Archive for the 'Music' Category

08
Apr
11

Music Monday #36: An Horse

On Monday, April 4, 2011, I went to see An Horse in concert in Frankfurt. An Horse [-> Wikipedia], as you might know, are a very cool band form Brisbane, Australia. They’ve opened for Tegan and Sara before, which is how I personally found out about their existence.

Their first full album is Rearrange Beds and it came out in 2009. I have listened to it many times and I like it better with each listen. Maybe you will, too. When I read that you can pre-order their next album, I did so very quickly. I ordered it on vinyl, the reasoning being that the price was the same as the CD, vinyl has bigger artwork, and I’ll most likely listen to it in MP3 format most of the time anyway.

The venue they performed at was called Das Bett, a rather small club in Frankfurt. The support act was a band from Cologne, Periscope, and while they put in a lot of effort, I thought it was hard to get into the music. Then again, I always find it hard to judge live music. It’s usually rather loud and the vocals aren’t very clear. When The Jezabels opened for Tegan & Sara in Melbourne, I thought they were okay, but I only really got into them when I listened to their EP at home.

At any rate, once Periscope ended their set, An Horse took to the stage. It was almost sad that only about 50 people came to see them, but An Horse still seemed happy, considering it was a Monday night. “Who does that? Who goes out on a Monday night? I never do that,” Kate said. “But I don’t go out on Friday night either.” They played some old songs, which were great, and some new songs, which were cool, too, although I didn’t understand much of the lyrics. I found Damon’s drumming quite impressive, and it still amazes me how this small band of only two people can produce as rich a sound as they do. One Fender guitar, one drum set, two harmonizing voices – apparently, that’s really all you need.

They warned us ahead of time that they wouldn’t do an encore, as encores are awkward, and besides, they had already played all the songs they know. So after the final applause, we went over to the merchandise table and I bought one of their T-shirts to support them. It has a severed hand and a bird on it, and as Damon was standing nearby, I asked him what the meaning of the shirt was. He told me they just had a friend in Melbourne do all their designs, and they usually liked what she came up with. So basically, it didn’t mean anything, it was only meant to look nice.

All in all it was a very nice gig and if they ever play anywhere near you, do go there and support them. Then you can say leter, “Hey, I already knew them before they were really famous.”

08
Mar
11

Music Monday #35: Songs about driving

On today’s Music Monday I would like to talk about three songs that are about the road, about driving. The road movies of songs, basically.

Let’s start with I Drove All Night, a song written by Steinberg & Kelley initially for Roy Orbison. It was a hit for Cyndi Lauper in 1989, and later for Céline Dion in 2003.

The songwriters Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly may not be household names to most people, but they were behind many well-known songs and seem to just churn out hit after hit after hit. They were also behind Eternal Flame and In Your Room by the Bangles, Like A Virgin by Madonna, I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders and Alone by Heart, just to name a few.

I Drove All Night is basically a very cheesy love song about someone who drives all night to be with the person they love. What I like about it is the image of someone actually driving for hours along a dark, long, straight and probably mostly empty road, simply to spend some time with the other person. So driving is the effort that is made to be with someone else. Sweet.

I was dreaming while I drove
the long straight road ahead
to taste your sweet kisses
your arms open wide
this fever for you is just
burning me up inside
I drove all night to get to you

[Read the complete lyrics at azlyrics.com.]

(Listen to the song on Grooveshark or look for it on YouTube.)

While I Drove All Night is lyrically simple, there’s always Ani DiFranco who can talk about the most trite things in such a way that it becomes extraordinary. At least that’s how *I* feel about her lyrics. Here’s her take on driving.

cloud blood smudge smeared on the sky
it’s dawns roadkill
i’ve been driving since midnight
and i’m driving still

stop on the top of the ridge
just to feel the wind on my rand mcnally
then i feel the air grow cold
as i drift in to the first blue of the valley
and you’re wondering how far down you are on my
call back list
but you don’t realize
everytime i find i’m by a phone the landscape shifts

[Read the complete lyrics at danah.org.]

