music, anyway.

Also, unlike Ys, which contains four brilliant songs all in a particular style, and a fifth one that's close to the same, here there's no one style being practiced. She moves into a lot of weird and wonderful terrains. I love her country influences, I love her soul influences. I love how she combines separate musical styles in one place. Country tunes that explode into pentatonic melody backed by noise guitar... it's wonderful! I always knew Newsom'd developed her chops playing keyboard in edgier, noisier bands, but it had never shown in her music before now, and I love it.

After a week, I can't say that I know all these songs inside and out. It's just too much. I know maybe four or five really well; the other thirteen offer such incredible promise. I can't wait.

I love that this album's getting such attention. (3 FFPs! Whoa!) Joanna Newsom is the sort of musician I want young people listening to. I got my 14-year-old brother addicted, and he's been passing it on to all his friends. Emotionally, musically, technically, this is music that's doing either things that've never been done before, or it's doing things that are rarely done if ever.

I also think that as far as "female role model" goes, she's aces. Here's a lovely woman with an incredibly stubborn approach to her art, who's out there in some ways but then goes on to model for major fashion designers, all without becoming any sort of "celebrity." It's great! I also think any artist capable of throwing out multisyllabic words in casual conversation is a sign that not everything in the world's too terrible.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:19 AM on March 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, no DL code for the vinyl. Drag City's gotta get with it. $30 for a new release that I can only enjoy at home? Lame.

Reply 1: Portable Record Player (just one of many available)
Reply 2: now you don't have to feel like a total leech when you get the torrent of this album.

Download codes are relatively new, though they are becomming more common.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2010


I'm a big fan of Kate Bush, and Newsom reminds me of her.

Kate Bush has been hugely influential, not just on Newsom but on Tori Amos (listen to Kate Bush's "Houdini" and then listen to some songs from Tori Amos's first two albums!), Bjork, St. Vincent, Hanne Hukkelberg, and My Brightest Diamond.

From what little I've heard of Newsom, she's the least distinctive out of everyone I just mentioned. I still have to listen to the new album, but I'm baffled as to why she seems to receive even more critical acclaim than St. Vincent, and much more attention than My Brightest Diamond.

By the way, I don't think any of these artists need the label of "female artist" to justify their importance. I'm not saying their femaleness is irrelevant to their work -- it's relevant. So are many other things about them -- their nationalities, their life experiences... But I do cringe when I see them lauded as great "female artists," while no one lauds Andrew Bird or Grizzly Bear as great "male artists." Should we praise Dirty Projectors or the Arcade Fire or She & Him as great "partially female" bands? They're all people making good music.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:28 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) Could the mods fix the misspelling? This post will not be archived correctly otherwise.

2) I'm a huge Newsom fan but there are moments on this album where I get an overwhelming Joni Mitchell vibe, and not in a good way. I'll appreciate her first and second album but I get the sense that she is slowly moving away from that into territory that may be more accessible but less interesting.

3) Seeing her live is amazing. Watching someone play a harp is mesmerizing - it's much more physical/athletic than I realized, and was very impressed by her strength as much as why by her musical skill.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2010


Triple album project (building tracks like lightning)/ magnums & barettas/ part time hostages at pottery classes.
posted by broken wheelchair at 9:34 AM on March 1, 2010


I'm baffled as to why she seems to receive even more critical acclaim than St. Vincent, and much more attention than My Brightest Diamond

She's a far more accomplished songwriter, for starters. There's a reason MBD's most famous song is a cover. I like both of those artists fine and own all their releases but, besides being female, which you seem to dismiss as an entry to discussion, these artists have little in common.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:35 AM on March 1, 2010


Good God, apologies for all of the errors in my other comment.

