by Jason Harper
Strict Joy by the Swell Season is not only one of the best but also one of the most surprising rock records of '09. If you don't care what I think about the album, skip down to the THE CONTEST PART below.
Given that the band's initial success was inextricably linked to Once, the breakout 2007 indie film starring the band's two core musicians, curlyheaded auld Irish pop veteran Glen Hansard and sleek young Czech thing Marketa Irglova, who performed songs by Hansard's other group, the Frames (who go back to the '90s), including the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly" ... well, the group, if it stayed together, certainly seemed destined for one swell sophomore slump.
Add to that the fact that Hansard and Irglova ended their real-life romantic relationship earlier this year, and it's a wonder the record even came out at all.
love good music conquers all. If you've taken the time to check out Strict Joy -- you can listen to the whole thing once (no pun intended) for free at Lala.com -- you'll know this. Hansard's roughsod tenor and dynamic songwriting are as willful as ever. Irglova's soft presence permeates like light through the breakfast-room window. It's got more range, depth and soul than the first album, and best of all, you can enjoy the aural feast completely free of associations to the movie.
[THE CONTEST PART]
Contest over. Thanks, all!
But all that's just a buildup to me expressing how bummed I am that I'll be out of town when the Swell Season comes through the Uptown on Monday, November 30. Booooo.
So, I need you to go in my stead. I've got two pairs of tickets to give away to the show. Just be one of the first two to answer the question below correctly, and a pair is yours.
To win the 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song, Hansard and Irglova beat out what eight-time-Oscar-winning Disney composer, who had three songs nominated in the same category?
E-mail your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: SWELL. The contest is open until you see this text crossed out.