Songs: Getting the Young Ones Involved

Hello all,

One new trend I’ve noticed in alt rock the past few years is the inclusion of many singers, particularly a group of youths, in a quality song. At first, I wasn’t in favor of it as I often am reminded of the gawd-awful songs I had to sing as a youngster in music class. Rather than listen it closely, I felt all of those crappy memories of singing about who knows what…(I can’t even remember, uh…Christmas elves or something probably) coming back to me and that made me quickly turn the radio dial. But despite my original prognosis, you CAN combine quality, alternative music with a group of young singers to make something pretty special. I notice it’s usually a group, almost never do you hear a solo youth artist. And that ‘s probably a good thing because I’ve seen that before and know what evil can come of that…

JUST SAY NO!

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little…Okay, moving on, these next three songs help illustrate my point. The first is one that came out a few years ago. Maybe you’ve already heard it before, but if you haven’t (better yet, if you’re totally new to this artist), you’re in for a treat. The song is “Little Secrets” of off their album Manners. They utilize children doing backing vocals in many of their songs, most notably the popular track “The Reeling” or the more recent “Carried Away”

The song starts out sounding like a video game and has many other sounds throughout that sound like something you’d hear from your Super Nintendo. How the singer manages to sing as high as he does, I have no idea. I can’t imagine how he could do more than one or two shows a week with that style….which is a combination of high AND loud for most of the track. All that said, it is his voice and everything else unique that Passion Pit has done that has drawn my interest. “Little Secrets” features the young ones doing backing vocals during the chorus. They chant “higher and higher and higher.” What do they mean by it? I’m not sure, hopefully it’s something innocent like climbing higher and higher up the jungle gym. That’s probably wishful thinking; considering when I look at the lyrics, drugs appear to be what the singer is referring to. Many key words including the song’s title lead me to this conclusion. Maybe I’m wrong, though. Either way, it’s a hell of a catchy tune.

The next track here is from a group simply named Cults (not to be confused with THE Cult, who had a groovy tune called “She Sells Sanctuary” back in the 80’s). They are still relatively unknown and I, myself, haven’t heard anything from them since their debut self-titled album that was released in 2011. The album was a stellar effort and I implore you to listen to the opening track “Abducted.” That song is not the focus here, however. I’m somewhat cheating with this one as I do not believe Cults uses any vocalists other than the two band members Madeline Follin and Brad Oblivion. After you listen to a few of their songs, you’ll most likely agree with me that Madeline’s voice sounds a lot younger than she actually is. If you’ve never seen her singing, you might mistake her for a teenage girl or something. Maybe it’s just her style; many vocalists have singing voices that are vastly different than how they sound when they talk. Rush’s Geddy Lee is a good example of this (thanks Pavement). You combine it with the dubbing of her voice during the chorus to make it sound like a small ensemble performing, and you get that specific sound that is the reason I classified this song in this category.   “Oh My God” is the track I’m showcasing here. It’s somewhat unusual in that beat if very uplifting but the lyrics are not. Regardless of the mostly pessimistic message I get from the lyrics, I usually feel good after listening to this song.

Youngblood Hawke is a group that, how do you say…I don’t really like. I listened to a few of their songs and don’t really dig the overall mood of most of their productions. It seems a little too overblown and artificial sounding. Despite this, they have created a song I’ve come to like tremendously. I didn’t like it instantly, but after a few listens with the good headphones, I recognized it for what a great song it really is. The band features a lot of youngsters in it for multiple parts of the song. They’re mainly included in the chorus and the post-chorus “Whoa’s” (@2:16) that I think it the best part of the song overall.The lead singers voice isn’t strong in my opinion so it’s the kids vocals that make the song for me. The effort by the entire group is very solid overall and they wrap up the song very nicely with the final chorus sing little musical accompaniment. See what you think and leave your comments on one or all of the tracks…

Okay, from the top everyone. And this time, let’s try not sounding like a complete and utter disgrace.

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Quick Hitters: oldies in present day

You can never have enough keytars…

Hi. If you’re like me, you wonder what things were like back in the 80’s. If that resemblance to me is aged-based then the reason for your inquisitive nature on this decade is attributed to only being around for the tail end of it. Needless to say, I like myself a hefty dose of new wave now and then. There’s the artists that I’m proud to name off as my favorites: Joy Division, The Smiths, Simple Minds. And there’s the others that…uh, despite their image I still liked…A Flock of Seagulls, Mr. Mister, and Wang Chung (Yes, Wang Chung Dammit). Regardless of how cheesy some of them went about their business back then (Flock of Seagulls case in point…Good Gawd,that lead singers hair!), they created catchy, unique songs and paved the way for modern alternative as we know it.

What’s reassuring is that there’s artists out there that are trying to recreate that 80’s sound. These three songs showcase today’s artists ability to bring back those days and with the aid of modern day musical technology, heighten the experience for a truly exceptional new wave experience. The first song I’ve posted is by a pioneer in the revival of 80’s music. He continues to put out good albums and inspire many along the way. His most recent, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, is a masterpiece. Anthony Gonzalez, or M83, successfully made several tracks that have an overall ambient pop sound with plenty of synths and even some saxophone . It all combines to give one awesome trip back to the 80’s. Pay special attention to Gonzalez’s surprisingly excellent vocals and Morgan Kibby’s memorable monologue during the uplifting “Reunion.”

