Lately, my CD player has been feeling mighty classy. I have the feeling this is due to some hi-fi jealousy on its part from being out of the loop for awhile. Because I tend to play a lot of my favorite rock and soul and punk and hip-hop records on vinyl, my compact disc wall-mount has been cultivating a certain 'tude about it and lately has been somehow having me select some discs that sound best with digital crystal clarity. From Kaylee Cole to Lucy Bland to Shake Some Action to my new discovery, Ben Sollee, it's like my apartment becomes a swanky yet rocking pad around the time the wife comes home (and my Red Red Meat bootlegs go back in their sleeves).
I was really hoping Ben Sollee's full length, Learning To Bend, was going to be good, after I heard his sweet segment on All Things Considered and that he was going to be playing Benaroya Hall on Monday July 14th. The music during his short interview a few days ago on NPR braced me for hitting that fancy pants venue I've never stepped in before, and now as I listen to his new album I find he has the Real Thing: the same folk-soul of underground blue eyed whites since Elliott Smith discovered some Sam Cooke LPs in his punk house basement.
On thoughtful but confident anthems like "A Few Honest Words" and "Bury Me With My Car" Portland-based Sollee isn't afraid to wear his heart or political anger on his sleeve, but the music makes the experimental sublime and the spare gorgeous.
And I will finally have a reason to take the spouse to the big fancy music hall for the first time too.