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08 mars 2009

Hits of Sunshine

Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts

There is something inherently immoral about the "shuffle" setting on iPods. Even archaic CD players allowed the listener to jumble tracks of a certain album if he so chose.

Albums weren't meant to do this. The most interference a cassette tape or record got was a swift flip. Now Apple shamelessly allows the mixing of thousands of songs with no qualms about how their redistribution might affect, well, everything. I imagine artists create albums with the idea that they will be listened to in their entirety. Therefore, I abstain from shuffling.

With that said, you will note that I was outside my head the other day, as my iPod was indeed on shuffle. Serving as background noise as meaningless as strangers' conversations, the random selections warranted no particular feelings. I know my music well, so when a song came on that I hadn't instantly recognized, I didn't quite know what to do. A glance at my iPod's display read: Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts, "Faith."

Joseph Arthur began writing music as a teenager. The Ohio-based musician dabbled in electronica before discovering his signature guitar-centric style. In the early 90s, Arthur signed to Peter Gabriel's record label, Real World Records. After five studio albums, Arthur decided to keep his touring band around for albums six and seven, and establish his own label, Lonely Astronaut Records. His latest release, Temporary People, includes musicians Sibyl Buck, Kraig Jarret Johnson, Jennifer Turner, and Greg Wieczorek.

I clumsily paused the song to see if I could compel any more information out of the slight electronic. I had the entire album, but this Joseph Arthur sounded almost nothing like the guy I fell in love with after hearing "In the Sun" off 2000's Come to Where I'm From.

I slipped a little further out of my head listening to Arthur's haunted voice on "Faith." His grainy vocal offsets nearly cheerful guitar riffs and cymbal-thick drums. "Faith comes in little waves," Arthur offers with a bit of optimism, as "the pain is what makes you believe." The Lonely Astronauts' chorus punches through the heavy-handed instrumentation with bright belts of affirmation making the song's mood more buoyant than glum.

Now that my brain is square between my ears, I may confidently propose that to shuffle is to discover. I am in no way convinced that this happy bit of chance absolves any of the aforementioned offenses, but I suppose music's value surfaces when it is listened to rather than heard.

Amy Salisbury, The csusm pride, Issue date: 3/3/09 Section: Arts & Entertainment