3hree Things: Essential Rainy Day Albums

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Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

Apparently, we're in for an uncharacteristically damp and gloomy week in Orange County. I can handle rain in small doses, but after precipitation and grey skies for week straight, my vitamin-D-starved pasty skin and restless mind tend to slip into a hybrid of mild depression and cabin fever. (This is why I'll probably never move to the Pacific Northwest.) Music helps me cope. I suppose that it could be argued (based on my tendency to gravitate towards dark, melancholic post-rock music) that a healthy portion of my iTunes library qualifies as "rainy-day albums", but I have three current "rainy-day" favorites that'll be in heavy rotation this week.



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1) Eluvium - 
Similes 
Eluvium is an ambient project from the mind of Matthew Cooper. Similies, his fifth full-length, was released in February of this year, and while it's been in heavy rotation for the past eight months (regardless of the weather) I find myself gravitating towards his his lush, hypnotic compositions on grey days like today. Based in Portland, Cooper is certainly no stranger to rainy days, and the mood of these songs reflects that. 

In doing some research on his history and influences, I found a particularly interesting quote in a post on his web site that states (sic), "I am often asked what artists and albums are of influence to me and although I am an avid consumer of music I am ultimately a fan of sound in a much larger sense. It is from rain falling, the ocean swelling, the wind picking up, cars driving by, train yards, box fans, etc.. etc.. etc... The amalgamation of these things creates a wonderful comfort to me and it is in this 'static' that ideas and music come to me. The mixtures of these elements create the chord changes and melodies or are the foundation by which they are found. There is nothing more comforting to me in the world than the flood of this vibration at a constant." 

Hear, hear. Similes is one of my favorite records of the year. It's an absolutely gorgeous collection of sounds.

Favorite track: "Cease to Know" 


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2) Jakob -
Solace 
Jakob has been a favorite of mine for a few years now. I had the good fortune of discovering them while trawling the MySpace "Top Friends" lists of some of my favorite post-rock bands (I can't recall if it was Isis, Mogwai, or Pelican.) in search of new music and was instantly hooked. 

The New Zealand three-piece builds beautiful songs around swirling delayed guitar arpeggios and soaring guitar swells, anchored by pulsating, gritty bass lines that are pushed along tastefully by fat-pocketed tribal-inspired drumming. The thing I love most about them is their masterful use of dynamics. They'll mesmerize you with a minimalist approach, letting atmospheric guitar swells lull you into a trance just before making your heart race with some of the most cathartic and crushingly heavy climaxes/outros I've ever heard.

Thrice had the honor of playing with them in New Zealand a few years ago and I was blown away by how massive they sounded. They're every bit as good live as they are recorded, if not better. Unfortunately, they don't tour in the states all that often (most recently, they joined Isis on their US farewell tour this summer and were fantastic again) so seeing them live might have to wait, but in the meantime I'd highly recommend getting lost in Solace. It's one of my favorite records of all time, rain or no rain.


Favorite track: "Safety In Numbers" 


3) Rachel's - Systems/Layers 

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Although they've been around since 1991, I had no idea Rachel's even existed until a few months ago. (Shame on me.) I walked into the lady's painting chambers the week before I left for our Europe and UK tour in August and overheard her listening to some of the best ambient music I'd heard in a long time.

It reminded me of a film score in how it moved, of piano-based Sigur Ros songs in its arrangements, and of the Donnie Darko OST (one of my all-time favorites) in it's mood--dark and melancholy, but strangely uplifting. What I was hearing was Rachel's sixth full-length, Systems/Layers

I was so moved by what I heard that I became hopelessly addicted to the record. It completely dominated my playlist on that tour. I listened to it every night as I fell asleep, and since I've been home from tour I've found myself going back to it over and over again. A timeless record, Systems/Layers is in rarefied air. The only other records that I can say have been so incredibly addictive and so "perfect" in such a setting, were Radiohead's Kid A, Jakob's Solace, and the aforementioned Donnie Darko OST.  

I'm sad to say that since they released a beautiful 18-minute-long composition entitled Technology is Killing Music in 2005, Rachel's has gone into hibernation. For those of you that like what you hear here, pianist Rachel Grimes put out a solo record called Book Of Leaves that is also highly recommended.

Favorite track: "Water From The Same Source" 



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