Song of the day: The Turnback – "I’ve Been Good This Year"

December 31, 2011

Here’s a boppy little ditty from The Turnback that’s entirely appropriate for today:

The Turnback – “I’ve Been Good This Year” (2011)

Link

See you next year!

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Song of the day: Sun Theory – "Paint To Water"

December 30, 2011

I’m fully aware that I pestered you very recently about my brother’s new band (Hi, Anthony!), but they have a new video for one of the songs on their new album, so I thought I’d sneak in one more Sun Theory song before the end of the year:

Sun Theory – “Paint To Water (2011)

Arty.

Sun Theory on Bandcamp
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Song of the day: Sons Of Rico – "Shaky Shaky"

December 29, 2011

Here’s another song from the Wiggles tribute album I mentioned yesterday. This one is nice ‘n’ powerpoppy:

Sons Of Rico – “Shaky Shaky” (2011)

Link

And the original:

The Wiggles – “Shaky Shaky” (1994)

Link

The Wiggles – Shaky Shaky by dcelano


Song of the day: Washington – "The Monkey Dance"

December 28, 2011

For some reason I can’t figure out, somebody somewhere decided to make a tribute album to The Wiggles. Yes, The Wiggles. A number of Australian musicians (20 to be precise) contributed their versions of Wiggles songs to the project, and the result was released last month. I’m still slightly mystified as to why somebody would think of compiling a Wiggles tribute album. Despite a few tracks that I’d quite cheerfully put on the what-were-they-thinking pile, it’s a lot o’ fun. I really like this one:

Washington – “The Monkey Dance” (2011)

Link

And here’s the original:

The Wiggles – “The Monkey Dance” (1994)

Link

The Wiggles – The Monkey Dance by dcelano

And the original original:

The Cockroaches – “Do The Monkey (1994)

Link


Musical coincidences # 165

December 28, 2011

This is the second time The Beatles‘ “I Feel Fine” has been mentioned in a Musical coincidence on this blog. The last time it was mentioned, it involved five songs.

Now we can make that six. And it’s thanks to the astute wife of commenter J. Loslo (Hi, unnamed partner of J. Loslo!) over at the PowerPop blog. On the blog, my non-Australian friend Steve (Hi, Steve!) had posted the backing track of “I Feel Fine” and related the dubious tale of Bernard Purdie who claimed to have played the drums on the song.

I don’t know why Bernard Purdie would make such a claim, because as far as I’m concerned he had no need to pretend to be Ringo Starr, as he’s been pretty much immortalised for his session work over the years with virtually everyone associated with funk and R&B.

I became a fan of Bernard when I saw him explain his “Purdie Shuffle” on the Classic Albums episode featuring Steely Dan’s Aja (still my favourite episode of that sterling series). In this clip, Bernard describes how fabulous he is (as someone once said: “If you can do it, it ain’t braggin'”). Also in this clip, Donald Fagen mentions the signs that Bernard displayed in the studio when he was hired for recording sessions. It made me laugh out loud:

Now, that’s confidence.

And I’m still a fan, despite Bernard’s assertions. What a drummer.

Now, back to today’s coincidence involving “I Feel Fine”. (Sorry about sidetracking you there.)

J. Loslo’s comment was this:

“For what it’s worth, I started playing the backing track & my wife commented that it reminded her of “Buckaroo,” the Buck Owens instrumental that came out the year after “I Feel Fine.” I knew The Beatles were influenced by Buck Owens, but maybe it went both ways.”

I don’t know the name of J. Loslo’s wife, so for the purposes of this post I’ll call her Clytemnestra.

Being a curious fellow, I hunted down “Buckaroo” and had a listen.

I think that Cytemnestra is completely correct about the resemblance:

The Beatles – “I Feel Fine (1964) (backing track)

(No link because I pinched it from Steve’s blog. Thanks, Steve!)

Buck Owens – “Buckaroo (1965)

Link

The Beatles – “I Feel Fine (1964)

Link

Thanks to Clytemnestra and J. Loslo* for letting people know about the Beatles/Buck coincidence.

