Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Andrew Lloyd Weezer

Weezer's Pinkerton is a brilliant album. Some people debate its preeminence, focusing their adulation instead upon the band's debut 'blue' album.

To them I say, 'I respectfully yet emphatically disagree with your point of view.'

Heck yes.

Falling For You (download mp3 via YouSendIt) is all about the guitar solo from 2.10, and the accompanying extra-matured-cheddar-cheesy sequence of key-changes, which could almost come from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.


... All culminating in a lovely interrupted cadence (/key change) at 2.35 (translation: you were expecting triumphant and happy; it goes sad and wistful). The beauty is that these are such hackneyed musical motifs and devices. It's almost banal. But – crucially – not even slightly so in this context.

It mentions cellos, too, thereby notching up several bonus points.

Weren't Weezer so much better before they went compression-mad? Why the hell doesn't Rivers Cuomo write songs like this any more? Songs that teeter majestically on the upturned drawing-pin balanced on the hairline division between irony and intense self-revelation.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Blithe Pop From Ben Kweller

Ben Kweller is going to do us the favour, today, of kicking off a new theme – falling – with his song of the same name:

My first encounter with Mr Kweller was at a gig back in my student days. I went along to see Mull Historical Society – who were, frankly, dire – and this chap was supporting. He came onstage wildly strumming a guitar and doing his best country & western yowl.

As one, the audience – stunned into silence – turned their horrified gaze in his direction. A unilateral WTF.

Just as the jeering threatened to begin, he made a seamless transition into breezy-extrabeat-bopalong 'How It Should Be (Sha Sha)'. Mischievously superb.

Not only accomplished in terms of the musicianship on display, his set was also witty and varied. Exactly the opposite, then, of the headliners.

'Falling' was on the EP Phone Home CD that I bought at that gig ... And subsequently reappeared on Kweller's debut album. A lovely, simple, airy pop song.

(His second album, though, is a bit pants. Stick to the first, I recommend.)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lingering Seconds With Megan Palmer

A suspended 2nd in a minor chord. Minor 9th, if that's the way you prefer to think of it. A pretty scrunchy, yet still tonal, melodic and (relatively) accessible dissonance. And quite a nice'n at that.

Megan Palmer makes good use of these babies in today's song, Hair of the Dog (download mp3 via YouSendIt). Listen as she sings, 'Better to chase or be chased' (the second line of the song) - the way the melody stubbornly refuses to resolve, lingering on the 2nd. The motif recurs throughout.

Chord-wise, this is a simple song: nothing too tricksy happening ... Allowing the melody, with its enforced dissonance, to remain at centre-stage.

I like the unfussy, recorded-in-a-room violin – pleasantly imperfect.

If, dear Soiler, this is to your taste, why not shimmy over to the official Megan Palmer site?

Monday, 3 November 2008

An ear-scything return to the credit crunch theme

A couple of weeks back, here on Heavy Soil, we indulged ourselves in topical manner with a soundtrack to the credit crunch.

Although I'd wound up that theme, musician and prolonged flickerer Mr Ally Craig yesterday sent me the following song:

In Ally's words: "Not exactly easy on the ears, harmony-wise (and that's rich coming from me), but rather good I think."

The boy jests not. It's pretty intense stuff. The deliberate, austere harmonies (bitonal, atonal) combined with a forthright, strident melodicism often apparently unrelated to its backing remind me of Benjamin Britten (one for another day, I feel).

One thing with this recording is that, on my headphones, it was almost unbearably cutting (I had to turn the volume right down to save my poor ears). Old recording. So, yes, I'd possibly advocate a bit of judicious EQing, depending on your listening context ...

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