Spotify Listen Link: Björk – Biophilia
- Nomination: Best Alternative Music Album
- WIN: Best Recording Package
I don't know much about Bjork, other than remembering vaguely the thing about the swan dress. That was her, right? I honestly thought she and Yoko Ono were the same person for a pretty long time. In case it's not completely obvious already, this will be the first time I've ever listened to an album of hers.
"Moon" starts things off in what I have to admit is an interesting way. Lots of strings with what I can only pin as Asian influence come through in a gentle way. Oh, but then Bjork starts singing. And while I've never listened to much of her music, I now remember the bits I have heard and why I don't frequent her Spotify artist page. Her vocals are recorded much higher than the sweet, soft strings, by the way.
So moving on, "Thunderbolt" (and yes, almost all of the titles are about this simple/deep). I have to hand it to the background vocalists. They run a tight ship, with their words cutting off in just the right spots and coming in at moments that are really most effective. This one's music, though, is really tough to be okay with. Very electronic, and not in the awesome Daft Punk way.
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"Chystalline" takes that creepy kid's xylophone playing sound to a new level by making it the primary instrument in a song. Seriously never thought I'd hear that. I mean, there are other sounds throughout, but that one is probably going to haunt me in the realm of music for quite some time now. And then the intense drumming comes into play alongside a DJ out for over-powerment. Sorry, gotta make these tracks more interesting for myself.
Ahhhhhhhhhh…. Ohhhhhh…. that's the opening to "Cosmogony," and not in an excited screaming kind of way. This one slows it down and makes things a little more spacey. Ha, yay for relevant titles. My god, this is getting trippy. Just hearing "the god inside burst out…" I mean, I'm sure there's perfectly good reasoning for the lyrics throughout, and I'm probably missing something. But all I'm seeing in my head is a Gaga-esq burst a la "Born This Way."
"Dark Matter" is just downright creepy. Maybe it's the "True Blood" book I'm reading adding to the mystery, or maybe it's the dull buzz in the background that sounds like an old horror movie soundtrack… and is giving me a headache.
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Yah know, I was beginning to enjoy the late-entering violins in "Hollow" until they took a turn for the minor, scarier chords. How do people come up with this for the means of putting together what I would assume was meant to be a typical, normal album? I didn't do much research here, so maybe fear is the theme I'm missing out on. At least it's daylight.
"Virus" doesn't drop the act either, though it adds these cute little bells. I'm guessing in person, their playing would actually look and sound pretty impressive. In the meantime though, I'm thinking creepy little children. Also, lyrically, there's nothing very cute about this whole thing. Vocally though, this might be the best track yet.
I can't place my finger on the name for the hollow pipes that I believe are playing for most of "Sacrifice," but I got sad around the halfway mark when they got crowed out with electric drumming. It was nice to hear something odd and cool for a moment, but that little section (that I'm sure was meant to spark interest in the song itself) just kind of hurt the whole atmosphere for me and left me just waiting for the song to end.
"Mutual Core" takes on a more intense way about it, employing some really loud and borderline obnoxious electronic noises throughout. But something about that intensity makes it all the more better. I mean… well, I don't know what I mean. Maybe I'm just looking for something to like here for a change, or maybe it's legitimately growing on me.
| |Ah, well, now we're back to the Asian-inspiration from the start. Bookended album! I can appreciate that. "Solstice" is what I'd probably guess to be the closing song on the official album. The next two are repeats in different styles, and the last seems to be a bonus track. Yay over-analysis!
"Hollow - original extended version" is even creepier than the rest of the album combined. My eyebrows are getting goosebumps just listening to it. What happened to the cool hollow pipes? Why is the echo being employed so heavily? Why do I know I'm going to jump out of my seat when a roommate comes home?
Adding a choir and organ to "Dark Matter" isn't helping anything here. In fact, it's just making me more scared. Seriously, music is not supposed to be like this. Someone help, please, I just heard keys in the door and want out of this insanity asap.
"Nattura" is the final song on the album. Almost sounds like marching ghosts to me at this point, with the waspy vocals in the back and the drums seemingly marching forward on the main section. I want to write more here people, I really do, but I'm at my wits end and feel like this is more than enough.
Added to My Playlist:
Oh man, that was completely something else. I mean, if you had never heard Bjork before, you probably would come in with some expectations, but never enough to be scared while listening. I'm all for a good chill here and there, but that was intense and disturbing at times, just musically, enough to make me ready to listen to my old boy band CDs.
