#608: Feeder – Idaho

Here’s my thing with Feeder…. I think a lot of their singles are absolutely brilliant. You can just listen to their Singles compilation from 2006 to hear for yourself. But I’ve never been able to get into their albums. Does anyone else feel this way? I’m probably just not a major Feeder fan. Though whenever they released a new single along with its video and showed it on MTV2, 8 times out of 10 the results were usually very good.

‘Idaho’ was the third single from the band’s 2012 album Generation Freakshow. Speaking for myself, it was the first new Feeder video I had seen on TV for a while so when it came on it was a bit of a surprise. Grant Nicholas’ voice now had a bit of weight to it that made it sound deeper than what I was normally used to. Most likely due to aging. The drums are booming, guitars enhanced with a crunching presence. These were some good sounds I was hearing. The video itself (as you can see above) concerns a bull-riding competition while Nicholas and bass player Taka Hirose sit at a table and watch. It’s not the most interesting thing. But, at 17 years old, I could appreciate the song.

The track sees its narrator hung up on a woman. Perhaps they were in a relationship or something. It seems as though things have ended between them… maybe she died… it’s not clear. All in all, the narrator can’t stop thinking about her and they fly to Idaho in the hope of some peace of mind. It’s another great melancholic Feeder single.

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#607: The Beatles – I’ve Just Seen a Face

‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ is the twelfth track on The Beatles’ fifth album Help!. When nearing the end of the album, the listener is provided with two mainly acoustic numbers sung by Paul McCartney. ‘Yesterday’ is the second of them. But while that song mourns the loss of a relationship, ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ captures the promising outlook of one that has a great chance of being successful.

It starts off with an intricate oscillating 6/8 timed intro of guitars that rise and fall before changing into the driving standard time verse where McCartney starts his vocal. His vocal take consists of very wordy lyrics, phrases that fall into the next with some internal rhyming and syncopation that help the track maintain its propelling momentum throughout. Chorus is good too. The “Falling, yes I am falling” line is one that is delivered with so much joy – it’s hard to not to feel just a bit happier from listening to it.

It’s quick and really easy listening to the ear. That seems to be a bit of motif throughout Help!. It’s an album that’s made of a lot of songs where the structure and instrumentation are very simple and straight to the point. ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ isn’t necessarily a major favourite of mine on there but when it starts playing it’s hard to skip.

#606: They Might Be Giants – I’ve Got a Match

Lincoln is the second album by They Might Be Giants, released in 1988 – two years following their debut. Comparing the two, I’ve always felt that Lincoln is a lot warmer in tone than its predecessor. The band’s first album contains a majority of tracks with massive drums slathered in reverb and, I guess some would say, dated production in general. It’s my personal favourite of theirs. But there’s none of that on Lincoln. Instrumentals are virtually stripped back allowing to really let the band’s lyricism and melodies shine through. There are also a lot of sincere songs concerning romantic relationships on Lincoln which tend to detail the downfalls and break-ups that can occur. ‘I’ve Got a Match’ is one of them.

Whenever They Might Be Giants write about relationships they tend to skip the melodrama that comes with a lot of standard love songs. No over-exaggerated lyrical clichés or musical elements. Sung by John Linnell, ‘I’ve Got a Match’ details a relationship that begs to wonder how it even started – one that totally lacks in sympathy, trust and commitment. Its verses consist of overbearing demands and backhanded insults before building into a chorus that denounces love as ‘smelly’ and states the futility of the couple’s romance.

Musically, the song is characterised by a quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic. The first verse its just Linnell’s lone vocal, John Flansburgh’s soft guitar chords on the right, a synth-harp (I’ll guess) on the left and the rhythm section. Then just as Linnell finishes the last line, the track suddenly bursts into a soaring chorus with the introduction of an accordion, vocal harmonies and a pulsating drum rhythm. Linnell also belts out the highest note of the whole track during this time too. It’s a very cathartic release that comes after the agitated vibe of the verses.

It’s a real gem. I almost feel like it could have a been a single in its day. The group have rarely ever played it live because the two Johns supposedly got too burned out on it. Perhaps they spent a lot of time trying to perfect it in the studio? It came out rather well if that’s the case.

#605: The Beatles – I’ve Got a Feeling

‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ is the eighth song on The Beatles’ final album Let It Be, opening the second half of the record if you own it on vinyl. I think everyone knows the story behind the making of it. If not, I’ll try and lay down some knowledge for you.

The Beatles spent five months working on what became their self-titled double album in 1968. It was released in November of that year. They took a short break and the four members did whatever they wanted in that time. As soon as January 1969 arrived they were back in the studio, mostly because of Paul McCartney’s eagerness to start work again. John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr didn’t particularly want to be there and the group had a miserable time in the first few days. The month went on, internal relationships sort of got better (thanks to the inclusion of keyboardist Billy Preston in their sessions and a change in studio), just enough that they were able to record an album’s worth of songs and play what was to be their final live performance on the roof of their Apple Corps headquarters. During that concert, ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ was played twice and the first take of it is the version you hear on the album.

The rooftop concert is the obvious highlight of the Let It Be film; it’s practically the only time that you see the four members really enjoying themselves when playing together. There are a ton of recordings you can find on YouTube of the band going through ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ in the studio and the magic just isn’t there. But it’s on the roof where the song comes alive. Paul McCartney melodically roars throughout the entire track and George Harrison’s spiking lead guitar on the right hand side helps to really move the track along. It’s also the last track in which McCartney and Lennon equally share their lead vocal. Lennon had worked on his own song called ‘Everybody Had a Hard Year’ in the latter stages of 1968 and through some wise decision-making it was incorporated into McCartney’s song.