(Listen to Cloud Blood on Grooveshark.)

In this song, especially with the way the music sounds, driving feels more like something monotonous. She’s been driving since midnight, the sun is coming up, she’s tired and taking a break. She gets cold, keeps on driving, her road map by her side. Maybe she’s driving to get away from someone (literally and metaphorically), or maybe she’s just thinking of the other person now because the monotony of driving doesn’t offer enough distraction so that she ends up thinking about whatever went wrong in her relationship.

The “every time I’m by a phone the landscape shifts” line is not part of the driving imagery, but it’s my favorite line in the song. You know, because the other person might be annoyed or disappointed that she doesn’t call, disappointed about how far they have fallen on Ani’s list of priorities, when in reality whatever happened is still a big struggle for Ani, and every time the opportunity to call opens up, it starts dominating her thoughts. Well, that’s my take on it, anyway.

The song ends with more tiresome and exhausting driving. Oh, she puts it so well.

it’s been way too long
since i’ve been behind the wheel
headlights guiding me right through the dark
i feel
dry eyed, trying to resist
sleeps first kiss
everytime i have time to think
i think of this

And lastly, there’s the song Road Trippin’ by the Red Hot chilli Peppers, which is basically the description of a fun road trip with friends, of leaving everything behind to get away to some fun times. One could argue that the song also implies drug use, but I personally don’t see it that way. To me it’s about getting your friends and some snacks and going “anywhere”. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the way to get there.

Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It’s time to leave this town
It’s time to steal away
Let’s go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.

[Read the complete lyrics at azlyrics.com.]
(Listen to the song on Grooveshark.)

Links:

19
Jan
11

Music Monday #34: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton in the 60ies.

Dolly Parton in the 60ies. Yes, she used to be cute.

When I woke up this morning and – still lying half-dead in my bed – switched on the radio, they talked about how it’s Dolly Parton’s 65th birthday today. Happy birthday, Dolly Parton!

Of course with news like these, when they start talking about songs she recorded in the past and her success and they use the past tense, it’s kind of creepy because you’re like, “Okay, why are they talking about Dolly Parton? Did something happen to her? Oh, the suspense!” And then you’re relieved when they say it’s her birthday.

But anyway, the point I want to make is that Dolly Parton, who by the way grew up very poor as the fourth child of twelve, has had an amazing career and wrote some amazing songs. She’s also a very successful business woman. In case you’re unaware, Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You”, which later was a big success for Whitney Houston, too. But more interesting still is that Elvis Presley wanted to record it. Dolly was thrilled of course, until she found out that by recording it, he also wanted to get half the publishing rights to it. So she stood up to the ‘King’ and said no. And now she’s super rich.

And while she may be slightly scary these days with all that make-up and long fingernails and all sorts of other enhancements, I think her manner is quite endearing, as is her Southern twang.

You can watch her perform ‘Jolene’ in 1974 [alternative link] or watch her perform ‘He’s Alive’ in 1989 [alternative link]. That one actually gives me goosebumps, even though I’m an atheist. Or watch her perform ‘I Will Always Love You’ [alternative link]. Or listen to her song Travelin’ Thru, which she wrote for the movie Transamerica and for which she received an Oscar nomination [alternative link].

Or if you can’t stand Dolly Parton for some odd reason, at least listen to the White Stripes’ version of ‘Jolene’ [alternative link].

01
Feb
10

Music Monday #33: Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart

Album Cover of the new Alicia Keys album

Album cover of the new Alicia Keys album

For today’s Music Monday, we have another artist that is older than me. Yay! Alicia Augello Cook, better known as Alicia Keys [wiki], was born on January 25, 1981. At 20 years old, in 2001, she released her famous album Songs In A Minor [wiki], which featured her lovely hit song Fallin’ [YouTube]. I think it’s rather clever how she references herself in the music video to Fallin’ by having her song Girlfriend play in the radio at the beginning, then she references Fallin’ in her video to A Woman’s Worth [YouTube] by walking down the street in the video singing along to it while listening to it over her headphones.

