Music Suggestions: February 24, 2013.

Dancing On My Own” by Robyn: This song has had me hooked ever since I downloaded volume one of the soundtrack to HBO’s Girls.  Originally I purchased the compilation for the fun. single “Sight of the Sun” (because I am a full-fledged, bona-fide fun. fan, much to the annoyance of my co-workers who have heard every song from their two albums played at least one gazillion times), but this song caught my attention and it has been on the playlist rotation ever since.  Aside from the catchy synth beats that cause an involuntary dance spasm (seriously, the head just starts moving, followed closely by the feet, and then you’re in a full body paroxysm grooving to the techno-rrific track), the lyrics definitely hit upon something I am sure most girls, and yes, even men, have felt.  She is singing about seeing a guy she likes and realizing that no matter what she does, he is not going to choose her to go home with him.  It’s a bit heart-wrenching, but the musical choice of a poppy rhythm only emphasizes her lyrics.  Any girl in any club could be dancing to the song and feel the meaning behind the words as she watches that guy pair off with another woman.  The combination creates a delicious twist of being a power ballad for the hopeless romantic girl dancing on her own.

Beta Love” by Ra Ra Riot: I remember the first time I discovered Ra Ra Riot.  It was the summer of 2009 and I could not stop listening to “Can You Tell” from their album The Rhumb Line.  The sound has changed somewhat, moving from a more full band sound to a produced electro-pop culmination of instruments, but their genius for catchy melodies and beats combined with simplistically deep (I know, I know, how can something be simple AND deep, but they use simple language to discuss complex ideas and emotions) lyrics is still present.  The band has a difficult history, which can account for some of the changes a listener can detect between earlier albums verses later ones.  Additionally, vocalist Wes Miles had a side project with Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend (band name Discovery, which I suggested in this very blog!) and the similarities are there in more recent singles.  Whether it was Wes Miles who influenced Discovery, or Rostam Batmanglij that influenced Wes Miles in Ra Ra Riot, it’s hard to tell, but either way the sound is alluring and addicting.

Halfway to Heaven” by POP ETC: I have taken the pill and become addicted to these guys.  I loved them as The Morning Benders when they had a more Dylan-esque appeal, but I can also say that they have me with their revamped sound.  Moving from the West Coast to Brooklyn sure does change a person, if the complete tear down and rebuild of this particular band is any indication.  Electro-pop (a common thread running through these recommendations) combined with overlapping vocals riding the wave of R&B and you have yourself a little slice of heaven (pun intended).  Repetition of sound and lyrics makes this song easy to get stuck in your head.  I often find myself singing it at work, and in the process getting strange looks.  I blame it on not many people knowing about these guys, so I am spreading the word.  Even though it might be because I am walking down a hall sans headphones singing.

Submarines” by The Lumineers: This track is off of the self-titled album, The Lumineers (which is you follow the link you can buy from Amazon for just $3.99).  Many people know this band for earlier singles “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love” (two songs I happen to adore), but I want to push this particular song because it might be my favorite on the album.  A very rustic sound, and somewhat coarse recording, but it adds a certain appeal to this band, giving it a generic song.  Every time I listen to their album I always find myself cruising their website for tour dates aching to see them live.  Vocals and piano dominate this particular track , with a very clear-cut melody flowing through it.  A hint of military march touching the music helps to add oomph to the lyrics.  It is the story of a man who sees a submarine and no one believes him.  They laugh or tell him he is seeing things.  The story is a simple one, discussing credibility.  It’s a contained story, which can make it easily overlooked.  But trust me, it’s something you want to give a listen to.

Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch:  If you have ever read this blog, you know I have a small obsession with Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine).  Maybe small is the wrong word.  I love the woman.  I love her voice.  I love the music.  And though people may call her overrated, I simply say the heart wants what the heart wants.  This particular track is found on Calvin Harris’s album 18 Months.  He is a wiz kid with techno beats making his mark in the EDM scene producing track after track of above par dance music.  It seems that everything this guy has touched in the past twelve to twenty-four months has turned to gold.  First stepping into main stream attention being the beats behind Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” Calvin Harris scored high-profile artists to collaborate with him for his debut album.  This track was one such collaboration.  The music, if possible, reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino movie.  Try and figure that one out.  Aside from making me want to dance, the lyrics of this particular song spoke very strongly to me.  It is a love story, or I should say a story of unrequited love.  Being so enveloped by someone who gives you nothing back, but not being able to tear yourself away from it you beg for sweet nothing.  The chaotic rhythms of this song help to appreciate the words, mirroring the emotional confusion and devastation of such a situation.  Though I typically only post snippets of lyrics to drive home my point, I am going to post the full song:

“You took my heart and you held it in your mouth, and with a word all my love came rushing out, and every whisper, it’s the worst, emptied out by a single word.  There is a hollow in me now.  So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing.  It isn’t easy for me to let it go, cause I’ve swallowed every single word, and every whisper, every sigh, eats away at this heart of mine.  There is a hollow in me now.  So I put my faith in something unknown (I’m living on such sweet nothing), but I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold (I’m living on such sweet nothing), and it’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to learn, you’re giving me such sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing, you’re giving me such sweet nothing.  And it’s not enough to tell me that you care when we both know your words are empty air.  You give me nothing, nothing… sweet nothing, sweet nothing.”