And like YSStOG, I'm baffled by the comparisons to Tori Amos, St. Vincent, My Brightest Diamond - hell, even Bjork. I'm not seeing the similarities.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2010


I haven't listened to some of the people you mentioned, Jaltcoh, but Newsom is vastly more original than Tori Amos at the least. To me her sounds are more distinctive than those of Kate Bush, too, though Bush obviously produced music in a different environment. The fact that she eschewed beats and percussion of any time and focused on orchestration, or that her first album was wholly acoustic harp, piano, and harpsichord, means that she was producing entirely distinct sounds from the start. If anything her oldest music is the most unique-sounding. The combination of the instrument she plays and the vocal techniques she uses is standalone.

Bjork, for instance, is brilliant, but she's still largely a rock/industrial musician. There's modern precedent for her sound. I hear it and instantly there's a "classification" in my mind. Ditto early Kate Bush. It's not that their music is less than genius, but I know how to approach it. Wuthering Heights sounds like a late 70s song. Bjork's Debut sounds like something out of the early grunge 90s.

The Milk-Eyed Mender, on the other hand, sounds like nothing from any 2000s music scene. It's compared to freak-folk, but the sound is much brighter and snappier and simpler, the lyrics are denser, and there was nobody yelping and screeching like Newsom was early on, not in that genre. From my vantage point when I discovered her, there was nothing remotely similar. Then with Ys, adding those fanciful orchestrations and growing her songs to epic lengths, she defied any and all expectations for what was to come next.

Now, I don't have a comprehensive Bush/Amos/Bjork memory, and all three are before my time, but for me, at least, if you put their first three albums against Joanna Newsom's, Newsom's sound has evolved much more, and her sound is more ornate and shiversinducing. Bjork sounds like pop. Tori Amos sounds even more like pop. Kate Bush doesn't always sounds like pop, but she sounds very much like her time period. And none of them progressed at the rate Joanna's sound has.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:44 AM on March 1, 2010


She's a far more accomplished songwriter, for starters.

Which Joanna Newsom songs should I listen to that equal or surpass most of the songs on St. Vincent's two albums?

besides being female, which you seem to dismiss as an entry to discussion, these artists have little in common.

I didn't dismiss their femaleness as a topic of discussion. I said their femaleness is relevant, but I'm uncomfortable if it's the main label that's placed on them.

And I don't agree that these artists have little in common. There's a pretty clear musical lineage from Joni Mitchell, to Kate Bush, to Tori Amos and Bjork, to St. Vincent and Joanna Newsom and My Brightest Diamond. Is it easy to tell all of these artists apart? Yes, because they're each original in their own way -- that's part of what's great about them. I would never confuse Tori Amos with Bjork. But I think you're missing something if you hear no musical connections among them. By the same token, I love the rock music of the mid to late '60s partly because the bands were so original and different from each other, but I wouldn't deny that they have a family resemblance or that they continued influencing other bands in future decades. Try listening to Kate Bush's album The Dreaming, and you can hear how Tori Amos, Bjork, and St. Vincent are deeply indebted to her. Joanna Newsom's "Cosmia," in turn, is a direct imitation of Bjork.

I didn't know MBD's most famous song is a cover. I like her albums, and I assume she generally writes the songs.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:51 AM on March 1, 2010


Bjork sounds like pop. Tori Amos sounds even more like pop.

If you think that's a descriptive summary of their music, I recommend giving a closer listen to Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Homogenic, and Vespertine.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:52 AM on March 1, 2010


Which Joanna Newsom songs should I listen to that equal or surpass most of the songs on St. Vincent's two albums?

Wait — you're arguing this without having listened to Joanna Newsom's two albums?

I will put "Emily" or "Only Skin" against anything St. Vincent's done, and I'm willing to say that without having listened to St. Vincent, because those two songs are that good. I would then follow up with "En Gallop", "Peach Plum Pear", "The Book of Right-On", and "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie."
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:53 AM on March 1, 2010


[I have partially disemvoweled the Newsome. Carry on.]
posted by cortex at 9:55 AM on March 1, 2010


Which Joanna Newsom songs should I listen to that equal or surpass most of the songs on St. Vincent's two albums?

