Notes on Music: Shut Up, Listen, Then Talk (to me)

 Everybody thinks that they are somehow better at something, just one thing, than everybody else. And if that being-better-than-everybody-else didn’t come off as obviously as it should, people brag. They jibber-jabber about it like crazy.

If there is one thing in life that bothers me (problem is, there is not just one thing in life that bothers me) is my lack of opportunity to talk to friends about music. I think it would be fun to have a breezy conversation with friends, perhaps over a couple of drinks, about which new songs are good or what new bands have great sound or how OneDirection sucks and how black Justin Bieber tries to be. You know, we can share links or exchange tracks or have a track-by-track analysis of new albums. But, no, things like that don’t happen in my world.

I am no expert and definitely not as knowledgeable as I hope I am with music, but, truth be told, I am kind of snob. I’m in no way saying that I am in a much superior musical high ground than most of the people I know. I am guilty of listening to trash pop and old love songs. I like Ke$ha and Air Supply (definitely not in the same level, but I like them just the same). But at least I try to improve my taste. And just because I don’t listen to the hit songs that much and I listen to songs that aren’t too overplayed doesn’t mean that I’m not in the know. (A “friend” once laughed at me for playing Mumford & Sons aloud. Bastard.)

So, here I am blogging my old blog just to put things out there. You know, some points I want to raise if ever I get to a music conversation with someone ever. (If you happen to even read this, feel free to think what you want but save your judgments to yourselves. I do a whole lot of judging myself, I don’t need help.)

*Sara Bareilles has a New Record

Sara Bareilles just released her new record entitled “The Blessed Unrest”. And just like her previous ones, her lyrics are impeccable (with the right mixture of poetic and sometimes cheesy writing). The sound of her new album is still very her, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t changed anything. Still bubbly and heart-breaking and quirky, with a nice kick.

Just like with her previous records, there’s always a bunch of tracks that really stand-out for me. And by that, I mean that only a majority of songs that make it to my mobile playlist. Among the songs from “The Blessed Unrest” that do it for me are “1000 Times”, “I Choose You” and “Manhattan”. The carrier single “Brave” and the bonus track “Parking Lot” aren’t bad, too.

*OneRepubic > 1D, M5

The reason why OneRepublic is not the more famous band with their name starting with one is beyond me. Well, I think that OneRepublic is a bit underrated as a band. If I were to listen to falsettos, I would rather listen to Ryan Tedder’s than to Adam Levine’s. But more people prefer the latter. I guess good lyrics and sound don’t guarantee off the charts, over the top success.

Anyway, I’m really digging OneRepublic’s latest album, “Native”. It’s diverse but it doesn’t stray too far from their previous hits like “Stop and Stare” and “Secrets”. The singles off Native, “If I Lose Myself” and “Counting Stars”, are both promising and very catchy. But my favorite track is “Burning Bridges”. It must be the melody, or the guitar, or the lyrics that really sell the song. Perhaps even the falsetto on the chorus, but no complaining.

*I Think I Know a Lot About Damien Rice

I have only tried listening to Damien Rice very recently. And I’m really glad that I did. There’s something very organic about his songs. He sounds like Jason Mraz but less poppy. Maybe even like James Morrison but less dramatic. His songs, lyrically and melodically, are very raw and on point without being in your face. Gritty but not abrasive.

Of course, I really like his song “Volcano” (who wouldn’t?) There’s also “Cannonball”, “The Blower’s Daughter” and the very brilliant “Unplayed Piano”.

*”The Civil Wars” Have Internal Discord, New Self-Titled Album

Internal discord. That’s the reason given by Joy Williams and John Paul White, collectively known as The (Awesome) Civil Wars, when they announced their hiatus. It’s not that I’m affected by any of their several cancelled shows, but it’s just that the two of them do break-ups and chaos so well in their songs and it just seems like an overkill to really take that personally and take a break from one another. Needless to say, they really are good together. Winning Grammys and all.

