Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Consolação - Herbie Mann and João Gilberto

This track is some very smooth bossa nova.

Just flute guitar and a little percussion, this is as smooth as smooth gets. The flute, (to my continuing shame I cannot work out if it is bass or alto flute) is desperately smooth and silky and slinky and sexy and the guitar is light and beautiful. The percussion is unpredictably syncopated and very minimal.

Herbie Mann is a great great jazz flautist and this is off an album I have of his called 'Do the bossa nova' and it is just divine.

The tune here is so unhurried. It just floats along. The solos are also modal, in the dorian mode with a strong emphasis on the major chord IV occurs in that mode and this makes it so beautifully elegant.

Pay Attention to:
The graceful guitar solo at the beginning; it is elegance.
The smoky flute sound. When the flute finally floats upward to the top of its range, it is just the most gorgeous moment.
The subtlety of the percussion. No bar is accented the same as any other bar. Genius.

Why you should be listening to this right now:
It is the loveliest background music for a sleep afternoon or quiet/intimate evening and I love how raw this is. It is unassuming and not at all overproduced.

The youtube vid is not amazing quality, but it is still beautiful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Such Thing - John Mayer

It is Friday afternoon and it is sunny and memory lane is just around the corner. Today had a smell that tugged on my memory; more specifically it dredged up recollections of the final days of the year at my first high school. I remember a smell that was a combination of dust and cut grass and sweat and excitement that came with the beginning of summer and the end of school and today I got a whiff of that exact smell.

The first time that I heard this song was when it was the soundtrack for a silly catwalk thing that a design student had organised, but the song stuck in my head as the soundtrack to a summer afternoon, or more specifically the Friday afternoon when school has finished, (which for me it just has...)

Ok - So I know a few of you might say...'But.. John Mayer?' with a tone of voice that would imply that he is not worthy of my attention. Ladies and Gentlemen this could not be further from the truth.

Mayer is first and foremost a quite dazzlingly good guitarist. You cannot deny this. He plays his parts and writes the songs and they are sexy..(listen to 'Neon' on the Room for Squares).
He also has that lovely smoky voice which really hits the spot, and unlike many guitarist pop song writers, his songs are interesting.

Mayer borrows a lot from jazz and blues and (I read in a recent interview) that his favourite guitarist is Stevie-Ray Vaughan, can't go wrong there.

I recommend listening to the whole of this album - each song is different and interesting.


Why you should be listening to this right now:
It is not so indie that it is too cool for daggy people like me (and you..)

It is not so poppy and over produced that all it is good for is taking your shirt off in a club to it

It is unassuming and easy to listen to and yet rewarding to listen to... there are layers of sound that reveal themselves with further listening.

Pay Attention to:
That cute little major 7 riff at the beginning
John Mayer's sexy voice
The lyrics... which actually have a somewhat impressionistic flow which I always like.

In the music video.. make sure to notice how Mayer does not look like he belongs to his own voice...


Friday, September 10, 2010

El Mañana - Gorillaz

Hey Blog buddies,

Today we are listening to Gorillaz. You probably all know this song, or at least one of the songs of this album.

This song is sad. The music is sad and the song has a certain poignant hopelessness. El Mañana means 'tomorrow' in Spanish, and this song seems to project a dystopic tomorrow where beauty is destroyed to make way for progress.

This is part of the Album 'Demon Days' which is quite inspired as poppy albums go. Instead of being a series of disconnected singles that are mass produced for quick sale, this album is a concept album. Almost a continuous track, the songs of the album lead into each other and seem to paint a portrait of a futuristic and possibly post apocalyptic world.

The band are well known for their habit of never appearing in their video-clips, but using their
invented cartoon personas. The video-clips for the whole album make use of common themes and characters; the floating windmill among others.

This whole idea seems to borrow from the Japanese anime tradition; it reminds me rather of a combination of say Nausica - Valley of the Winds and maybe one of the animated Highlander videos.

Anyways, El Mañana is one of the more depressing songs but the juxtaposition between the layers of syncopated and un-syncopated rhythms really give this song some groove.

Why you should be listening to this right now?
Gorillaz move within a very conventional music medium; namely electronic pop, and yet they make it interesting and really do approach the music from a very conceptual-artistic perspective - how many other pop bands create a fantastic world like this and then integrate it all into a concept album.

Pay attention to:
- The descending chord progression which contributes to the hopelessness.
- The beauty within this song. The contrasts of sounds and the male vocals really create a sort of delicate beauty; I have a mental image of something like; a bird flying over the carnage of a deserted muddy battlefield.

This goes well with:
Other Gorillaz. Japanese anime.