My iPod #561: The Rolling Stones – I Am Waiting

I’m not the biggest Rolling Stones fan. Not that I have anything against them as people or the music they make. I listened to what is considered to be their golden streak of albums from 1968’s Beggars Banquet to their 1972 double album Exile on Main St. I even gave Their Satanic Majesties Request a try. But from all of those there are only a few songs that I really enjoy. They’re just not for me. But that’s alright. They do their thing for millions of other people.

Same as ‘I Am the Cosmos’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘I Am Waiting’ appeared in my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify one day at some point last year. The track is from their 1966 album Aftermath. I haven’t listened to that album and probably should, but from what limited knowledge I possess this was produced in a period of time when they weren’t so bluesy in their musical approach – experimenting their sound whilst still remaining quite poppy.

What I like most about ‘I Am Waiting’ apart from its melody is how its instrumentation manages to match the lyrical content. Mick Jagger sings about waiting for something to happen in the sneaky quiet verses, and when the anxiety gets too much the drums come in with a thump and the song builds in intensity for the chorus. A dynamic that has worked well for many a band in history.

See the band perform it on British 60s music TV show Ready Steady Go! below. Jagger has a creepy-creep stare going on halfway through.

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My iPod #560: Wilco – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

The story goes that Wilco were going through some inner turmoil during the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, particularly between lead singer and guitarist Jeff Tweedy and fellow guitarist and composer Jay Bennett. Their original record label weren’t so impressed with the final result of their work, rejected it and told the band to get out of their faces, leaving them with an album to provide but no label to release it. Eventually things all fell into place. Wilco got signed again. The album, originally slated for September 2001, was physically released to the masses months later in May 2002. Critics ate it up, fans loved it. Still do to this day. It has gone down as one of the best albums of the opening decade of this century.

‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’ is the album’s opener. It’s seven minutes long. It takes about a minute of that time for the song’s main chord progression to make itself known after a sort of instrumental prelude of pianos, percussion and organs. Tweedy’s mellow voice comes in with the album’s first (and possibly most quoted) lines “I am an American aquarium drinker/I assassin down the avenue/I’m hiding out in the big city blinking/What was I thinking when I let go of you?”, and it all goes on from there really. You have to listen to it for that full experience.

Tweedy doesn’t have the greatest singing voice. Not soulful, or belting from the stomach or whatever. But it’s just perfect for the whole mood of the track. And the album in general. The vocal melody is the most simple thing. But it’s great. It will get in your head. And accompanied by the very full mix provided by Jim O’Rourke, it’s an enrapturing listen. It’s hard to not find yourself in a bit of a trance when hearing this. You probably won’t feel it on your first listen. It’ll sink in.

Above is the supposed demo of the tune, as recorded by Jay Bennett before it went through remixing for the album. Some prominent smooth Rhodes(?) piano in there, but not quite the same.

My iPod #517: The Explosion – Here I Am

“Here I Am” was the first single by American punk rock band The Explosion, and appeared as the third track on their second album Black Tape. Like the majority of tracks on that album it focuses on a theme of greed and corruption in our society, and here it is the police who are the subject matter. Though the narrator wonders on ‘the golden age’ of yesterday when things weren’t so bad, he soon realises that those times are gone and that the present is what he should really be focusing on.

Being a punk rock song there is nothing but guitars, bass and drums delivered to you, but it’s quite different in that the music is very melodic and addictive to listen to. The lead guitar riff catches your attention straight away – it is buried in the mix a bit on the album version but it is at the forefront of the mix in the video – and lead singer Matt Hock’s raspy vocals are a perfect fit to the song’s elating instrumentation.

This song sound familiar to you? Did you own Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, Burnout 3: Takedown, and Pixar’s Cars on the PlayStation 2? There’s your answer.

My iPod #338: Kanye West ft. DJ Premiere – Everything I Am

“Everything I Am” was a song that was made for Common that was passed on, something Kanye West mentions early in the song.

It was composed using only a Rhodes piano, a vocal sample, and some scratching, this song stands as the album’s most stripped down production. West marries a down-tempo beat to gentle piano chords that are accentuated by soulful cooing sampled from “If We Can’t Be Lovers” by Prince Phillip Mitchell.

This is soulful and mellow beat is complemented with Kanye’s very introspective lyrics about topics such as self-examination, personal troubles, his own flaws and made up gangsters.

The track features a scratched hook by DJ Premier on the vocal sample: “here we go again,” from Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”. After West had played an early version of this record for Premier and asked him his thoughts on it. DJ Premier answered he liked the lyrics and the beat and offered to put scratches on it.

