I’ve been going back and listening to some older stuff, so none of my songs for September are, um, new.
Shiver by Coldplay
This came on the radio the other day (I listen to RadioBDC because it’s streaming and it’s awesome and they just play pretty much whatever they want, within the alt/indie rock genres.) It was a surprise because I don’t think this was a single? Or if it was, it never got played much. But it was lovely to hear.
Parachutes, the album this is off of, is, as far as I’m concerned, the best Coldplay album. And yes, I am one of those people who genuinely likes Coldplay and feels zero guilt over that. Why would you? They’re a very good band, and they also seem to be very kind people. I like kindness.
Anyway. I was in high school when this album came out, and while my friends listened to Avril Lavigne, I listened to, and obsessed, over this. I was that kid. It’s Coldplay’s first album, and I think it’s just superb. And Shiver is a really intriguing song. Admittedly, it gets a bit lost for me in the mix of so many other excellent songs—I love Trouble, I adore Spies, and Parachutes itself is amazingly gorgeous. So it was really great to hear Shiver by itself, because it just highlighted what an amazing song it is.
Now, I also noticed that it’s basically a creepy stalker song, so. I mean.
(Oh, geez, I’ve just Googled it, and it was the first single in the UK and the second in the US. Well, it never got played on the radio in Phoenix, let’s go with that. Our radio stations are terrible.
Wikipedia also says it sounds like Jeff Buckley’s Grace. Personally, I haven’t ever heard that… although I wasn’t really looking… OHHHH, nope, yup, I hear it. Wow. How did I miss that. Well. I still like the song very much on its own merit.
Gosh, the internet is a deep dark hole. *falls in*)
ANYWAY. Despite this being a creepy stalker song, or possibly even because of it, I really love both the sound of this and the lyrics. The vocals are decadent, Chris Martin’s voice sharp and rich. The drumming is incredibly good. Like, you don’t think Coldplay and then immediately think excellent drumming—that’s just not what they’re known for. But this is so perfect—so complex but so subtle, never overshadowing any other part of the song. But also it sounds like it would be tons of fun to play. And the whole of the song is just… beautifully constructed, balanced and intriguing, slightly dramatic but overall so easy to listen to. Great dynamics, very crisp guitar, and all of it’s so beautifully recorded.
Amongster by Polica
I listened to this song a lot while I wrote my first several books. It’s probably not a coincidence that right around the time I started writing books, I was also getting back into listening to new music. I’d had… a weird couple of years where music was actually painful, and I listened to very little. And this was basically really bad for me, because music and writing are the things that make me feel alive, and for a period of time, I had stopped doing both. Anyway. I was writing my first few books (all of which I threw out—I rewrote two from scratch later) and then Half. And Polica was one of the bands I’d found right around them, and I listened to their stuff tons while I wrote.
They’re very atmospheric. And this song is one of my favorites of theirs. It’s drifty and dreamy, and the vocals are all over the place—I have no idea what she’s saying for most of the song. But it packs quite a punch, too. It has a heaviness to it, a denseness, that I really love. There’s such depth here, in the sound, and the lyrics, and the drumming, oh my god. (Polica has two drummers, which I think is sheer ridiculousness, for them. I’ve seen a few bands do two drummers really well, and utilize that correctly, and make it worthwhile to haul around two drum sets. Polica doesn’t do that—usually, their drummers play the same exact thing. I guess you could argue that this gives the music that extra layer, some of that denseness of sound. But, A) you could just loosen your snares, and you’d get almost the same effect, especially since these drummers do SO much snare work, and B) Polica uses a recorded backing track with every single song, live. So you could just play over a recorded drum track. It makes no sense. But I still love them. And I still love the drumming in this song. Sorry for the… odd detour.) Anyway. This song is awesome. It builds and builds and builds and finally almost bursts into this… flight of sound. It’s lovely and heady and it makes me feel refreshed after I’ve listened to it.
And it’s fantastic to write to.
Human Sadness by Julian Casablancas and the Voidz
I don’t… think I’ve written about this one before? I meant to, but then I think I switched it out for another song.
Julian Casablancas is most well-known as the lead singer of The Strokes. After Albert Hammond Jr. went and did his own record, I guess… Julian wanted to, also, and he got together a band he called The Voidz, and they came out with this beautiful, amazing, odd thing, which I love to pieces. It’s 11 minutes of the most pure awesomeness ever.
I’m not… sure exactly how to explain this song, or break it down into things that could be talked about, because it’s all over the place, musically and stylistically. You’ve got Julian singing, all distorted and wobbly, which really works, and his signature guitar sounds everywhere—which also work beautifully—and lots of keyboard stuff, and random noises, and… I think… video game sounds, and scary laughter, and a truly gorgeous bass, and thumpy drumming that sounds fantastic… and somewhere in the middle the song kind of… breaks in half and becomes something entirely different… And yet it all manages to be very cohesive, so it all, all together, sounds perfect. And very much like a song and not like a mess, which by all rules and concepts of music, it should sound like. But it doesn’t.
It’s a great song for honestly any time or mood. I listen to it when I’m writing. When I’m in the car. When I’m drumming. When I feel good or bad, and I always end the song feeling… clean, in a way. I love this song so much I wrote an entire scene in Escaping Indigo around it. I think… I’m pretty sure I cut it in an early draft. (I can almost never remember what actually makes it into a book.) But, err. Yeah.
It’s like… someone took a band, and all of their emotions, all this heartache and joy and confusion and fear and wonder and frustration and darkness and lightness, and stuffed it all into a box. And kept cramming it in and cramming it in until it EXPLODED. And that explosion is Human Sadness.