SUGGESTIONS: SUMMER EDITION (Plus I forgot what number I was at…)

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen:  Okay, I know what you’re all thinking, “That song is generic and being repeated a thousand times on the radio?  Really?  Really Stephanie?!”  But, yes.  It’s a good summer pop song.  Remember the days of “California Gurls” and “Blow” and other I’ve-heard-this-so-many-times-I-want-to-barf songs that come on in the summer and then remarkably every time you hear them you think, “Wow, what an awesome summer?”  This is 2012’s version of that song.  Catchy, with the chorus dominating the entirety of the song (making it easier to remember) and almost too sugary you seriously believe you might go into a coma post listen; that’s this song.  The music is generic with string ensemble courtesy Apple’s garage band (no doubt) and a basic beat that makes it easy to bounce around your apartment to.  The lyrics are nothing great, no depth or insight, but it does give confidence to those young listeners.  It’s a girl giving her number to a guy.  Coy, cute, and slightly embarrassed, this song promotes female action and not inaction when it comes to that first awkward introduction.  Why is it always up to the guy?  Come on, girls, we have femme-balls!  Best line: “And all the other boys try to chase me, so call me maybe.”

“Midnight City” by M83:  Okay, without a doubt if you have walked into a Forever Twenty-One or hipster dive bar, you have heard this song.  With a beat reminiscent of 80s pop and softly spoken or sung vocals, this song takes the cake in did-I-step-into-a-wormhole-and-end-up-in-1984-somehow singles.  Off of the most recent album from M83, the French solo (once duo) continues to awe with their reverb focused electronic pop music.  Not going to lie, was pretty sure I fell in love with this song when I first heard it, wishing the rest of the world would soon follow in benevolent worship because despite the repetitious beat, this song digs deep into your subconscious where an “I love the 80s” sticker sits waiting for recognition.

“Warrior” by Kimbra (feat. Mark Foster and A-Trak): This song has become one of my favorites, often times put on repeat much at the annoyance of anyone around me.  Kimbra, also known as that girl in the “Somebody I Used to Know” song and video, delights with her vocals once again, with the beats of A-Trak and guest vocals from Mark Foster (of Foster the People).  This song is actually part of an advertisement for Converse sneakers (there is my plug), but despite its origins, it kicks some serious electro-pop ass.  Like any good dance-based song, it uses repetitive rhythm and beats to encourage hip swivels and head bopping.  Also, friendly tip, good for highway driving.

“Some Nights” by fun.:  Okay, we all know that I am truly and rightly obsessed with Nate and his musical and lyrical kingdom.  An original lover and follower of The Format, it was with great pride that I began to follow fun. and enjoyed his musical intensity and imagination with the combination of Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff.  Loving songs like “Walking the Dog,” “Benson Hedges,” and “All the Pretty Girls,” it is no surprise that I have fallen head over heels in love with fun.’s second single (“Some Nights”) from their sophomore album of the same name.  Gaining popularity this past year with the annoying repetition of “We Are Young” (another single I actually enjoy), fun. was able to propel themselves into commercial success.  Usually having a feeling of disgust when a band “sells out,” I have nothing but love for these guys.  They are doing something so beautiful, and undoubtedly for them, something that they have striven for.  What I love about this track is the use of percussion.  The anthemic chorus is beautiful, as well.  It’s so easy to sing along to, even shout to.  And they are relatable thoughts.  I have so many favorite lyrical moments from this song that it’s hard to choose.  I always agree with and shout out “Who the FUCK wants to die alone?”  Never one to hide from sharing some of this life, Nate often brings up familiar feelings about growing up, leaving home, questioning about love, life, and pursuits of happiness.  It’s a great summer song, and especially one for those twenty-somethings that are floundering looking for what their passion and calling are.  Only negative (sorry guys!) is the use of auto-tune.  Nate, I know you can do so much vocally, why did you use auto-tune?!

“Heartbeats” by The Knife: And I now throw in my wrench, my relative unknown, my indie song, my not-commercially-known anthem for the summer.  This song was introduced to me LAST summer, and I have yet to STOP listening to it.  An electro-pop song that is crudely constructed (comparatively speaking to the above mentioned songs), this underground gem sounds like a nintendo game met classic Asian music and they gave birth to an 80s pop addiction.  Give it a listen and you will not be able to stop listening to it.  It vibes with the summer sun.  Just put it on and let yourself sink into it.

 

A flash in the pan.

I know it’s been forever, so please forgive me.  Not having internet is cramping my style.  Big time.  Just need to refocus and realize that these outlets are beneficial.  I missed you guys!

