urgencytobleed: (the many faces of lee pace)

The first I heard of Sharon Van Etten was a few months ago in my Last.fm recommendations. Based on the artists she was recommended to me because of, I figured she would just be another typical acoustic singer-songwriter and since it takes a lot for a musician like that to make an impression on me, I skipped over her for awhile. Then I randomly came across the revelation that she sang the female vocals on "Thirteen" from The Antlers' brilliant album, Hospice, and since her contribution is one of the most affecting moments on that album, I decided I definitely needed to check her out. Ultimately, her most recent album, Epic, doesn't quite match up with either of these expectations. It doesn't sound at all like her part on The Antlers' album and while it does have a singer-songwriter vibe, if that's actually possible, it's not what you'd expect from a generic girl with a guitar either. Epic pairs Van Etten's simple lyrics and melodies with big, building instrumental accompaniment and lots of lush, almost dreamy harmony vocals. I think it's officially become the first release from last year that I wish I'd heard before I made my list because it probably would have been somewhere on it. It's the kind of album that creeps up on you very unassumingly; through two or three listens, you don't hate it but you're not so sure you love it either but then, suddenly, without any warning, you find yourself craving these songs. "Don't Do It" is my current favorite. It's ridiculously addictive and Van Etten's voice is so clean and pure but also has enough of an edge to keep you actively listening instead of dozing off. It's quite an accomplishment that something so simple and repetitive can be turned into something so immense and expansive and, well, epic.
urgencytobleed: (i put a pearl in the ground)
Song of the Day

Janelle Monáe - Many Moons

100! Finally! Only took, what, three years? Wow. But it's true! It's been more than three years since my first post here. Craziness.

Anyway, I'm admittedly not much of a hip-hop or R&B fan; those genres of music just don't really do anything for me. For this reason, I never thought much about giving Janelle Monáe a listen even though I've seen nothing but rather unanimous praise for her all over the Interwebs for the past couple of years. But her new album just came out on Tuesday and that pushed me to finally give her a shot. And, yes, there's a lot of R&B and hip-hop to her sound but there's also a lot of pop and funk and jazz and, well, basically a little bit of everything. And she mixes all of these genres with such deftness and inventiveness and fearlessness that it's almost impossible not to fall immediately in love with her. Janelle's music is honestly some of the most refreshing, fun and completely individual pop music I've heard in recent years. This song I'm especially head-over-heels in love with; I think it's completely fucking brilliant, to put it bluntly. It's not from her new album so I'm not going to spend too much time talking about her music in general because I'll probably post some more recent stuff in the near future. All you need to know is that I can't get over how crazy and infectious and creative this particular song is. The backing vocals are especially inspired and the fact that the song goes off in about a million vastly different directions but in a very focused way. This girl clearly knows exactly what she's doing and what she wants every second of her music to sound like. And that's rather inspiring considering the quasi-mainstream space (she's not quite indie - after all she's signed to, of all people, Diddy's [is this what he calls himself these days? I honestly have no idea] record label - but she's not exactly a marquee-topping name yet either) she resides in.

Have a look at the music video too because it's half the fun. Janelle is an extremely enigmatic performer and fucking gorgeous to boot.

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Song of the Day

Jónsi - Tornado

This song is ridiculously beautiful. It's one of those songs that is so beautiful it actually nearly hurts to listen to. But a good hurt. The kind of hurt you want to feel over and over and over again. And it's so beautiful that that's about as far as I can go in using mere words to describe it. Seriously, you're better off just listening to it and hearing the magic yourself. So go. Click that play button and be prepared for some of the purest, prettiest music you've ever heard.

Also, speaking of beautiful, I'm not very well-versed in the world of Sigur Rós (though I plan to try to fix that in the future since I'm enjoying Jónsi's solo album so much) but there is one song that I adore and was rather obsessed with for awhile several months ago, "Fljótavík". It tugs at my heart strings nearly as much as "Tornado" and is basically another four minutes of pure ear bliss. So I'm offering that one too since I probably should have posted it ages ago.

