Monday, March 26, 2007

Sailing away in the morning

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On dream bands

Vanity Googling often leads to finding one's name in strange places.

Sadly, I'm in last place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On winter music

Arcade Fire Neon Bible
We were in Elly's bedroom when I first heard this. Seconds into the opening track, the word "overproduced" jumped from my mouth.

I listened to it twice more in more isolated settings and sent my thoughts to Aaron: "It's dark and dense. I don't like the big strings - one of the best things about Funeral the whole makeshift orchestra thing with banging tambourines, snare drums, a couple of violins, some bells, and an accordion. Neon Bible has the real thing, and it's far less interesting and exciting. There's not enough shouting and not enough Renee back-up vocals. 'No Cars Go' is by far the best song and that's a big problem. The songwriting is simply not as strong - where are the hooks? The sound is big, the singing is as tragic as ever and there are a couple of strong tunes, but the highs of 'Rebellion' and 'Wake Up' and 'Crown of love' are nowhere to be found."

Looking back at this, I'm kind of embarassed by it. Kind of, but not entirely. I was certainly wrong about the shouting and Renee - there's plenty of both throughout the record. I've also changed my mind about the strings - the arrangements are actually quite gorgeous (listen to them swell at the end of "Ocean of Noise") and it was silly of me to criticize a band for moving forward. But I still, for the most part, feel the same way about the songwriting. Besides the too obvious lyrical gaffes (Win Butler ripping the thin veil off his Nickelback-esque "father's house" metaphor to sing "I don't want to live in America no more" being the most egregious example), the melodies just seem to come and go, rarely sticking in my head or my mouth. "Keep the Car Running" is the obvious exception, but something like "Intervention," for all it's pipe organ drama and rising tides of sound, doesn't have a hook to rest on.

I think this is a very good album. But I don't expect to listen to it very often anymore.

Arcade Fire - Ocean of Noise

The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horses
Last week, I was driving a couple of friends home and playing this album.
"So, do you like this?" asked one friend.
"I love it," I said. "This is my music."
"What? Like reverb-y, soulful, psychedelic stuff?"
"Yeah. Psychedelic soul-rock. Like Spiritualized."
"Phil Spectorish stuff? With big production?"
"Yeah man. This kind of music is my passion."

The Besnard Lakes - Disaster

Peter Bjorn and John, "Young Folks"
I don't know how much radio play this song has received, but in the New Musical Order of the Internet, it's essentially a huge hit. This is the kind of song that gets file transferred to everyone you know, ends up on every mix CD you make, gets played at all the college rock clubs, shows up on all the hip pages, and gets approval from both art-rock snobs and more populist listeners. The gooey boy-girl harmonies, the easy to replicate whistling hook, the slight-but-definite lift of the chorus, the danceable tempo, the spare arrangment driven by that incessant shaker, the falling in love on the dancefloor lyrics - what's not to like?

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

Herman Dune, "I Wish That I Could See You Soon"
This tune, with its sweet vocals and clever lyrics, reminds me of classic Paul Simon, but it reminds me even more of my friend Aaron's car, picking oysters on the beach and NPR. This song showed up on the same mix CD where I first heard "Young Folks." Four of us were on a road trip to Seattle, the mix was our soundtrack, so the songs will always remind me of that wonderful experience. I think song and memory is a classic theme in music writing because no matter what a person's taste, we all experience those moments of connection between past and present music makes for us.

Herman Dune - I Wish That I Could See You Soon