December 28, 2009
ART OF SONG
Don’t Fear The Reaper [Holy Ghost’s B-Live Mix]
2009 | BACARDI B-LIVE Free Downloads
The year is drawing to a close. I can’t speak for you (though oh, how I try!), but I’m getting ready to put on my sparkliest outfit and go out to some lame New Years party where I will inevitably drink too much and end up trying to kiss too many people when the clock strikes midnight. That’s how I roll.
Do you know what’s as earnestly convoluted as my New Year’s intentions? The Holy Ghost remix of Van She’s cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” (See, I told you it was convoluted.) But as convoluted as this mixture seems (a remix of a cover) it’s really quality. The work and care is present, hence the earnestness of this equation. This wasn’t Van She just crapping out a cover, and Holy Ghost deciding they’ll fuck around with it a little. There appears to be actual effort here, which is something I can certainly appreciate.
A fairly mellow remix (to be fair, “Don’t Fear The Reaper” isn’t exactly a booty-shaking jam), I would imagine this would enter the New Year’s party rotation after the ball dropped, when people are still going, but not with quite the enthusiasm they were previously. A collective breather, if you will.
Van She doesn’t really take too many risks with this cover, instead going with the flow and sticking to the roots of the original. Holy Ghost throws in enough of a backbeat to keep you moving. And it intensifies, hitting the first peak around 1:50, throwing in some swelling piano in the background to add a little drama.
More on Van She | Don’t Fear The Reaper [Holy Ghost’s B-Live Mix]
December 4, 2009
ART OF SONG
The King Khan and BBQ Show
2009 | In the Red
Let’s be honest. Someone says “Animal Party.” What do you think about? Some new lame board game for children? Animal House-style frat parties? Furries? (I thought of Furries.)
But no. In an almost Flaming Lips-esque jump into surrealistic honesty, “Animal Party” is about, in a nutshell, a party with animals. Cows, chickens, elephants…everybody is hanging out.
After The King Khan and BBQ Show’s recent, now infamous, kerfuffle with the law, (though, to be fair, it was actually their manager that had what I, Brooklyn Vegan, and the rest of the world are betting are shrooms), it makes sense that they would throw a party wild enough that farm animals were invited.
Although, I’ll tell you right now, when it comes to throwing down with the fauna, The Whitest Kids U’Know did it first. They were “Getting High with Dinosaurs” back in 2008.
More on The King Khan and BBQ Show | “Animal Party”
November 20, 2009
ART OF SONG
“Let Us Be Loving (KidKanevil Remix)”
Let Us Be Loving
2009 | Six Degrees
Hey you know what’s awesome? Amy Winehouse’s breast implant exploded. Okay, maybe that’s not so awesome. You know what WOULD be awesome? If there were some British singer with a powerful voice, you know, like Amy Winehouse…except not completely nuts. Well, okay, there are a couple of those, I suppose. But I’ve got another to add to the list. Alice Russell. And her hair is a lot less scary than Amy Winehouse’s. Trust me. I mean come on, I think things live in there.
“Let Us Be Loving” could be just another Duffy or Joss Stone track, but the light percussion on the KidKanevil remix really allows Alice Russell’s vocal prowess to shine. Let’s be real here, by the time she gets to the chorus of “let us be loving,” sung with old-school soul and backing vocalists behind it, I’m a little thankful for the hip-hop propulsion that keeps everything moving.
It all starts to pick up with a pleasantly beepy background that does not overwhelm Russell (as if vocals like that could really be overwhelmed). Then all it takes is “right” and “true” spoken by someone who is obviously more thuggy than me, and we’re getting into remix territory. You don’t need to add in a whole rap sequence, there is enough in the song to keep you interested.
More on Alice Russell | “Let Us Be Loving (KidKanevil Remix)”
November 9, 2009
ART OF SONG
Marina and the Diamonds
2009 | 679/Warner Bros.
I think I need a break. Do you? Everything just seems to be stuck in a repetitive grind as I hold my breath, cross my fingers, and pray for Thanksgiving so I can have a brief reprieve (although that will mean a trip to the middle of nowhere [read: no cell phone reception] to see family, but I can cross that rickety country covered bridge when I get to it). I need something that’s going to shake me up a little, something that can, if even just for a moment, make me forget the massive amounts of papers I have to write and the fact that it’s cold, and everyone is just kind of blah, and all the other depressing S.A.D. (as in seasonal affective disorder) shit that gets you down.
You know what I need? I need a song with a music video that looks like the “Single Ladies” dance as envisioned by Michel Gondry. I need cuckoo noises and nonsense lyrics about spoons and forks. I need “Mowgli’s Road” by the U.K.’s Marina and the Diamonds.
Opening with those cuckoo noises I just mentioned, at first blush you can tell “Mowgli’s Road” is going to be different enough to at least break the glaze that has inevitably formed in your eyes. Welsh singer Marina Diamondis has a pleasing voice, and has been compared to Kate Bush, but, in all honesty, this song reminds me more of something Santigold would do (although the music video may be coloring my judgment, it’s hard to say).