But hiatus or not, they are set to release their self-titled sophomore album early next month. If we are to believe their press statements, they are saying that the new record tackles whatever went on that brought about the break the band’s taking. And if we will base it on the whole feel of the carrier single “The One That Got Away”, seems like some serious shit is going on. The song is big, bold and heart-breaking. On a lighter note, though, their other song off the record called “From This Valley” is a bit subdued and a whole lot catchy.

*I Don’t Have to Try Hard to Like Daft Punk

It turns out that Daft Punk has been around since forever. Forgive my ignorance but I must’ve spent a lot of time on the pop rock I live under. But it’s not really hard to figure Daft Punk out. They made the soundtrack for “Tron: Legacy”, they wear helmets when they play, they do EDM, which means that they are pretty cool; ergo, I’m jumping into this whole Daft Punk bandwagon.

But all jokes and being a push-over aside, their latest album “Random Access Memories” is not hard to enjoy. With its mixture of disco beats, collaborations with other artists (yay actual lyrics!) and same robot feels, RAM rightly deserves all the hype. There’s the highly successful collaboration with Pharell Williams, “Get Lucky” and a bunch of other dance-able in the club and/or the shower tracks like “Lose Yourself to Dance”, “Instant Crush” and “Fragments of Time”.

*I Have to Try Hard to Like Francis and the Lights

There is also this guy, by the way, Francis and the Lights, who has some good stuff to offer too. According to this guy’s Wikipedia page, his genre is piano rock and R&B and his last name is Starlite. Whatever, especially on the genres he choose to associate himself with. As far as I’m concerned, he’s sleepy slippity bop. And I mean that he’s quite good.

He has some sick (ugh) beats on his songs, which don’t sound as raw as piano rocks go but not half bad, too. I personally like “ETC” and “It’ll Be Better”.

*”Frightened Rabbit” has a Good Case of Potty Mouth

There’s something so different about bands from the United States and those from the United Kingdom, and I am not just talking about the way both sides say can and can’t. I mean, with their sounds. But you don’t have to take my word for it. To underscore that, there’s Mumford and Sons from London, which has become the poster boys of folk rock. Those guys are good. Then there’s The Script from Ireland, which is mostly “pogi rock” with some good songs and a sloppy third album. Then there’s The Fray from Colorado, which is mostly piano rock and criminally underrated. (Truth be told, I just wanted to namedrop those bands. Just because, eh.)

Anyway, there’s this Scottish indie band calling themselves “Frightened Rabbit”. They are really an indie rock band, not quite as quirky sounding as The Fratellis, but very distinct just the same. Some good songs from them are “The Woodpile”, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” and “If You Were Me”. And, oh, their song “Keep Yourself Warm” is really awesome. They sing: “You can’t find love in a hole… it takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm.”

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8 Tracks I’m Listening to Right Now (Because Telling People What They Should Listen to is too Blah)

In my attempt to veer away from too mainstream music (just because pop has become too flashy), I opened my options to new songs. I am the type who has no definite preference in music, no one genre. So I guess trying to check out and get into new songs is quite easy for me.

And among the songs I have recently discovered, I narrowed it down to eight tracks that are constantly in loop on my phone’s player. (It has been my phone’s main purpose, but that is a story told long ago)

1. Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye

I know this song has been making rounds in loopholes  in countless music players all over the world right now. I just got into this song just recently. It’s so catchy and just beautifully made.

I have read somewhere  (Rogue Magazine, December 2011) that there is this new pop movement in music right now called “New Boring”. Among the mentioned flag bearers were ballad powerhouse Adele, folk band Bon Iver and Australian, singer-songwriter Gotye.

I couldn’t agree more with how the New Boring has been making such a noise. It’s a breath of fresh air amongst heavily produced, often over auto-tuned tracks of this time.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

No, you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
Guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

2.  All the Rowboats by Regina Spektor

This is the carrier single of Spektor’s 2012 album, What We Saw on the Cheap Seats. Spektor is of the fame of her singles ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Samson’.

