Regina Spektor is an artist that is rapidly ascending towards the top of my list of artists that I need to see on Day 2. At this point, I would probably put her at #3, behind only the New Pornographers and RHCP.
This puts Regina Spektor ahead of both Blonde Redhead and Arcade Fire. I actually like both of those other bands more than Spektor, but I've seen them live before, and I've never seen Spektor in concert. Furthermore, from what I've gathered by listening to her albums, I think that she will be an entertaining act to see live, since her energy really bursts through the recordings. I almost put her ahead of RHCP, but then I remembered how amazing John Frusciante is on guitar, so I had to put her behind them.
I've been listening to Spektor's new album, 'Begin to Hope', today. My first experience with this album was actually over a month ago, when I visited my parents. Much to my surprise, my mother had bought 'Begin to Hope', after seeing Regina Spektor performing one of her songs on television. I didn't know what to make of that at the time. Spektor's previous album, 'Soviet Kitsch', didn't exactly seem like the type of thing that would appeal to my 60 year old mom. It had a fair amount of teen angst in it, as well as one song where the phrase 'Mary Anne's a bitch' was repeated ad nauseum -- not exactly what I picture my mom listening to.
However, after giving 'Begin to Hope' a couple spins, I can see that her songwriting has matured quite a bit in the years since 'Soviet Kitsch', and not in a bad, middle-of-the-road kind of way. To the contrary, Spektor's songs are still delightful pop nuggets, hopelessly quirky and catchy when she's at her best. The first two songs on this album ('Fidelity' and 'Better') are worth the price of admission alone. 'Fidelity' is a sparse but lively song, and Spektor's vocals during the chorus are so lovely that they will be stuck in your head for days, guaranteed -- even after only one listen. 'Better' is another gem, and more full featured than 'Fidelity', with a complete rhythm section accompanying her. Again, the chorus is a thing of beauty, though not quite as inspiring as 'Fidelity'.
'Begin to Hope' is a long album, 19 tracks long in fact. I can't say that I've gotten a feeling for the entire album yet-- it simply has too many songs to keep track of after only two listens. I can say, however, that there were quite a few songs (aside from the first two) where I would stop what I was doing, listen for a moment, and then think to myself, "Gee, I've got to see her at Coachella, she's great!"