New She & Him

22 03 2010

She & Him, the too-adorable-for-words duo of M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel, are releasing their second album, Volume Two, tomorrow through Merge Records.

Even though it’s coming out tomorrow, NPR is streaming the album in its entirety on their site…. Listen here!

I’m an avid M.Ward fan, but I  felt a dug of resistance to the the whole Zooey Deschanel hype. Sometimes when an actress makes a stab at switching career paths to become a singer, it just becomes a gimmick, making the release feel like a contrived publicity stunt. Frankly though, Deschanel is a great singer, and her wide-eyed warbling goes perfectly with M.Ward’s warm guitar melodies. Vol.2 has a sweet, 60’s pop sound, excellent for listening to on a sunny spring day. Even though Ward and Deschanel are obviously drawing influence from Beach Boys-y surfer pop, retro country, and other ’60’s mainstays, the result feels fresh and current, with M.Ward’s folky, bluesy plinking guitar just adding to the whole pleasant effect.

Here is the video for “In The Sun,” the first single from Volume Two. Once again, when I saw this video for the first time, I felt a twinge of resistance to how cutesy the video is; upon a second viewing, it seems that the video has a tongue-in-cheek vibe, showing that Ward and Deschanel aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

One of my favorite songs from their debut album, Volume One, is their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold On Me.” Such a morosely sweet song. Here is a live performance from MTV Canada:

M.Ward has an extensive catalogue of kick ass folky releases, and has most recently been a part of indie rock supergroup Monsters of Folk. Monsters of Folk released their self-titled debut last fall, and the group is comprised of Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, and Ward. (Side Note: I still don’t understand why Yim Yames is no longer Jim James. I am dumbfounded. What is the significance? Tired of the letter “J”? Did it just for the hell of it, to confuse people? Religious purposes? Hmm??)

Anyway here is the music video for MOF’s “The Right Place,” one of the best songs from the album. Man I wish I could just hang out with the dudes from Monsters of Folk, they seem so chill.

I had the chance to see MOF at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheater, and MAN, they made the most of their short set, they were jamming. The acoustic atmosphere of Bridge School suited the folk rockers perfectly, and they performed Monsters of Folk songs as well as songs from their own individual bands (they performed “To Save Me” from M.Ward’s last release Hold Time, and Bright Eyes’ “At The Bottom of Everything,” among others). My only complaint was that I wish they could have played longer, I was envious of my friends who saw MOF perform full sets in Seattle and Portland.

I could blather on endlessly about how awesome M. Ward is, but I’ll just pick a few of my favorite songs of his to mention:

“Chinese Translation” from his 2006 album Post-War (possibly one of my favorite songs ever, so delightful. also cool cartoon video)

“Rave On” from his 2009 album Hold Time (featuring Deschanel, a Buddy Holly cover)

“Big Boat” from his 2005 release Transistor Radio (linked youtube video is a montage of…. big… boats…. also known as ships, heh)

Also, M.Ward is from Portland, Oregon– another reason to like him even more!! Yeeeaaa Oregon.

She & Him are performing at Coachella…. t-minus 25 days…. Check out their official site for all of their show dates. They’re performing in the Bay Area May 28 at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, and May 29 at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Make sure to get tickets early if you plan on going, most of their shows are already sold out!

Happy Springtime,

Duffy

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