Song of the Day: Agalloch, They Escaped the Weight of Darkness

I watched Pan’s Labyrinth for the first time tonight so I was feeling pretty melancholy. This song is perfect when you’re in that dark kind of mood. It’s sad, haunting and beautiful. The style is simple; it’s a solo cello piece with the ambient noise of a river in the background. The cello is a really under-appreciated instrument which is truly beautiful when played well, as it is done here. This song is best listened to when you’re feeling somber and it’s the middle of the night. When you want to reflect on sad things.

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Band of the Day: Mogwai

I felt so bad for not listening to my new Mogwai CD until now (sounds like a story!), that I decided to write a ‘Song of the Day‘ post specially dedicated to them to make amends. This song is actually one of my favorites from their album ‘Mr. Beast‘ which I’ve had for quite a while – and which I highly recommend. It’s completely instrumental, as is most of their material. They have a pretty unique sound, blending traditional rock instruments with electronic bleeps and bloops. They also use a lot of piano – and if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I love piano!

[Kevin loves piano. Mogwai uses piano. Therefore Kevin loves Mogwai. Simple really!]

The artwork for 'Mr. Beast'.

This song is interesting because it has two distinct halves (though the same chorus is used for both, to great effect). It’s also a wonderful example of the Mogwai technique of layering waves of music on top of each other to somehow create a coherent whole. Mogwai is a band which rarely provides “easy listening” material; but when you’re in the mood, they can straddle the line between beautiful and challenging perfectly. They’re “a thinking man’s band”… with an edge.

If you’re liking what you’ve read/heard so far then I would also recommend the song ‘I Love You, I’m Going to Blow up Your School’ from their more recent album ‘The Hawk is Howling‘. They’re… intriguing titles to say the least. The first few minutes of this song are darkly peaceful… and then it explodes into a cacophonous guitar solo!! It’s a powerful showcase of the two ends of the Mogwai spectrum, and the brooding tension that their songs hold.

If you like instrumental music, check them out!

Impulse Buying: CDs

[P.S. (pre-script!) I’m back writing now. WOOO!!!]

I don’t know about you, but I generally consider impulse buying to be a very bad idea! So, when I went to HMV yesterday and bought a CD completely out of the blue… Well, there was a rather large amount of reckless glee involved! And you know what? It actually turned out to be really good!

There’s been a lot of rumors going around that HMV is closing down in Ireland. Considering the amount of downloading that’s going on (both legally and illegally), I’m not that surprised. It’s just easier to buy (or steal) music online. I use iTunes, and it’s really handy to listen to a preview of something before you buy it, or browse through related/suggested artists. I can happily spend a few hours browsing for music online before finally deciding on something. I’ve been in CD shops abroad where you can scan a CD into a preview stand and listen to it there and then, but there’s nothing like that in Ireland.

Then the other day, while cleaning out my room after the paperwork nightmare that was teaching practice, I found a lonely HMV voucher just sitting there waiting to be used.  Startled realization: better use it quick! Continue reading

Song of the Day: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKo4eT38XS4

(I found this version of the song while searching on YouTube, where the actual album version does not seem to exist! This seems to be a home video of Billy Corgan playing this song with some improvisation on his piano. The album part of the song begins at around the two minute mark. Billy is wearing a Christmas jumper in this so I thought it was rather appropriate for the time of year!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUhrDzWFsvg

(This is a cover I found that involves significantly less banging of the piano 😛 It’s pretty much identical to the album version so you might prefer listening to it instead.)

I would say that a lot of people would be surprised to hear that Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is probably my favorite song by the Smashing Pumpkins; it’s quite different from their usual fare. I’ve always loved piano music, and this song is, I think, a really beautiful example of the wonderful emotional depth that a piano can express. I don’t think anyone could argue that the piano isn’t the greatest instrument of all time. One of the things that’s so impressive about this song is that despite it only consisting of a single instrument, it has a truly full sound and quality to it (though in the actual album version there is a subtle string arrangement added in as well). It grabs you and it fills you and you feel the emotions. I think that it’s a song that is perfectly named because when you listen to it you really do experience what might be called “infinite sadness”. And any song that can touch you in that way is something that should be considered to be truly special.

Song of the Day: I’m Sexy and I Know It, LMFAO

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMMTIksFxbQ

Yeah, I don’t know where this one came from either. All I know is that it was stuck in my head for literally the whole of yesterday. That chorus line is damn catchy. And I couldn’t help singing it to myself (in my head of course!) at even the most inappropriate moments (yes, even when going to the toilet!). This is not the sort of music that I would normally listen to – but for the amount of laughs it gave me alone, it deserves a spot on the Song of the Day list.

And you know it 😛

Song of the Day: Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4OLQB7ON9w

I really love this song! It’s simple yet brilliant. The most striking thing about it is that it’s mostly just Heap’s voice – albeit with a lot of effects on it 😛 (She’s clearly a big fan of production values!) There are plenty of vocal tracks layered on top of one another here, which I heartily approve of. There’s a nice robotic sound to some of these layers (some are actually synths, I think) while others sound completely natural – and the harmonies these create are top class. Heap is an undeniably great singer. Hide and Seek is a laid back song that’s poppy, sweet, and very very catchy. And if you’re not careful it will get stuck in your head for days 😀

P.S. This original version is 50 times better than Jason Derulo’s “cover”. End of discussion. Bite me.

Song of the Day: Pet, A Perfect Circle

‘Don’t fret precious I’m here, step away from the window,

And go back to sleep’

(Listen on YouTube, lyrics in description)

Pet is an exceptionally creepy song – it’s a lullaby gone wrong. From what I can tell, it’s about a seriously disturbed father who tries to protect his child from the world by hiding him from everything: not only from his “enemies” but from his choices and reason as well. Or maybe it’s about someone who has kidnapped a child – even creepier. It’s an interesting song as the lyrics are written from the father’s point of view, and he sees himself as completely rationale, sane and caring; it’s up to the music itself to highlight the psychotic nature of his actions – and the song does this really well.

The shift in tone between verse and chorus is brilliant, going from lullaby-quiet to war-drum-heavy respectively. There’s a great atmosphere throughout the song; the rhythm guitar, bass and drums are super heavy; the lead guitar’s riff is dissonant yet catchy at the same time; the lead vocals and harmonies are prefect. There’s even a nice guitar solo near the end. Definitely one of APC’s best. And creepiest!

‘Pay no mind what other voices say,
They don’t care about you, like I do, like I do

Safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils,
See, they don’t give a fuck about you, like I do.’