Searching for cello music
March 14, 2007 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend any non-classical music with prominent cello?

I recently stumbled upon a couple of albums with cello and was really blown away by the sound. The albums were "Room of Songs" by the Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet and "Acoustic" by Joey Cape & Tony Sly. The Cape & Sly album had the cello kind of buried in the mix but the Escovedo disc had very prominent cello with a nice lush sound. Both discs were by artists who normally play electric so I suppose that could be a factor in my enjoyment.

I would appreciate any suggestions of either artists or particular albums with cello that I might also enjoy. Genre is not that important to me but I don't think I'd enjoy a straight classical album (although I would give it a chance) - actually, something with vocals would be preferred.
posted by bda1972 to Media & Arts (62 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
The Magnetic Fields use a lot of cello in their stuff. I think I has more of it going on than 69 Love Songs (which goes all over the place stylistically).
posted by LionIndex at 8:25 AM on March 14, 2007

Nirvana's MTV Unplugged disc has a lot of cello on it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:29 AM on March 14, 2007

Some cello group was doing Tool covers... sorry, but I can't remember the name. Definitely recommend though
posted by bastionofsanity at 8:30 AM on March 14, 2007

Velvet Underground's Street Hassle.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 8:31 AM on March 14, 2007

Not albums, but a couple of tracks that leap to mind:
- Kristin Hersh, "Your Ghost", from Hips and Makers
- Poe, "That Day", from Hello
posted by cortex at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2007

Rasputina. Can't recommend this band highly enough.
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2007

You shouldn't miss MetaFilter Music's own Ljova. Ok, it's viola, not cello but I think you'll like it and it fits your search.
posted by micayetoca at 8:33 AM on March 14, 2007

Rasputina. Goth cello-chicks.
posted by desuetude at 8:33 AM on March 14, 2007

Don't know either of the two albums you mention, but I will give them a look over. Thank you.

Anyway, you might like to google Zoe Keating: one cello x 16 natoma

No vocals, though.

Why not classical? The six cello suites (by J S Bach) contain some of the most gorgeous music ever. Can recommend the renditions by the French cellist Maurice Gendron. Cheap 2cd on Phillips. One of the best investments I have ever made.

Happy listening!
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2007

Much older, but Harry Chapin always had a cello as a part of his arrangements. Although his biggest hits were Cat's in the Cradle and Taxi, I would very much recommend Legends of the Lost and Found if you were only going to buy one album.
posted by Lokheed at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2007

Jorane. French-canadian woman with cello, kind of indie.
posted by betty botter at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2007

Its not terribly prominient but the song Vapour Trail by RIDE is cool. Link to youtube video.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2007

Also, hopefor agoldensummer. Such nice folks. Not much on their website right now while they finish up an album, though.
posted by desuetude at 8:37 AM on March 14, 2007

Most of the excellent "Workbook" album by Bob Mould has cello on it.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2007

The String Quartet Tribute albums might interest you as well.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:41 AM on March 14, 2007

Damien Rice - O
Drugstore - White Magic for Lovers
posted by swordfishtrombones at 8:42 AM on March 14, 2007

"Cello Song" by Nick Drake. A few of his songs feature cello.
posted by fire&wings at 8:48 AM on March 14, 2007

i would feel remiss if i didn't mention scrabbel. they're from the bay area and my friend plays cello for them.

you also might want to check out the divine comedy. some of their (his) albums have more cello/string arrangements than others.
posted by kendrak at 8:53 AM on March 14, 2007

Matson Jones! Like Rasputina, they often use so much pounding speed and electricity you swear it's electric guitars up against the drums and vocals.

Their website has mysteriously disappeared, but they're on iTunes. Odd music video here, for Good Advice, with a relentless cello that manages to sound like Jaws swimming toward you, wearing lipstick.
posted by mochapickle at 9:10 AM on March 14, 2007

Diane by Therapy? has some pretty awesome strings in it which are either cello or double bass. Also some pretty wierd lyrics - NSFW (although this version seems to be the radio edit version...)
posted by prentiz at 9:21 AM on March 14, 2007

I feel Apocalyptica needs more of an explanation (and explicit endorsment from yours truly).