……. OK, that was a definite cop out. That’s all from RapGenius, I’m sorry.

I couldn’t put a description of the song in better words myself. Mostly because I didn’t know most of the information that is there.

“Everything I Am” is chill, man. I like it just because of its modesty and humour (something you probably wouldn’t say about him today) and because of the cool, laid back beat which you only have to nod your head to and really focus on what the man has to say.

I miss old Kanye maaaaaaan, bring him back, this is what I waaaaant.

Seriously.

My iPod #143: be your own PET – Bunk Trunk Skunk/Thoughts on "AM" and "Reflektor"

 

I’m very bored. I’m a bit upset too. I’m currently at home by myself and you would think “what’s the matter with you, surely you could do anything you want?” Yes. I’m not that kind of person though. I have food in here, an eclectic choice of music on my iTunes library and a few games on my PS3. But it’s not enough. The weather isn’t great, and even if I wanted to go out there’s nothing in my area that interests me. I may sound like a grouch, but it’s true. This may be the sign that university will probably be the best thing I could have right now. Only ten more days to go.

For today’s song, it’s be your own PET again. I didn’t get a lot of views for yesterday’s post. be your own PET haven’t been a band for five years now which may play a part in that. It may have also been the way I outlined the song. There’s a range of possibilities.

“Bunk Trunk Skunk” is the second song on the band’s debut album. My sister had this on her Creative Zen Micro, but did not put it onto the Windows Media Player library that was on our old Windows XP computer. So when I snuck into her bedroom and took the Zen, I made sure that I listened to the song.

I realised why she may not have wanted me to listen to the song. Even though I was eleven at the time. It’s basically about prostitution, or some sort of activity which involves sex. My sis was very much against my knowledge of that subject.

The song is a real rocker. Every instrument is loud, Jemina Pearl shrieks that she is an ‘independent motherfucker with barely any effort. This track is definitely one to freak out to. Not dance. Just swing your arms around and lose control. Structurally, there isn’t really a chorus because everything that is said is repeated more than once, but it’s at the end when the band increase in tempo before not giving a shit what they’re playing. The cacophony of noise ends with a drum roll which collides into the next song. It’s better if you listen to both songs together just for that moment.

Jamie.

ARCTIC MONKEYS – “AM”

Oh, you thought I was finished? Oh, no. It was only the release of Arctic Monkeys’ new album on Monday! (Or yesterday, depending on where you live).

I haven’t bought it yet, but I listened to the exclusive stream on iTunes. I said in my “Brick by Brick” post that I haven’t been very excited for an Arctic Monkeys release for some time, and that was very much the same for “AM” too.

“R U Mine?” was supposed to be the non-album single that wouldn’t appear on another commercial release, but that ended up being the second track. I thought it was OK, when I first heard it. The song really relies on its scaly riff which plays throughout most of the track, and that applies to many other songs on “AM”, including the first proper single “Do I Wanna Know?”

The one thing that annoyed me on this album were the constant high-pitched backing vocals which appear on almost every song but apart from that the rest of the album is very solid. You’ve got more of those observational lyrics that everyone loves to hear from Alex Turner. Most of the tracks are riff oriented as I’ve already said. It’s an album to wear a leather jacket and sunglasses to, and then proceed to nod your head to the beat.

It is clear that these are not the same Arctic Monkeys from 2006. They have evolved into this new thing – I can’t explain it, they’ve developed this new sound. It’s a totally different band. It’s similar to The Strokes. People look to “Whatever People Say I Am” and automatically compare the rest of their work to it. But Arctic Monkeys have grown, Alex Turner’s voice has deepened into a smooth croon sufficient to make any lady weak at the knees. I think they’ve reached their stage of enlightenment.

“I Wanna Be Yours” is my highlight, it incorporates lyrics from a poem by John Cooper Clarke. It has a very dreamlike atmosphere about it. That’s all I say. Get the album if you’re interested.

ARCADE FIRE – REFLEKTOR

Goodness me. Arcade Fire too?

Uh-huh. Arcade Fire release their fourth album “Reflektor” this October, and this is the video for the title track.

One thing to notice is how bloody long it is. It’s almost eight minutes! Don’t let that stop you from listening. A lot of things happen in it. I can’t remember enough to tell you everything, the word “Reflektor” is sung a fair amount of times and the legend that is David Bowie is in there!

It has a relentless disco 4/4 beat, similar to Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) and there may be a lot of fans who hate that. It is produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. I’m not sure but maybe that could have had something to do with it. We’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the album sounds.

This is a very promising release though. It’s very adventurous.

Jamie.