Perfect timing: new singles & albums for spring break

Kara Nesvig

First of all, I have to give a shout-out to my girl Barbie (ha!) who turned 50 on Monday! Looking great for half-a-century, B!

Anyway, I spent the better part of last night filling up my iPod with new singles and albums to bring along to my sweet vacation in sunny, balmy North Dakota. Awesome, right? Grand Forks = party central! But I thought, hmm, I’m probably not the only one in the world who likes Metric and Mirah, not to mention the Decemberists. So here. Recommendations. Cool.

SINGLES

Camera Obscura, "French Navy"- A new single from my favorite indie/twee/sort-of girly band, and also a favorite of my assistant editor Jay. (His love of CO is pretty endearing, since Jay likes slightly-crusty rock and idolizes the Replacements.) Like all Camera Obscura songs, "French Navy" is sweet and upbeat and would match the weather, if the weather were springy. (Seriously, Sven, bring spring.)

St. Vincent, "The Strangers"- St. Vincent is an acquired taste. She’s kind of kooky, uses strange instrumentation, and is best listened to in small doses. However, I’ve found myself addicted to a bunch of her songs after hearing them repeatedly, and "The Strangers" is slowly, but surely, working its way into my good graces. Music blogs are comparing it to Disney princesses, which is kind of abstract but once you listen to "The Strangers" it makes a lot of sense. It’d work well in a gothy live-action recreation of "Sleeping Beauty," as long as Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were not playing the lead roles.

Kelly Clarkson, "My Life Would Suck Without You"- Okay, I had to include it. It’s SO CATCHY.

ALBUMS

Mirah, (A)spera- I love Mirah. I looooove Mirah. Thanks to the Hub back in my dorm days, I’ve got a huge collection, and when I learned that she’d released a new album yesterday (how did that pass me by? I guess I haven’t been spending much time on Pitchfork), I listened to it immediately. Doesn’t disappoint. Mirah has a wispy, lovely little voice that sounds unassuming at first listen, but she bites the cutesy with her lyrical content. I know my favorite local musician, Caroline Smith, loves Mirah, and I can definitely draw a lot of comparisons between the two.

The Decemberists, Hazards of Love- This isn’t officially released yet, but I’ve heard most of it and have to say my general reaction is "It’s okay, I guess." My relationship with the art-rockers is love-hate. When I love a Decemberists song, I listen to it incessantly. ("California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade" comes to mind, as does "Red Right Ankle." I’m a compulsive listener and it drives my roommates nuts. I listened to "Furr" by Blitzen Trapper at least six times a day in September.) Anyway, "Hazards of Love" is prototypical Decemberists, with lots of sprawling song titles and songs about long travels, soldiers, etc. etc. It’s a lot less acoustic and more guitar-driven than older Decemberists, but it hasn’t worked its way into my heart yet. My roommate Brett, a huge Decemberists fan, feels the same way. It’ll grow on us, I think. My favorite Decemberists isn’t even an official release, it’s frontman Colin Meloy performing live on NPR.

Metric, Fantasies- This is another one that’s not yet released (April 14) but since I feel the same way about Metric as I do about Mirah, I got my sticky little hands on it and listened immediately. It does NOT disappoint.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

Billboard’s Top 100 Hits of 1996-2006

These collections are amazing. If you miss your childhood, your junior high years, and your high school dances, download them immediately. John, my roommates, and I have been listening to a mixture of Natalie Merchant, LFO, Jewel, NSYNC, and Baby Bash (remember "Sugar Sugar"? You do.) for about a week now, and "Dilemma" by Nelly & Kelly Rowland still hasn’t gotten old. Even if you hated the song when it played 24/7 on the radio, if you haven’t heard it for about 4 years that sad, nostalgic feeling creeps up on you.