musings on music

lately i’ve caught myself thinking, almost panicked, “what would i do without this?”  i’ve been listening to a lot of different music lately–a lot of different artists and genres, and i thought i’d take a minute to share the songs that have been stirring my soul and won’t leave me alone.  i’ve been realizing on a conscious level just how much music influences my days, my thoughts, and what i write about.  so here i am actually writing about music…

aloha, be near, “here comes everyone”
there aren’t many bands out there who can really manage to make holistically fantastic music.  aloha is one of those bands.  their songs are full of genuinely interesting rhythms, complex melodies, and lyrics that are actually inventive. even if you don’t like the style, if you love music, you have to appreciate how good they are.

//can we be near/
our hands across the table/
and everything in pairs/
on the run, we aim for the summits and pinnacles/
but when your wobbly legs tire, but your mind still roams/
here comes the wheel barrow, i’m taking you home/
please believe in my sense of direction/
we’re not lost, we’re not home//

this song is just plain beautiful.  and the rest of this album (“here comes everyone”) is just a solid masterpiece in general.  there isn’t a single song on it i dislike or even feel ambivalent about.  and that’s saying a lot.

aloha, body buzz, “light works”
yeah, another aloha song.  when i start listening to them, they sort of take over for a while…something which is accelerated by the fact that i own their entire discography, thanks to a particularly cool human being who doubled the amount of music on my ipod (i only wish my 3-year-old little laptop could accommodate it.)

//affection is illusive/
peace of mind is every day/
cut your losses and your illusions the same//

every time i listen to this album, i catch myself about to go into apoplexy when it starts (this is the first song on “light works.”)  it’s just…musical perfection.  this is a great album in its entirety, as well.  a few other tunes to check out from alohaboys in the bathtub, “here comes everyone”; ferocious love, “that’s your fire”; goodbye to the factory, “here comes everyone”

wintersleep, listen [listen, listen], “untitled”
this is another one of those supremely underrated bands that performs pure, unadulterated music.  since i know i’ve already waxed eloquent about the band in general on a couple other occasions, i’ll skip to the song.  this song is hushed, quiet, like a soft breeze on a cloudy day.  it goes right through me and moves me every time i hear it.

//there’s something in the way our lips touch/
there’s something in the way we’re stuck together/
they don’t build love like that no more/
you said you’d like it when the thunderstorms came/
said you’d like it if the thunderstorm just/
pulled you piece by piece away//

i don’t even have words to describe what it does.  i suppose the song says everything it needs to in and of itself.  some more wintersleep to feed your musical fury:  orca, “wintersleep”; dead letter and the infinite yes, “welcome to the night sky”; laser beams, “welcome to the night sky”; jaws of life, “untitled” (this song has a freaking awesome drum bit in the intro).

frightened rabbit, floating in the forth, “the midnight organ flight”
maybe it’s the fact that every line in this song resonates within my actual memories, but the first time i heard it, i had chills through the whole song, rolling up and down my skin.  i know the sound of the cars on the forth road bridge, and the roar of the surf, and the view of the north sea.  i can conjure up that picture in my mind with no effort.  see the hills and arthur’s seat across the edinburgh skyline, and the arc of the bridge across the firth of forth, with fife on the other side.  scotland.

//am i ready to leap/
is there peace beneath/
the roar of the forth road bridge/
on the northern side, there’s a fife of mine/
and a boat in the port for me/
and fully clothed/
i’ll float away/
down the forth, into the sea//

this song is just a crystalline picture, a snapshot of emotion, that exists every time i hear it.

frightened rabbit, backward walk, “the midnight organ fight”
i think anyone, anywhere, who has felt themselves on a carousel that continues to dump them right back into a bad relationship after it’s technically over can relate to this song.

//i’m working on drawing a straight line/
and i’ll draw until i get one right/
it’s bold and dark, girl, can’t you see?/
i done drawn a line between you and me//

i could quote this entire song here, because every word is as powerful as the ones before it and after it.  more frightened rabbit to look out for:  it’s christmas, so we’ll stop, single; keep yourself warm, “the midnight organ flight”

jump little children, cathedrals, “magazine”
the first time i heard this song was during an encore performance by jay clifford (who has gone solo now post-jlc).  he did it unplugged, hopped off the stage with just his guitar, and stood in the crowd, who circled around him to leave a small pool of space in a radius around him.  he sang, and everyone sang along.  people harmonized with him, all in this hushed quiet that spread through the entire room.  it was one of those heady moments where individuals become a group, and it’s stuck with me since.  on his own, jay clifford is solid.  with jump little children, there is that same quality of depth and breadth of movement that pulls you in and won’t let you go.

//in the shadows of tall buildings/
the architecture is slowly peeling/
marble statues and glass dividers/
someone is watching all of the outsiders/
the line moves slowly through the numbered gate/
past the mosaic of the head of state/
in the cathedrals of new york and rome/
there is a feeling you should just go home/
and spend a lifetime finding out just where that is//

this song is beautiful in its simplicity and its serenity.  jay clifford’s voice is smooth, melodious, and full of a clarity that is somehow soothing.  for more jump little children, listen to:  mexico, “between the dim and the dark”; rains in asia, “between the dim and the dark”

fiona apple, slow like honey, “tidal”
i’ve always enjoyed fiona apple.  her rich contralto is multi-faceted and versatile.  velvety.  her range is pretty similar to mine, so when i feel like singing in my car, she’s usually my first choice.  slow like honey fits my mood lately.  there’s a perfect imagery and a sultry flirtation that is probably sexier than me, but i can pretend.

