Music Videos (Appreciation Post #7)

I had never heard of The Arctic Monkeys before I started using Pandora. I’m not sure what my “station” was that started peppering in their songs but this was before they released their album AM. This initial experience was an unpleasant one.

I’ve heard some of their earlier songs since spending time with AM and I’ve come to like them but none tickle my fancy as much as “Do I Wanna Know” or “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”.

When those songs were released I found myself driving around Plattsburgh, New York quite a bit, often at night and somehow they fit my mood. Upbeat tempos for rather sad songs. It was a bittersweet time for me and coming across AM did not feel accidental.

I’m including the music video for “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” because I think highly of the song. The video is so-so. I like the concept but I’m not so sure the execution takes it to a higher level. I think this could have been a much more interesting video, especially since I’ve seen many the band have made before and after this. They clearly work with talented people and like to make interesting videos.

I give them bonus points for beginning the video with “Do I Wanna Know” playing in the background.

Recently I’ve found myself listening to and watching their more recent work, in particular “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”. It’s an odd song, one that I disliked when I first heard it. One day I found myself singing it when washing the dishes and ever since  I’ve enjoyed it. They went in a unique direction for their video and I think it is worth watching.

Music Mondays #7

Let me attempt to brighten your Monday with a little soul.

Hi there!

So last week was a bust. Sadly events kept me from posting on Monday and when I could post again it was…no longer Monday. But I’m back. And hopefully so are you.

Today I would like to share a video from Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band. Yet another Burlington, Vermont-based band that I have shamefully neglected! I am attempting to correct this here by sharing (forgive me!) a cover they did of a Destiny’s Child song. What I have heard of their original material is quite wonderful and you should absolutely give them a further listen ( The videos they have posted on Youtube are of excellent quality, both in terms of sound but also video (a rarity!) their channel is here.

It’s not that I actively seek out covers, or covers of songs performed by Beyonce things just seem to be happening that way of late. I will course-correct soon! In the meantime please enjoy this live cover of “Say My Name”.

Music Mondays #7.1

Where I admit to being a poor music writer.

So how is this for making up for last week? Two posts for Music Monday? That’s right, I do it because I care. I wanted to do this minor post to share a review of the recently published book, “Girl in a Band”, by Kim Gordon. Whether you are a fan of Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon or just music in general you should read this review. As someone who could never find the appeal of this band I found my interest more than moderately piqued by this excellent review.

Kristin Dombek writes about music very well. Too well almost. Certainly better than I do which I why I am trying to send you her way. Enjoy!

Music Mondays #6

I make no attempts to be clever or feign music knowledge. Come, watch me point and say, “Ooooh.”

So last week was a bit underwhelming. The truth is I do not get the kind of exposure I would like to new music and trying to post weekly is proving a bit of a challenge. Do I really want to try and dredge up something obscure? Do I play it safe with battle tested bands?

What I had hoped was posting weekly would inspire me to search out new music but truthfully that is not happening. I attempt and most often I fail. I find very little new music that I love. The purpose of these posts is to share music I enjoy and think others will enjoy so it strikes me as absurd to shy away from music and musicians that I know well. That being said…

This week I am writing about Jack White. Kind of a household name at this point, undoubtedly not news to anyone. So why write about him? He’s interesting for one thing. Although I have not listened to The Upholsters (his first band) I am certain some of their music is good. I am mentioning them to explain their exclusion from this post.

The band he is most famous for, The White Stripes, has had plenty said about them already. For a two-piece band I am still shocked when I listen to songs like “Seven Nation Army” that they managed to disguise the instruments being played. For the longest time I would have sworn there was a bass in the song, delivering a bass line that drives the entire song and makes it so memorable.

As much as I like some of the early works of the band it truly is with their final studio album where this band started to evolve into something special. Get Behind me Satan is an excellent album filled with one great song after another. In thinking about what to try and share for this post I have continually changed my mind as to which particular song would best convey the album. Try as I might I cannot shun “The Denial Twist”. I debated using a lesser-known song but this one is too excellent not to share. I would like to point out that this version of the song does not feature the guitar at all, which for this band is a radical departure.

Next I would like to share the theme song that Jack White did with Alicia Keys – “Another Way to Die”. As I have posted earlier I think people should give the film this is attached to another chance (Quantum of Solace). Much like the film this song is a departure for the James Bond franchise. First it is a duet. Second it rocks. Not just a little either. This is a rocking, all out, not for your grandparents kind of song. The type of song I would have thought Chris Cornell would have attempted for the previous film but instead he adapted his singing to the traditional James Bond theme song and gave the world something utterly forgettable.

