Tag Archives: Review

Sunday Song: Rocks and Water – Deb Talan

For me music should invoke an emotion, the stronger the better. If a song makes me cry or makes my heart beat faster, I know its worth holding on to. This song stirs an emotion I don’t often feel with music: defiance and strength.

This is an anthem to carry on despite whoever is trying to hold you down. At least that is how I see it. The opening lyrics set the feeling:

Seven times I went down
six times I walked back.
And I don’t fear the dark anymore
’cause I’ve become all that.

I read this as “keep doing what your doing until you can’t do it anymore.”

The sound of the song holds up the lyrics. The guitar is clear and creates the rhythm that is steady and robust.  The percussion comes in and is a simple single hit that is opposite of the guitar rhythm. It creates a powerful sound under the singing.

Lastly, Deb Talan’s voice is amazing. It sounds so wise in this song and she is able to stretch it to sound large and loud and yet convey some of the other emotions that go with being defiant and strong, which are being tired and weary. Her voice is beautiful in all it conveys.

User Video of Rocks and Water

Sunday Song: The General Specific – Band of Horses

I first heard Band of Horses when they were opening for Pearl Jam on their midwest tour this past spring. In most cases I am totally unimpressed with opening bands. I’m looking at you Autolux. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, but either way the opening act usually is just a rest stop on the way to what I am actually there to watch. Band of Horses was awesome though. So much so that I am seeing them all on their own later this month.

This song is definitely my favorite. I owe this in part to the slide show they played with it. It was a montage of photos they’d taken from their previous gigs and travels. It was hilarious.

The sound of Band of Horses,  definitely has a country vibe. Not the neo-country bull crap which, I’m sorry, I cannot get behind. It has an old school country vibe. Like Cash and Willie Nelson. And this song definitely highlights that sound.

The lead vocals warble like the best old country. The beat of the song has a cadence like you’re riding a slow horse through the back country. Even the piano sounds has a high plunky sound that reminds me of the sound of a piano in an old salon.

The lyrics are almost non-sensical:

The fourth of July, looks like the tide is going home.
In time I’d find a little way to your heart, down to the general store for nothing specific,
Gonna wash my bones in the Atlantic shore – only for you and me

And yet they speak to me. I think you can sense the emotion through the sound and the words together. It makes me think of my husband and I. We’ve had some great times, we’ve had some crazy times, we’ve had some awful times, and we just keep on going.

I am a little disappointed that the montage of photos with the music isn’t available online. But the official video is pretty hilarious in its own way.

Video for The General Specific

Sunday Song: Loud Pipes – Ratatat

My Zero 7 Pandora strikes again. I am not sure if this is really downbeat though, it seems a little more aggressive than the usual downbeat electronica. At the same time, I don’t think the raver kids would find it to have enough punch.

According to Wikipedia, Ratatat consists of two dudes playing guitar and synthesizer/ bass guitar respectively. I am loving what I think are the bass sounds over the synthesizer and guitar. It makes the sound huge, almost like a huge church organ was hooked into some sort of electronic filter. The pipe organ type sound is perhaps the inspiration for the title.

The song has an emotional impact for me despite the lack of lyrics. I am not sure if it is the bass, or the hardcore pipe organ sound feels like it triggers my confidence center. I listen to this song and feel like the problems of the day can be overcome, or at least they aren’t as big as I think.

User Video for Loud Pipes

Sunday Song: Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons

Back when I was doing the my “song a day” posts I really worked to find new music to talk about. This was mostly because I feel becoming set in the music you listen to is a sign of age that I really never want to adopt. I want to constantly be evolving with music so I can turn on the radio and still find something I like. Plus, its kind of depressing if the only music you like is found on the “classic rock station” regardless of how killer that music can me. (Yes, I still find a lot of the music I love on the classic rock station.) Since having to cut back on my blogging due to a pesky day job, my ability to hunt for new music has been hampered as my time to sit and listen to music is much smaller.

Lucky for Mumford & Sons this song came on the radio while I was driving to said day job or else I may have never heard it.  It happened to fit my mood that morning perfectly. I am not sure I can accurately describe my mood that day. Perhaps a combination between a little down on life after a previously hard day at work, mixed with determination to go back and try again.

The first thing, I love about this song is the guitar. It sounds like someone playing a guitar like its a banjo. Or perhaps it actually is a guitar and a banjo. In either case, it makes me think of the scene in Titanic when they dance in the cargo hold. The speed of the playing while executing what sounds to be complex playing is amazing and makes me want to get up and dance.

I love how the song sounds like an old Irish ballad and yet is obviously very modern with the lyrics being things like “I really f***ed it up this time.” It has the perfect mix of vim and vingear that  can match a bad mood, but it makes it hard to stay in it.

The lead singer’s accent is also adorable and perfect for the style. I assumed he must be Irish, but according to wikipedia they are English. I love the gritty sound to his voice. I love when voices sound real versus over processed. I understand no one wants to sound like a bad singer but auto tune makes people sound so soul less. Seriously, just stop.

Video for Little Lion Man

Sunday Song: Far from Grace – The Doves

Amazingly, I am writing about a song that is not totally downbeat electronica. I was actually surprised myself especially since all I listen to anymore is my Zero 7 station which I thought I had been grooming to be almost wordless lounge music.

This song by The Doves snuck on to my Pandora station probably because of it  has that kind of dream like soothing sound that I associate as being downbeat electronica. Perhaps the small amount of Coldplay that I allowed to remain on my Zero 7 station helped it along.

I had never heard of The Doves before but according to their wikipedia entry they have been around for a while. Who knew?

The lead singers voice is so smooth it almost blends with the instrumentals. I barely know what he is saying because I hear it as another instrument weaving through the other sounds as a rich, dark undertone to the higher electronic sounds.