//you moved like honey in my dream last night/
yeah, some old fires were burning/
you came near to me, and you endeared to me/
but you couldn’t quite discern me
/
does that scare you? i’ll let you run away/
but your heart will not oblige you/
you’ll remember me like a melody/
yeah, i’ll haunt the world inside you//

her lyrics are woven with imagery and nuance that a lot of artists miss–many prefer to bludgeon, fiona seduces.  and it works perfectly.

fiona apple, the first taste, “tidal”
this song has a way of explaining exactly how i feel a good portion of the time.  sigh.  again with the lyrics and their poeticism, again with a deliciously exquisite rhythm.  damn, this song is sexy.

//i lie in an early bed thinking late thoughts/
waiting for the black to replace my blue/
i do not struggle in your web because it was my aim to get caught/
but daddy long legs i feel i’m finally growing weary/
of waiting to be consumed by you//

silken beauty wrapped in candlelight and wine.  fiona’s pretty popular; i assume you all know where to find her.

denali, hold your breath, “the instinct”
melancholy, ethereal ambience.  this band is extraordinary in so many ways.  this song has been repeated on many a journey of mine lately.  because maura davis is known for her minimalist lyrics, i’ll go ahead and post the whole song.

//what’s your reason to kill or not/
this has come a long way/
too fake for the season, is it real or not?/
totally in this i will stay/
too many sensations now for a good feeling/
i’ll take a step back/
let’s go under and hold our breaths/
who’s got the reason now/
in one little mouth it goes/
never will surface/
too many sensations now for a good feeling/
i’ll take a step back/
too many sensations now for it to be for real//

denali’s songs tend to soar from lower registers to higher, full of breathy insistence and minor keys.  there’s a fine line to walk when doing this, and maura davis pulls it off perfectly.

denali, the instinct, “the instinct”
finding a song that plucks these strings in me is like sorting through a haystack only to prick my finger on the needle.  it just happens.  this song was one of those.

//no more distractions/
no more excuse/
it’s just you and me now/
it’s just you, only you/
there’s no mistake/
wait for my return and decide my fate/
i’ll be without you only for a while/
that’s all i can take//

more from denalifrench mistake, “denali”; gunner, “denali”; you file, “denali”; run through, “the instinct”

beethoven, piano sonata in c-sharp minor, “moonlight sonata”
this piece creates cerulean and ruby under a full moon in my mind.  three movements.  all art moves emotion into another medium–that’s why it’s art.  and this is art.  some people use paint and canvas.  beethoven used ivory keys.  what i wouldn’t give to hear him play this sonata himself…

katie melua, nine million bicycles, “piece by piece”
this is such a quirky little song.  katie melua has a very distinct style, and there’s an innocence about her songs that will probably evolve and deepen with time.

//we are twelve billion light years from the edge/
that’s a guess/
no one can ever say it’s true/
but i know that i will always be with you/
i’m warmed by the fire of your love every day/
so don’t call me a liar/
just believe everything that i say//

a bit more katie for you:  the closest thing to crazy, “call off the search”; just like heaven, “piece by piece”

aimee mann, pavlov’s bell, “lost in space”
she’s been described as “more indie than indie” in the past.  she’s come alongside fiona apple to popularize some of los angeles’s indie music arenas.  i first heard her on buffy the vampire slayer.  this is such an interesting song.

//because nobody knows/
that’s how i nearly fell/
trading clothes and ringing pavlov’s bell/
history shows there’s not a chance in hell//

which leads me to another buffy artist…

angie hart, blue
this song was written specifically for one of the best episodes of buffy the vampire slayer ever aired, “conversations with dead people.”  i love everything about this song.  it’s haunting and lonely and beautiful.

//night falls, i fall/
and where were you?/
and where were you?/
warm skin, wolf grin/
and where were you?/
i fell into the moon/
and it covered you in blue
/
i fell into the moon/
can i make it right?/
can i spend the night?/

angie hart is probably best known for her work with aussie band splendid.  good stuff all around.

and finally…

jeff buckley, hallelujah, “grace”
this song has been covered so many times that it pops up continually in pop culture, specifically movies.  after watchmen came out, i heard a lot of plaintive cries for a moratorium on this song in movies.  and yes, it’s been used a lot.  at least 7 or 8 well-known artists have covered this song.  it’s everywhere.  frankly, i’m not a fan of leonard cohen’s original much.  i usually prefer the covers.  but the reason it’s attracted so much attention is that really, it’s just an amazing song.  it’s not about what you would think it was about from the title.  it’s a darker, colder side of love, but that’s why it moves you.

//well, baby, i’ve been here before/
i’ve seen this room and i’ve walked these floors/
you know i used to live alone before i knew ya/
i’ve seen your flag on the marble arch/
and love is not a victory march/
it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah//

i was going to list a few more jeff buckley songs here, because he’s been on the playlist an awful lot lately, but frankly, i can’t choose.  “grace” is truly an awesome album in and of itself.

so there you have what’s been running my life lately–which probably gives you some insight into my head, as well.

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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on 15 March, 2009, in meanderings, thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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