Song of The Day: Gene Clark- “Life’s Greatest Fool”

I’ve been a huge fan of the Byrds ever since my idealistic high school days, which is why I’ve been kicking myself for not listening to Gene Clark’s masterpiece of an album No Other until a few days ago. Since then I’ve been playing the album on repeat, and the grandiose sounds permeate the mundanity of my days with a brilliance I haven’t felt since first hearing the Dead’s American Beauty. “Life’s Greatest Fool” kicks off the album with Clark’s country croon, jangly guitars, a lofty choir. The upbeat tune moves you to perceive your surroundings with rose-tinted glasses, engendering a need for sun soaked road trips while this song blares in the background.

At a first listen, the grandiosity of the production can feel overdone, the lyrics pretentious in their sweeping statements; however, Clark’s delivery subdues the whole thing. He doesn’t give us a concrete perspective on life. He admits that “words can be empty though filled with sound/Stoned numb and drifting, hard to be profound.” And despite this the lyrics are rife with profundity in humbling ways. It’s a song full of questioning,  Clark’s unique outlook bundled in the guise of genuine curiosity, open ended and unsure.

 

CONCERT REVIEW: Angel Olsen at The Gothic Theather

 

Angel Olsen’s stage presence left the audience in the Gothic Theater silent. You could hear a pin drop as she crooned out notes from many hits of her newest album, “My Woman”. At first one could look around the theater wondering why everyone got the memo to act as a phalanx of statues staring straight ahead. But it was not that the crowd wasn’t enjoying themselves. Following their gazes it was not difficult to figure out why; and fall under Angel’s spell and be captivated by her stage presence. Although Angel sounded amazing on stage, her presence was one of the best aspects of the show. She had the complete attention of everyone around, I think even her bandmates had stars in their eyes.

Her set lasted around an hour, where I was left hungry for more (of course) but I knew it wasn’t the end. Soon to follow was one of the best encores I have seen in a while. Featured was an amazing cover of Motel’s “Total Control” and after being subject to that I can’t think of one person in the audience who wasn’t obsessed with Angel.

A Birthday Card to Elliott Smith’s “Either/Or”

Just wanted to say a quick happy birthday to one of the most soul-touching, delicately constructed albums of all time –– Elliott Smith’s Either/Or turns 20 today. Speaking (with no authority whatsoever) on behalf of thousands of angsty teenagers and disappointed adults, I want to say thank you to Elliott Smith on this album (as well as some others) for being able to evoke such a wide range of emotions, most stemming from melancholia, in slightly over (or under) three minutes. The expectations for the power that music can have on emotions have shifted a lot in the last twenty years, and we definitely owe some of that shift to Either/Or. If you have a spare three minutes today, pick any song from the album below, hit play and dissolve a little bit.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: Unknown Mortal Orchestra- “Multi-Love”

“Multi-love” is the colorful title track of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest album. It’s about a polyamorous relationship, a subject that intrigues me but is rarely explored (from what I know) in music, or even generally talked about. Lead singer and songwriter Ruban Nielson articulates the confusing challenges that polyamorous love poses to his concept of conventional relationships and gender roles with lines like “She don’t want to be a man or a woman/ She wants to be your love” and “We were one, then become three,” singing with an anxious sense of urgency in spite of his playful lyrics. I also love his voice, which is a sort of terra cotta brown and has the consistency of wet clay.* Give it a listen!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

SONG OF THE DAY: Karen O –– Ooo

When I was about 11 years old, I heard my sister playing a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song (I think it was Runaway) and instantly felt shivers rush down my spine –– the vocals were so haunting, so beautiful; they struck me right to my core. I spent the rest of the day downloading their music off LimeWire (those were the good old days of torrenting). To my disappointment, when I listened to the rest of their music, I found myself at an odds; I felt addicted to the vocals, but could not quite get down with the slightly too aggressive lyrics and drum beats in most of their songs. Thus, with a void in my heart, I put the Yeah Yeah Yeahs away to never be revisited again… Until a faithful day in 2014, when my then-boyfriend and I went to see Her at the cinema. Once again, I heard that captivating voice, except this time it wasn’t screaming at me to dance till I’m dead; it was almost whispering to me, in tones that, for me, matched the singer’s voice perfectly, about love. Later that day, my void was finally able to be filled with Karen O’s solo tracks; here is a beautiful example of the kind of enchantment her voice holds.

SONG OF THE DAY: Milt Jackson- “Bag’s Groove”

 

One of my favorite sounds in the world is that of the vibraphone, a lesser-known jazz percussion instrument. When I hear it I see* small, luminescent, neon green (a color I’ve never seen in any other sound) orbs that tumble over each other like marbles and constantly swell and contract.

