My favorite band right now is Bishop Allen. I first came across their music in Andrew Bujalski’s movies, which PJ and I saw earlier this summer during our mumblecore summer film festival. I really liked Justin Rice‘s music in Mutual Appreciation, so I bought Charm School (2003) and The Broken Strong (2007) from iTunes. Rice and Christian Rudder are the primary members of this New York-based band. Both are connected to Bujalski: just as Rice starred in Mutual Appreciation, Rudder co-starred in Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha.

Since Charm School is the older of the two albums, I listened to it first. I instantly fell in love with this band’s quirky alt-pop sound. My favorite tracks off the album are “Things Are What You Make of Them,” “Quarter to Three,” and “Empire City.” Here’s a live version of “Things Are What You Make of Them:”

I loved the first album so much, that I was a little resistant to the second one. At first, I thought it was too sophisticated and that the band had lost its charm. But after listening to The Broken String more closely, I now love it as much as the first one.

One of the catchiest tracks on The Broken String is”Click, Click, Click, Click.” Here’s the video:

When I first heard this song, I have to admit that I wasn’t really listening very carefully to the lyrics. Once I did, I loved it. Here they are:

I had ducked out of the rain
Into Maria’s wedding day
And I sat there with her friends
And with her family
And I was happy

I wasn’t someone they’d invite
Because I didn’t know the groom
Or know the bride
But when I stood next to her brother
For the photograph
He was laughing

Take another picture with your click, click, click, click camera

Sure, I’ve got pictures of my own
Of the people and the places that I’ve known
Here’s one: I’m carrying your suitcase
Outside of Alphabet City

But in someone else’s life
Where Maria is a wife
I’m on the mantle in the corner of the photograph
Smiling pretty

Take another picture with your click, click, click, click camera

Are you tired of where you’ve gone?
And you think you might belong
In a moment when you step out of the rain?
And you’ve ended up in someone else’s frame?
And they’re memory now is never quite the same
And they never even thought to ask your name

Like I’ve said, I like the quirkiness this band uses in its lyrics. There’s a fundamental joy in much of their music that appeals to the listener and sucks you into their world.

One of my favorite songs off of The Broken String is “Corazon,” which is about a piano. Here’s a live version:

I like this song’s commentary about the state of music education in our schools and the importance of music. It’s a song about singing. And I like that it incorporates a community of people helping the narrator bring the piano home.

My absolute favorite Bishop Allen song at the moment is “Like Castanets:”

I don’t actually like any bands — I tend to listen more to solo artists who are more often than not women. So, it’s rare that I like a band mostly made up of men. Both of these albums are great. I really hope that I’ll get to hear them live sometime soon.