This new track is not a far cry from Regina’s often poetic lyrics and haunting vocals. The one thing that sets ‘Rowboats’ apart from previous tracks is the heavy use of percussions.

The song talks about setting art pieces, visual or otherwise, free from the contrived environment of museums and galleries.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

First there’s lights out, then there’s lock up
Masterpieces serving maximum sentences
It’s their own fault for being timeless
There’s a price you pay and a consequence

 3. How to Say Goodbye by Paul Tiernan

This song is part of the soundtrack of the 2008 flick, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

I have yet to see the movie but what I know is that the song was scored aptly in a scene where the actors, Kat Dennings, especially, delivered the goods. A friend just suggested this one, claiming that it was a favorite. And man, it didn’t disappoint.

Although I must say that hearing the song hits me every time.  It’s just so emotionally made with the lyrics and the melody.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

to get up and go
to catch the last train
to get in some car
and drive out again
to never come back this way….
and have to say….
goodbye

4. Falling by The Civil Wars

Grammy Award-winning folk duo, The Civil Wars has barely started a career in mainstream music industry. Their 2011 EP Barton Hollow has been getting good reviews with their often quiet, but poetic and haunting style.

Yes, they did the song Safe and Sound with Taylor Swift, but it is this song, Falling, that caught my fancy. The song, as I have mentioned, is poetic and quiet.

 LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

Haven’t you seen me sleep walking?
‘Cause I’ve been holding your hand
Haven’t you noticed me drifting?
Oh, let me tell you, I am

5. If You Go by Javier Dunn

Javier Dunn is Sara Bareilles’ band guitarist and she was the one who lead me into discovering Dunn’s music. Apparent to this song is the easy going vibe and catchy chorus, much like some Bareilles’ style. (Dunn in a collaborator in some of Sara’s songs.)

The song is easy to relate to and is very catchy. It is surprisingly easy to listen to despite the sad undertones and smooth flow. And I also love his cover of Miike Snow’s ‘Animal’.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

If you go, please don’t write
Please don’t call, ‘cause your voice will make me cry
Nothing good in this goodbye
So let me go on without you

6. I Can Barely Say by The Fray

From the band’s most recent album, Scars and Stories, comes yet another emotionally charged track of the same effect as ‘How to Save a Life’ and ‘You Found Me’.

The song has yet to be released as a single but I’m positive that they will eventually do it with this track. The words of the song is just so touching and very deep.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

I wanna return but all you will do is turn to leave
If I can find my way home, will you take hold of me?
I’ve been gone so long
I can barely say
All I know is now I want to stay
Has it been too long since I went away?
Cause I’m trying to find the words but I can barely say

 7. The Cave by Mumford and Sons

This list could’ve been solely dedicated to British band Mumford and Sons just because I have been so into their sound as of late. Their song ‘Little Lion Man’ could’ve also been the entry I put here but I figured the song is so 2010.

It was Little Lion Man who introduced the band to me, but as I discovered the band’s songs further, it lead me to liking this Grammy Awards nominated song, The Cave.

Had I been given the right ability to sing and play instruments, I  want to sound folk-ish as Mumford and Sons.

 LYRICS that SOLD the SONG:

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

8. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Amy Winehouse

This is a revival of the 1960 hit by The Shirelles. This track is part of Winehouse’s (sadly) last record, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, released months after the singer’s demise.

I must admit that Amy Winehouse’s death is the only celebrity death that I feel sorry for. Gone too soon. And it’s a shanda.

The song’s slow, jazzy take on the classic totally made this track one of my most loved Amy track.

LYRICS that SOLD the SONG: 

Tonight with words unspoken,
You said that I’m the only one,
But will my heart be broken,
When the night (When the night)
Meets the morning sun.