I see what you did there.

Joanna Newsom's "Cosmia," in turn, is a direct imitation of Bjork.

Oh, brother. You're just trying to stir the pot, ain't ya? Typically people don't enjoy having conversations with people who start off with the old "I have personal opinions about music that I state as fact."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:56 AM on March 1, 2010


[I have partially disemvoweled the Newsome. Carry on.]

People searching for Newsom through tags still won't be able to find this post.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:58 AM on March 1, 2010


If you think that's a descriptive summary of their music, I recommend giving a closer listen to Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Homogenic, and Vespertine.

I love Under the Pink and Homogenic. They follow the pop format. Their songs are short, and hook-based. It's not pop like Miley Cyrus is pop, but they use verse-chorus structure, and they progress like pop songs progress.

Joanna Newsom has many songs that follow the same format, but she almost instantly departed the style. Ys has only one song written in the pop style; the other four all do weird, weird things. What's more, even in her pop, the sound is much less conventional than Tori Amos's in Under the Pink. Tori is more easily digestible. So too is Bjork, though she's much more interesting than Tori.

Joanna Newsom's "Cosmia," in turn, is a direct imitation of Bjork.

What the fuck are you smoking?
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:58 AM on March 1, 2010


Wait — you're arguing this without having listened to Joanna Newsom's two albums?

I've listened to several of her songs (including "Peach Plum Pear" and "Cosmia" and others I forget the names of) and wasn't impressed. I assume there's something I'm missing. I've heard enough to have my own personal opinion of it and to hear similarities with other artists. When an artist is as critically acclaimed as Newsom or, say, the Decembrists, I'll make a point of listening to some of their songs -- but if I find their music unoriginal and their voices unpleasant (which is my reaction to both of those artists), it takes me a while to get around to listening to their albums all the way through I've admitted all along, in this thread and the earlier thread, that I haven't heard enough of Joanna Newsom's music to adequately judge her and that I should give her new album a try.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:58 AM on March 1, 2010


Joanna Newsom's "Cosmia," in turn, is a direct imitation of Bjork.

No. If you want to hear a direct imitation of Bjork, go listen to Emiliana Torrini's Love in the Time of Science.
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that people disagree so vehemently (!) with what I said about "Cosmia" being a Bjork rip-off suggests that I simply have a disconnect with what they hear in music. Listening to Bjork and then "Cosmia" is like listening to the Beatles and then Oasis, or Pearl Jam and then Bush (the band). I'm sure there are Oasis and Bush fans who deny it, but that doesn't change the existence of a strong influence. And saying that someone is imitating someone else isn't a bad thing. Most of the great classical composers shamelessly imitated earlier composers, and that's actually a fine thing. I don't consider it a put-down. It's just a noteworthy fact about how people who make music are strongly influenced by people who made music before them. I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who's ever made good music where you couldn't point to some of their works and say "this was a clear imitation of someone else."
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:05 AM on March 1, 2010


I've listened to several of her songs (including "Peach Plum Pear" and "Cosmia" and others I forget the names of) and wasn't impressed.

All due respect, Jaltcoh, but this is the sort of music debate I thoroughly despise. You're absolutely allowed to dislike musicians I love, but I'd rather we get into slightly deeper discussion than this. "I wasn't impressed" is a snooty, shitty way to declare your opinions. I'd rather have something more qualitative.

I don't know where the Decemberists come in, but they're another band I adore, and their music is utterly different. If you want to talk Decemberists, though, you have to talk about how their first two albums are essentially ambient folk, where the music exists only to support the story they're telling; then you have to talk about their progression into a heavier rock sound, and how they incorporated riffs and amps into their sound. But if you listen to one or two Decemberists songs and declare yourself finished, then you're treating a decade's output from a band as something which you can instantly judge, and you can't. You're not acknowledging that.