Songs In A Minor ended up selling millions and millions of copies and was unbelievably successful, which is particularly interesting because it was different from the mainstream, kind of refreshing in its emphasis on R&B and the piano as the instrument of her choice, and according to Wikipedia, the record label didn’t see this as particularly desirable:

“Before she joined J Records, Keys had signed a recording contract with Sony‘s Columbia Records. Sony felt that Keys should sing more mainstream-accessible material written by others, while she insisted upon recording her own compositions. As a result, Keys’ recording career remained in limbo for two years.” [source]

Apparently, Alicia Keys has been doing numerous things since Songs In A Minor – albums, recordings, movies [imdb] – but in December 2009 she released a new album, The Element Of Freedom, which has at least two really impressive songs: Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready) [YouTube] and Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart. There is also a collaboration with Beyoncé on the song Put It In A Love Song, but I find the song tries too hard to be Single Ladies [YouTube – admittedly catchy], and anyway, I have lost all my respect for Beyoncé since I’ve seen the video to Video Phone [you could watch it on YouTube, but please, don’t].

So here is Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart. I like how it starts all dark and gloomy, and then her voice comes in very softly and sweet, singing of heartbreak and so forth. Check it out for yourself:

Alicia Keys - Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart(Alternative Link)

Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart by Alicia Keys

Even if you were a million miles away
I could still feel you in my bed
Near me, touch me, feel me
And even at the bottom of the sea
I could still hear inside my head
Tellin’ me, touch me, feel me

And all the time you were tellin’ me lies

So tonight, I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
Tonight I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
I’m gonna hold on to the times that we had tonight
I’m gonna find a way to make it without you

Have you ever tried sleeping with a broken heart?
Well, you could try sleeping in my bed
Lonely, own me nobody ever shut it down like you
You wore the crown
You made my body feel heaven bound
Why don’t you hold me
Near me, I thought you told me
You’d never leave me

Looking in the sky I could see your face
And I know right where I fit in
Take me, make me
you know that I’ll always be in love with you
Right til the end

So tonight, I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
Tonight I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
I’m gonna hold on to the times that we had tonight
I’m gonna find a way to make it without you

Anybody could’ve told you right from the start
It’s about to fall apart
So rather than hold on to a broken dream
Or just hold on to love

And I could find a way to make it
Don’t hold on too tight
I’ll make it without you tonight

So tonight, I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
Tonight I’m gonna find a way to make it without you
I’m gonna hold on to the times that we had tonight
I’m gonna find a way to make it without you

[Lyrics from elyricsworld.com, with minor adjustments]

Lovely, isn’t it? Feel free to comment!

27
Jan
10

Music Monday #32: When I Lay Beside You

Gert and Sarah Bettens of K's Choice.

Gert and Sarah Bettens of K's Choice. Gert is seen pre-hobo-beard.

I used to be a big K’s Choice fan. Ever since I saw this Belgian band late one night on public television where they performed My Record Company [YouTube], Paradise In Me [last.fm] and Not An Addict [YouTube], I was a fan. I bought all their CDs and I loved them, and for the most part, I still do.

In 2003, K’s Choice split up. Sarah Bettens and her brother Gert Bettens, who were the songwriting talent behind K’s Choice, decided to go separate ways to explore solo careers. Sarah Bettens released three solo albums, Scream, Shine and Never Say Goodbye, and while her husky voice was part of what drew me to K’s Choice in the first place, the lyrics and music on her solo records were somewhat disappointing. The best song to come out of those seven years is (ironically…) I Can Do Better Than You [YouTube].

When I Lay Beside You single

When I Lay Beside You. Very green. I think Gert Bettens once ran for the Green party.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you have read about my thoughts on K’s Choice and I Can Do Better (twice) before, also on Gert’s project Woodface. However, I failed to mention that back when I ordered the Woodface album Good Morning Hope from Mediadis, I also ordered Comet. I forgot all about that because they never delivered it. They waited a month or so until they decided to send my other CDs ahead of time, then Comet never came. Now, about seven months later, I received emails from Mediadis saying they were bankrupt and sorry. It would be rude to say the quality of the Woodface albums has anything to do with them going bankrupt, so I won’t. It would be a good joke, though.

