On Repeat: “The Diamond” My Brightest Diamond

https://i1.wp.com/www.onetunes.ru/wp-content/uploads/r/1489926/6.jpgI was listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered today, and they described Bjork’s music as “celestial.” I think there are many moments that My Brightest Diamond does the same thing, even if not in such a grandiose way, on this album.

I think a lot of that celestial feeling in My Brightest Diamond comes from the delicate weaving of strings, harp, moody piano bass, and breathy background vocalisations.  And *that* is exactly what I find so enchanting about this body of work. It is graceful and violent. But! I am not here to talk about the album as a whole, but just the beautifully bitter “The Diamond;” which incidentally is my very first MBD song. *sigh*

I can tell you first off that what drew me into the murky and lovely universe of “The Diamond” is Shara Nova’s dark tinted, breathy delivery. She also is very talented at giving stony, sharp reproaches–which you can hear in this song’s lines “are you coming?” and “you must feel splendid.”

I really love the drums in this track, which are muted and almost sound canned. There is also a very light guitar tremolo in parts that remind me of the slight tremble in a tense voice. It’s one of those parts that is easy to miss, but would completely change the texture of the song if it weren’t there. Also, Maeve Gilchrist on harp is just phenomenal. Her part starts out slow and spaced, but builds into the verses in such a way that you feel like you are being carried away on a wave. It is perfect and in my opinion, is what makes this track sparkle.

Honest to stars, if you’ve never listened to My Brightest Diamond’s “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth,” please please give it a whirl. You’ll need a quiet time, some candles and possibly some wine or maybe a toasty cup of coffee and a cloudy day, but it is well worth giving it the space to breath it’s beauty into your life.

5/5

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On Repeat: “The Diamond” My Brightest Diamond

New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/9/90/Run_Rabbit_Run_cover.jpg/220px-Run_Rabbit_Run_cover.jpgI got this track to add to a mix cd for my mom, a year-of-the-monkey herself. I’m not sure that I love it, but it -is- good.

It is stark and bewildering. In many ways, a complete contrast to their “Year of the Dragon” (me : D). Although it begins bright and a bit shy, most of the track is filled with dissonant chords, phrases that start and stop, and seemingly none on repeat. This finally works its way into a huge swelling bridge that overwhelms the senses. It then takes a huge gasp for breath and pushes harder into the swirl of discomfort. After which, the bridge promptly breaks down into jangling that is even more disorienting than the beginning of the song. It is very much the kind of compositional arch you might find in a running-confused-through-the-forest type film scene.

Overall, I find it quite beautiful in a jabbing, dangerous sort of way. Definitely worth a taste.

3.5/5

New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson

On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CffYry0WsAEpVyG.jpgThis song very rapidly and unexpectedly became my anthem for around the clock–walking to work, working, walking home, showering, and knowing me–singing it in my dreams. I never seek out Modest Mouse songs, they just sort of *find me* when I need them the most.

I think, in part, it was really the only appropriate theme song for my approaching-return-of-saturn apprehension. In general the lyrics are basically like, “if life isn’t gonna be a damn ball, then I’m fucking going down with it” hammered throughout with the “PLEASE bury me with it!” This was clicking really well with my nostalgic review of my 20’s–what was really rad that I don’t want to lose? What do I never want to experience ever, ever again? All underlined by Isaac Brock’s exasperated delivery of “I just don’t need none of that Mad Max bullshit.”

In terms of composition, the track has a lot of “regular visitors” from the Modest Mouse sound–not a bad thing. This quality helps you “feel like home” in many of their songs. I do love the little repeated bass licks in this track. It really helps keep it all moving forward. It’s also really fun to listen to how the drums and bass sort of flow in and out of each other–it’s very subtle, but is cool to focus on through a listen.

All in all, this is a great jam. In the same breath, I don’t know that I’d offer this as a first Modest Mouse song to a new listener. It’s sort of like your rowdy, drunk friend. They are a blast to hang out with, but it might be a little awkward to introduce them to a stranger before they sober up.

4/5

On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse

On Repeat: “BTSTU” Jai Paul

https://i1.wp.com/www.localsuicide.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Jai-Paul-debut-album-white-background.pngThis song is so damn hypnotic. I considered not giving it a second shout out, since I’ve already reviewed it as new music–which, itself, was really just a redirect to the awesome Pfork review. BUT. It is really that fucking good.

I was already in love with it when I decided to make the purchase, and it has really blossomed into a steady obsession and is in the regular “pretend I’m a rock star in the shower” rotation. It has this slurry dubstep bass that just pulls at the raw part in my soul. This alone is enough to suck me into the jam time and again, but on top of that it has this beautiful sonic counterpoint of his soft, angelic melody floating through the verses–so that just as you are about to drift off into some falsetto induced reverie, you get hit with this deep, sludgy pounding that wakes you right the fuck up.

It really is a magic track. If you STILL haven’t listened, please. do. You won’t regret it, I promise. : D

5/5

On Repeat: “BTSTU” Jai Paul

New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8Ql4hVJzLB0/maxresdefault.jpgAlthough this is new to my digital library, it is not new to the marriage-merge CD library. But! This creates a nice opportunity to give a shout out to a great little song that helped me through some shit times in Eugene, OR. For whatever reason, the first few tracks of this album (The Builders and the Butchers) became my daily post-Safeway-hell go to. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for the god-awful swine flu that I had in 2009…we’ll never know.

