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Passion Pit

July 15, 2009

passion-pitWell, as I have just expressed on my twitter account, sometimes I miss music by months or even years but still feel proud of my discovery—if only humbly so. My recent discovery, of which my brother helped spur on, is Passion Pit. Lately, the “indietronica” sound has really struck a chord. I would like to say that the craze started with Ben Gibbard and his Postal Service project. Since, bands such as Blonde Redhead, Yeasayer, The Raveonettes and MGMT keep me plugged in… literally. The fun part of all of this is that it’s only getting better. I missed Passion Pit’s debut ep entitled “Chunk of Change”, which came out under a year ago. Chunk of Change is good… really good. During my research I know that “Sleepyhead” got some airtime, and it should. “Sleepyhead” has one of the best synth leads of any song that I’ve heard. I wish that I had written this song.

As good as Chunk of Change is, their full-length LP, which came out in May, is better. “Manners” is outstanding. It takes a while to get through the whole album because I want to repeat each song that plays. The album starts off on a great note and doesn’t let up. There are no filler songs on the album, but some that out-shine others. The second track, “Little Secrets” is as close as you can get to making a perfect song.

So, in case they almost slipped by you like me, I hope that you get into them now. Here’s their single “Sleepyhead” and “Little Secrets”, respectively.


The Beginning of Life

July 10, 2009

sigur_ros_1I do my best to incorporate my spiritual life in my everyday doings. This is difficult for almost anyone and I do not hold an exception. While listening to music, trying to pick out God is sometimes easier than others. There is one song that I cannot help but find God. When I am feeling down or weary, this song will always give me the chills and boost my spirits. I always enjoyed the song but then a good mutual friend of my brother and mine introduced me to his interpretation. From that moment of listening to the song in the dark woods of Camp Tahkodah with the windows up and the speakers at just the right maximum volume, the song was forever branded in my mind as this:

Imagine an old, Moses—Charlton Heston style, but wirier—dancing in a dark room around a spinning glowing orb. In one hand, this God has a staff and with his other hand he shapes and molds this sphere. In fact, this man is like a combination between Charlton Heston and Rafiki from The Lion King. Regardless of how you picture him, there is a build up of how this orb is grown. As he moves about from side to side perfecting the waters and the mountains and the clouds, he draws it all closer and larger. The world grows and catapults into the climax. I find it easy to imagine the climax: God throwing his arms into the air, the waves crashing, and the mountains crunching. I also picture angels singing and making this music themselves to accompany God. Now, this is not to suggest that I think the soundtrack in Heaven will be Sigur Ros, but this song is as close to the creation as I can see.

I would love to discuss my ideas on creationism and evolution with anyone, but not on this blog. I just hope to put into words what is inside my head concerning music. But, even this image is very difficult to convey without experiencing the song with me. This is Glósóli, by Sigur Ros.

Why I sing…

Japandroids and guitar nostalgia

May 29, 2009

_MG_1261My style of guitar playing has changed over the years. I know that this is common for anyone who plays any instrument and who also writes music as well. When I first started playing the guitar, my influences came from the 1990’s “number bands” as I like to call them. Third Eye Blind, Eve6, Blink-182 and others without numbers like The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Incubus, and Weezer also were heavily involved in my influential sound. I played the acoustic for about two years before buying an electric. Once I had an electric, I had to have a pedal for it because all of my favorite bands used copious amounts of effects in each of their songs. Japandroids have found the sound that I searched for hours at a time to create. Their distorted guitars sound like they have layered distortion pedal upon distortion pedal and then cranked their tube amps to make sure that the point has come across clearly. Their album, Post-Nothing, is eight songs of this same sound. Finding just the right effect is hard to do sometimes, and each one is very individualistic. But, it is the same distortion from song to song in an almost unfortunate way. The drums are bashingly wonderful and the vocals have calmed their screams down enough to make a melody evident, but there isn’t much variation amongst the tracks.

With all of this being said, this two-piece band from Vancouver does sound fantastic at their finest. They took the sound of the heaviest distortion I ever mustered on my first electric and actually made it into music. They are an inspiration (especially for my two piece band-by-correspondence, “Bow&Quiver”). I’m posting two of their songs: The Boys Are Leaving Town; and I Quit Girls. The first track is the first song I heard by them and the second is the one step of variation they take during their album.

On an unrelated note, I know prefer to play and write folk inspired songs.

Why I sing…

what I need when I need to move

May 28, 2009

suckers_jpg_595x325_crop_upscale_q85

Today is one of those days when really, nothing I have planned to happen has actually followed through. I view myself as a “planned spontaneous” person, which really means I’m up for anything at any moment as long as it is worked out in someone’s head (preferably mine). But today, every plan that I have made for the next fifteen minutes really hasn’t worked out. This is no one’s fault; and because of that, it seems to make it worse somehow. Fortunately the day is only half way done. There are still hours ahead of me that will turn things around. I’m not in a bad mood… I’m just in a “funk”. Normally the best way to alleviate this funk is through a song that is begging my soul to counter what it is really trying to do. And I have it: the song. 