I did get to listen to Comet meanwhile (thanks Mel), and while Good Morning Hope has its highlights, Comet is rather boring altogether. To me, none of the songs stand out and they are average rock songs that work well as white noise.

Apart from their music, it’s also disappointing that Gert and Sarah rarely gave a status update to tell people what they were working on, and usually if you did get one of their newsletters, they only wanted you to join their street team, buy an album or such. I personally think that this is a missed opportunity, as the internet is a cheap and effective way of staying in touch with your fans. I’m not saying they need to be posting videos about their vacation activities, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

So, after all this whining and complaining, I can say that I do wonder what their next album, due out 2010, is going to be like. They did contribute a song to Music For Life 2009, for whatever that is. It’s called When I Lay Beside You and the video is online on YouTube. It starts off looking like a rip-off of the great Bright Eyes video to First Day Of My Life [YouTube – watch it, it’s good!], but then ends with a “political” angle (for lack of a better word). It also features Gert’s terrifying facial hair.

Click to see the video on YouTube.

Click to see video

(Alternative Link)

When I Lay Beside You by K’s Choice

I am everything I want to be
With your loving face in front of me
With your eyes that hum the perfect song
To go on long after I am gone

When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you

Like the absence of a roaring sound
And the walls I built came tumbling down
And it almost made me worship god
Cause you’re everything these words are not

When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you
I am perfect

In your eyes I see eternity
And a girl that looks a lot like me
Eternity, a little trip
You’re the beat my heart will skip

When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you
I am perfect

When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you
When I lay beside you

[lyrics taken from here and adjusted slightly]

So now if anyone could enlighten me why it’s “lay” and not “lie”, that would be great. I’d either say, “When I lay beside you, I was perfect” or “When I lie beside you, I am perfect.” (Adam? :)) As for how eyes hum a song, I’ll let that pass as artistic freedom.

18
Jan
10

Music Monday #31: Feel It In My Bones

[Feel It In My Bones music video]

Tegan and Sara in the music video to Feel It In My Bones


On this Music Monday I want to bring you another Tegan and Sara song. I know, I know, I talk about them all the time, but bear with me.

Tegan and Sara started out making kinda folksy acoustic music, then they turned rockier, then they had a peculiar rock/pop mix album and a weird dark pop album, only to release their newest record, Sainthood, which I would describe as intelligent pop music with electronica influences. As you can see, I am clueless as to how to describe them, but it’s apparent that their music keeps evolving and changing, and so it’s not entirely out of character for them to collaborate with Tiësto on a track off of his recent album, Kaleidoscope.

The song is very dancey and electronic, and – more importantly – very catchy. It’s called Feel It In My Bones, and started out as an instrumental track that Tiësto sent them, and Tegan and Sara ended up writing the lyrics for it [source]. Later, they ended up recording a video for it – which, as I understand it, gets played in the background on big screens when Tiesto plays the song live.

The video fits the song nicely and is pretty much exactly the kind of video you’d expect for a song like that. I think it’s very well done, except maybe for a little bit too much make-up. But do judge for yourself:

[Feel It In My Bones](Alternative Link)

You can download the video with Keepvid. And you can look on YouTube for some acoustic live performances of the song.

Lyrics:

Feel It In My Bones by Tegan & Sara and Tiesto

Blow by blow, I didn’t see it coming
Blow by blow, sucker punch
Rushes in
Here to stay
Rushes in
You are here to stay

What rushes into my heart and my skull I can’t control
Think about it, feel it in my bones
What rushes into my heart and my skull I can’t control

I feel you in my bones
You’re knocking on my windows
You’re slow to letting me go
And I know this feeling oh-so
This feeling in my bones

Left hook, I didn’t see it coming
Left hook, you’ve got dead aim
Rushes out
Run away
Rushes out
You always run away

What rushes into my heart and my skull I can’t control
Think about it, feel it in my bones
What rushes into my heart and my skull I can’t control