Spotify Listen Link: The Beach Boys – That's Why God Made the Radio
Who knew The Beach Boys had a new album of original material out this year?? Okay, a lot of people, I'm sure, but I didn't for some inexplicable reason.
These guys were my very first concert, at about 6 or 7 years old. My mom tipped the wrong guy (we were at a casino concert venue), and got us seats closer to the middle, but father back, instead of closer up. I still remember having an awesome time with her though, even when I barely knew any of the songs and was semi-convinced they were the Beatles (oh the naivety of a child...)
So hear we are, close to 20 years later, and while I wouldn't call myself a die-hard fan, I will always maintain a very special place in my heart for the California sun boys. This is their twenty-ninth studio album, and it just came out a few weeks ago (ignore the date on this post - it was released on June 5th, I'm writing on June 13th, and the post says it's April 27th - I'm playing catch-up like never before!). Of course, the one thing I did know was that this was the 50th anniversary of the band (they're doing a special tour this year, which included Bonnaroo), and this album was made to coincide with that.
What I didn't realize is that this is the band's first album with original material since 1992 - close to around the last time I saw them. It's also the first album since the death of Carl Wilson (1998). Many songs have been formulating over the past 20 years though, and now they're finally listenable to us all.
"Think About The Days" immediately takes us on a very nostalgic path. The harmonies alone are classically Beach Boys, but then the piano goes and adds this whole other element of gentle time travel back in memories. At only a minute and a half long, the tail end is where the keys take it up a few notes, showing that something is about to really happen.
The title track comes next in "That's Why God Made The Radio." If you wanted higher-pitched sounds from these guys, this is not where to find it. While the harmonies are entirely still there, the octaves are just a bit lower to show some age and growth. I love the lyrics though - they're not exactly simplistic, but they do sound like a whole other time and appreciation for music. The song's all about the power of a song in the realm of love. Ever thought about how a song can change a situation completely? Even if just for a moment? That's what this is all about.
Here's a little lyric video they posted:
"Isn't It Time" is delightfully simple and easy. There's barely any sort of backing to the voices other than the beat, which I'm pretty sure was done with just clapping and a ukelele. While the song doesn't stick enough to love completely, it's just so damn cute that you can't help but bop a little bit to it.
I'm tempted to call "Spring Vacation" an almost modern song. I mean, there is a clear Beach Boys sound to the whole thing, but the music itself is just a little more 2000's than I've heard ever before in their music. There's some throw back lines to "good vibrations" and summer times of getting back together. Of course this makes for a cute little summer love theme. The guitar is what makes it playable now - the solo alone is so much more today than expected. It's really a nicely compiled little tune.
"The Private Life of Bill and Sue" has got me feeling the island vibes for sure. There's a little breezy island beat and sings of tropical lands all on its own. The lyrics themselves are just this cute story of the life of these two who are so completely blissfully happy and sweet that I think I'm getting a cavity. It's fun though, as far as happy stories go. Good for them, even if the rest of us might not get it.
This is about the point that I hit some kind of lull in the album if songs start sounding extremely similar. I think I'm there as we go in to "Shelter." I mean, yes, it's another beach song about love and getting caught in the storm together. It's by no means bad, but it's by no means keeping me entirely awake at the end of the long day. It's sweet enough, but just doesn't speak enough to warrant caring more.
Man, these songs are exactly what the original fans would be wanting to hear. "Daybreak Over The Ocean" has the old, sweet love quality of purer sweeter times. There's a cool sound in the bridges though, created by just a short rhythm as we break between parts, that takes it in a really cool direction. The only thing I can think to relate some of these harmonies to is 2ge+her on their sweeter (yet still hilarious) songs. Mu summary of this one: the slow dance on live band night on the ocean liner.
"Beaches In Mind" just really knocked it into my head, just in the opening notes, that you do not hear harmonies like this ever - not even in churches anymore. While the song is sort of lacking much thought - which is actually the point - those harmonies are completely where it's at. Man, this is the one you have to play on the way to vacation when it's time to zone the rest out. E-Merce: we need to start a playlist, though I don't think this one'll work for our Canada Day trip. Anywhos, back to those probably actually reading - yeah, drift off to this one. There's just some sweet wonderful sounds of the waves somehow embedded into this, and I don't even care how.