(*When I see the name “J. Loslo”, I keep wanting to burst into song, sung to the tune of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana”: “His name was Loslo, he came from Oslo…”)


Song of the day: Deer Park Avenue – "Over Again"

December 27, 2011

A lovely lady by the name of Sarah (Hi, Sarah!) emailed me to let me know that she’s in a band with her sister Stephanie, and the band’s called Deer Park Avenue.

Sarah pointed me in the direction of what they’ve recorded. The Music page on their website has two media player thingies (one from Bandcamp and one from ReverbNation). I’ll put ’em both here and then add some impertinent comments that you’re free to ignore in case you just want to listen to the songs without the distraction of a rambling Australian blogger.

Incidentally, the two media players have different track listings. I’ll concentrate on the Bandcamp one, and when that’s finished I’ll switch to the ReverbNation one (it has some songs that aren’t in the Bandcamp one).

Overall, I thought the songs were fine. The band describes itself as “rock/powerpop/alternative”. I’d disagree with two of those terms. First of all, it doesn’t sound “alternative” to me at all. I can imagine any of these songs being played on the radio with no trouble at all. And I’d disagree with the term “powerpop”. I hear the power, but I don’t hear much “pop”. I found the songs to be mostly minor-key moody things. I know there are plenty of minor-key power pop songs out there in Power Pop Land, but they’re usually full of ultra-catchy, poppy tunes. To me, the songs I heard do have tunes, but they’re rock-song tunes. And I think that I’m probably being terribly picky. Maybe I’m way off beam here, and it’s just a matter of semantics. Depending on who you talk to, this may very well be power pop. I just don’t hear it as power pop. I hear it as rock. Sorry, Sarah and Stephanie, for gettin’ picky.

Right, on to the songs…

ComScore

1. “Hey Maria”
The song’s melodies and structure are a little too non-unique for my liking (I’m trying not to use the word “generic” here). But one thing I do find unusual about the recording is the sound of the snare drum. It’s refreshingly different to the snare drum sounds you hear on virtually all modern rock songs. (They’re usually cavernous, or explosive – or both.) The snare here hass a nice dry, small-room sound, and I like it. Viva la différence!

Unhelpful criticism (considering you’ve already recorded the song): at 1:52 (the phrase “…and yet the brightest smile…”), the background harmony singing sounded flat to me. I thought it a little odd, because the harmony singing is fine (i.e. it’s in tune) everywhere else in the song.

2. “Darkness Hides Me”
At the start of this brooding ditty there’s an acoustic guitar that, when it changes chords (from E minor to C major), produces a wonderfully loud squeak. (Ah, those pesky steel strings.) I liked it enormously, because it reminded me of an anecdote I once read in Guitar Player magazine about the world-renowned classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. (This will only be funny to guitarists.) Studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco talked about how he was recording a session for a TV show in the 1970s. The session called for a classical acoustic guitar. As Tommy was playing, some of his finger movements caused a little squeaking. The producer was thoroughly annoyed, saying things like “Can’t you get rid of those squeaks?” Tommy replied by saying that even Segovia produced squeaks. “Yeah,” said the producer, “and that’s why we don’t hire him!” I enjoyed the squeaks in “Darkness Hides Me” because musicians usually do their darnedest to eliminate string squeaks from recordings. Say it loud, say it proud: “Squeak!” By the way, I liked the drumming in this song. Nice brush work.

3. “Millionaire”
I like the moody drumming in this one.

4. “Waiting For You”
Oops. I wasn’t paying attention to this song. (I was on the Internet whilst listening to these songs. Boy, the Internet can be distracting.) I don’t remember what it sounded like. Ah well. I’ll pay attention to it the second and third time around.

Update: I’ve listened to it again, and I like it – especially the chorus.

5. “Say Goodbye”
A Big Ballad. I’m not much of a fan of Big Ballads, but I thought this was OK. I liked the hand claps.