To whoever may be reading this you should definitely try and watch the Let It Be documentary. Not particularly for any action that happens because there’s not a lot of it, but it hits when the concert segment gets going and the group start performing. These were four people who weren’t genuinely happy throughout most of the film for the past hour. But for the 20 minutes that portion of the film lasts for, they put their all into their performance. It’s a real joy to see.

By the end of January, they didn’t have much faith in what they had recorded and decided to start work on what would become Abbey Road instead. Let It Be could have been a lost album. It’s good that it wasn’t. We wouldn’t have this great song otherwise.

#604: Jakobínarína – I’ve Got a Date with My Television

The song next up on my phone is ‘I’ve Got a Date with My Television’ by Jakobínarína, the eighth track on the band’s only album The First Crusade. They were an Icelandic group who split up just as things were on the rise for them; that was eleven years ago. They’ve been lost in time as a result. They made good stuff though in the short time the band members were together. Some of which I’ve written about in the past.

‘My Television’ is somewhat of a commentary on the fixation on celebrity culture and the tendency to put too much trust into what famous people are doing with their lives instead of thinking about ourselves. The way this commentary is done is very simple. I may have even put too much thought into it. References to Oprah Winfrey advice on ideal body weight and David Beckham’s looks are made. The song’s chorus lyric ‘TV friends don’t stab you in the back/Keeping me on the right track’ sum up the song’s message. There is a strong sarcastic sense that is meant to be provided by the lyrics but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the almost glitzy sheen of the instrumental. Especially that (keyboard?) jingle in the introduction and the strings that arrive during the coda.

I own The First Crusade in CD format and unfortunately the lyrics for the tracks weren’t included in the liner notes. A bit of a shame really, seeing as the song’s lyrics in the bridge are in a completely different language. Or a mix of a various languages. All I can make out is ‘Guten abend’ and ‘Guten tag’, the rest I can make the sounds of… but I don’t know what he’s saying. Generally I think it’s just to show that television fascination is a something that happens all around the world. At least in the countries that speak the languages vocalist Gunnar Bergmann Ragnarsson sings during that part.

#603: The Beach Boys – I’m Waiting for the Day

You ever come across an album where you feel that every song could be a single? The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is the archetype of that kind of record. I’ve written about a few songs from the 1966 LP in the past, there will be more to come, and today’s post is about the album’s fifth track – ‘I’m Waiting for the Day’.

Brian Wilson had completed writing in the song in 1964 when The Beach Boys were still rooted in their ‘California, let’s go surfin” aesthetic. The track concerns a narrator who yearns to provide support for a girl who has had her heart broken by another person. It was clear that it did not fit The Beach Boys as they were in that year. However as the years went on the group turned toward more introspective and heartfelt lyricism which came to a head on Pet Sounds.

Placed right after the album’s slowest number, ‘I’m Waiting’ begins with booming timpanis and an overall uplifting introduction of flutes and a peeping organ before closing in on itself for the quieter verses where Wilson takes over with a beautiful lead vocal. The song’s quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic is a quality that was once noted by fellow band member Carl Wilson as a particular highlight and it’s hard to disagree with his sentiment. It’s very satisfying to hear that strike of the timpani after the first utterance of the song’s title followed by the addition of the Beach Boys’ glorious trademark harmonies take over the mix – and just as you think it could all burst at the seams the energy is sucked away and the focus is on Brian’s vocals again.

Talking about Brian Wilson’s vocals, he apparently wasn’t too happy with the way they turned out. He didn’t have a very strong feeling towards this song in general. The track doesn’t often get discussed to deeply. Perhaps Wilson’s attitude towards it is a reason. I still see it as a high point on a classic album.

#602: Wilco – I’m the Man Who Loves You

‘I’m the Man Who Loves You’ is the eighth song on Wilco’s 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It, ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’, and ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ are the songs from that album that I’ve been listening to for the longest time. There was something about those three on first listen that just grabbed me for whatever reason. ‘I’m the Man’ is probably the most relaxed out of them, though begins with an erratic guitar freak-out by Jeff Tweedy that gets things off to an unsteady start before eventually switching into a chilled acoustic number.

The song’s name is sung at the end of ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ so you may think that it would be some sort of centerpiece of the album. I certainly did at first. Maybe it is but I’ve never noticed how. To me it’s just another great song on there. Generally, it’s about Tweedy’s (or anyone’s) inability to express their love for someone. The lyrics describe a narrator trying to write a love-letter and failing at it. Though they wish they could express themselves to their fullest, they know that sometimes it can take a simple action to let their significant other know how much they care for them. Like holding their hand, for example.

Like I said earlier, there’s a very laidback and brisk quality to the track. As it progresses there are little flourishes added here and there that prevent the track from falling into a lull. Little keyboard presses on the left channel, ‘ooh-ooh’ backing vocals and then the magnificent horn section that suddenly appears during the last verse and stay for the track’s long outro. It would be during the final minute and ten seconds that a producer would decide to fade it out but it rather comically comes to an abrupt halt with the drums coming to a sudden stop and the lead guitar doing whatever it pleases. Seems as if they didn’t really know how to close things out. Still makes for some great listening.

I regarded ‘I’m the Man’ as one of the more ‘radio-friendly’ tracks from that album in a post back in 2015. Upon more frequent listens of the album I’ve realised that there are a few other songs on there that you would be more likely to hear on your station. Not that that’s important in any way…. I just had time to listen to the album closely to really appreciate other tracks on there. Check out Yankee Hotel Foxtrot everyone.