I think we're in for a bit more depth for "Strange World" with that piano lead-in. The hard-hitting drums back that up. But then the lyrics... I mean, it's an acknowledgement of the insanity of this world that we live in, but not letting us get too deep into thought past general love and making it by. Actually, I have to say, this tune is oddly relaxing in that it doesn't had that weight and depth to it. Sort of... refreshing.
"From There To Back Again" sounds too much like how we make fun of my undergrad school's motto. Just the title's words, not the song itself, promise. This one actually sounds much older than the Pet Sounds we used to enjoy. This has an entirely 40's/50's standard feel to it, as it relies almost entirely on the vocals, with very little instrumental support other than a drum in between to fill the sound. There is a piano, but even then, it's almost just for note support. The flute sounds like a voice. This one, in short, is all about the voice, even when the beat does pick up - don't be fooled!
Of course we have a song called "Pacific Coast Highway." This one's the epic song. It's got to do with moving on in your later days, which these guys would know nothing about, right? I like it enough. It is interesting how the emphasis went to the vocals later in this album, whereas the beginning was more impressing with the instrumental arrangements. This shorter number, at only 1:47, is a solemn goodbye into the sunset.
But we still have to finish up with "Summer's Gone." Guh... this is like the saddest journey of a Beach Boys collection I've ever experienced, with still some kind of overlaying happiness no matter what. The clarinet (I think) plays things out softly, as we wave goodbye to a fun summer in the sun, once again, with our Beach Boys. Good lord, this song isn't over yet... At least the ocean waves goodbye.
Added to My Playlist:
It's an interesting and rare thing that a band gets completely into on niche and never leaves it. I often wonder how much they actually enjoy doing beach song after beach song after beach song. Then again, the profits must be pretty okay from it at the end of the day, because they aren't stopping, even 50 years later.
- "That's Why God Made The Radio"
- "Beaches In Mind"
- "Strange World"
Ah, to walk into a band completely blind on what the hell a band is all about. For instance - this is a whole band, not just one dude named Bon Iver. I think I heard that somewhere, but I feel more enlightened now.A quick overview of this year's nominations:
That best new artist one is a crock though, as the band's been recording and has had a decent following for over 4 years now. You'll see that this (their second album) has each song representing a place (I'm having bad Gorillaz flashbacks...). Other than that, and the videos that the band released for just about every song (as we'll see coming up), I'd love to just dive on in.Full album listen link on Spotify's right there if you want to check it out.So we start things off with "Perth." Immediately, you know you're in for something different here. We're lulled into this sense of calm, but there's horns playing in the back. To carry through. Here's the first of the videos posted to the boniver YouTube page.
- Record of the Year - "Holocene"
- Song of the Year - "Holocene"
- Best New Artist
- Best Alternative Music Album
The guitar strums at the beginning are absolutely beautiful, first off. Needed to get that note in there. The look at the city through a kaleidoscope is really cool, though a little expected with alternative music and a non-story video. It doesn't take from the really gorgeous moments though, and there are quite a few of those, even as the weird techniques are applied. I think the thing to appreciate most is how the images move with the music, but maybe that's just me.
Something I'm noticing almost immediately from the videos is that this album is supposed to flow from one some to another - there is a connect. "Minnesota, WI" pick up the pace a bit with some interesting use of string sounds and a sweet little bass line before the lyrics kick in. Thus far, not entirely sold on the vocals, but the instrumentals are fascinating.
The beginning of this almost struck me as Lifehouse's "Everything," but trust me, this isn't it. Anywhos, so really great use of color and light throughout this imagery; let's face it, the photography is downright amazing. Or at least gorgeous - what do I really know about use of cameras to begin with? I just know I like what I see. And whoa, there's totally a banjo at around 2:00, right before the ink. I think my co-workers tried to make some of these effects for a music video we did once... hmmm.
"Holocene" is the big single to come from this. I guess it's been played on mainstream? I just know that this is the song that got people talking about the band. I like that the vocals take more control over this song, as the harmonies are enchanting. This songs got a weird sense to it. There are stops where you think it will end, but it picks right back up. There are these jarring clicks that shake you awake just as your drifting away.