Whether you love this or hate it you will certainly remember “Another Way to Die”.

Next there is his work with one of his two “supergroups” The Raconteurs. They have released two albums and quite a few excellent songs. So much of the dynamic of The White Stripes, structuring the band around the playing style of Meg White, shaped what the band could do. With the Raconteurs these limitations are gone and the results are most enjoyable. Jack White shares lead vocal duties with Brendon Benson. Both of them bring something unique to the band and the songs where they alternate are quite good. There is not much more I can say, the band has a lot of talent and their sound is much more mainstream than The White Stripes.

The other “supergroup” which shares members with The Raconteurs, is The Dead Weather. Their sound is stranger, their music at turns more aggressive and contemplative but I find equally interesting and rewarding. They, too, have recorded two albums and released numerous videos of interest. One of their more accessible songs, “I Cut Like a Buffalo” has two videos. Both are odd. I am opting to share a different video here in the hope that since this post contains so many that I can get a little arty with you and it will be okay.

Finally we have Jack White recording music as a solo artist. I find the two albums he has recorded to be much like the early White Stripes records. They contain some excellent songs but they are, largely, uneven. I am posting one of the slower songs here because he does this just as well as the heavy, angst-ridden tracks we all know so well.

So that’s it, my rather long post about the bands of Jack White. I find him to be an inspiring and interesting musician at a time when most confuse or bore me. His company, Third Man Records, is devoted to breathing new life and interest in vinyl which is something I whole-heartedly support (if you have not seen it the documentary – “The Distortion of Sound” might win you over to the cause). His commitment to the pageantry and showmanship of his profession is commendable and I am thankful someone like Jack White is still out there doing his thing.

If you have not seen the documentary, “It Might Get Loud” I highly recommend it. Not only do you get to spend time with Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge but you get to see the three together talking and playing some music. It was this film that took my piqued my interest regarding Jack White. It might just do the same for you, too.

Music Mondays #5

Music Mondays #5 – Where I say little and possibly offend an island nation.

Once upon a time I tried, really tried to use Pandora to discover new music. I added numerous artists to my channels and listened for hours at a time hoping I would come across some new, wonderful music. Sadly I found very few new songs I liked and I found that after a few hours of listening Pandora ran out of selections.

Despite the lackluster experience Pandora did clue me into a few bands I did not previously know of. One, The Arctic Monkeys, cropped up on multiple channels. Oddly the songs that were played were very much not to my liking. I am not quite sure how the algorithm went from Beck or The Black Keys to these Brit Pop songs but it did. So after a plethora of thumbs down votes I no longer had to sit through songs I did not like but the band name stuck in my mind.

Last year when driving around aimlessly and flipping, at a near constant pace, through the radio stations I came across a new Arctic Monkey’s song – “Do I Wanna Know?” It was good. Not great but good. Catchy, with a nice beat, not overly British. I like it. Soon after I heard another song from their new album, this one is titled, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” Again, it’s a solid song. It isn’t amazing, but there is certainly something to it that makes me listen whenever I hear it playing. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the lyrics or the straightforward, plaintive tone. The sincerity of the song is very appealing to me and I think if you give it a chance you might find it to your liking as well.

So for this Monday I am sharing two songs from the same band (I figure two good songs is a worthwhile thing to share)-

Music Mondays #4

A music post where I let the music do the talking.

I am not a dance music person. The reason is fairly simple: I don’t dance. That being said occasionally I come across a song that strikes me as being “dance music” that I think makes for good, stationary listening.

Jungle Drum – by Emilana Torrini is one of these songs. I am not sure what she considers her music to be but for me this is an absolute dance song. It is quirky, fun and upbeat. It is impossible to listen to this without tapping your toe or bobbing your head. Often I engage in my only form of dancing, chair dancing, while I listen to this song.

A few years ago it was used in a promotional video for Iceland that is a perfect marriage of music and images. If you did not have the urge to visit Iceland I think you just might after watching this video.

Music Mondays #3

A long post that contains….quotes!

A while back a friend recommended the band Haim to me. I had not heard of them but within a few minutes of searching I was perplexed: this was a band comprised of three young women, sisters, who made some kind of music…

I say some kind of music because even after listening to a few songs it was not terribly clear. Apparently I am not the only person to feel this way. A quick visit to the Wikipedia page for Haim offers up a few nuggets.