Their first album is called '(Apocalyptica) Plays Metallica by Four Cellos'. It's totally awesome, and I'm not a big fan of Metallica.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:27 AM on March 14, 2007

Channeling Owen!!!!! I do not lightly decide upon a degree of enthusiasm commensurate to five exclamation marks, either.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:34 AM on March 14, 2007

Arthur Russell
posted by tjenks at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2007

Tara Fuki. Polish. Two women. Two cellos. Beautiful stuff.
posted by jammer at 9:39 AM on March 14, 2007

The Ex and Tom Cora "And the Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders"

Loung Lizards Live in Berlin I & II featuring the jello on the cello Jane Scarpantoni
posted by minkll at 9:40 AM on March 14, 2007

A Whisper in the Noise
posted by Demogorgon at 9:43 AM on March 14, 2007

Cursive's album 'The Ugly Organ' features cello throughout.
posted by saladin at 9:59 AM on March 14, 2007

Darling Violetta wrote and performed the Angel theme (which includes a prominent cello part). I think the cello is featured in several of their other songs as well.
posted by somanyamys at 10:02 AM on March 14, 2007

Seconding Arthur Russell, though his work may take some time to get into (did for me). Lots of just him and his sort of flat singing + cello. Really totally great, though.

Can't wait for the upcoming documentary, too!
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:04 AM on March 14, 2007

Acoustic Eidolon are an amazing duet of cello and, get this, doubleneck guitjo (half guitar and half banjo). Do yourself a favor and look them up.
posted by monkeymadness at 10:04 AM on March 14, 2007

(bonfire) madigan hasn't been as active in recent years but is an awesome songwriter/cellist.
posted by noloveforned at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2007

The Who, "A Quick One While He's Away," sort of:
We wanted to put 'cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said we couldn't afford it. That's why we sing 'cello, cello, cello, cello,'…where we thought they should be.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:17 AM on March 14, 2007

Get the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack. It's kick ass.
posted by chunking express at 10:26 AM on March 14, 2007

posted by cowbellemoo at 10:27 AM on March 14, 2007

Break of Reality.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2007

Jump, aka Jump, Little Children. Their earlier stuff is a little more cello-prominent than their recent albums.
posted by DawgterFeelgood at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2007

Look for albums with Jane Scarpantoni in the credits. She has a distinctive style that was used a lot from the late 80s onward, and judging from my music collection she was the go-to cello session musician during the alt-rock era. Among other albums, she plays on Bob Mould's Workbook (cited above), and on one of my favorite obscurities, Peter Holsapple and Christ Stamey's slight but charming Mavericks.
posted by ardgedee at 10:58 AM on March 14, 2007

If you like Paul Winter's music, you might try Eugene Friesen.
posted by Snerd at 11:00 AM on March 14, 2007

Verbow were a power-pop band that featured cello on all songs and were connected in a couple ways to Bob Mould.
posted by mzurer at 11:01 AM on March 14, 2007

There's a local band called Canada that uses a cello prominantly in their slowish-Arcade Fire sound.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on March 14, 2007

Some more thoughts: Waltz by Rex is a short EP of slow-moving folk/punk/drone with lots of cello and horn in the arrangements.

The Balanescu Quartet does string quartet versions of non-classical music (eg, 'Posessed' is a collection of Kraftwerk covers), in the same way Apocalyptica does Metallica.
posted by ardgedee at 11:08 AM on March 14, 2007

The sountrack music for the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" prominently features Yo Yo Ma and his Stradivarius (which is worth millions). But any performance by him, of anything at all, is going to be good; he's widely considered the best cellist alive today.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:13 AM on March 14, 2007

Here's something: Suite for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:17 AM on March 14, 2007

Alice by Tom Waits has cello, though I've always wished that he'd hired a better player - the other strings are great, but the cello sounds scratchy and out of tune.
posted by altolinguistic at 11:20 AM on March 14, 2007

Julia Kent, John Contreras.
posted by Martin E. at 11:24 AM on March 14, 2007

The Instruments are led by cellist Heather McIntosh, and naturally enough many of their songs feature cello.
posted by misteraitch at 11:52 AM on March 14, 2007

Nthing Rasputina, especially Thanks for the Ether.
posted by Paragon at 1:01 PM on March 14, 2007

PJ Havey, particularly her earlier albums like "Dry".

