Song of the day: The Red Button – "She Grows Where She’s Planted"

I know that in the land of Americans, the 4th of July is designated Independence Day. As far as I can tell, it has been for quite a few years.

Well, I’d like to rename the 4th of July. I’d like to now call it The Red Button Day.

I want to call it that because not only is today’s song by The Red Button, but today’s Musical coincidence also involves The Red Button (actually, there are two coincidences involving The Red Button).

The splendidly wonderful Chrissy (Hi, Chrissy!) over yonder at Luck Media & Marketing mentioned that The Red Button has released a new album, As Far As Yesterday Goes. It follows their debut album from 2007, She’s About To Cross My Mind, which was very Sixties-influenced (as in “Hey, that sounds like Merseybeat!”).

I’ve listened to the new album As Far As Yesterday Goes a few times now (five), and I must say that I found it an exceptionally pleasant listen. But…

Unfortunately for the band, the next paragraph will consist of me damning it with faint praise praising and criticising it in equal measure:

Overall, the album is very consistent. And the production is splendid, in that it sounds lovely (except for a quirk in one track that I’ll be mentioning a bit later). However, I found the album nowhere near as immediately likable as She’s About To Cross My Mind. (The tunes in that album leapt out at you and had you singing or humming along in no time.) Maybe it’s me, and maybe the new album is a much more subtle affair than the previous one, but I don’t hear any particularly strong tunes (melody is very important to me) in any of the songs. They’re all very nice, but nothing has quite stuck in my head (yet), even after five listens. It all drifts by in a stream of pleasantness. I haven’t quite warmed to the album in a way that makes me go “It’s much better than their earlier album”.

I hope I’m not giving you the impression that I didn’t like the album. I did. I liked it. I found it very nice. But I was hoping for something more than “very nice”. I was hoping for a “Yeah!” from at least a few of the tracks.

Because the songs are all as good (or as bad) as each other, I had a bit of trouble deciding which one to play you. I ended up choosing “She Grows Where She’s Planted” because it’s the jangliest:

The Red Button – “She Grows Where She’s Planted” (2011)

Link

As I said, it’s very nice.

Oh, and here’s the production quirk I alluded to earlier:

One of the songs on the album, “Picture”, has an odd, odd sound at seemingly random points in the track:

The Red Button – “Picture” (2011)

Link

To me, the sound is something like a knife being sharpened on a surface that makes a metallic squeak. (Maybe it’s a robot mouse.) I first heard it at 1:09. It’s not very loud, but it’s there. I don’t think it’s a musical sound, because it doesn’t appear at any specific points in the song’s rhythm, nor is it associated with any of the musical instruments I can hear in the mix that would be likely candidates for making that sound (i.e., the acoustic guitars and percussion). After the first noise at 1:09 (it’s the first one I noticed), there’s one at 1:14 and then another at 1:16 (that one’s quieter). It doesn’t reappear until later, at 2:10, 2:14, and 2:16. It takes a break, then comes back, but when it does it’s much more noticeable – 2:49, 2:53, 2:55, 3:08. It even happens in the fade-out at 3:13 (and maybe 3:15 – that one’s hard to tell because it sounds like it might be a triangle instead of the weird sound).

Anyway, enough of me yapping about weird sounds in pop songs. I’m sure you don’t want to read about me being nitpicky at my nitpickiest.

As for the rest of the album, you can hear for yourself whether you’ll like As Far As Yesterday Goes. The band have a media player on their website that’s streaming the whole album. You can go over there, free of my influence, and have a listen with your own ears:

By the way, I’ve recently had an avalanche of emails from new bands and people representing new bands (e.g., “Hi! I’m Guinevere Fondle from The Tremendous Record Company, and I’m looking after a band called Mangled Metaphor. I’ve been put in charge of that band’s World Domination Portfolio. The first stop on our list of people to contact is an Australian blogger called Peter who has three readers…”). As a result, I’ll try to blog about them all over the next few days. Otherwise, I’m going to forget them and end up receiving an avalanche of emails from irate new bands and people representing new bands (e.g., “Hi! This is Guinevere. It’s been 17 months since I last emailed you…”).

Also by the way, these bands are almost exclusively American. I think. (If I pay attention when I’m blogging about them, I’ll try to find out.)

