Today I was feeling musical, so I listened to two new CDs: The Story So Far by Zack Hexum and Requiem for My Friend by Zbigniew Preisner. (Don't worry; I still have 30 unlistened CDs queued up for more rainy or musical days.) I've listened to each a couple times now, roughly, and I'm glad I picked both of them up.
I don't have a lot to say about Requiem, but it's good. It's haunting, beautiful, entrancing, and emotional. It's somewhat minimalist modern instrumental music; honestly, I thought that parts could have used a larger orchestra and more parts. When it was totally instrumental, its smallness has an interesting and kinda creepy charm that worked quite well. I didn't like this minimalism when placed next to a choir. I generally enjoy choral works, though there are some misses (ahem, contemporary gospel, madrigals). The choral portions of Requiem were disturbing and sad, but they just seemed too weird without more accompaniment. Anyway, there's not much more I can say. It's basically a funeral soundtrack, which is not something I'm always in the mood to hear. Favorite tracks: Meeting (nervous and depressing), Discovering the World (emotional and depressing), and Love (creepy and depressing), the opening three tracks of the second movement, Life. It may shock one or two of you to hear me say that I loved the saxophone in those tracks.
The Story So Far was a welcome surprise. Zack Hexum is the little brother of 311's lead singer Nick. The style is very different, though... somewhere around pop-rock with a little country sprinkled in. It's all very radio-friendly, but it also just has a feeling of genuineness that I don't associate with a lot of popular music. Just about every song on this CD could be a single, which I don't mean as an insult. The guy knows what he's doing, and he's very good at it. The band that it reminded me most of was Maroon 5, though this is a bit calmer and relaxed. Favorite tracks: Met a Girl like You Once (warm and heartfelt), How Many Times (catchy and smile-inducing), and Princess of Darkness (funky and fun).