My iPod #497: Stevie Wonder – He’s Misstra Know-It-All

“He’s Misstra Know-It-All” closes Stevie Wonder’s seminal album Innvervisions. Preceded by tracks concerning racial tension, drug abuse and love ballads, the song is essentially a description of a man who gains people’s trust only to let them down, is a straight-up liar, only cares about subjects where there is money involved – whether he gains it or loses it, it doesn’t matter – and overall is someone that many people should avoid. The track is said to be about then President of the USA, Richard Nixon.

Despite the scathing lyrics describing this awful human being (I assume the femininisation of Mister to Miss-tra only emphasises Wonder’s disregard for this person), the song’s music itself is some of the calmest on the album. It is a wonderful five and a half minutes of piano, smooth chugging drums and Wonder’s voice along with some backing vocals that you have to nod your head back and forth to in appreciation. That is before the change up at around three minutes where Mr. Wonder begins to deliver his take with a greater passion (signified by an emphatic “BUM-BUUUHNA-BUUUHNA” ad-lib, hand-claps enter the mix, the rhythm sections play around with the rhythm here and there, and a stronger feel to the song’s groove and mood is brought about.

A real classic. Too good.

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My iPod #473: Happyness – Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same

No post yesterday. Got back home from university. Was very tired as a result. Nice to be back though. Let’s carry on.

Happyness are an indie rock trio from South London who I first heard about through NME. Basically what you see upon clicking on that link is a very nice description of the band and the page where I listened to “Great Minds” for the first time. For some reason, I remember immediately dismissing it. Reading what bands NME considered Happyness to sound like made me think the band was trying too hard. Thought the title was a bit much too. What the fuck. That was shallow of me. Very poor.

Instead, I actually listened to the track and found out that it is actually a very enjoyable listen. It is a perfect blend of deadpan but relatable lyrics with sweet, sweet melodies and chill vibes that make for some easy listening. All executed under two minutes too. Somwhere I read the track ties with the album’s apparent concept of a person born on the same day as Jesus Christ….. You can look that up of you want, I’m just okay with listening to the music if that’s alright.

Happyness are still under the radar a bit; if you like what you hear here, check out their album released last year.*

*This link is dead. 😐

My iPod #271: The Hives – Die, All Right!

 

It’s my birthday…. yaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Nineteen years old, by the way. You wanna know how I’ve spent it so far? Sleeping, eating and listening to music in my room. I really should have just slept until the evening and then gone to the shops to get the drinks in preparation for tonight’s antics. I was in a club in the very early hours of the morning cutting shapes to DJ Luck and MC Neat which was fun. But apart from that this birthday’s turned out to be the same as every other one – staying inside with the knowledge that I have existed for another year.

That wasn’t depressing at all, let’s move onto the song shall we?

So “Die, All Right!” is a track by The Hives on their second album “Veni Vidi Vicious“. I saw the video years ago on Kerrang! I think I was in Year 7 because I didn’t have a YouTube account then and I remember looking up the video because I thought it was quite cool. I wasn’t sure if it was a new song or not, because I had never seen the video before. Turned out it was on the same album as “Hate to Say I Told You So”, meaning that the song was, in fact, an old track. Apart from the weird point that the band were a bit orange, the song was still very good. It’s a bit of underrated one. I do like this a lot more than “Hate to Say” which can be argued to be the band’s signature track. Not that that track is a bad one, I’ve heard it so many times that it doesn’t do much for me anymore. Enough of that, I’m going off topic.

The song rocks many socks. Very quick and relentless, it doesn’t stop and allow you to catch your breath. It has the characteristics of all the good Hives songs. A memorable riff (one which I’m certain has been used in an advert in the past) which repeats and repeats until it embeds itself in your brain, lots of energy and the familiar exclamatives, yelps and howling vocals by charismatic front-man Pelle Almqvist. Good tune.

Happy birthday to me.

My iPod #257: Coldplay – Death and All His Friends

 

Ah, Coldplay. Not my favourite group. But nevertheless they are back with a new album, their sixth to be exact, in May entitled “Ghost Stories”. They’ve put out two songs already: “Midnight“, which got some polarizing feedback due to its minimalism  – and the first official single “Magic” which is quite similar to “Midnight in the way that there are barely any instruments in it, but actually has a beat and a good melody. It is the one which I like a bit myself and it is better than the former song. But that’s just my opinion.

Today’s song is the other title track from Coldplay’s fourth album “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends“, commonly known as “Viva la Vida”. Most people know it for the album where Coldplay changed. They went around wearing suits a la The Beatles during the Sgt. Pepper phase and generally went for a new approach in making their music. Some may have found it pretentious. I think it’s their best album. I have “Parachutes“, “A Rush” & “X&Y“; they have their moments, but “Viva” along with “Prospekt’s March” – that is good listening. No to “Mylo Xyloto” though.

The beginning of “Death and All His Friends” is actually a song that was meant to be separate altogether. This was its original incarnation. It’s very calm and soothing for the first half before bursting into life when the rest of the band join in and abruptly changing into the soaring and climactic ending (in 7/4 time signature) which will catch any first listener by surprise. The song is a triumphant ending to a wonderful album. There is a full version of the instrumental that you hear at the beginning of the very first track of the album, but I cut that out before putting it on my iPod. You can’t beat that ending.

My iPod #75: Morning Runner – Be All You Want Me to Be

This is the first song I heard by Morning Runner.

