Musical Elective of the Week

January 24, 2009 | Blog

The Musical Elective of the Week is Liam Finn.

Finn is a 25-year-old Kiwi singer/songwriter. Not only does he have a most excellent first name, but this guy can rock! Probably best known as the eldest son of singer/songwriter extraordinaire and Crowded House founder/lead singer Neil Finn, Liam laid down the gauntlet with his first solo album, I’ll Be Lightning, released in January 2008 in the U.S. He was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 10 Artists to Watch for 2008.

Recorded with a mixing deck that once belonged to the Who, I’ll Be Lightning melds Elliott Smith-style melodies with loosey-goosey execution and the big, airy harmonies of yacht rock. Finn plays every instrument on the album — and during live shows. Triggering loops he creates via pedals, he’ll riff on guitar, go nuts on theremin and pummel a drum kit for a one-man-band extravaganza.

Finn is an unbelievable persona in concert, literally doing everything on stage and making enough noise to make you believe that is an entire band up there. I saw him open for Crowded House at the House of Blues in Chicago back in 2007 and was spellbound. (He later opened for Eddie Vedder in the U.S. last year.)

I’ll Be Lightning is a difficult album to categorize, parts rock, folk, and experimental. Some of my favorite tracks include the first three — “Better To Be,” “Second Chance,” and “Gather To The Chapel” — as well as the Beatle-esque “Energy Spent” and “Music Moves My Feet.”

Finn will be part of the very exciting, upcoming Seven Worlds Collide album featuring his dad (Neil Finn), members of Radiohead (Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway), members of Wilco (including Jeff Tweedy), KT Tunstall, Johnny Marr (of the Smiths and Modest Mouse), Sebastian Steinberg (of Soul Coughing), and others. Recording was done over the holidays in Auckland, New Zealand and several concerts were performed. Proceeds will benefit Oxfam International.

Check out more about Liam Finn at his web site.

Better to be, bigger than the other

Heart on your sleeve and hat on your head

I want to see you playing with your shadow

Hypnotise me with every step

–“Better To Be,” I’ll Be Lightning (2008)

Link to past Musical Electives of the Week.

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