That was fun, now onto our next winner. Jack Tatum’s project Wild Nothing is drawing a lot of attention on the indie scene. I, for one, cannot get into a lot of his work. He does produce that pseudo new wave sound that I’ve made clear I’m practically obsessed with but I find myself disinterested when listening to a lot of his songs.  To me, it’s a lot of loopy singing combined with awkward instrumentals that almost annoy me. Then I heard “Paradise” and it completely changed the way I saw Wild Nothing. It’s quite brilliant for those that won’t let go to their new wave listening roots. The ambiance he creates along with the monotone singing allows for the ultimate trip back in time. My only beef with the song is the minute and a half gap where practically nothing happens besides this weird whaling sound that I guess it supposed to be the feature of that particular segment. But after that’s over, it returns to greatness.

I’ll finish with what I believe is the strongest of all 3 songs showcased here and one of my picks for top artist of 2012. Twin Shadow is put on by George Lewis Jr. He sounds a lot like Eddie Money and right from the beginning of his songs, you’re hooked. Whether it’s his talent in the voice department or the unique, retro sound he has, it makes for something that has been gone from my CD player (vinyl, I wish) for too long! Check out “Run My Heart.” The lyrics are simple and to the point, not overly thoughtful but not really needing to be. Especially when you have the vocal talent that George does. My favorite part is the chorus where he confesses to his and supposed former love interest’s respective genders and the non-relevance of it all in regards to the plight they find themselves in. I hope you enjoyed all these tracks and if you didn’t, I’m very interested to hear your opinion through means of comment postage. Later

Greetings and Salutations

Welcome! I’m glad to have you! The fact that you’re on my blog either means that we may share similar opinions on music or you may know me personally. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy these posts/songs and come back often. I heavily encourage you to leave comments and feel free to recommend me any songs or groups that you are partial to. Now onto the music!

I cannot begin to describe how music has been and continues to be an integral part of my life. It has always been there to help me relax, get me pumped up, or help accentuate the good times I have with friends/family. I feel very fortunate to live in this day and age where we access to music so easily. It’s hard for me to think back to the days where you didn’t have the ability to instantly play a song that you felt like hearing right at that moment. I mean hard in that, it was such a drag when I didn’t own the record and had to stumble upon the song on the radio or by some other means. It was equally saddening when you heard a catchy tune but had no idea what the name of it was or who wrote it. Fortunately, those days are long gone and finding good music is so much easier than it used to be.

I will start off where it all began for me. This blog will mainly be dedicated to showcasing alternative/indie artists and songs, mostly under the radar with some more well known groups mixed in. I’m gonna start things off mainstream but I promise we’ll dive into some more material outside of the spotlight shortly. The first song I posted is “Shine” by Collective Soul. It’s the most well known track from their first album “Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid.” But when I listened to it back in the day, cassette was the format of choice for this kid.

I mainly have my brothers to thank for pointing my musical tastes in the right direction. I would often go through their tapes and CD’s they left behind when they left for college. They must have taken the majority of their good albums with them because there were certainly some questionable purchases that I’m not sure they can defend other than blaming it on their youth. There was some good things left over, though, and the first two songs on my blog were examples.

Ed Roland’s “Shine” was a masterpiece to me back then. I must have rocked out to that tape 200+ times when I was in my early adolescent stages. Roland’s voice along with the melody shifts throughout the song. Despite the generally positive flow that exists throughout the majority of the song, there’s enough guitar (mainly in the bridge) to keep it from sounding like a ballad. The highlight for me is definitely the guitar solo at 2:45. I would probably consider it slightly cheesy nowadays (Reminds me of the hair metal days). But at the stage I was in at the time, I loved it! It was so powerful along with the final minute of the song. It has a trademark Collective Soul sounding finish and ends with the guitar hitting hard. Could never get enough of that awesome track and it will always be one of my favorite songs because of how important it was to me back then.

The second song I posted is from the well known rock group Smashing Pumpkins. There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said in terms of how influential and brilliant this band has been over the years so I won’t even try. However, one song that I never remember getting much love, (considering I first heard just back in 2007, a mere 12 years after the album that featured it was released) was “Jellybelly.” It’s the third song on disc 1, and man, do I wish Billy led off with this track. My favorite opinion on this song is from one of the comments of a user on the youtube video featuring it. “Melts your fucking face off,” I think that’s putting it rather nicely, actually!

I believe that poster is referring to the ample dose of guitars in the song. The song is for sure one of Pumpkins’ heavier efforts. Although I stated earlier that I wish this was the opening track of the album, I also think it’s in a good place right after the much softer single “Tonight, Tonight.” The song hits hard right from the beginning and never, and I mean NEVER, lets up. The lyrics are not very inspiring and that is the only knock I would make on the song. Billy saying he feels “so sick I wish I’d die” and there being nothing that can make yourself feel better sends a pretty negative message. But I don’t have a problem with it and we have all at some time (for some of us, multiple times) felt low on ourselves. I wish I could have used some of those negatives vibes to create something so great like Pumpkins did. Enjoy and please leave comments!