Joanna Newsom's even harder to dismiss, because her music has gone into weird places from the start. I outright love nine of the twelve songs on that album: Each one exists in its own unique niche, does its own weird things; you can't judge any of those nine from listening to the others. (There're three songs that are very good but which I don't have any personal relationship with.) Similarly, all five songs of Ys are standalone, and can't be judged by listening to any one; Cosmia, which you seem to think sounds like fucking Bjork (seriously, man?), is the slightest of the five songs. As I said, it's the only one that follows pop structure.

I would love to discuss that. I love writing droves about the music I listen to. I love getting into the nitty-gritty details about it. And I'd imagine you know things about Bjork/Bush/Amos that I don't, and I'd love to hear that, and see if what you're saying makes sense. I'd also love to discover St. Vincent. But if we're going to do that, let's start really talking about that shit, and not just playing the "unoriginal unimpressive" game. Because with Newsom in particular, you could not be more wrong, and when you say things like that you look a little bit silly.

On preview:

Listening to Bjork and then "Cosmia" is like listening to the Beatles and then Oasis

The difference is that two of those bands are writing similar sounding songs with similar lyrical messages in a similar genre, whereas Bjork is an industrial pounding artist with a focus on simplistic lyrics emphasized by blistering production, and Joanna Newsom writes acoustic ballads that are all about telling involved stories.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:08 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Under the Pink and Homogenic. They follow the pop format. Their songs are short, and hook-based.

You're familiar with Under the Pink and Homogenic. So you've heard "Yes, Anastasia" (!!!), "Icicle," "Pretty Good Year" by Tori Amos ... and "Hunter," "Alarm Call," "Pluto" by Bjork.

And your summary of this music is "pop format ... short, and hook-based"?

OK. That's not how I would describe them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:13 AM on March 1, 2010


But I think you're missing something if you hear no musical connections among them.

I see connections. I just don't think they're similar. If someone came into my record store and said they like Tori Amos and want something similar, no way in hell would I make Newsom a recommendation. Amos makes predictable pop music, to my ear; Newsom does not. I see similarities between the new Newsom and Joni Mitchell, and I think I said so in the previous thread, but I don't like Mitchell and the similarities I see are the very things I dislike about Have One On Me.

I think Newsom is closer to Bill Callahan or Devendra Banhart than any of the female artists you named. Or, if a customer was specifically asking for a female vocalist, I would probably recommend Karen Dalton, or Billie Holiday or Marissa Nadler or Vashti Bunyan. They all have distinctive voices and use them to sing fantastic songs. They don't sound anything alike, but I think they all hit that part of the subconscious which, well, we don't realize is being stimulated.

As for what Newsom I think is better than St. Vincent... all of it. As I said, I like St. Vincent and own both her albums but they're not on the same plane.

I simply have a disconnect with what they hear in music.

That's fine. Hell, I and a friend of mine think U2 and Radiohead sound the same and are equally dismissible. The difference though is that I don't state it as fact as you seem to do with your Bjork/Cosmia comparison. I'm not denying you hear it, but that doesn't mean it's there and it absolutely doesn't mean it's a given.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:14 AM on March 1, 2010


"Pretty Good Year" is the song I know best of those six. It's short, it's based on the opening riff of the piano hook and the melody of Tori repeating "pretty good year". It's piano pop through-and-through.

Bjork's not quite as conventional. I don't know Homogenic as well as I should. Debut and Post absolutely follow that pop format, however.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:16 AM on March 1, 2010


For anyone curious about Have One On Me, or fans who are struggling with the amount of music here, I highly recommend either buying the 3xLP or listening to it in the smaller doses that format encourages. That is - one side (two or three songs) at a time. It's turned this into a slow, day by day discovery - rather than a torrent of too much, too fast. I don't think this was made to be listened to in one big streaming mass, or a single iTunes playlist.
posted by Marquis at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that people disagree so vehemently (!) with what I said about "Cosmia" being a Bjork rip-off suggests that I simply have a disconnect with what they hear in music.