Haim (pronounced hy-əm[1][a] and stylized as HAIM) is an American pop rock band from Los AngelesCalifornia. The band consists of three sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, and drummer Dash Hutton. The group’s pop sound on their studio work stands in contrast to the more rock-based music of their live shows

Haim has been compared the 1970s soft-rock band Fleetwood Mac, though the group say they are “squeamish” about this comparison and insist they are influenced by more recent music.[50] According to Metro, their music sounds like folk-rock “with a few R&B/hip-hop stylings thrown in for good measure”.[51]

Though he (Hutton, the drummer for the band) declines to appear in press and publicity photos, he is nevertheless a full-time member of the band.[4]

So first of all, I feel better about me for not really getting their sound. Apparently what they recorded does not sound like what they play live and when they are asked to describe their sound they pretty much snatch up everything except country. Okay then.

Second, and it is not all that important, I find it odd that this band is marketed as three sisters making music when there is a fourth member who appears nowhere. Is it just me? I find this odd. I only learned he existed after looking at this page. Moving on.

Since my friend recommended the band to me I gave them more of a try than I usually would had I just encountered this music on my own. After four or five songs I was, to put it mildly, not interested. The comparison they disliked so much, to Fleetwood Mac is far beyond what this studio album deserves. They should be so lucky to make soothing/interesting/enjoyable music like Fleetwood.

Rather than run them down, which is not the point of Music Monday’s, I am happy to report that I came across a song that I enjoy. It is an odd song, one that I am unable to put my finger on and if I found myself trying to recommend this song to strangers I would be hard pressed to define. They refer to what they did as:

“My Song 5” as “ripping off” Justin Timberlake.[7]

Justin Timberlake has never had this much testosterone in one of his songs. It is an odd, funky strangely put together number that has a very “masculine” guitar riff and an aggressive beat that carries everything along with it. There are two versions of the song and  I prefer the one without the guest appearance from A$ap Ferg because his lyrics are wildly out of place. I am hoping that he wrote them for another piece of music and they were incorporated without anyone paying too much attention. My guess is I am wrong.

I am linking the version he does not appear in, although I have to admit, it does feel a bit empty in places. If I had to rate this song I would give it a four out of five and that is because there is a quality to it that I cannot put my finger on. I think it is good. I am not positive but I think so.

Music Mondays #2

The second installment of Music Mondays and I did it again, not an original version of a song!

Hi there. So, this week I want to highlight the song Jolene, by Dolly Parton. Only, the version I am sharing is a slowed down one that for some reason is called “Slow Ass Jolene” on Youtube. Classy, I know.

For me Country music has no appeal. I have heard very little that I have like and it is, without a doubt, the only style of music I truly have a bias against. I wish this were not the case but it is. I mention this because prior to hearing this version of the song, which when you listen seems to be sung by a man with a very unusual voice, I cannot say I ever gave Dolly Parton much thought as a songwriter/singer. After hearing this I cannot help but feel I have been an idiot.

There are so many things that are impressive about this song. First, to have your vocals slowed and to have the song still work has to be a freakish anomaly. There is an eerie, otherworldly quality to her vocals when played at this speed and I find it does not diminish the more I listen to the song. The slower tempo, as well, strikes me as a marked improvement over the original. When I compare the two versions the original seems almost frantic which is in opposition to the story being told. At this speed the song feels conversational, almost as though we are listening in on the exchange between the two women (or strange man and woman with this version) and it is haunting.

All of this is just my humble opinion but I think anyone who listens to the song (whichever version) will agree that the songwriting is quite excellent. Direct, open and heartbreaking – this is a very moving song and I am grateful that due to a television show using this version of the song (The Blacklist) I am able to get past my bias and experience it. I hope you get to as well.

Music Mondays #1

Hi there!

In keeping with the whole, “I should post more” theme I have decided to start Music Mondays. To begin I want to share a video of a band called Grace Potter and The Nocturnals. Now this is weird because I am sharing a cover they did (of a song by Beyonce no less). I really like the music of Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, and the fact that they come from Vermont gives them a big boost in my book. I only recently heard them, which is why I am sharing something (kind of) from them today. Make sense?

Each Monday I plan to share something music-related that I like. Think of this as my answer to Hatesong. Rather than call it Lovesong I am calling it Music Mondays to give me a bit of freedom. I am going to attempt to seek out new (to me) music to share so that this is interesting for me and hopefully for you.

What I especially like about this song is that they altered how they typically cover “Why Don’t You Love Me” for this particular performance. I have heard the electric version and I think this one is better. I do not really understand the love and devotion so many have for Beyonce but I can say hearing this song performed by someone other than her gives me pause. I like how simple and direct the lyrics are. They feel very raw and honest and Grace Potter really nails the vocals.

This video also has an interview portion after the performance where Grace Potter discusses why they chose this song and I think it is worth watching, too. Enjoy.