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Song of the Day

Bowerbirds - Teeth

These guys opened for Joanna Newsom but I figured that post was already massive enough as it was and they probably deserved something a bit more than a passing mention. They're one of those bands whose name has come up a few times for me and I've thought about checking them out but never really got that final push to actually do so. I also get the feeling that this ended up being a good thing because I doubt I would have given them a second listen without seeing them perform live first. Their certain brand of mellow folk-y pop is the kind of music I have a love-hate relationship with precisely because it's so mellow; there's really nothing to grab me and make me want to hear more after only one listen so I disregard it instead of giving it any more of my time. And also, everything sounds better live, right? I purchased their latest album, Upper Air, after the show and have listened to it a few times now. I can't say I completely love it yet but there are a handful of songs I can't get enough of. This one in particular I'm completely obsessed with. What causes them to stand out for me from the dozens of other bands doing the same type of music is the vocals; the male and female vocals just fit together so perfectly and this song is one of the best examples of that. Phil Moore's voice has kind of an Andrew Bird vibe to my ears and Beth Tacular's background vocals remind me of someone else too but I can't think who at the moment - together, they make beautiful musical magic. Also, Beth plays a mean accordion which I think is pretty bad ass.

Also, I know it's lame of me to be so invested in these videos but the music is amazing, especially in this latest one, and I want a whole album of it right now, damn it! It's so beautiful and eerie and atmospheric. And I've actually listened to an mp3 rip of it about twenty times since late last night. I'm that desperate. So if this ends up going nowhere or being distorted beyond recognition so that the actual music sounds far more ordinary, I'm not going to be a happy camper. (Oh, I should probably put a warning here that if you're a massive scaredy-cat you might find the following video a bit creepy... Personally, I don't think any of them are scary or creepy (and I thought I had a low tolerance for all things in those categories) but I guess a lot of people do. So, yeah.)

urgencytobleed: (walk walk fashion baby)
Song of the Day

Hedwig and the Angry Inch - The Origin of Love (composed by Stephen Trask)

Most of the time, when I hear someone say how such-and-such changed their lives I just roll my eyes at how casually such a massive claim is thrown around. There aren't many things, as far as art or entertainment goes, that I would say have actually changed my life. And I don't think I've ever felt that way about a movie before; sure, there are a lot of movies I love and enjoy watching but, when I really think about it, there honestly aren't any I can say are absolutely vital to me. About two weeks ago, I watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch for the first time and that all changed. I went into it without any expectations - I was possibly even expecting not to like it - and came out wondering why in the world it had taken me so long to get around to seeing it. It was as completely over-the-top and campy as I imagined it would be but it was also surprisingly touching and full of real emotion and passion and anyone can relate to Hedwig's journey to self-discovery, whether you have anything in common with her or not. I'm not sure if I can say it has legitimately changed my life but it has at least left a huge impact on it, an impact which only a handful of other things have ever left. For a movie especially, this is an impressive accomplishment.

So why is this relevant here, on a music blog? Well, because half of the reason it's so amazing is the music! I honestly have not been able to get these songs out of my head for a full two weeks now. They aren't even the type of music I usually listen to and I typically don't get attached to the songs in a musical (though I think I'd rather use the term "rock opera" here; I don't generally like it but "musical" is not nearly bad ass enough to do Hedwig justice) but, well, I guess I've learned that this movie is anything but typical. Its songs are just so full of life and refreshingly unique compared to most of its counterparts, plus there's a little bit of everything - aggressive punk rock, beautiful and touching ballads, a passionate, stadium-sized closer, even a very tongue-in-cheek country ditty! Though the biggest reason why I like them so much is probably John Cameron Mitchell's vocals. Even without the visual side of things, you can still tell he has poured his heart and soul into performing these songs.

This song especially is one of the most moving songs I've ever heard, from a make-believe band or a real one. Despite what I said about not requiring a visual, it really is best experienced on video; Mitchell's expressions and body language as he performs are so subtle yet affecting and really make the song all the more powerful. A moment like the sudden eruption into "AND FIRE! Shot down from the sky in bolts!" is very powerful on its own but the song's slower moments, especially the segment starting with "The last time I saw you we'd just split in two," are so much more so when you can see the sadness and longing in Hedwig's eyes. It's really rather stunning. And with that I'll shut up. It's just that I really needed to write about this so forgive my long-windedness.

Lyrics + Video )

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Song(s) of the Day

I haven't posted a song of the day since October(!) apparently. So I'll rectify that situation by posting two of them for today.

I haven't heard anything else by Röyksopp; I just happened upon this song completely randomly and have been too obsessed with it to track down anything else. I am very much in love with it. Everything about it is perfect but it all works together so well to form a cohesive whole that it's hard to single out a certain aspect that makes it so great. The melody is instantly memorable - it's been stuck in my head since I first heard it; it's got amazing atmosphere, slightly eerie and dark (the very well done music video adds to this even more) but not enough to damper the catchiness; then there's Karin Dreijer Andersson's vocals - I don't exactly love The Knife but I do love how quirky yet beautiful her voice is and it works so well here. Basically, it's all awesome. And I'm slightly afraid to listen to anything else because I don't think it will live up to my expectations.