This song has an electronic sound I can’t quite explain. It starts at 0:21 on the youtube link I posted below. It is some sort of guitar sound that has a slight worble to it. I hear a similar sound though a little rougher in the start of the song The Ocean Breaths Salty by Modest Mouse. There is something about this particular sound that soothes me in some way its like a strange binaural beat to my psyche (Binaural beats effects were discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, consequence? I think not!)

In any case, its a beautiful and relaxing song. Perfect for my Sunday morning routine of relaxing and drinking some tea.

User Video for Far from Grace

Sunday's Song: Thumbnails – Morcheeba

Surprising development as I shuffle deeper into my 30’s, I am falling hard for downbeat electronica. Who knew that would happen? It certainly wasn’t in the pamphlet I received about getting old from the AARP.

I am drawn to this song because of it’s lack of vocals. I stay with it because of its combination of high bell like sounds and low always grinding type sounds. The marriage of these sounds makes it interesting instead of lulling me into a raver coma.

It’s like a club song grew up and slowed down a little. It inspires me to put on cute heels and hit an ultra lounge for a drink I can’t pronounce. Or perhaps just sip some tea on a Sunday morning and contemplate getting older. Either or.

The constant rythm in it also keeps it lively and yet “downbeat” or mellow.

Myspace player of Thumbnails

Sunday’s Song: They Move On Tracks of Never-Ending Light – This Will Destroy You

I tend to shy away from purely instrumental music. One of the typical things I judge songs on whether I can belt it out while in the car. But this is one of the exceptions.

It has interest even in just the instrumental while having a meditative quality to it as certain notes are repeated almost like a mantra being repeated over and over through out the song.

The rough synthetic beat that comes in in the middle of the song adds a contrast to the song that makes the smoother instrumental sounds seem all the more calming.

This is what I categorize as a “close your eyes song” because its the kind of song you should put on headphones for and close your eyes, isolating yourself from all outside influence and just let the song take over. Like guided meditation but hipper, perhaps.

It definitely fits in perfect to my Sunday routine of slow going.

User video for They Move on Tracks of Never-Ending Light

(has calming images to match the song)

Sunday’s Song: Anonymous Melody – ORG lounge

I really want to get back to reviewing songs not only to have something to write about but because it gave me encouragement to look for new music that I really enjoyed. But doing anything daily that isn’t going to work is rough for me now. Sunday’s however are generally pretty free.

Today I picked a song that I had “thumbed up” on my Zero 7 station on Pandora. As a side, Pandora one of the ways I locate music I like. It is easier to create a station of based on a band or song I already know I like and let Pandora do the heavy lifting to find me others songs that fit the things I like.

I like this specifically for it’s lack of lyrics. Sometimes I need music to create a space for me to think about things I need to think about. It might be thinking about something I am reading or plans I need to make. Kind of like a safe harbor in a storm. And lyrics just clutter up the mental space I am trying to create.

I know a lot of people use classical music for this sort of purpose but usually classical music just bores me. I think it’s the general lack of percussion and similar sounds like makes me itchy in classical music when I am trying to do some serious thinking. Also, I like songs to be relatively short and classical “songs” can be two hours long.

This song is perfect, it is not to short, not too chaotic, and no lyrics. It’s a strong silent type allowing me to sit and think and read. But it doesn’t sound like Muzak(tm) which a lot of instrumental music can stray into.

The only place I could find a complete version to listen to.

Kiss with a Fist – Florence and the Machine

I kept hearing of this band Florence and the Machine and yet some how never heard any songs associated with them. I think I finally heard a song on Pandora or online randomly and was like “This is my kind of music!”

Though I do not condone abusive relationships, I like the contrast in this song of it being really up beat sounding and yet it is about this couple who are punching and kicking and setting beds one fire.

And I adore how this song reminds me of old school punk. I think it’s the guitar sound that really makes it sound like a punk song to me. I like how it sounds really loud and the drums are simple with really clean and crisp sound.

And the vocals have a low-fi quality that also adds to the punk like sound. And yet there is still something that brings it into the kind of folk sound. It’s an odd combination, but it works.

Video for Kiss with a Fist

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

I think I’ll dedicate this post to Billy Griffith, the stupid idiot I dated when I was a freshman in high school. We dated for a whole month. And though he did stick with me through chicken pox. He dumped me at the end of the month and immediately hit on my best friend. When he broke up with me, I made a cassette tape (yes, I am that old) on which this song was recorded over and over on both sides so I could sit in my room and cry and listen to this song on loop. Because obviously when you are 13 (14?) and you have dated someone for a whole MONTH and they dump you it is…the end of the world. And this song SPOKE to me.

This song falls into what my husband calls Theatre Geek Rock, I believe. It seems most theatre geek rock is written by the same person, Jim Steinman, who wrote songs for Meatloaf, another singer beloved by theatre geeks.

I can see now why people who worked in theatre, like myself would enjoy this song. It definitely has a theatrical sound to this song. With lots of call and response. The instrumental aspects almost call for a full orchestra. And effects that sound like thunder and crashing. It’s totally the making of a musical number. And the lyrics are so dramatic.

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit restless and I dream of something wild
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit helpless and I’m lying like a child in your arms
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit angry and I know I’ve got to get out and cry
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a
little bit terrified but then I see the look in your eyes
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and
then I fall apart

You can also see why this appealed to a 13 year old girl who just got dumped. Drama. Drama.

The video for this song was obviously conceived by someone who did A LOT of drugs or seriously mentally disturbed. It’s the only explanation for how totally bizzaro it is. Or perhaps they just knew us Theatre Geeks would eat it up.

Video for Total Eclipse of the Heart