! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Can it be true? Oui! Oui! It can. Hey Marseilles' new album To Travels and Trunks is one of my favorite, if not my number one favorite, album of 2008. No, not just my favorite locally-made album, my favorite across the board. It's folky-pop stylings, well, sang to me and I've played it on the ol' stereo about 13,248 times and I'm not bored of it yet.
People will equate them with The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, maybe, and rightly so. They do have that indie-folk-pop-lyrically-challenging-fun-but-thoughtful thing going on. But the troop of seven young men (including Patrick Brannon who plays, according to their MySpace page, "thighs") are securing themselves as their own band, and rightly so. It's always nice to be compared to good famous bands. It's also nice not to copy and follow trends and themese and the whims of the music-loving public. So, Hey Marseilles, if you're reading this, well done in striking out on your own, complete with violas and banjos, accordions and thighs.
With lead vocals by Matt Bishop, the songs can be charming ditties with cello plucks or can be rousing funs full of vim what with a steady drums and accoustic guitars being played to the point of the strings ready to be plunked out (and plunked isn't even really a word).
The opening number, "Marseilles," sets the tone with a wordless tune with pretty piano. It's as if you're transported to a Parisian cafe right when it opens. The sunlight's about to hit off the Seine as you sit, and the nuns, you see then, coffee in hand, are sweeping the steps of the old church across the square, laughing about something they had heard the night before at Mass.
The title track starts like a seafaring accordion-laced jig, rising into a Billy Joel-esque love song. "All I want is love eternally, with your heart facing me."
"Someone to Love" sounds like a song Damien Rice would sing if he was John Denver and John Denver was a Northwesterner with rain on his hat and quiet shadows in his heart. "You were pretty good to love," the song ends.
"Jesus never smoked cigarettes. God never shot a gun. Mother Mary never left her love for the cold California sun," starts the sweet folk song "Cigarettes."
So, anyway, I can't say enough about these guys. I hope they succeed. They're good, should be listened to and I want people to hum their songs and I want to sit in a cafe and see some nuns smile.