I love NPR’s All Songs Considered and since my house is about thirty minutes away from town, the podcasts are just the right amount of time. You can check out the ASC blog by clicking on the link to the right. One of the editions featured a band named Suckers that is just getting started. They have a four song EP out right now and after listening to it, I’m really curious to hear a full length album. Bob Boilen describe this band as “musical soul-mates of MGMT and Yeasayer”—both of which are excellent. Upon hearing this my ear perked up a bit and I was not disappointed in the result. Suckers song It Gets Your Body Movin’ might not actually move your body in the way that you would expect. With a title such as this, my first impression is something that would possibly be on a Jurassic 5 playlist. But, it does move your soul. The three-four count drives you to grab someone and dance the most wonderful and powerful slow dance that has ever been waltzed with distorted guitars, horns, whistling, and a chorus of vocals approaching their limits while still retaining their rich quality. This song is more for the soul than the body, and on a day like today, that’s exactly what I need.

Why I sing…

The Immortal Bob Dylan

May 4, 2009

I’ve been working a lot recently. So much so that I have been pretty worn out by the time I actually could write or update this thought catalog. During this time though I have not stopped thinking of posts or subjects. But, with that being said, this post is not one of the thoughts that I had during this hiatus.

Bob Dylan will probably live forever. I don’t know if he realizes this, but I’m sure that he does by now. Never has there been an artist that has been covered by so many other artists and musicians. And more importantly, it’s not just a generational fad—it spans every decade. Even if you don’t like Dylan, I bet that one of your favorite bands does and I also bet that at one point they have at least considered covering one of his songs. Therefore, you might like Dylan and not even know it.

Just recently, Paste Magazine did an article where they listed the top 50 Dylan covers, along with “runner-ups” for each of the songs. It was a fun read. I was happy to have such a good resource for finding new music with such an iconic prestige to them. There was one song in particular that caught my attention more than the rest. Coming in at number 13 was Jim James and Calexico covering “Goin’ To Acapulco” from the movie about Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There”. The song is written beautifully. Interpret it as you will, but to me it’s a very sad song that tries to hide behind facade of the singers would-be high spirited emotions. At some point, everyone experiences this same sad mood and tries to fake a smile to make it go away. One of the largest criticisms about Dylan is his lack of emotion in his songs, but here Jim James puts it all out there. No matter what he’s saying, he is broken and he can’t hide it. It took me a long time to finish the rest of the article because I was so hung up on this one song. Eventually, after twenty or thirty minutes, I got back to the read the rest of the top 50. It ended well. Since then though, I can’t stop listening to this song. Here is the clip from the film and the full length track from the soundtrack.

Why I sing…

Spring Time and Bicycles

April 16, 2009

Ahhhh…. Spring. I love spring time. The trees turn green again, the flowers bloom, lighter weight clothing becomes a must and the weather is perfect for bicycles. Though I do not currently own a bicycle, I still really enjoy a good ride. I have never used one for exercise—only recreation. When I studied in Italy for a semester I rented and rode a cruiser all over Luca. When I was growing up with neighbors around me with similar ages, we would ride bikes through the woods across the road. And someday, I will ride a bike through the French countryside dressed in Gatsby’s finest clothing while listening to this song: Au Cafe de la Paix, by Thomas Fersen. 

I’ve been waiting for spring for a while now so that I could show off this tune. It’s classy, chic and cultured. The first time I heard it I couldn’t help but picturing myself riding a bicycle while listening to it. Since that first fantasy, the daydreams just continued to grow. Sadly, I do not own anything else by Fersen, but I have been told that the rest of his catalog is just as good as Au Cafe de la Paix. But, whether or not you like bicycles, perhaps you will still enjoy this song. 

Why I sing…

Death Cab for Cutie — The Open Door EP

April 11, 2009

dcfc-narrow_stairs-ep-coverI like Death Cab. In fact, I like them a lot. My junior year of college I went to see them with my brother at the Orpheum in Memphis. The Orpheum is a great venue for almost any band, and that night we saw Ok Go open Death Cab finish out the evening. Death Cab opened with “Marching Bands of Manhattan” and it only got better from there. Tonight, my brother will see them for a second time at the Orpheum along with Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids. It should be excellent. 

Last week, Death Cab released their Open Door EP containing four songs that didn’t make it to Narrow Stairs and a demo of “Talking Bird”, which did make it on the album. I like EP’s… in fact, I like them just as much (if not more) than Death Cab itself. The EP is such a great sampler of how good a band can actually be without showering everything they have all at once. The Open Door EP is a wonderful example of a well produced EP. There’s no stand alone track and once you get done enjoying one song, they hit you with another that’s just as good. 

Most of the itunes comments about this EP are saying this is more traditional Death Cab and not their sound that came with Narrow Stairs. I really enjoyed Narrow Stairs because it’s authentic. Very few people can put a song together like Ben Gibbard and Narrow Stairs is a very solid example of that. I also like to see bands grow and explore different sounds and styles… I don’t really think that Death Cab explored many new things with Narrow Stairs other than a bit more crunch to their guitars and a little more pep to some of their tempos. The Open Door does have more pep than most of their stuff before. Each song is solid and shows Ben Gibbard at his best. I wish that I could put the whole EP on here because picking one song is tough to do. But, alas, no choice will be bad. Here is the opener, “Little Bribes”. 

Why I sing…