Lately I have listened to more electro-pop.  And yes, One Direction.  They are on the playlists lately.  Don’t hate me too much.  That song (“What Makes You Beautiful”) is catchy as hell.  And though it has no real value as a work of musicianship, or hell, it’s not lyrically brilliant either, but – DAMNIT! – it makes me dance in the morning and some days you just need that.

About a week ago I was at my local coffeehouse and plugged into my Spotify and came across this freaking amazing song (and I cannot find it on iTunes or Amazon ANYWHERE) called “Warrior”.  If you like Foster the People, then you will probably LOVE this song, as Mark Foster (of Foster the People) is a contributing artist.  Reminds me of 80s pop mixed with the electro driven beats made favorable by bands like M83 (which by the way, their new album, I LOVE IT!).

I know this is a very non-traditional post (no links, too many parenthesis, no real suggestions format), but it’s because I am going through ideas on how to re-vamp this blog, along with my introducing a new blog from yours truly!  I decided that with my frequent reading habits (it’s like crack, I swear!) that I should begin a book review blog.  I need to refine my writing and make myself profitable.  Within each of us in a small business waiting to be opened.  I just want mine to involve things I love (i.e. music, books, and writing!).  Okay, I need to stop with the “!” — it’s beginning to annoy even me.

Anyways, I hope you tune in for further music suggestions and reviews and hop on over to http://www.belleandthebook.wordpress.com for some reading suggestions.

Love to you all!

Emperors Club.

You should check out this link and get your hands on Emperors Club EP, The Castle.  A four track summation of awesomeness with 90s alt-rock vibes and hooks abounding.  My friend, Adam Havlin, wrote Brooklyn, track number four, and it still is one of my favorite songs by the quintet.

All This & Heaven, Florence + the Machine.

And the heart is hard to translate, it has a language of its own.  It talks in tongues and quiet sighs, in prayers and proclamations, in the grand days of great men in the smallest of gestures, in short shallow gasps.  But with all my education, I can’t seem to command it.  And the words are all escaping me and coming back all damaged.  And I would put them back in poetry, if I only knew how.  I can’t seem to understand it and I would give all this and heaven too, I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand the meaning of the word, you see, because I’ve been scrawling it forever, but it never makes sense to me, at all.  And it talks to me on tiptoes, and sings to me inside, it cries out in the darkest night, and breaks in the morning light.  But with all my education, I can’t seem to command it.  And the words are all escaping me and coming back all damaged.  And I would put them back in poetry, if I only knew how.  I can’t seem to understand it and I would give all this and heaven too, I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand the meaning of the word, you see, because I’ve been scrawling it forever, but it never makes sense to me, at all.  And I would give all this and heaven too, I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand the meaning of the word, you see, because I’ve been scrawling it forever, but it never makes sense to me, at all.  No words, a whole language, doesn’t deserve such treatment, and all of my stumbling phrases never amounted to anything worth this feeling.  All this heaven… never could describe such a feeling as I hear… words were never so useful so I’m screaming out a language that I never knew existed before.

Rhythms and drum beats in “After Midnight”.

I believe there is something peaceful in percussion.  You can have chaos and repetition, swirling sound, but there is something in the rhythm of a drumbeat that eases my mind.  Percussion has always played a major role in my obsession with music.  Along with lyrics.  There is something in the sporadic sound of a high hat clashing and melding into a snare hit combining seamlessly with the bass drum.  The combinations, seemingly endless, are reverential, as are the countless drummers who combine these sounds to make art.  Where an English major, such as myself, loves the way words rise and fall, and their sounds create a symphony, there is an artistry in creating the perfect rhythmic backdrop to songs.  Some of the most underrated musicians are the drummers, sitting behind the singer and guitarists, bassists and keyboardists, as they expel so much energy pounding out a heartbeat to the song.

What brought these thoughts on?  I was listening to “After Midnight” by Blink 182, off of their newest release, Neighborhoods.  Travis Barker has always been a percussion God, creating ridiculous sounds that weave intricately through Blinks common chords.  Where Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus bring personality, Travis Barker pumps life into the words, the emotion, especially in this song, comes from Barker.  The opening percussion, high hat and snare, link guitar and words, focusing a common thread, a heartbeat of sorts, through the rest of the song.  Every time I listen to this song, I focus all my attention on Barker’s sound, and I can’t help but feel the depth of the words, and their importance, are somehow made more profound by the percussion.  Just as I have fallen under the spell of Florence and the Machine, and her excellent use of percussion to punctuate and highlight the highs and lows of lyrics, this particular track of Blink 182’s encapsulates the sporadic heartbeat of someone thinking through his or her troubled relationship.  The internal ticking clock, just like the title suggests, it is after midnight, bringing with it a new day and new hope for something more, something better, or simply, just something.

P.S. Sorry for not adding links, as I usually do.  I am having some internet difficulty.