Songs of the Week is old enough to vote! Make sure you vote in the primaries if you're old enough! Use the small say you do have in politics! Enough political advice, it's time for music. Here's the list. Playlist is here, archive playlist is here. Submit songs by Facebook, email, or in the comments.
Death Cab for Cutie - Black Sun
This is such a beautiful song, and having been a fan since the seventh grade (four years ago) I assumed the beloved Death Cab had died off. Then, in the middle of surfing the NPR tiny desk concerts (which are fantastic, especially T-Pain's surprisingly, my brothers personal favorite) Their NPR tinydesk concert is perfect and I implore everyone to check it out. This song is catchy and mellow which is to be expected from Death Cab. This is a band I can play for hours and not get sick of, highly recommend this entire album, really beautiful stuff.
Aesop Rock - Grace
First rap submission and this one is one of my personal favorites. Often dubbed "the Shakespeare of rap" Aesop writes a well worded narrative about eating green beans. Aesop Rock is an accessible rapper for all audiences.
Death Blues - Obtain
From the Death Blues site: "Death Blues is a multi-dis[c]iplinary project by Jon Mueller that addresses the inevitability of death as impetus to become more present in each moment," with an emphasis on "multi-disciplinary" - Death Blues is a hugely ambitious art project, with output spanning, according to the same website's About page, "communication, writing, recording, images, movement, video, taste, performance, and more, creating an experience that’s understood in a more personal way that develops over time." It's a celebration of life and all of the things it has to offer, masked under the veil of the project's name, "Death Blues".
Staying true to the project's purpose, Ensemble is a hugely ambitious album. I'm going to say again, like I have so many other times, that it's like nothing you've ever heard before - it's a very high-energy mix of thumping drums that remain constant throughout the album, and a fluctuating set of choral singing and a huge array of different instruments playing to a ever-changing style that sounds like half-borrowed from contemporary, alternative genres of music like post-rock and half-borrowed from different musical styles of different cultures around the world. It really is quite an unforgettable experience to listen to.
Obtain, the seventh song off of Ensemble, is one of the higher-energy, louder, and more modern-sounding songs on the album. The song is introduced by a looping electronic keyboard track that keeps repeating as more and more instruments are layered on top of it, adding both to the song's texture and to its volume. The first instrument to be introduced is a trebly string instrument, sounding a bit like a harp; this is followed by a steady, rapid flow of hi-hats, a chorus of voices, and many other instruments that continue to layer on top of each other for another minute until they temporarily go away, leaving the keyboard from earlier alone with a some mid-ranged string instruments, softer drums, and a bass. The drums eventually exit too, leaving only the keyboards and strings to play for a minute or two before instruments start layering on top again before the drums, this time thumping, are reintroduced. After that, the layers are gradually removed until only the stringed instruments remain and the song fades out.
The song seems to explore the give-and-take relationship between modern music and modern interpretations of previous music, first starting off seeming very modern with the hi-hat segment, then giving way to classical instruments played in a more classical style. Halfway through the song, these two styles are united as the stringed instruments and choir, evoking images of the Great Plains, play alongside the modern drum set and what sounds like an electric bass, evoking images of modern society. The song explores the universal nature and presence of music in the lives of current, former, and future people in a very unique way.
The Velvet Underground - The Black Angel's Death Song
The lyrics to this song, which concern the various choices and paths of life, though mainly evoking images of death - "ghost bloodied country", "long splitered cut from the knife", "we said so long / to his skull", "cut mouth bleeding razor" - are about as chaotic as the viola that constantly dances throughout it. The song is dominated by a viola whose notes and volume keep fluctuating up and down, by other stringed instruments played at a very fast but soft pace to serve as a background for the viola, and by John Cale's sporadic hissing into the microphone which adds to the chaos and spontaneity of the track. There's not really much else to say; the lyrics are nice, as is the instrumentation, but the track as a whole is just pure chaos - sort of. In a good way, of course.
