Friday, August 21, 2009

TVD's Parting Shots

An addendum to this week’s ‘Get’s Lucky’ series—I realized I posted out of order. For maximum effectiveness, the order should be Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday, followed by Monday. Stir, repeat.

This Friday we get lucky for an entirely different reason. Stephe from Heroes of Popular Wars (who you just might recall from our First Date with the band last May) joins us with ten tracks for your weekend to come.

Heroes of Popular Wars have just released the stellar ‘Church and McDonald’ and to quote another fine blog, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, “Sparsely atmospheric Eno-ish ambient electro pop . . . which reminds me of the coolest British band of the early 80s, Japan."

And we concur. Now, onward!

The Beatles - A Day in the Life (Mp3)
This song totally changed the idea of what a pop song could be: two totally different musical ideas in totally different keys, no chorus, and an entire 20 seconds of random noise in the middle of the song. None of these should belong on the most loved track on the most popular album up to that time but in Lennon/McCartney's hands the difficult sonic elements are softened by the incredible melodies and the playful lyrical puzzles. I never get tired of it. I think it's because rather than hitting you over the head it reveals itself over time. It's a treat for your head and your heart.

Yeasayer - No Need to Worry/Red Cave (from La Blogoteque) (Mp3)
I had heard a lot about Yeasayer when the live video was released, much of it contradictory, which made me think that they must be great. La Blogoteque, a French website, recorded the band doing an incredible version of this two-piece song, using only their voices and beer bottles as percussion while taking the metro to the taping. It made me realize a great doesn't need anything but great rhythm and melody.

Talk Talk - After the Flood (Mp3)
Man, I love this gorgeous song from TT's last album Laughing Stock. It's so subtle that sometimes it's hard to tell when an instrument changes a note. Also, the vocals don't start until well into the 3rd minute of the song. My favorite moment is the oscillation of the organ after the guitar solo. When the noisy guitar finally trails off, there is a small break and the band breaks down into a part so quiet that you can hear the one note beg to be in tune with itself. Beautiful.

Hold Steady - Constructive Summer (Mp3)
Fun and funny. This is a rocking and smart song splits the difference between celebrating and making fun of every single promise that sweetly has gone unfulfilled. The music is simple - a cross between Husker Du and the Sweet - which really draws attention to the super-literate rhymes and great melody. It's singalong song that needs to be should be read.

Peter Gabriel - Thru the Wire (Mp3)
This is complex music made to feel simple. Though the verse is in an odd time signature, I didn't realize it until the 10th or 11 the time I heard because it was done so subtly. The chorus has both a big guitar and a cowbell and could be a bridge between U2 and Blue Oyster Cult but the angular guitar and sharp and terse production keep this from becoming pedestrian 80s radio rock.

Alice Coltrane - Journey in Satchidananda (Mp3)
Patient (noticing a pattern?). Alice mixes hard bop and Indian raga which both soothes and hypnotizes the listener. Her harp's notes dangerously lay in and out of the other instruments, aping her husband's obsession with modality. This pioneer's work would later, along with Brian Eno, influence a whole generation of music makers and listeners to a less direct, more ambient kind of music making.

David Sylvain - Darkest Dreaming (Mp3)
I had heard of, but not heard, Japan - Sylvain's 80s band - but I was compared to him in a review and this song was uploaded. Holy crap, this was every thing I was trying to do. A simple piano with swells of strings, guitars and synths create a true ambient soundscape but the un-rushed melody stuck in my head for days.Sylvain's baritone aches such I went back and bought his whole back catalogue. He has a whole career of great sounds married with lush well-crafted tones.

Kanye West - Gold Digger (Mp3)
Smart, fun, danceable pop that proves melody isn't required fro an incredible hook. Every line is complicated but a blast.

Husker Du - Celebrated Summer (Mp3)
Amazing song, incredible dynamics and a killer take are the keys here. Ignore the shitty production, ignore the borderline undecipherable lyrics, pay attention to that passion of the performance and the groundbreaking melding of song craft and aggression. A true classic.

Radiohead - Idioteque (Mp3)
This song changed the indie game. This song leveled the playing field and now any instrument you could make rock was a rock instrument AND it has a great chorus.