More on Marina and the Diamonds | “Mowgli’s Road”
October 23, 2009
ART OF SONG
“(She’s So) Electric”
(She’s So) Electric EP
2009 | Zairecords
The fuses in my apartment’s bathrooms blew this week. You have not experienced inconvenience until you have had to repeatedly pee and shower and do your makeup (not at the same time, please) in the dark. Oh, plus our microwave died. And so did my computer.
It’s been a bad week for me electronics-wise. So I was thinking about electricity. It does good things for us. We rely on it for all kinds of crazy stuff. Is it any wonder people write songs about it? (Or, in reality, write songs using electricity as a metaphor for being crazy awesome. Or crazy and awesome. Or just crazy.)
The Dead Weather wonder “Are Friends Electric?” Eddy Grant meanders down “Electric Avenue.” And what wedding/bar mitzvah/funeral would be complete without the “Electric Slide”? Now The Greening, a San Francisco-based band, can add their names to the list of those harnessing the power of electricity for songwriting.
More on The Greening | “(She’s So) Electric”
October 16, 2009
ART OF SONG
Christy & Emily
2009 | Big Print
Open up the toy box of your mind. Lift the heavy lid and slide it back, and since this is probably something that hasn’t been opened in years, give the dust some time to settle. Take out the Legos and teddy bears and toy guns (are those even allowed anymore?) and put them aside. They’re not what we’re looking for.
There should be a little box, down towards the bottom. You probably never played with it because, in all honesty, it’s a pretty shitty toy. But you should pull that box out now, and, again, since it’s been years, give that key on the bottom a couple of twists.
Open it up. Do you hear that familiar tinkly refrain? Do you see that little ballerina in her tiny tulle tutu endlessly turning? Yes, I made you pull out your old music box. But I had a reason.
Brooklyn duo Christy & Emily must have had that exact same music box. The one you and I and everyone has hidden somewhere. And I think they might have been listening to it when they started writing “Lover’s Talk”. Because it sounds like music box music reimagined by an indie folk band. That’s the metaphor today. Write it down, there may be a quiz later.
More on Christy & Emily |“Lover’s Talk”
October 9, 2009
ART OF SONG
Dinosaurs in Vietnam Presents: Save Our Heads For the Future Compilation # 1
2009 | Dinosaurs in Vietnam
Oh hey, do you know what the world needs more of? Songs about getting really fucked up with your friends. There aren’t enough of those. Enter Bonus Eventus.
Though the Dinosaurs in Vietnam compilation came out October 1st, and Bonus Eventus’ album, ¡Cañaceros!, will not be released until late November, “Rough Housing” is a song for warmer weather – think rooftop smoke-outs and backyard keggers. But perhaps the song, along with whatever substance you choose to imbibe, will help keep you warm as this bitter weather starts to rage upon us.
Opening with almost Youth & Young Manhood-era Kings of Leon guitar work and vocals (though just slightly more decipherable), “Rough Housing” starts off with drawn out moaning over fast-paced and upbeat instrumentalism. An “oh-whoa” backing vocal slides in, to really complete the whole indie-rock-circa-2003 pastiche. Don’t get me wrong though, 2003 was a great year for indie rock. Truly.
More on Bonus Eventus | “Rough Housing”
October 2, 2009
ART OF SONG
The Middle East
“The Darkest Side”
The Recordings of The Middle East
2009 | Spunk
If you’re in New York right now, you know that there is already that melancholia of winter in the air. After an unseasonably cool summer, I looked around today, and saw an anxiousness in the peacoats and wool hats already pulled over other New Yorkers. Maybe we feel like we’re in for a harsh winter, and might as well get used to it. Maybe, though, as the decade comes to a close, we are starting to attempt sorting out how exactly we came into the 2000s with a millennial push in our collective step, and how, just ten years later, you can almost see us limping out. Cold is harsh punishment, and it feels like we deserve it.
In some way, it’s this thought that’s been motivating what I’ve been listening to recently; New Years seems like a strange time to reflect on things like that; it is intrinsically linked to looking forward instead of back. Instead it’s usually fall easing into winter. And, in the search for new music that gets this sense just right, I’ve come back mostly empty eared. It seems like most noteworthy bands this year are clinging to summer – Brooklyn tropical garage bands like Small Black and Beach Fossils are just now gearing up for their releases (both of which are quite good, and we’ll be seeing reviews of soon). And, just as I resigned that I would write about one of those bands for this week’s Art of Song, I stumbled on Australia’s The Middle East (a fitting title when thinking about putting a cap on this decade), and their song, “The Darkest Side.”
Finger-plucked guitars stand alone for a few seconds, till breathy, slightly falsetto-ed lyrics quiver into the melody. “Love/ Was the air in your mother’s lungs/ When her father tore her fences down/ plastic bags and your Panadol was out.” Panadol, another brand name for Tylenol, lingers with you for just a second – there’s a resignation that takes place, hopelessness in accepting that nothing will really dull the pain.
More on The Middle East | “The Darkest Side”