I’ve really been trying to come up with stuff to blog about because… I like blogging and I think it’s sort of important. So I thought, since I have a series coming out about a band, and since I LOVE MUSIC OMG LET ME TALK TO YOU ABOUT SONGS, I might do a little bit of writing about three songs I’m listening to a lot right now.
Friendship (Is a Small Boat in a Storm) by Chicano Batman
This is possibly the best thing I’ve ever heard. It’s… crazy. Super high vocals, synth riffs (which occasionally breaks into this jagged, strange upward pulse,) a nice funky beat that almost makes it sound dated, but doesn’t. And whistling. There’s whistling. It shouldn’t all work together to make something that’s not only catchy but very listenable and seriously enjoyable, but it does. And I love these lyrics. I mean. They’re hilarious. But also decidedly bitter. Friendship in all its possible rockiness. *gathers up good friends who keep my small boat steady* I’d never heard of this band before I came across this song on the radio. Turns out they’ve been around for almost ten years. Will definitely be watching for more of their stuff.
In Cold Blood by alt-J
I recced alt-J’s first single, 3WW, off their forthcoming album, Relaxer, in my newsletter. This is the second single, and it’s completely different, in tone and feel and sound and just… everything, than 3WW. 3WW is about (for me, and this is something I love about alt-J, that their lyrics have intense meaning but can also be interpreted a number of different ways) err, learning how to hook up and have sex. And all the tumbling emotions and feelings that go with that. It’s beautiful and sort of… smoky dark and starlit, with these up and down dynamics that create this intense but nearly mellow, lovely atmosphere. (And it has the line, “The road erodes at five feet per year, along England’s east coastline,” which, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, hits me in all the right places.)
In Cold Blood, on the other hand, is about… a murder? I think it’s about a murder. And it’s bizarre and bold and loud, except for where the title is sung, and Joe (the lead singer’s) voice hangs crystal clear by itself to say ‘In cold blood.’ The music is dark, all the backing vocals creating this great depth, and the lyrics are a lot of lying in the sun by the pool, and this “la la la” is going on, but they’re chilling. And I’m just so pleased that this A) sounds so incredibly like alt-J, but also sounds incredibly different than anything I’ve heard by them, and B) sounds completely different than 3WW. And also, of course, that it’s insanely good. Like, ridiculously good. I haven’t been so eager for an album… since the last alt-J album dropped. If these two songs are anything to go by, it’s going to be dynamic and experimental and rich and gorgeous.
This video is all flickery—well worth listening to, but watch your eyes. Alt-J has the worst videos.
In a Black Out by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
This was such a surprise of a song for me. It came out of a collaboration by two musicians whose bands I’m not particularly fond of. Hamilton Leithauser fronted the band The Walkmen and, err… they’re difficult to listen to. Harsh and raw and a bit unfocused—and sometimes very good: I love the song The Rat—but for the most part just not my cup of tea. Rostam, on the other hand, was a member of Vampire Weekend. I totally respect Vampire Weekend for making music people love, and for being excellent musicians (another member of the band had a solo album that was quite good, too.) But. I saw them live once, at a festival, and that was when I got up to get a drink. They’re just not for me.
This sounds like a lot of negging, and I don’t mean that. It’s just that, as much as I think both of these people make music that’s probably awesome, it’s not my thing. So I didn’t expect them to write a song that I absolutely loved.
But In a Black Out is… not what I expected. (And I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to the rest of the album yet, so I’m not sure what the other songs are like. The first single was too repetitive for my taste, though.) It’s… plaintive and lonely and beautiful in a simple, stark way. It’s odd and it doesn’t sound like anything else I’m hearing on the radio right now. And Hamilton’s voice is just so rough and perfect for the mood. He does this… tiny pausing and pulling with the lyrics. Like he’s pushing at the pocket of the tempo. It’s perfect. And the (very simple) drum beat that comes in at the end is tight and it drives the song, so at the end, you feel… sort of refreshed. It’s lovely. I’m listening to this a ton as I write.