Another completely random find - I'm having a lot of luck with those lately, it seems. I really like Delphic's sound a lot; it's not exactly anything groundbreaking, just indie rock with some electronic elements thrown in for good measure basically, but it's the perfect marriage of these two genres. And really, I just swoon over pretty much anything if it's sung with a British accent. This song is catchy, catchy, catchy but it's also got enough substance beyond that to leave a lasting impression. And I seem to be at a loss of words for these descriptions today. Just trust me, it's good.
urgencytobleed: (the many faces of lee pace)
Song of the Day

Copeland - Kite


RIP Copeland. I actually just realized how beautiful this song is a few days ago and thought that I should share it here. Of course now it's for an entirely different reason. But it's still a good song anyway.

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Song of the Day

Munchausen by Proxy - Uh Huh

Because I am in a silly mood. And because Zooey Deschanel + comedy + smutty electropop = WIN. The spoken word bits are the best. "Happy networking, asshole!"

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Songs of the Day

Lightning Dust - Never Seen

This song is impressive because it does so much with so little. It's really a very simple, organic, restrained song but there's this intensity lingering just beneath the surface, it seems to build and build even if it remains at the same slow and steady pace. Its sparseness gives it a real honesty; it's quietly cathartic, hauntingly beautiful, almost spiritually enlightening, which is a feeling that not many songs give me. Amber Webber's voice deserves credit for much of the song's emotional impact; as gorgeous as the instrumentation behind her is, her delicate, earnest, warm honey croon - which lies somewhere on the drunken warbling scale between Cat Power and Jolie Holland - is the true driving force here. The last minute-and-a-half is simply phenomenal. I never use that word but I'm going to use it for this: phenomenal. I dare you to listen to that dreamy, hypnotizing swirl of vocals and not feel some sort of awakening in your heart.

The Soldier Thread - In the Sky

The most obvious comparison this band will draw is to Eisley though their louder moments are heavier and more aggressive and their quiet moments are darker, less sweet and more bitter. Patricia Lynn is like a viola-wielding Sherri DuPree, her stirring instrumental melodies just as vital to each song as her emotive vocals. This song is the obvious high point of their debut album, Shapes, and offers the best of both their louder and quieter sides, starting off slow and almost lullaby-esque though this is a very bleak, depressing lullaby, with a sinister edge and an intensity that threatens to disrupt the peace and doesn't take long to do so. This intensity builds over a long and increasingly moving instrumental break before erupting into a burst of devastating, aggressive, heavily-distorted vocals that will hopefully take your breath away as they did mine. As far as the entire album goes, it isn't perfect but this song is a promising glimpse at the kind of heartwrenching music the Soldier Thread could be producing in the very near future.

urgencytobleed: (Default)
Song of the Day

Imogen Heap - Canvas

I haven't decided what I think of Imogen's new album, Ellipse, yet as a whole but this song is, without a doubt, one of the best things she's ever done - in my opinion, of course. I've always found her moodier, darker songs to have more lasting power with me than her more straight-forward upbeat ones - for example, I'd much rather listen to "The Moment You Said It" or "Closing In" from her last album now than something like "Goodnight and Go" - and this is exactly the kind of music I wish she'd make more of. It has such great atmosphere; the instrumentation is so haunting and Imogen's ethereal vocals only add to the spine-tingling factor. It's really just a gorgeous song and that's all there is to it. I've been obsessed with it since I first heard it and it still sounds just as good so many plays later.

P.S. In other exciting news, those crazy kids in Los Campesinos! have posted a new song up at their blog entitled - take a long breath - "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future". Once you get past the initial shock of how mellow and mature it sounds (though of course there's still plenty of wailing from Gareth to go around), I'm sure you'll fall in love with it. Harriet's violin arrangements are absolutely stunning and the lyrics are very typically LC! though maybe with a bit more depth and genuinity than before. As much as I love the high-energy overdose on sugar that is Hold on Now Youngster, it's also very nice to see them maturing and exploring another side of their sound. I don't know whether this will be on their upcoming third release or not, but it definitely bodes well for the future.


urgencytobleed: (Default)

April 2012



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