I feel you in my bones
You’re knocking on my windows
You’re slow to letting me go
And I know this feel oh-so
This feeling in my bones

I feel you in my bones
You’re knocking on my windows
You’re slow to letting me go
And I know this feeling oh-so
This feeling in my bones

I feel it in my bones
At night my skull feels pressure
I feel it in my bones
I feel it in my bones
I feel you in my bones

You’re knocking at my windows
You’re slow to letting me go
And I know this feeling oh-so
This feeling in my bones

I take a breath, take a breath with me blow by blow
I take a break, take a break from you, you are here to stay
I take my heart out of my chest, I just don’t need it anymore
Take my head out of the game, I just don’t need it anymore

Take a breath, take a breath with me blow by blow
Take a break, take a break from you, you are here to stay
I take my heart out of my chest, I just don’t need it anymore
Take my head out of the game, I just don’t need it anymore

I feel you in my bones
You’re knocking at my windows
You’re slow to letting me go
And I know this feeling oh-so
This feeling in my bones

Lyrics from SongMeanings.net (with minor adjustments).

01
Dec
09

Music Monday #30: Astronautalis, Tegan & Sara (28-Nov-2009)

Tegan and Sara in Cologne

Great view from the balcony. The venue was the E-Werk.

It’s Music Monday, sort of, and let me just say that if you haven’t been at a Tegan & Sara concert in the past weeks, you’ve been missing out. We saw the concert in Cologne on November 28th, and it was fantastic. Some people have complained in forums that the crowd seemed bored and unenthusiastic, but I suppose they were simply introverted. People were cheering and happy, and I was glad that we found a nice spot on the balcony because that way there were no people pushing and shoving behind us and we had a great view of the stage. The sound was great, the light show was great and their mix of songs was also very nice. It appears they’re not aware that you can already get their new CD, Sainthood, in CD stores in Germany (or online at amazon.de), but they still played most songs from the new album, plus some old favorites like Living Room, The Con, Nineteen, I Bet It Stung, Walking With A Ghost, etc.

I felt bad for Astronautalis, who was their very enthusiastic opening act, because the audience didn’t seem to get warm with him, as we say here. It was pretty impressive how he performed with nothing but a mic and a Mac, even though it was hard to understand his lyrics most of the time. He jumped around and leaned far into the audience, scared the security personnel, and while the audience took many photos, they also seemed somewhat alienated.

Signed Astronautalis CD

Singed and signed again.

Astronautalis (a.k.a. Andy Bothwell) stopped by the merchandise table later, selling his CD. He signed it, too, but contrary to the lovely Anaïs Mitchell, he didn’t ask my name or sign it to me personally. And as his autograph is already on the CD as part of the design, I now have one that has his autograph twice. But I really don’t mind.

People also bought a lot of merchandise in general, it seems. We went to buy our merch before the show, because then the merch table is mostly empty and they still have a wide variety of things. When we dropped by again after the concert, two of the T-shirts were already sold out.

We had about four hours to kill before we could hop on the train back and we spent it at a café, trying not to fall asleep, and then we migrated to a McDonald’s where we sat drinking the same cup of tea for two hours, staring blankly ahead, listening in on conversations between drunk people and wondering who all these people were that felt like having fries and a Cheeseburger at 2 in the morning.

So while as an audience we couldn’t compare with the audience of the concert in Munich this year (not last year – last year someone threw an empty bottle on the stage), I still had a great time and I feel all the stress was totally worth it. So as I said – if you haven’t seen them, you were missing out!

Now to all those who cares, here’s a mediocre recording of Arrow, as sung in Cologne on November 28th, 2009. Enjoy.

Tegan and Sara – Arrow (Cologne 28-Nov-2009) [Sendspace]
Tegan and Sara – Arrow (Cologne 28-Nov-2009) [MEGAUPLOAD]

More links (not mine):
Astronautalis – Trouble Huners (Cologne, E-Werk) [YouTube]
Tegan and Sara – The Con (Cologne, E-Werk) [YouTube]
You can also find the rest of the concert in dozingcat’s YouTube uploads.