The Speakers : Yeats is Greats
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By Brian Miller & Peter Musselman (with the help of many fabulous musical, dramatic, and artistic collaborators...)
obtain this cd
Watch the video by Kara Hearn for To a Man Young and Old
cover art by Lisa Sanditz
"...a beautiful collection of dreamy, atmospheric folk-pop perfection. Recommended for fans of Sam Beam's hushed vocals, this song is fragile and hypnotic, capable of lulling the listener into a state of peaceful tranquility. Highly recommended."
- Gorilla vs Bear
yeats = greats
I was both amused by and skeptical of the new Speakers album Yeats Is Greats. Indie band plays songs with lyrics from Yeats poems? What would it be? A lo-fi Pavement sound-alike with someone belting out "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"? Thankfully, no. I keep trying to come up with words to describe Yeats Is Greats, and all that comes to mind is "lovely."
- Music (For Robots)
are beautiful, fragile comforts. They're not joycore, no. They're just things
to lean up against on these long midwinter days. Or in the nights. Trifles,
I guess, in the same way that streetlamps are trifles. Or cherry trees. Or stars.
Voices fall across each-other, whispers blossoming into smiling song, folk that's crisscrossed just enough with foreign sound, shadows of accordion or clarinet, horns and drone. Hear a bit of Iron & Wine, but better. Maybe Sufjan circa Seven Swans. Grizzly Bear without the fear, Elliott Smith with a gang of kindly friends. Like Mt. Eerie, maybe, or The Robot Ate Me. But different.
Oh fuck it - just listen.
Sean from Said the Gramophone, January 5, 2006
Bay Area's embarrassment
of musical talent makes for stunning selection of CDs for 2005
Aidin Vaziri, Chronicle Pop Music Critic
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
While the rest of the world was stuck listening to the same old noise this year from the usual culprits like the Dave Matthews Band and Mariah Carey, we here in the Bay Area once again got to spoil our ears by indulging in tunes that were truly innovative, genre bending and perfectly thrilling. Here, the 21 best local releases from the past year. And remember, it's never too late to discover your new favorite artist.
10: The Speakers
"Yeats Is Greats: The Speakers Sing the Songs[sic] of W.B. Yeats"
Jolie Holland's guitarist Brian Miller and lifelong accompanist[sic] Peter Musselman do as advertised on this album, setting the turn-of-the-century poetry of William Butler Yeats to their own dreamy tunes with bonus accordion solos.
The Speakers are
a lo-fi, new-folk duo from California. Their latest CD is a collection of songs
with lyrics by William Butler Yeats. Brian Miller and Peter Musselman say they
were inspired by the Irish poet's turn-of-the-century work because it sounded
like country songs.
Miller and Musselman have been playing together since they were in middle school in Lancaster, Pa. They continued to play into college and later moved to California where they formed The Speakers in 1999.
For their new CD they sang and played accordion, guitar, bass, banjo, drums, violins, piano, organ, spaced-out keyboards and threw in some whistling.
Miller has also been the guitarist for Jolie Holland for the last five years and has appeared on her last two albums, Catalpa and Escondida, and her upcoming third album, Springtime Can Kill You.
--NPR Open Mic, November 9, 2005
The Speakers -
Yeats is Greats
Derrière The Speakers, se cachent Brian Miller et Peter Musselman, un duo de multi-instrumentistes (à eux deux ils sifflent, jouent du piano, de l’accordéon, de la guitare, du banjo, de la basse, du violon, de l’orgue, du clavier, de la batterie), originaire de Californie et auteur déjà de cinq albums remarquables à défaut d’avoir été remarqués. Le dernier en date est une pure merveille dont le point de départ a consisté à mettre en musique des textes de William Butler Yeats. Sept poésies du poète irlandais ont ainsi été retenues, auxquelles les musiciens ont rajouté neuf titres originaux (la plupart instrumentaux), composant au final une toile sonore d’une délicatesse bouleversante. Entre folk pastoral et radieuses échappées instrumentales, aux arrangements inventifs et sans cesse renouvelés, Yeats is Greats n’est pas, dans le ton, sans évoquer Seven Swans de Sufjan Stevens. Doué pour transcender la tristesse qui hante les mots de Yeats en les éclairant de mélodies immédiates, le duo fait résonner les battements d’une langue sans âge et laisse affleurer un désir d’espace et d’altitude que la dimension intimiste de ce genre de projet n’engendre pas toujours. Quelques invités sont venus par ailleurs apporter une touche précieuse, notamment Ara Anderson (à la trompette) et la violoniste Jolie Holland (Brian Miller fut son guitariste attitré sur ses deux premiers albums, ceci expliquant sans doute cela), dont l’émouvante présence sur « The Mountain Tomb » est source de quelques frissons mémorables. Vivement recommandé.
--Pinkusion.com Novembre 2005 (Google translation -- it's funny)
--Kimberly Chun, SF Bay Guardian Aug. 24-31, 2005
--Joel Smith, The Inlander June 22, 2005
"Almost half of the songs on "Yeats Is Greats" are set with poetry of the evocative poet, while the others rise from today's muse and the contemporary worlds of verbal experience. Both the old and new are set to a smoky, atmospheric hush that curls together a sleepy ambient electronic backdrop with a quiet americana, almost lo-fi folk dripping with secrets. It is a delicious combination of the bitter and the succulent, the poetry exquisite and colored with contemporary context. There's a steadiness to be found even in the questioning harmonies and doubtful melodies. This one is a beauty."
--CD Baby June 13, 2005
1 Oh! Hello There (I didn't see you come in)
He Wishes His
Beloved Were Dead
3 A Cradle Song (featured on NPR's Open Mic podcast)
4 The Mountain Tomb
5 It Goes
6 Hey Little Rat
7 Music for Concertina, Violin, & Russia
8 Lost in a Crowd (Lyrics)
9 The Delicate Conversation
10 The Fool by the Roadside
11 Nothing Ever Dies (Lyrics)
12 To a Man Young and Old
13 The Temp Worker
14 To a Child Dancing in the Wind / Two Years Later
15 An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
16 It looks like Pete has fallen Fast Asleep
© the speakers