Friday, February 10, 2012

Highest highs

Tall Heights_ the duo of Tim Harrington and Paul Wright_ really found its sound little more than a year ago when it eased into a melodic acoustic setting that wove together pop and folk music influences. That natural-sounding pairing of Harrington's guitar and Wright's cello reflects a growing trend among contemporary artists to emphasize fine craftsmanship in both songwriting and playing _ music that is quiet but not soft.

Tall Heights, which returns for an encore performance in the Coppertop on Sunday afternoon, supplied a list of essential "folk-rock/acoustic-rock" listens that fits its own mindset:

"For Emma, Forever Ago" by Bon Iver - It changed the scene forever.  Production value and song structure alike, Justin Vernon paved the way for our EP, "Rafters," along with so many others (the video is of Tall Heights performing the song "Skinny Love" from this record).  
"This Empty Northern Hemisphere" by Gregory Alan Isakov- With some help from his friend Brandi Carlile, he just nailed it with this record.  His melodic structure and, at times, cryptic lyrics continue to influence us.  From "Big Black Car:" "Heartbreak, you know, drives a big black car, I swear I was in the backseat just minding my own."  
"I Speak Because I Can "by Laura Marling- So pleasantly British.  Her voice is softened margarine. 
"Shallow Grave" by The Tallest Man on Earth-  His song "The Gardener" fascinates us in the way its extremely major key and melody maintains a very dark quality (it is, after all, about a man who kills all who know of his infidelities in order to preserve a positive image of himself in his lover's eyes).
 "Fleet Foxes" by Fleet Foxes- This record brought reverb and beards back into the mainstream, and I thank them.
"Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen - Mood.  I feel that he makes me feel exactly what he wants me to feel in this record.  For my money, you can't beat the opening verse of Thunder Road: "Screen door slams.  Mary's dress waves.  Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, hey that's me and I want you only don't turn me home again I just can't face myself alone again."  He really just brings me there, and keeps me.  So good. 
Tall Heights hits the stage at 4 p.m. 

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