This is a bar's name in Portland where Justin Vernon had a "dark night of the soul." I could be down for one of those right now honestly. Ugh. Anywhos, the whole song's actually supposed to be about realizing you are something - special and not special all at once. God the scenes in this video are breath-taking. To be that kid - I mean, who wouldn't want to be right now, right? I want to run free in that scenery, completely alone, just for a few minutes. With this as my soundtrack. Shit... I think I'm actually being brought to tears here. Who the hell lets me write on this kind of music this late at night?
Moving on. "Towers" almost didn't play for me because Spotify's being weird about me pausing and starting tracks. -_- Jerks. Okay, listening straight through, then we'll get back to videos. So, vocals are a little high on this one, but I like the movement of this piece. It's a little more contemporary, and probably the one people would know in the concerts. It just has that feel. The drums add in this kickin' beat that folk music has so uniquely to itself.
My question throughout this song was "where did that legit guitar rock sound come from?" It's not like what we've been hearing, unless I missed something along the way. I do like the trip this guy is taking, as simple as the story may be (a walk through the woods then he... well, watch to find out). Again, we have a sense of solitude, while I'm sort of starting to think is the point to this album. It's definitely not one I'd throw on in a party atmosphere.
I don't have an explanation for this, but "Michicant" is totally the song I'm most familiar with for no real reason from this album. It's just got the most familiar sound. Again, we get a very natural sound, as though we're meant to listen to this amongst the trees, but the usage of instruments and voices gets interesting without being overwhelming. The up-turns of the vocals are almost like birds taking off from the branches... see where I go at the weird times of night?
Ha! Trees! I was right. *ahem* Okay, composure here. This is a rather solemn video, and the moments of just watching dripping water are actually sort of fascinating, probably because of the music accompaniment. Again, I want to be that guy swinging the lights..
"Hinnom, TX" has this almost... how do I put this.. I feel like we're under water, not in the good ol' state. It's wafty in an unexpected way, given the title, but maybe it's supposed to be on the wind. The echo usage worked so well at the beginning of the track, to a point where I had to stop what I was doing and strictly listen. But then the voices got to be too much.
I guess we're going with winds of Texas for this one after all. That driving/sub image is pretty great as a lead in. The whole thing is really a simple view, but it's appropriate given the track.
"Wash." (and there's a period at the end of the song title, so shut up grammer/punctuation crazy friends) is back to the higher pitches but with this light airy piano in the background. There's this interesting point a little while in where what I can only label as a vocal bridge builds, and you begin to thing there's going to be some intensity, but no worries, we remain calm.
Oh, feet in the sand intro. No, wait, there's the water. This is kind of interesting imagery, mostly because you rarely view this place with such condensed vision, but with blinders on, the ocean seems so much more intense. I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way - but I kind of want to drown after seeing this video, but I mean that in a really weirdly good way.
"Calgary" immediately sounds like a Sing song - just the opening chords. The organ's a little intimidating as an instrument on any song, so the sound of it on something like this wasn't entirely welcoming. The slight drum that comes in does help things though. Actually the song picks up a lot as it goes on, almost enough to be classified as a lite rock song. It's kind of interesting, the progression of it I mean. That is not the direction I expected.
All right, I'll admit it. This weirded me out on first watch. It's cool how they made her come out of the picture, but the initial look was strange. In watching it, I can only imagine the direction going on on set, and am kind of giggling a litte. Can't help it - yay artsy visions. Not that it's a bad thing at all - it's all quite lovely.
At only a minute and a half long, if you're not paying attention, you might miss "Lisbon, OH." It almost sounds like a film score piece, meant to be behind something, not on as a track. Almost like a cleanse-the-pallet track before the big finish (my foodie friend could better term that than I can right now).
Like I said, pallet cleanser. Or hallway to the end. Your choice. God I get punchy when I write late.
The final song is "Beth/Rest." Oh sweet jesus that is an 80's ballad sound leading in if I've ever heard one. Damn it, I thought this was indie folk?? Even the saxophone? How did we get here? This isn't bad sounding, but doesn't leave the best taste in my mouth for the album's end.
Yup, threw in a live performance because I found one high up on the list. Too bad it's not for a better song. Oh well. Actually, strike that - this is much better live that recorded. Way to pump up the hit a little here guys!
Added to My Playlist:
I liked it, honestly. It was an interesting album, but maybe needed the visuals or else is only good in the right setting. Even then, I'm left with the feeling that I need to be less-that-sober to completely appreciate this, though I liked the experience as a whole. Truly something different that the latest posts have been providing. Nicely done.