The vocal melody on this track is hypnotic.  But I think even more than that, the percussion on this and several other songs on this album is what drives the addiction. They use many different percussive instruments throughout “Spanish Death Song” and it really gives you the feel of being in a live music circle. Which to come full circle, is not that far from the block-surrounding-the-Kiva vibe of downtown Eugene. If you’re into faux-gypsy-indie-clap-alongs, check this one out. : D

4/5

 

 

New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers

On Repeat: “Bottom” Tool; “Right Here in My Arms” H.I.M.

https://i2.wp.com/i35.servimg.com/u/f35/18/41/48/62/rs-18710.jpgThis is a hilarious double header. I must say I haven’t been particularly nostalgic for my Sophomore year of high school of late, and yet my music obsessions this month would state otherwise. I have always been way more into Tool than H.I.M., so getting stuck on one of their songs isn’t too surprising. But! There are still a handful of H.I.M. songs that will make my heart go pitter-patter because that voice!! So perhaps this is just the tail end of this summer’s obsession with the “deep” boys of my collection. *shrug*

First up is “Bottom” by Tool. I have never been an enormous fan of Undertow. Is it momentous for 90’s rock/metal? Absolutely. It’s just not my favorite Tool flavor–with the https://i.pinimg.com/736x/30/0f/75/300f757c11b0feba8d5163d72c617713--maynard-james-keenan-james-darcy.jpgexception of “Bottom.” I just cannot help singing along when he screams that first “dead inside.” (As a comical side effect of ripping this album from a friend, I had no idea the spoken part was Henry Rollins until…like this month. So I’ve always been really confused at why Maynard always sounds like such a dipdip in interviews when he sounds so manly here XD …I guess now I know.) Other than Maynard’s gorgeously powerful delivery of this song, I think another drive for my high play count was my recent reading of the lyrics, which I had never bothered to look into before. Frankly, I feel like they perfectly encompass the shitty angst of one’s late twenties. So perhaps I *couldn’t* have enjoyed this song fully until you know…shit started adding up at the bottom. lalala (As a second aside, if you have NEVER LISTENED TO TOOL for the love of God don’t let this be your first song lol. And if it must be, because now you’re curious… just realize that this song came out in ’93…so as cheesy as it may sound to our 2017 ears, it was very, very ahead of it’s time in many respects.)

https://metalshockfinland.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/villevalo.jpg?w=197&h=197Speaking of cheesy, guilty pleasures–H.I.M. Prepare thine guyliner. Can we just…for a minute…*goth drools* I have been very surprised to find that despite not being a 15 year old goth kid anymore, I still love the shit out of H.I.M. songs and I still find Ville Vallo’s pale, druggy-skinny, are-you-actually-a-vampire look really attractive. Honestly, I don’t think I have anything musically interesting to say about this song. They have chuggy, catchy rock/metal(ish) songs, but it’s really just Ville’s voice that carries them into something worth listening to over and over. So if you haven’t had the glorious pleasure of listening to “Right Here in My Arms” before (lol), go check out the video for it. You get to hear this https://i.pinimg.com/originals/bb/7e/60/bb7e60ebfa3929062074095603ad8eb5.jpggreat little jam and see Ville Vallo and the gang in peak goth-stardom sexiness (and pretend he’s singing to you : P).

All in all, there just aren’t that many guys who can go deep, ya know?? I like to appreciate the ones who do. BYE.

On Repeat: “Bottom” Tool; “Right Here in My Arms” H.I.M.

On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston

https://verzweigung.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/5de77-whitney-houston-i-have-nothing-lyrics.jpg?w=410&h=215This song is HARD. I don’t mean a fun challenge. I mean it is a belter masterpiece. I have been intensely studying it for about 3 or 4 months and I have ONCE hit the belted high notes. For you non-singy people this is a different ball game from just singing “high” notes at a normal level. For example go try to sing the hook for “Only Girl (In the World)” by Rihanna at full force…kinda hard, huh? This is higher…

When I was pre-gaming for this post I wanted to rewatch this segment of The Bodyguard (the movie this song came from, in case you weren’t alive or live under a rock) and I noticed that the lip-sync performance in the movie does not imitate belting at all, which is utterly bizarre to watch. This prompted me to go watch some live performances on the YouTube to see just how much power she was actually using to sing this song. The answer is a fucking lot.

Which almost satiated my curiosity, and frankly my need for validation that this song is fucking hard…but. Video after video…after video…after video. Even the incredibly talented goddess of melisma HERSELF does not attempt to sing it as recorded for the studio album. In every live performance I’ve watched so far, they drop the key. This results in the song not sounding that much different, and to the average pop listener maybe not noticeable at all, but makes it much easier on the vocal chords because she doesn’t have to leap up to that incredible note on “close” of “don’t make me close one more door” while still leaping to a slightly more manageable note and sounding incredible (because she is). It’s a musical illusion that saves voices and embarrassment. (And by the way Rihanna does the same thing in her live performances of “Only Girl.”)

I bring this up not to disparage the approach, but rather to reinforce that these studio vocal gymnastics are HARD. We have no idea how many times it took these professionals to reach up there and make it happen for the record, so it’s kind of foolish to say “oh I’m no (insert Diva here)” –you might be!! Even they don’t hit those spectacular notes on most days, or reliably enough to bet on it in a live setting.

This is why “I Have Nothing” is such a demanding song that I obsess over. The crown jewel of The Bodyguard, her cover of “I Will Always Love You,” is beautiful and challenging in its own way; but “I Have Nothing” is the more stunning of the two. The gentle piano harmonies, the punching horns, all just caress the roller coaster of emotions. But to be honest, the musical accompaniment could be a dump truck pouring trash and I wouldn’t give a fuck–that voice is all I hear.

If you’ve never had the privilege, check out some of these live performances–she is brilliant.

5/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to 11.

On Repeat: “I Have Nothing” Whitney Houston