6. “A Long Way Down”
Another slow one. Nice background vocals. I can’t think of much else to say about this one because it’s dangerously close to a Big Ballad. (See above about Big Ballads.) However, in its favour I will say that the vocals are earnest. (Weak Joke Alert: And we all know The Importance Of Being Earnest.) However, I wasn’t especially keen on the pointlessly low C bass note at 3:32, playing an octave lower than every other bass note nearby. But I did like the background vocals.

7. “Over Again”
Now this is more like it. Those guitar sounds: yummy. The drum beat: mighty fine. The avalanche of extra guitars in the chorus: extra yummy. Those guitar sounds are fabulous. Unless I like one of the other songs more, I think this’ll be the Song of the day.

Update: Yep. This is the Song of the day. I’ve listened to it about six times now, and I can’t stay away from those guitars.

Update II: I mentioned to Sarah and Stephanie that “Over Again” has become my favourite of all the Deer Park Avenue tracks I heard, and they graciously sent me the MP3 of it to share. Thanks, Sarephanie!

Deer Park Avenue – “Over Again” (2011)

Link

8. “Rescue Me”
Excellent: a musical coincidence. Please compare the start of this song to the start of a well-known John Lennon song. “Rescue Me” sounds more to me like a country-ish song. I can imagine a country-pop singer recording this. All they need to do is add a lap steel, and maybe a dobro or two. Yep, I can imagine this as a country-pop song.

7 (in the ReverbNation player). “Everywhere”
I liked this, but I noticed that it started in the key of D major. I’m only mentioning this because I heard it in the ReverbNation player, and the previous song in that player (“Rescue Me”) was also in the key of D major. I remember that a producer (I’ve forgotten who) once advised a band who were about to make an album that one of the golden rules of album track sequencing is that you never have two songs in a row in the same key. Deer Park Avenue: Rule Breakers! But back to the song. I like it. And it’s vying for the position of Song of the day. A couple more listens and I’ll hopefully be able decide. (Update: I decided. See above.)

8 (in the ReverbNation player). “You Live”
This is one of those not-quite-a-ballad, slow-ish songs that’s played at a tempo that always – and I mean always – reminds me of Coldplay’s “Yellow”. Unfortunately, that’s not something I like to be reminded of every time I hear a slowish rock song. Apart from that unfortunate association, I don’t mind “You Live”. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t go “grrr” while it was playing. It does contain a few vocal mannerisms that unfailingly irritate me (the little groans and breathiness that modern pop/rock singers indulge in), but for me it was tolerable. There were some weird ‘blk-blk’ sounds in between the second chorus and the middle 8 (I think it was a guitar – maybe) that took a bit of getting used to. But I liked the jangly guitar at the end of the song when the vocals finished.

And that’s what I thought of Deep Park Avenue’s music. You’re more than welcome to disagree.

Thanks, Sarah, for letting me know about Deer Park Avenue.

Deer Park Avenue official website
Deer Park Avenue on Facebook
Deer Park Avenue on Twitter
Deer Park Avenue on ReverbNation


Song of the day: Aaron Copland – Variations on "Simple Gifts" (from Appalachian Spring)

December 26, 2011

Here in the Southern Hemisphere it’s Boxing Day. Depending on your Hemisphere, you may still be unwrapping presents where you are.

Be that as it may, because it’s Boxing Day I thought I’d play you something in my music collection related to the day. I looked for something that refers to boxing (the “beautiful box full of lovely things” kind of boxing, not the “punching people in the groin” variety), or gifts, or presents, that kind of thing.

I couldn’t find anything that was power-poppy, or even poppy, so I settled on a piece of classical music. I think this is eminently suitable (apart from it not being power pop):

Aaron CoplandAppalachian Spring (orchestral suite) – VI: Doppio movimento: Variations on a Shaker Hymn (“Simple Gifts“)
[Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta]

Link

If you’re game enough, here’s the whole thing:

Aaron CoplandAppalachian Spring (orchestral suite)
[Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta]

Link

Trivia of interest to no-one but me: For years, Appalachian Spring was my favourite piece of classical music.