Tim Hecker - I'm Transmitting Tonight
From Radio Amor, Tim Hecker's I'm Transmitting Tonight takes simple piano chords, distorts them, and stretches them out to make very unique waves of sound that make up the entirety of the song. It's a bit of a droney song - the notes are repetitive and are drawn out over many seconds - but that's what I find is the most appealing about I'm Transmitting Tonight: it's very calming and laid back, a deviation from the more lively structures of typical songs. It makes great background music for pretty much anything that isn't very high energy, like making art, doing math, or being alone with your thoughts (shudder).
Like the rest of Radio Amor, I'm Transmitting Tonight gives off a very cold and lonely feel, one very suited for today's urban environments that are both crowded with people yet are paradoxically able to give off feelings of mass solitude. And yet, unlike other songs on the album, there is a feeling of hope present - maybe it's that there's a bright side to it all, or maybe it's the comfort of knowing that everyone else is just as lonely.
Pixies - Where is my Mind?
Reminds me of Teens going on adventures together
The Planet Smashers - Mighty
I found this ska/punk band by accident and am glad I did. Mighty is one of the first song I heard and is close to being my favorites from them. I would also suggest Girl in the Front Row and missionary's downfall.
Parov Stelar - The Mojo Radio Gang
Parov Stelar is considered a pioneer of Electro Swing which I’ve made clear is one of my favorite music genres. Mojo Radio Gang was my first introduction to electro swing years ago and have loved it ever since.
In celebration of seeing Rooster Teeth’s Lazer Team, here’s the song from its official trailer.
Chris Cornell - Nearly Forgot my Broken Heart
Because again, I really like this man's voice.
The Kinks - Somebody Stole My Car
I'm sexualy attracted to the lead singer.
Michael Arden and the cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical - The Bells of Notre Dame I mentioned this last time, and here it is. I really love it. Especially the ending. Michael Arden's voice is ahhhh and the thing that he does when he says that line in the actually show ahhhh just ahhhh this whole musical.
The cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical- Rhythm of the Tambourine The voices and harmonies in the song kill me. Why won't Disney use all the money the have to bring this musical to Broadway.
The cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical - Out There I am obsessed. Please help me. Michael Arden's voice again. I love the movie version so much, too. But Michael. Arden.
Graham Nash - Better Days
Crosby, Stills, and Nash were an incredibly talented group of people, and all did some fantastic solo work. This is one of my favorite Graham Nash solo tracks. It talks about the nature of love and the journey we all make to find it. It also talks about the nature of endings and how we should appreciate what happened rather than mourn the ending. It's a pretty straightforward song with a sound that reminds me of Paul McCartney and Wings. Simple and elegant, and stands out in its era.
Love - Alone Again Or
A really nice anti-Hippie song. It sort of exposes the problems with loving openly and it does it in such a nice way, with a bed of Spanish-sounding guitar and a mariachi-esque horn-backed chorus. The instrumentation gives a western film feeling to it, leading to the image of a desert, which perfectly fits the theme of the song. The second verse is filled with irony about the ideals of the Hippie movement, and how the speaker "could be in love with almost everyone", and gets great pleasure from people, but despite this, he "will be alone again tonight my dear". Really highlights the problems evident with an open relationship that is lacking in communication.
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Will You Smile Again for Me?
Throughout this song you are left with an intense feeling of uncertainty and unease. It's a song dedicated to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and is sort of a love letter to the hard work of writing what you feel. The Instrumentation chronicles a writer painfully expressing everything they feel, bleeding onto the paper, and being on a roll, until... suddenly, nothing. The writer's inspiration or will to continue to write is gone. The writer struggles with their demons, represented by the dissonant horns. When the writer decides to continue to write, even if it kills them, the song transitions to a driving, constant drum beat. The speaker encourages the writer to "at least pretend/ That the paper’s your soul and your blood’s in the pen", and eventually the writer gets back into the violent process of slicing off a piece of their soul and analyzing it like a microscope slide. The unease becomes louder and louder, and continues until the song ends.