Sunday, 20 January 2013

My Musical Diary XLVI

Better late than never, here's my latest Diary. No pop here this week, it's all critically acclaimed coolness and weirdness.

Arcade Fire - Month of May

Ooh, I listened to a lot of "sophisticated" stuff this past week, while working on the topics for my final exam. Including Arcade Fire. Originally I wanted to feature We Used to Wait instead but since it already appears in my Songs of 2010 post, I decided to instead devote this place to this absolutely rocking first single from the era of The Suburbs LP. When this song started to play in the middle of my work last week, it totally woke me up from my study slumber. In a similar way Month of May was a great surprise when I first heard it almost 3 years ago, a wake up moment (no Arcade Fire pun intended). The band are known to let it all out in their big, epic messy songs but still, this was a new kind of energy for the band. Timeless sort of rock'n'roll in a way. But with their trademark violins and eerie female vocals in the background.

Leonard Cohen - Who By Fire

Leonard is, in the words of my mother, still the best singer ever. She doesn't mean it in a technical way, obviously. She mostly has no idea what he's singing about but she LIKES anyway. They call Leonard the vagina whisperer or some such (the vaginal poet, actually--I googled it; my phrase is way better though). Now, I really don't want to think about the place I came from over 25 years ago, but this guy's voice just has a real power, and not only over female ears. Yes, I have to admit, I do find Leonard's singing/whispering voice incredibly sexy but he would be nearly not as interesting as he is without his other power - the song writing. Many of his songs are compelling enough even without lyrics. I feel like this side of his song writing tends to get overlooked - even though we're talking about the man who wrote the ubiquitous, overplayed, and often misinterpreted Hallelujah.

Therefore this time I'm choosing Who By Fire. Leonard's lyrics were inspired by the Unetanneh Tokef, a medieval Jewish liturgical prayer/poem and the pleading and very Jewish sounding melody really makes you pay attention to them. Again, this was the song that took me out of my study trance a few nights ago. It might be one of Leonard's shortest songs but it's definitely one that makes you stop and listen.

Who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains, who in power,
And who shall I say is calling?

Well, is it God, fate or..?

Kate Bush - The Wedding List

And now something a wee bit crazy. Like, really flippin' mad, mate. It's my darling Kate Bush. While most other songwriters seem to have a "thing" they write about over and over, it seems Kate's array of topics is pretty much boundless. When she was young she tended to write songs inspired by TV and films (Wuthering Heights was famously based on the 1970 film adaptation, not the novel itself). The Wedding List was also inspired by a film, namely François Truffaut's 1968 film The Bride Wore Black. The song appears on her third album Never for Ever, which came out in 1980, and on which Kate started to musically experiment a bit more. The Wedding List is not terribly experiment-y yet, but at the same time, the character Kate takes on for most of the song is not exactly safe for work. A jealous murderer who commits suicide after killing her ex at his wedding? Kate's primal screaming at the end of the song, lyrics featuring "the heat of my booty", as well as "I'm coming coming coming honey!" and the brilliant "ashes to ashes to ah-ah-ah-AH-ASHES" are a thing of beauty. And so is her rack in the above video taken from a 1979 Christmas special (I'm endlessly amused this was considered a suitable Xmas entertainment in 1979...oh, to live back then!). Enjoy.

David Bowie - It's No Game Part 1

Yay! more screaming! Scary Monsters is one of my favourite Bowie albums, and its opener has been one of my favourite things to listen to any time I need to blow off a little steam. What Bowie does with his voice in this song is something I'd be dying to do at certain situations in my life but I just don't have the balls. Or the strong vocal cords.


What makes this screamer of a song even more perfect are the Japanese verses, spoken in a samurai-like style by female singer Michi Hirota. Random or just genius? Maybe both. Message aside, sonically this beats any punk song ever recorded.

Chinawoman - Party Girl

I got my ticket for Patrick Wolf's third Prague concert last week and it reminded me of Patrick's support act from the last time he played here. It was a Canadian singer songwriter of Russian descent, who calls herself Chinawoman. Now, people tend to talk their way through supporting acts, or half-sleep through them in my case, but as soon as Chinawoman started to play this hypnotic song, I came closer and sparks flew.

Funnily enough the singer is inspired, among other things, by her Russian heritage as well as by a fellow Jewish-Canadian vagina whisperer Leonard Cohen. If you want to hear more of the Russian flavour, check out the song Russian Ballerina, which is a pretty catchy thing. I might feature it here some other time.

Video Bonus:

Jack White's Serious Jibber-Jabber with Conan O'Brien

Stuff gets a wee bit repetitive over the course of the 90 minute interview the US comedian/TV host conducted with his musician friend Jack White but nevertheless it's an interesting and at times hilarious interview which could be attractive even for non-fans of White. It touches upon subjects like work process, creativity, working with women, meeting idols, fame and ubiquity and even if you don't agree with Jack and Conan on every point, this is one of the interviews that don't merely entertain but make you think as well.
Additionally, if you're a Jack White Hair Fetishist like me, you won't be disappointed.

Thanks so much for reading. Are there any interesting interviews with musician you'd want to share with me? What are you favourite angry songs that allow you to let off some steam after a stressful day? And do you have any comments about this blog or a question for me? Take advantage of the space below & feel free to share this entry using the handy buttons.

Till next week.........

Love, Peace and Ringo! x

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