The issue is that when it comes to discussing artistic integrity and originality "direct imitation" and "rip-off" are rather pejorative whereas "strong influence" is not. Stating that Joanna Newsom is a "direct imitation" robs her of the quality of her work and a reason to record.

That's fine. Hell, I and a friend of mine think U2 and Radiohead sound the same and are equally dismissible.

...can. Can we hang out?
posted by griphus at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cosmia, which you seem to think sounds like fucking Bjork (seriously, man?),

I don't know why people keep asking me whether I meant what I said. Yes, I meant what I said. That's why I said it.

Bjork is an industrial pounding artist with a focus on simplistic lyrics emphasized by blistering production, and Joanna Newsom writes acoustic ballads that are all about telling involved stories.

This is a little like saying that the Beatles had no influence on Of Montreal because the Beatles wrote soft acoustic ballads and Of Montreal plays psychedelic rock. Well, the Beatles also played psychedelic rock. And Bjork also has soft, gentle, acoustic, harp-based songs. As for lyrics, point taken: I'm not a lyrics person. I would love Bjork's music if she were singing entries from the phonebook.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I upset you with having different musical taste. I've completely admitted that my knowledge of Newsom is limited and that I'm missing some of the fine qualities other people are hearing, but that I'm personally not impressed with what I have heard, and I find it surprisingly derivative given the acclaim she's received. I mean, I can listen to people criticize bands I like, and point out how those bands are derivative, and I can respect their views and see their points, but it's not a challenge to my tastes. People criticize the Strokes as derivative. Some people don't like them for that reason -- that's fine. I would expect that view to be expressed in a thread on the Strokes. Personally, I love the Strokes' first album and think it's actually original if you listen to it in the right frame of mind. I have no doubt that those who love Newsom's music and find it to be original have a valid experience that comes from hearing it in a different frame of mind from me. I'm not trying to disrepect that at all. But I don't think there should be a rule that if there's an FPP about a musical artist, the comments must give the artist universal acclaim.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:22 AM on March 1, 2010


The issue is that when it comes to discussing artistic integrity and originality "direct imitation" and "rip-off" are rather pejorative whereas "strong influence" is not.

6 of one, half a dozen of the other. Look, the Beatles are my favorite band, but if someone posts an FPP about the Beatles, and some of the comments praise them as very original, I wouldn't be surprised if someone else posts a comment that says "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Come Together" are Chuck Berry rip-offs (albeit amazingly great songs). How could I object? It's a fact. And this is a random example among billions -- I'm sure I could say something similar about all my favorite bands, and all your favorite bands.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:25 AM on March 1, 2010


No, but the comments ought to attempt an actual engaged discussion, where people discuss merits and flaws in-depth, whereas right now it still feels like we're trying to drag a good discussion out of you and you're resisting mightily.

Bjork's music is rough and harsh. Newsom's sound is mellower and softer. Of Montreal and the Beatles share similar sounds. So does Oasis. Bjork and Newsom have very little in common. I've also never heard of Bjork's harp music, and I've listened to a considerable amount of Bjork music. I'd appreciate links.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2010


There's a difference between saying Come Together was influenced by Chuck Berry and saying Come Together was a Chuck Berry ripoff, because it was not a fucking ripoff. Ripoff is when Dead Can Dance takes a melody note-by-note from George Harrison, or when Nickelback steals a melody, beat, tempo, and chord progression from Nickelback.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:28 AM on March 1, 2010


newsom and bjork do have similar voices and at times mannerisms, but each of them take it in a totally different direction

and you guys know that come together WAS a chuck berry ripoff, right? - there was a lawsuit, and a settlement
posted by pyramid termite at 10:35 AM on March 1, 2010


I did not! Thank you for that.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2010


But I don't think there should be a rule that if there's an FPP about a musical artist, the comments must give the artist universal acclaim.