Oysterband, particularly more recent albums like "Here I Stand".

Voltaire has quite a bit of cello on his stuff, as did the late lamented 16 Horsepower.

Jane Scarpentoni shows up on a couple of Firewater records.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2007

Yeveto. First got together to do a soundtrack for the silent film Der Golem, just put out another record. No vocals, but beautiful stuff.
posted by zoinks at 2:02 PM on March 14, 2007

The Low & Sweet Orchestra have an album called "Goodbye to All That." Pretty rootsy.

The line-up includes Zander Schloss from the Circle Jerks and James Fearnley from the Pogues. And their cello player is -- ready? -- actor Dermot Mulroney.

Good stuff.

Also, I'm not very familiar, but you might try the music of Christine Gunn (of Trillian Green). Her website has samples.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2007

Gideon Freudman---especially "Hologram Crackers" and "Adobe Dog House". It's one guy and one cello (but he does cool things with looping in real time to make it quite complex). It's instrumental (at least, I strongly prefer his instrumental stuff to the folk-type songs he sometimes does) but I wouldn't classify it as classical.

His stuff is amazing.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:54 PM on March 14, 2007

Several songs on R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People feature cellos. They're most prominent in "Nightswimming."
posted by mbrubeck at 3:23 PM on March 14, 2007

Kronos Quartet -- some, but not all, of their stuff is considered classical. Their CD with the Tiger Lilies, "The Gorey End," is a setting of some of Edward Gorey's verse to music.
posted by bokinney at 4:46 PM on March 14, 2007

Tattle Tale's "Glass Vase Cello Case." Also, Chris Pureka's first album (Driving North) uses cello on "Burning Bridges" and maybe a few other songs. Also, seconding the soundtrack to "Requiem for a Dream," or anything else by Philip Glass - especially the string quartets.
posted by bassjump at 5:08 PM on March 14, 2007

On the soundtrack to the film Orlando, there's a track called "Pavanne" which is essentially a hot-sounding arrangement of the Renaissance song Belle qui tiens ma vie for strings, and has prominent cello. There's a sample on the Amazon page.

And short, sweet and cheesy: the theme from Angel. Downloady link at the bottom of this page. Damn, the internet rocks.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, you guys are awesome! I wasn't expecting so many suggestions. I'll spend this weekend on the Internet listening to samples and hopefully make some purchases as well. Thanks again!
posted by bda1972 at 7:50 PM on March 14, 2007

The first thing that cam to mind was the aforementioned Street Hassle, but you'll find it on a Lou Reed album of the same name, not on anything by the Velvet Underground
posted by pasici at 4:32 AM on March 15, 2007

how could no one have mentioned Murder By Death yet?!
they have a great cellist.
my friend and I had made a couple of "cello-core" mixes for another friend of ours, all rock stuff with cellos, i should try to find them.

also try smart went crazy. both albums are excellent.
posted by annoyance at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2007

I'd suggest No River City's first album "This is Our North Dakota". I'm pretty sure the band's not together in the guitar-voices-cello configuration anymore, but this album slays me. Dark, smart, alt-country-ish music with dead-on harmonies. The cello player picks up a lot of the lead melody lines, and sings like an angel.

If you dug the Alejandro albums (as I did), I'd suggest it.

You can still pick the CD up at Miles of Music, methinks.

This is the question that inspired me to join the community after a year of lurking.
posted by elmer benson at 11:25 AM on March 15, 2007

Elvis Costello with the Brodsky Quartet, "The Juliet Letters"
posted by candyland at 6:12 PM on March 15, 2007

Also check out Asa Chang and Jun Ray, which is treated drums and cello, and really good and weird and spacy.
posted by klangklangston at 9:15 PM on March 15, 2007

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