December 27, 2006

Michael Zapruder's Rain of Frogs

Michael Zapruder's album came to me quite a while back, and I did give it a listen, finding some of the songs to be stunning right off the bat. But somehow my plans to post about it got lost along the way. Now, I've got to thank my new mp3 player for rekindling interest in Zapruder's music. The album (Zapruder's second solo effort) is titled, New Ways Of Letting Go [August 15, 2006], on Howell's Transmitter. The Rain Of Frogs are described as a collective on his homepage and the outfit includes Nate Query [Decemberists], Jonathan Segel [Camper Van Beethoven], Scott Pinkmountain [Pink Mountain], Scott Solter of Tiny Telephone (an analog studio), Jon Bernson (Ray's Vast Basement), and some fifteen others. Zapruder, based in the Bay area, has been at this music thing for a while now, doing time in a number of bands (Naked Barbies, Vagabond Lovers) before going solo in the late nineties. He gained some attention with his '52 songs project' where he wrote and recorded a song for each week of the year in 1999, posting the songs here; unfortunately, the songs are no longer available for download. It wasn't until 2002 that Zapruder released his solo debut, This Is a Beautiful Town. But it was New Ways Of Letting Go's lead-off track, "The Alchemist", that grabbed me via my Zen player, it's fantastic. Strings, horns, keyboards, and a sad minor key chorus, which carves a little home in your chest around about the second listen. "Do my work...", Zapurder's repeats, "... do my work...", that's the refrain and it's simplicity is the bright shiny hook in an arrangement which gets more complex as the song grows. Zapruder can sound more than a touch like a less nasal Rufus Wainwright, especially in this song. You have to give this music a try, it will grow on all but the most jaded of listener.

+ the alchemist
(more mp3s below)
*BUY the music*

Zapruder is also the sole music curator for Pandora /The Music Genome Project, which is a great way to discover new music. I came across it a couple of years ago, before it took it's current incarnation as a type of internet radio station that you, and others like you, program. Learn more about the beginnings of this web tool/radio station here. And there is a fantastic article on the inner workings of Pandora here at the East Bay Express website.

From New Ways Of Letting Go
1. The Alchemist
2. Haymaker Market [mp3]
3. Butterfield's and Baker's
4. Shepherd's Purse [mp3]
5. Red Violins
6. On the Arm of a Burning City
7. Elm Yellows
8. Jet Black Birds
9. The Institute is Burning
10. Far Rockaway
11. Phainopepla

From This is a Beautiful Town (Sept 17, 2002)
1. Little Ship Bluebell [mp3]
2. Nothing Like a Friend
3. Oh Cho Li
4. Diamond Line
5. Wounded Bird
6. This is a Beautiful Town
7. August8. Summer's Last Day
9. See You in Paradise
10. That is What I Want
11. This is a Sinecure

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  1. Interesting rewievs. Have you ever heard about a band called Bad Accent? That would be something to rewiev. I wonder what you think about the song "Hungarian Drag Queen" I found them on CDBaby

  2. great music, people should hear these, mostly adults. I found some similar ways with Rufus W. too. A question, is he influenced by Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley?
    Cool artist anyway.

  3. Evan -
    i listened to that bad accent song, and didn't like it much. It sounds like they've spent too much time listening and watching, Hedwig And The Angry Inch.

    Bulut -
    Not sure about those influences, but on his myspace page (which i think i neglected to link in the post) he has some interesting influences listed.

    zapruder's myspace page