Have you read any of the old Newsom posts? Without fail, in every post, close to half of the comments are some variation of "Everyone says she's awesome but I listened to her and I don't like her, so tell me, what's the big deal, seriously her voice is awful what's wrong with you people." If anything this thread is surprisingly positive.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:39 AM on March 1, 2010


Well, there's a reason John Lennon was successfully sued over "Come Together." Because it was an overt rip-off. (On preview, what pyramid termite said.) Paul McCartney admitted in an interview that he ripped off "I Saw Her Standing There" from an obscure Chuck Berry song, deliberately choosing a lesser-known song so not many people would notice. I'm very glad he did! Great music + rip-off are not mutually exclusive, is my point. Which is a good thing, because most music is ripping off someone. This shouldn't be offensive to point out.

"people discuss merits and flaws in-depth, whereas right now it still feels like we're trying to drag a good discussion out of you and you're resisting mightily." I'm not sure how I can respond to this. I don't really consider Metafilter discussions to be the main point of music -- listening to music is the main point of music. So I'm not going to keep trying to point out how this person was influenced by that person. If you listen to the music I've cited and don't hear what I mean, then I'm wrong. Needless to say, I don't think I'm wrong, or else I wouldn't have said it. Painting all of my comments with the broad brush of lacking "depth" and "good discussion" isn't very informative.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2010


I don't really consider Metafilter discussions to be the main point of music -- listening to music is the main point of music.

Why the fuck are you posting here if you're not interested in discussing the post? You come in, say you don't like Joanna Newsom, and the people here who're trying to explain why/have you clarify your dislike are willing to talk. You're dragging your feet and refusing to outright discuss this link between Newsom and Bjork.

Okay, so Come Together is a rip-off. I didn't know that. I thought you were talking horseshit, but you weren't, and I apologize for that. Now find me the melody of Bjork that Joanna Newsom stole. Show me Bjork's harp music, which apparently exists. Show me where the orchestrations of Ys are somehow like Homogenic. Cite examples. Don't just say "Newsom ripped off Bjork", complain about my getting irritated, and then repeat the ripoff claim. If you really think Cosmia sounds like a Bjork song, link me to that song! This is not hard.

The main point of Metafilter discussions is to discuss. Right now, we're discussing music. If you don't like discussing music, you probably shouldn't be commenting here.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:45 AM on March 1, 2010


I absolutely love Joanna Newsom, and have from the first time I heard Milk-Eyed Mender (which I actually checked out because the Decemberists covered Bridges & Balloons). Ys was absolutely fantastic, a monumental progression, and is quite possibly my favorite album of the last decade.

Have One On Me, thus far, does not disappoint. I need to give it time before I write about it though.

As far as vocal comparisons go, Joanna Newsom has always reminded me of Margaret Morgan from These Trails. The tight vocal vibrato on some of these new tracks only solidifies the similarity.
posted by defenestration at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2010


I highly recommend either buying the 3xLP or listening to it in the smaller doses that format encourages.

Marquis is exactly right. The reason this was split into 3 LP-length CDs is because we're supposed to approach it in that classic way. Dip into a few songs at leisure (have one on her - think sipping scotch on a porch, not slamming a beer). Don't bother trying to listen to the whole thing at once. Find a few songs that click with you and start to know them more and more with each listen, and then see if the others start clicking. There's so much going on in each song, and it's not easy listening by any means. This is one that's best to slowly get to know.

After a week's worth of listening, the songs that I find most immediately striking and accessible are: "'81", "Good Intentions Paving Company" (one of the best rollicking country-ish tunes I've heard in years!), "Baby Birch" (listen to the careful way it hints at, then builds to a stunning climax), and the haunting "Go Long".
posted by naju at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2010


And yes, I'll say it without hyperbole: Ys was my favorite album of the past decade. Newsom may be the best songwriter of my generation.
posted by naju at 10:52 AM on March 1, 2010


speaking of influences ... i really do hear some similarities in phrasing
posted by pyramid termite at 10:59 AM on March 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


speaking of influences ... i really do hear some similarities in phrasing

As usual, pyramid termite has it exactly right regarding influences.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:06 AM on March 1, 2010


Thoughts on the three of aforementioned artists whom I am familiar with...

