Haven’t done one of these in a while. Let’s catch up on some noteworthy music:
(a)spera by Mirah: As far as musically inclined Jewish lesbians go, Mirah is the best. In a boring world, one could see Mirah being just another lounge singer: Soft voice, soft music, pleasant but unadventurous. But Mirah doesn't settle for pleasantries. On "(a)spera," her fourth album, the Portland-based songwriter continues to explore the juxtapositions between her sweet, tender vocals and the thunderous percussions, booming horns and bevy of strings surrounding her. It leads her to songs about good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, hope, love, loss, war and death. If you have 45 minutes to go on a musical journey, Mirah's your gal. Click here to listen to her song, "The Forest."
Middle Cyclone by Neko Case: In her free time from the power pop supergroup The New Pornographers, Neko Case likes to get back to her Virginian roots and belt out some alt-country tunes. On her sixth album, same as she has on the previous five, she gets better with every release. Her stories are sharper, the music is a little more upbeat, and her ethereal voice could warm even the coldest heart. "Middle Cyclone" is a must have. Click here to listen to her song, "People Got a Lotta Nerve."
The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists: The most theatrical band on the planet — they write catchy songs about pirates, whores, ghosts and soldiers — have unsurprisingly released their first rock-opera. "The Hazards of Love" is about (among other things): a woman named Margaret; her shape-shifting lover, William; a grouchy forest Queen; and a coolly sociopathic rapscallion known only as “The Rake." It's sort of like David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust," if Bowie was on acid and liked to use big words. It's a bit pretentious — it's The Decemberists, that's why they are — but if you're into that sort of thing, it's one of their best albums yet. Click here to listen to their song, "The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)."