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Thursday, August 31, 2006

down in the green hay where monkey & bear usually lay

UPDATE: So, allegedly, this leak came from a secret directory hosted over at Pitchfork. Oops. How come I never got the invite for that thing?

it's pronounced 'eeeees'

Someone had told him the bear had been sneaking
away to the seaside caverns to bathe.
And the thought troubled the monkey,
for he was afraid of spelunking down in those caves.
Also afraid what the village people would say,
if they saw the bear in that state.


--Joanna Newsom, from "Monkey & Bear"

Someone sent me Joanna Newsom's Ys this evening, and it's absolutely everything I hoped it would be. Van Dyke Parks' impeccable orchestral arrangements never overpower Joanna's songs; her voice and harp still sit front and center, right where they belong. I won't turn this in to a boring album review, but my favorite song, after about 5 listens, is "Monkey & Bear." Its beautiful (and at times playful) woodwind and string arrangements, coupled with Joanna's whimsical lyrics, recall something from another time...a 1940s Disney cartoon, maybe. I'm sure some people will be bothered by the length of the songs ("Monkey & Bear" is 9:28), but Joanna's unique narrative style and distinctive phrasing leave me completely enchanted and enthralled throughout. This album tugs at the heartstrings like nothing since the first time I heard The Milk-Eyed Mender. But like with Mender, I'm never fully able to grasp how Joanna's able to do it. Without question one of my favorite releases of the year.

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22 comments:

Blogger franty said...

great album indeed. and an amazing team backing newsom: parks, albini and o'rourque.

on a side note, it has become appartent that ys leaked from the pitchfork website (it seems like they don't have a very good server security)... which also makes this one of the most interesting leaks this year.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

you know an album's incredible when guest vocals from Smog are unnecessary. glad you're enjoying it as much as I am.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Charlie said...

oh man, it's almost too beautiful to handle. this will have to be pried from my headphones with the jaws of life.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous silvergiraffe said...

is it just me, or is it strange that your favorite song is themed for your blog. yes, the song was themed after your blog, not the other way around, and not by coincidence.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

Hey,

I noticed that you've begun to include guest columns on your blog, and was curious if perhaps you'd like to have mine as well. I write a weekly editorial at www.insidepulse.com that I have been looking to syndicate for some time now (the archive can be found here - http://www.insidepulse.com/indexNewTopic.php?zoneid=12 - mine is the Let's Rave On series). If you're interested, email me at postkdp@gmail.com. Thanks very much.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Solace said...

fucking LOVE it...

i couldn't ever really fully get into Milk Eyed due to the vocals, but her voice is a lot easier to digest this time around. a lot less cracking (still happens at times but not as bad) and it sounds more Billie Holiday-ish than Lisa Simpson thankfully.

but yeha, musically it's just fucking insane. funny you mention the Disney thing, because listening to the record feels like watching a film, and Disney came to mind a few times.

if you had told me a month ago i would absolutely adore Joanna's new record i would have probably fallen over laughing...

the Smog guest spot is a nice touch as well

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you guys think this is OK? A music blogger posting a leaked mp3?

http://rawkblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/exclusive-pitchfork-mp3-pirates.html

This is more a question to the gorillavbear guys...

seems sort of fucked to me -- labels are gonna stop sending bloggers advances!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Muller said...

wow. This far edceeds what I expected to hear, except for the fact that it's Joanna, Steve, Jim and Van fucking Dyke Parks.
This is by far the best thing he's worked on since Smile ('67-'68)

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a question for those of you who have listened to the album, which seems like most of you. Does the song "Emily" sound similar to the live version? I know its probably different, but does it have the same rythym, if you know what I mean. If you've listened to the live version, would you say you liked the album version too more/less. thanks.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Re: Emily - the harp and vocal are the same as the live version (except performed a fair bit slower).. the significant difference being that it has a pretty complex syncopated string arrangment on top of it now.. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or not yet.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You Jim. I appreicate your feed back.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're so right about the 1940s Dinsey comparison; that's exactly the image I got when Monkey And Bear first played.

In Emily, also, I was able to hear Coco Rosie, Josephine Foster and Sesame Street in the space of about two lyrics.

This album is fucking awesome.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

VDP's first professional job in music was arranging "Bear Necessities" for the Jungle Book!

Also... are these lyrics available? I downloaded the leak and am planning on buying the CD... just wondering if the full lyrics are in circulation yet. 2 of the 5 songs (or 3?) are short stories and I'd love to read them as such.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monkey and Bear remind me of Puzzle the Ape and Shift the Donkey from "The Last Battle" in the Narnia series...did anyone else get that feeling?

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