BJORK: Really was hell of radical when she hit the scene. Especially after getting on the charts with Debut and then having the space to move off in very strange directions. If she sounds pigeon-hole-able now, I expect it is mainly due to the massive amount of exposure we've had to her sound over the last ten or fifteen years. Even the strangest things become commonplace, given time.

TORI AMOS: Was one of my favorite musicians when I was in high-school. The first two albums (Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink) were good. The next album, Boys For Pele, was exceptionally good. If any of her albums deserve comparison to Newsom, it's absolutely that one. Unfortunately, after that, I read some interview where she said she was getting 'more into production' and she hasn't produced a listenable album since.

St. VINCENT: I've tried to get into a few times, but just can't. The music really isn't anything special, and the words constantly induce cringing. YFBS, I suppose.

Of these three, Amos is the only one I can imagine comparing with Newsom at all, and only for one album. Bjork is doing something entirely different, and St. Vincent is just in a different class.

Ultimately, people listen to music in different ways. I learned somewhat early that some people really listen to lyrics (I am one), and others are just into anything with a good beat one can dance to. Newsom does not have a good beat one can dance to, which might lead some to lump her with other female artists whom are not danceable, like, say, Tori Amos or St. Vincent.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Painting all of my comments with the broad brush of lacking "depth" and "good discussion" isn't very informative.

You took a dump in a perfectly reasonable music thread by smearing around subjective accusations like "unimpressive" and "least distinctive." When other people rightly demanded a more qualitative discussion, you veered into historical instances of derivative music and refused to back up your claims. Your last rebuttal, ostensibly in response to Rory Marinich's sensible plea for an actual debate rather than a "she sucks" vs. "no she don't" jerkoff competition, didn't once mention Joanna Newsom by name.

As for Bjork's harp music, I was under the impression that she's accompanied by a professional harpist (usually Zeena Parkins, who's also worked with Hole and Yoko Ono). Bjork herself is not, to my knowledge, an accomplished harpist herself.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:14 AM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


naju: It's weird how much we agree. So far, those four are among the standouts for me, too. And, as stated earlier, I feel the same way about Newsom and Ys.
posted by defenestration at 11:16 AM on March 1, 2010


pyramid termite: Yeah, I've heard that song was a pretty big influence on Kate Bush, actually.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:17 AM on March 1, 2010


How come everyone is too stupid to realize that my favourite songs are superior to their favourite songs?
posted by Theta States at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the album quite a bit.

I started listening to her recently, as I was hired to typeset a book about Joanna Newsom; I wasn't familiar with her, so I listened as much as I could during the work on the book.

The new album came out just a week or two after the book did, and I bought a copy as soon as I could. I quite enjoy it. Seems like her voice is a little less contrived and a little more in context with the lyrics she's singing now.
posted by luriete at 11:52 AM on March 1, 2010


fwiw, ssdl added the dl last week ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:15 PM on March 1, 2010


Sorry, there is no short road to appreciating the breadth and depth of what she's done with this album.
posted by hermitosis at 1:39 PM on March 1, 2010


I like Ms. Newsom but worry that indie music is starting to become retro in a bad way.
posted by mattholomew at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2010


Excellent post. Newsom is excellent. If you haven't heard her yet, you might also be interested in Laura Barrett. I'm not affiliated in any way, just a fan of both talented artists.
posted by purephase at 6:51 PM on March 1, 2010


ys is definitive.
posted by not applicable at 8:37 PM on March 1, 2010


like kate bush but cannot sing
posted by dydecker at 8:58 PM on March 1, 2010


Rory Marinich's sensible plea

To wit:

Why the fuck are you posting here

I have the feeling we could all ask ourselves this question.