I was watching music television one day. I think the channel was The Amp -which was a really good music channel; I don’t know why it got removed – and I watched the video for it.

But you know how it goes. Time moves on, and songs get older and older until they eventually fade away and are hardly ever played again. I never forgot about the song though. I wasn’t able to watch the video again until sometime in 2010. I downloaded the song, and I can have it on repeat whenever I want.

It’s got that “Rush of Blood” Coldplay type vibe. Apparently it influenced Chris Martin to write songs with Coldplay for “X&Y”, so obviously it must be good.

The song was released as the band’s second single from their debut album “Wilderness Is Paradise Now”. Their debut was also their last as the band then split in 2007. People may also know this band for “Gone Up in Flames”, a song in FIFA 07 and the theme song for “The Inbetweeners”.

Until tomorrow.

Jamie.

P.S. I created a Twitter account, so if you want to follow me please do @JamieKManteaw.

Bye, bye.

My iPod #56: George Harrison – Awaiting on You All

Alright everyone, we’ve reached the end.

The end of the ‘A’ section that is. It’s been a good two months.

When I first came onto Blogger, I didn’t have anything in mind that I wanted to get off my chest. The first thing I had was just talking about things that were interesting to me, or events in my life that I had regrets about or whatever.

When I changed my mind and decided to focus on ‘My iPod’, I never thought I would be able to continuously talk about a song and why it meant so much to me for fifty-six days straight, and yet here I am about to post about another one.

I have exams. Those are very important, so I probably won’t be posting on here as regularly. Maybe something will pop up here and there, but for the moment ‘My iPod’ won’t be back until June.

And so, the song today is ‘Awaiting on You All’ by George Harrison, another one from his triple album, ‘All Things Must Pass’, in 1970.

Beatles fans will know that out of the four, George was the most religious. Or at least the one who most believed that there was an almighty, higher power who cared for the world and the people who inhabit it.

Any of you guys who also own ‘All Things Must Pass’ will definitely know the song, ‘My Sweet Lord‘. That song was George’s first single as a solo artist, and topped the music charts worldwide upon release in 1970. It got to number one in the UK again after his death in 2001.

‘My Sweet Lord’ is a very religious song, for obvious reasons. But for those who haven’t heard it, Harrison incorporates the use of the “Hare Krishna” mantra and chants of hallelujahs which build up as a countermelody whilst Harrison sings, building an epic climax which eventually fades out. With Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ production technique, there is this gigantic albeit very echoey atmosphere.

‘Awaiting on You All’ is quite religious too, and if ‘My Sweet Lord’ is the music that plays on the organ in church when the service is starting, everyone is sitting down and the pastor or whoever is up on the stage announcing what will take place, then the former is when the first hymn starts and everybody is up on the feet, yelling rejoice to the heavens, bellowing the lungs to the skies above and break dancing in the middle of the aisle. Maybe I’m thinking of The Blues Brothers, but that’s what it reminds me of.

‘Awaiting’ has more of a political message to it than My Sweet Lord. Harrison desires to experience spirituality directly whilst rejecting organised religion as well as political and intellectal substitutes. That is basically what it says on the song’s article on Wikipedia. He criticises the Pope, and includes jibes at John Lennon and Yoko Ono about their week in bed.

“THE LORD IS AWAITING ON YOU ALL TO AWAKEN AND SEE.
BY CHANTING THE NAMES… OF THE LORD…. YOU WILL BE FREE!”

HALLELUJAH, TESTIFY!

Come on, that sounds like something a guy would say in church, am I right? Or am I right?

Oh well. That’s the end for now. You won’t be hearing from me for some time. Got work to do.

‘My iPod’ will be back in June! When the ‘B’ series begins!

Until then.

Jamie.

My iPod #28: Test Icicles – All You Need Is Blood

All You Need Is Blood! Get it? It’s almost like that Beatles song.

Test Icicles certainly weren’t the band who sounded like they were influenced by The Beatles. Again, they were a band, but unfortunately the music that made was not the music that they were particularly interested in. They formed in 2004, and later split two years later in 2006.

The album this track was released on ‘For Screening Purposes Only’, was released to positive praise on Halloween 2005. Test Icicles were the next biggest thing in dance-punk indie rock terms. Considered to be ‘bigger than The Beatles’ by NME and ‘all cobra’ by Pitchfork Media, the album indeed is very eccentric and filled to the brim with bursting energy, backed up with crazy guitars and a booming, yet pre-recorded, rhythm section.

My sister went through a period around 2005/06 when she started borrowing various albums from her friends. She borrowed this one.

Test Icicles had three main vocalists who all brought their own sound to the table. The main vocalist on this song is Devonte Hynes, though you may know him better as Lightspeed Champion. In fact, Hynes only sings this song and the mindfuck that is ‘Catch It!‘ Sam Mehran sings part of the chorus and pre-chorus too.

I don’t know what this song is about to be honest. You would have to listen to it for yourself to try and get something, but you don’t have to understand a song to enjoy it.

Look out for the backwards rap at the end of the song, also done by Sam Mehran.

If you want to know how the rap sounds like forwards, click here. That’s my video 😀

The song ends. Then, out of nowhere, a bass riff starts. Reminds you of Jaws doesn’t it? It hypnotises you, sets you in a real mysterious, foreboding mood. It leads right into the next song. That’s for another post.

Until next time.

Jamie.