“Bag’s Groove,” composed by vibraphonist Milt Jackson and first recorded in 1952, is a 12-bar blues track with a catchy head comprised of descending notes. It features lively solos by Milt Jackson, alto-saxist Lou Donaldson, and pianist John Lewis. I personally go for the first and less famous recording because it’s concise, its pace is brisker, and (of course) because it has more vibraphone.

For the famous version, check out the Miles Davis Quintet’s recording. This track feels cleaner and more spacious in contrast to the rushed vibe of the original recording, probably because it’s eleven minutes long  and has a more laid-back pace. And while Milt Jackson (who was part of the quintet) has a strong presence, it’s definitely more horn-heavy.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

Here’s a rough illustration of the song:

SONG OF THE DAY: Sampha –– (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano

A recent favourite of the internet’s music critics, Sampha has previously featured on songs from Kanye’s The Life of Pablo, Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, and one of my favourite electronic albums, SBTRKT’s SBTRKT. The song below, off his new album Process, sounds reminiscent of James Blake in Sampha’s more soulful voice, and of Joni Mitchell in the melancholy evocativeness of the lyrics.

If this song is up your alley, I encourage you to check out the whole album –– while Sampha is very versatile, his stunning voice weaves a thread from beginning to end.

 

Unpredictable February Weather Playlist

 

  • Humans Become Machines by Aristophanes

Aristophanes is a Taiwanese rapper best known for her collaborations with Grimes. However, in 2017 she is planning on releasing music independently of the collaborations. This is the first of many releases of the year.

 

  • Tummy Ache by Diet Cig

Tummy Ache is the single released off of Diet Cig’s upcoming full-length coming out in April. Compared to their last 7” Tummy Ache is a little less punk and a bit more alt rock. Nevertheless, Diet Cig’s guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman keep the energy high, keeping fans tied over until the full album release later this spring.

  • Told You I’d Be With the Guys by Cherry Glazerr

Although this is less lo-fi than some of Cherry Glazerr’s prior work, the upbeat tempo ties the song together for me. Good song to walk to class to in the unpredictable February weather.

  • Nighttime (feat Izzy True) by Sammus

Nighttime is a track off of NY rapper Sammus’ 2016 album “Pieces in Space.” Her work deals with topics such as sexuality, race, and womanhood as well as references to the digital age, mentioning Netflix, Siri, and Nintendo. Definitely an artist to keep your eye on in 2017.

  • Inside Edition by Sneaks

The newest single released by Sneaks as part of her upcoming album in March. In this single, Sneaks maintains her lo-fi sound while adding a much more prominent house tempo. Although only a minute in length, this song stands on its own. You will probably want to replay this song after your first listen.

  • Human by Sevdaliza

Sevdaliza’s work is reminiscent of that of Fka Twigs, with an experimental eerie overtone. 94% chance this song will put you into a daze.

  • Tomboy by Princess Nokia

Tomboy is a single off of Princess Nokia’s (Destiny Frasqueri) 2016 album 1992. This song like most others on her album is one of self-proclamation and power. The album as a whole serves as a celebration women of color, witchcraft, and the Harlem/Bronx community. If you haven’t already listened to all of 1992, I would highly recommend going to her Soundcloud page and doing so right now.

  • Good as Hell by Lizzo

Although this song was released in 2016, Lizzo is not an artist to look past. This song will give you the pick me up you’ve needed every day since the election in November.

Song of the Day: Country Joe & The Fish- “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine”

 Surreal electrifying energy. “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” is a hypnotic track on Electric Music for the Mind and Body, an album full of psychedelic strangeness. I cannot get over the seamless switches from bluesy garage rock to soaring, euphoric organ that pervade the song. Take a listen.

SONG OF THE DAY: Mitski –– First Love/Late Spring

I am definitely late in terms of boarding the Mitski train, which is surprising –– she’s toured with Frankie Cosmos, whom I’m a huge fan of, and is generally considered an integral part of the DIY indie scene (or whatever the “correct” name for this kind of music is). I’d tried listening to her in the past, and was, I guess, a little put off by what I thought was a much more aggressive, rocky sound than I was expecting.  All I can say is that I must have listened to the wrong songs, or had gone temporarily deaf, because dang! This girl can sing! (and write).

Sometimes she seems to look into the soul of the classic American sadboy (or girl); other times, she writes from her own perspective –– that of a triculture disillusioned outsider. Either way, her music is almost always very emotionally evocative. The song below, for example, instantly transported me back into the days of all-encompassing, identity-dissolving and unhealthy first love. It’s off her third album that came out in 2014: “Bury Me at Makeout Creek.” Have a listen!

THE SOUNDS OF COLORADO COLLEGE