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Maine Accent Chairs

My great-aunt Mary lives year-round on an island off the coast of Maine and still smokes while she watches the tennis or enjoys a nightcap. It’s given her an amazing speaking voice: her register’s permanently cracked from the cigarettes, with bass-y wobbles, but her Maine accent so often vaults her voice up over vowels it sounds on the phone like she’s simply got bad reception.

To my ear it’s part Boston, part Chicago, and part Copenhagen, and sounds nothing like Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s Texas accent, but I’m reminded of her when I listen to him sing—I can’t imagine mistaking either voice for somebody else. (For a while I confused Gilmore with the character “Smokey” from The Big Lebowski, then I found out that it was Gilmore in the movie.) Gilmore’s most recent record, Come On Back, is a terrific collection of country hits; some songs are available for listening on his web site.

» Hear Jimmie Dale Gilmore at his web site

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Other voices? Ira Kaplan’s, of Yo La Tengo, is an Eames Chair of sorts—iconically comfortable for a certain set and long celebrated. I remember back when pushing YLT records made me feel very in-the-know and indie-meister; now, pushing a new YLT single, I want to buy a Passat.

» Hear new Yo La Tengo at Music For Robots

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Seeing Sound Team last year, my friend Dmitri and I tried to place lead singer Matt Oliver’s voice. There’s wonderful brio and lots of thistle in there, but for some reason we went more for Elvis Costello than Bono, probably for earnestness-as-badge rather than earnestness-as-plea. Costello’s recently been jotting around with Allen Toussaint, a mish-mash that makes me wish Steely Dan would call up Manu Chao.

» Hear Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint at Soul Shower

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Speaking of Manu Chao, and thinking of voices, I’m reminded of one of my favorite albums from this past year, 16 piano themes called Solo Piano by Gonzales, the Paris-based Canadian producer/instrumentalist/rapper/sasquatch. Sort of Eric Satie-like, sort of a soundtrack to a missing early Woody Allen silent picture—a sample of the sound can be found in his deconstruction of Feist’s “One Evening.”

» Hear Gonzales at And Through The Wire

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And, for the big finale, a ludicrous movie trailer dub that reminds me of Josh Allen’s “Behind the Scenes: The Minority Report Trailer.” Happy Wednesday.

» Hear “Voice Over” by Brian Joseph Davis at WFMU


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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