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6 Responses to Song of the day: The Red Button – "She Grows Where She’s Planted"

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is about the most inane review I have ever read: The Red Button puts out consistently melodic, well thought out, REAL, pop music (you know, the 3-minute kind, remember ?) And this guy is talking about “metallic squeaks”? Are you kidding me? “As Far As Yesterday Goes” is easily the best pop record of 2011. Their first album had the element of surprise going for it. But, for a band to come back in their 2nd attempt with a consistently great song-cycle as this one is astonishing in this day and age of 0 melody. “Metallic Squeaks”? Is this reviewer for real? Dude, stop listening so hard and just enjoy this 2nd masterwork from the best pop band in the world (you heard me).

  2. Peter says:

    Hey, Anonymous:

    Thanks for responding to my inanities. And thanks for being so passionate about The Red Button. It's refreshing when so much new music nowadays is met with a “Meh”.

    “The Red Button puts out consistently melodic, well thought out, REAL, pop music (you know, the 3-minute kind, remember ?)”

    I agree with you about The Red Button being consistently melodic. Unfortunately for me, I thought the melodies on As Far As Yesterday Goes weren't as strong as those on She's About To Cross My Mind.

    “And this guy is talking about “metallic squeaks”?”

    Yep.

    “Are you kidding me?”

    Nope.

    “”As Far As Yesterday Goes” is easily the best pop record of 2011.”

    Quite possibly. I'm in absolutely no position to disagree with you about that, because I haven't heard many of the 100 or so new albums released this year – so I can't say how As Far As Yesterday Goes stacks up to the others.

    “Dude, stop listening so hard…”

    Can do, Anonymous.

    “…and just enjoy this 2nd masterwork from the best pop band in the world (you heard me).”

    I do enjoy it. I just wanted to enjoy it a bit more than I have so far.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Pete, sorry for the 'tude. You write 'em as you hear 'em and I respect that. You happen to be an excellent reviewer and I do love, well appreciate, The Red Button because their music is so consistently uplifting and real. Real songs in a sea of deep mediocrity. Thus, my passion which you kindly applauded. So, sorry from me for the snark: it was less personal on you than it was passion from me.

    Wales, UK

  4. Peter says:

    Hey, Magnificent Anonymous Welshdude (or “MAW”): No problem at all. There's no need to apologise for being passionate about The Red Button and how their music makes you feel. I'm glad you felt strongly enough about it to take me to task, because I'm all for robust discussion / discourse / debate etc.

    I'm always interested in knowing why someone does or doesn't like something. I find it thoroughly unenlightening to read comments where people go at each other with nothing more than “You suck!” / “No, you suck!” / “Yeah, well you suck even more!” etc. It's pointless and doesn't tell me anything about the person on the other computer.

    At least when you disagreed with me about something, you took the time to let me know why – and I'm glad you did.

    Thanks, MAW.

    Now I'm in the mood to listen to As Far As Yesterday Goes again, to see if I like it a bit more than I did yesterday…

  5. Anonymous says:

    To me, one of the joys of The Beatles (as opposed to The Monkees or Stones or most artists) was that when you put any of their records on, every song was a great song. That doesn't mean, I didn't like some more than others. But, the Beatles albums were a whole work of art (except for things like “Mr. Moonlight”) — great pop songs that made you not pick the needle up. Succinctly, you listened to the entire album.

    I find this to be true of The Red Button: every song is extremely melodic, very well written and executed. You may like one song more than another, but in its totality, it deserves praise just for the feat of its consistency of quality: on 2 records no less. What band in the last 10, 20 30 years has accomplished this? In the pop world, I can't think of many. You may like a Robyn Hitchcock song but rarely ever does an album of his hold up melodically, pop-wise, melody-wise. e

    The Wondermints, Jellyfish…all good bands –very talented. But not great, consistent pop (a.m. radio-like, circa 60s/70s –'vintage') songs. XTC, fantastic. But not a.m. radio-like.

    I think, while you appreciate The Red Button you don't quite give them the kudos they deserve as being but a handful (or less) of artists that can do the 2 1/2 – minute pop song so brilliantly. So many songs that truly get stuck in your head (happily). They may not be as chic as some other pop acts over the years, but I maintain, no one comes close to them in this genre –consistent, highly melodic music that could have played on a.m. radio during the 60s and 70s.

  6. Peter says:

    I'm with ya, baby. I'm a melody guy through and through – and then for me it's harmony, and then rhythm.

    I'm pleased to report that with each listen of As Far As Yesterday Goes, I like it a little more. (I've heard it eight times now.)

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