I've been listening to the album(s), and I like them, but I like her other work better. For now, Y's remains my favorite through and through. The variety she presents across these three albums is admirable, but the part of JN that I like best is the just-her-and-a-harp stuff like '81.
posted by fake at 9:40 PM on March 1, 2010


Some people really like their new Joanna Newsom album.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:55 PM on March 1, 2010


Have One On Me has confirmed my suspicion that JN is one of the greatest artists working in any medium today. I don't love everything about it, but damn if it isn't the most compelling thing I've heard since Ys.

What I love about music discussions is hearing which other artists people think are "similar" or "influences". Conversations with friends have already made me go back and listen to old Kate Bush with fresh ears. And thanks to this thread, I've got a nice list of new names to run through Grooveshark for a listen tomorrow. Thanks for the links everybody!
posted by otherthings_ at 10:56 PM on March 1, 2010


Upon first downloading Have One On Me (I had already pre-ordered the 3XLP, but wasn't about to wait), I went on a 9-hour walk. Ambling in twisted, expanding circles around my home, I listened to it four times in a row.

The first listen was to gain a general impression. I remember being delighted and bewildered; thoroughly walloped by the breadth of experience, and the depth of feeling. It was 5pm and the sun was shining, but I felt caught in a very peculiar rainstorm.

The second listen was to give particular attention to the melodies. This was the one that really got me. I mean Christ -- "In California" alone is enough to knock the wind out of anybody who's ever seriously tried to write a melody. "In Provenance", "81", "Go Long"... these were magnificent, unthethered things. The sun was beginning to set.

The third listen was for lyrics, and, for than anything else, just made me happy. As others have said above, she's reigned herself in; turned her gaze from the otherworld to the hitherworld. It makes her capable of simple, generous statements, now -- "On A Good Day" makes clear-eyed and striking the exact sentiment I have always subliminally recieved from listening to "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie". I felt kindness, and I felt precision. My full excursions into the words of this album will have to wait until my records are finally delivered, but in general, with the lyrics of this album, I found a tremendous collection of beautifully-expressed threads, crying out for care in their unspooling.

The fourth listen, appropriately, was simply to enjoy. I didn't notice the cold until I got back home.

.

(Also, Jaltcoh ~ if you're still looking for 2 songs to sample, I would proffer '81, and Emily (Live, Part 2). If you choose to listen to these two, I would ask you to please put this thread's argument out of your head, and to not listen for influences. Listen instead for melody, composition, lyric, and feeling. That's what Joanna Newsom strives for, and that's what, in my humble opinion, makes us all as lucky as skunks to be alive while she's doing it.)
posted by Rumpled at 1:51 AM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


*more than anything else, not "for than anything else".

Man, with this, plus the massive, exculpatory rant about Dirty Projectors I went on last week, am I being the Blue's "over-emotional indie-music rant guy"?

Cause... I'm OK with that.
posted by Rumpled at 1:56 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love love love Joanna Newsom, but this review-as-a-poem in Paste magazine made me smile, too (scroll down for his review-as-poem).
posted by J-Train at 10:10 AM on March 2, 2010


Man, now that I've read the lyrics to "Baby Birch" I just want to curl into a fetal position. It's almost certainly about the emotional aftermath of having an abortion. She's written moving songs about personal loss and mourning ("Sadie", "Cosmia") but this is something else entirely.
posted by naju at 11:35 AM on March 2, 2010


I've been listening to the album enough to make a considered opinion now: it's pretty darn good. I could quibble and say with a bit of editing it should have been a 2LP, but everyone needs an editor, eh.

However, statements like "Have One On Me has confirmed my suspicion that JN is one of the greatest artists working in any medium today" sort of boggle the mind. Any medium? C'mon. Is she even one of the "greatest artists" working in music? No. Let's have some perspective here.

Here is Joanna with Fred Armisen on the drums for Good Intentions Paving Co.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:38 AM on March 25, 2010


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