Archive | December, 2015

Sea White Salt Draws Symphonic Melodies

29 Dec

joseph-sant

The soft piano and symphonic melodies start off the sound of Sea White Salt right, with the vocals of Joseph Sant effortlessly accompanying the meticulously placed ambiance, drawing you in for more. Recorded with producer Gabriel Galvin in overnight marathon sessions, Sea White Salt delivers a resilient message. The overall tone of Sea White Salt carries the environmental inspirations of Seattle, Washington and Brooklyn, New York. When one listens to the album, one can cross the parallels of musical textures with Sant’s background. On the standout track of Sea White Salt, one can hear the soul and kind hearted love within the track, that transcends as an undertone on the EP. Drawing comparisons of their sound to Broken Social Scene and the dream pop circuit,  Joseph Sant’s deliverance and creation does not disappoint. With longtime collaborators, Stirling Krussing, Tyler Graham, Gabriel, Galvin, and Georgia Tan, the five piece band definitely works together to create a dream pop sound for all to hear.

For more listening:

Top 10 Songs of 2015 – #1: “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) by AWOLNATION

25 Dec

result-138

Merry Christmas everyone! You have made it to the #1 song on the Music Court’s annual countdown. So, what has found itself among the distinguished company of past top songs like “King of Spain,” “The Afterlife,” “Pompeii,” and “Got it?” We have to travel back to January 2015 and “the center of the hollow moon” for this gem.

The #1 song of 2015 is “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” by the eclectic, potent, and genre-less AWOLNATION.

There are so many comments that I want to make about this song that I just don’t know where to begin. So, for the sake of chronology, I will start from the first few seconds of the song. Do you know the feeling when you listen to the first few notes of a song – in this case AWOLNATION employs a rhythmic electronic beat – and you know immediately that this song is about to be played on repeat several times. It’s a gut feeling, but most times you are correct. In this case, my hypothesis was tested and proven true.

The draw of this song is the electronic beat, the electric conductivity of the song that makes the listener feel like he/she is in the middle of a Nikola Tesla experiment. Aaron Bruno, the mastermind of AWOLNATION, possesses a unique artistic ability to make any song he creates sound perspicacious and driving. The song powers forward with Bruno’s almost reckless voice mixed with fragmented percussion. The chorus, which features the repetition of the line, “Ima make a deal with the bad wolf so the bad wolf don’t bite no more,” carries forward with a unique, toe-tapping, almost pernicious intensity; this quasi-wickedness is one of the best qualities of AWOLNATION’s music; every song sounds like there is some evil, malevolent intent behind it, and that makes the song powerful.

How about cleverness? Does the song have any cleverness. It certainly does. Bruno sings about making a deal with the bad wolf and then subtly, in his repetition of the lines, sings “Ima bad wolf” indicating that he is the entity he wishes to make a deal with, thus introducing an acute duality.

From there, the song escalates with imprecation and anger. The song is almost violent in its power, reckless and entropic. The disorder of the song is ordered. The carelessness of the song is clean. The song is an oxymoron and that is just the way the band wanted it. And, thankfully, as you see in the video above, the video reflects the song perfectly, depicting frozen dancers who eventually erupt in a wild dance party.

“Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)” is the clear choice for song of the year. It is creative, unique, eccentric, and tremendous. The song is a melodic and visual spectacle. It is a depiction of the talent of AWOLNATION, and I, for one, cannot wait to hear more from this band.

Top 10 Songs of 2015: #2 – “Multi-Love” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

25 Dec

umo

I think it is reasonable to say most music written is about love. Love is an emotion that has such imperceptible power, it could carve a Grand Canyon into anyone’s heart. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson wrote his newest album in the wake of a relationship’s dissolution, though the falling out is not with his wife. Multi Love is an autobiographical record, about Nielson’s brief but intense experience with polyamory.

The title track of the record, though glossing over many of the finer details of the relationship, still provides an accurate portrait of Nielson’s broken spirit. “Multi love checked into my heart and trashed it like a hotel room,” the song begins. The image is so perfect, evoking this dingy, romantic version of what rock and roll was years ago. It matches the tinted feeling of the track (and record) and works together to form this emotional harmony.

Nielson did not enjoy such internal harmony at times during, and especially after one of his partners left the picture. His wife had suggested that a woman that both of them were mutually enamored with live with them for a few months. Like Nielson and his wife, the newcomer was a New Zealander, and once her visa expired, reality set in. Nielson was juggling feelings for his wife as well as this other woman that he knew so intimately, that his wife also knew intimately. His heart was pulled in multiple directions, with so many implications that he’d never even considered that he’d have to consider, and he was fatigued. This album is how he channeled his energy during his regular bouts of insomnia, and was a healthy way to cope with his loss.

The song shifts in energy via the instrumentation, where the syntax plays an integral role. The first verse slowly opens the track, introducing us to the God who suffocates Nielson with an emotion that destroys him and yet is the inspiration for this entire album. The drums give way for the next verse, then the blunt refrain:

“Multi love has got me on my knees
We were one, then become three
Mama, what have you done to me?
I’m half crazy”

The instrumentation from the beginning of the track returns with the third verse, as if reconsidering the whole affair. That sense is thrown out when the rock n roll image returns, this time with the energy of the drums behind it. It feels so matter-of-fact, as if to say, yes, I feel truly awful and it’s tough to comprehend but I don’t really want to keep discussing it so stop asking.

You wouldn’t have as many questions were you to listen to the album in full, out now on Jagjaguwar. The idea of polyamory is something I almost distrusted until I read more about Nielson, and the emotion in Multi Love is palpable. Pick a copy up today. 

Find more information on Unknown Mortal Orchestra on their website, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Top 10 Songs of 2015 – #3: “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges

24 Dec

Leon Bridges

Here is an immediate fun fact about Leon Bridges. He is not Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, or Marvin Gaye. He is, however, young enough to be any of those singers’ grandsons. That’s surprising isn’t it, especially after you listen to the following:

Let me repeat my earlier statement: Bridges is not one of those seminal soul artists; that said, he is doing his best to assure that the legacy of these individuals is not spoiled. I am going to make a proclamation; it’s bold, I’m just giving you bold morning. If Bridges had been his age in 1965, we would be talking about him in the same breath as the singers I mentioned earlier. Bold, yes. Reckless, no. Bridges is already a consummate musician and performer; he is deft and adroit, a passionate performer and baby-face smooth singer. Bridges is tremendous in every sense of the term. If he represents the future of music, music is in good hands.

For an “oldies” music lover like me who adores both Motown and STAX records, Bridges is refreshing. He is a chip off the old block. He is what music should be, what it should sound like. And the fact that Bridges’ song “Coming Home” was a Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotfy that is a good sign for the direction of music. His debut album of the same name as the title track hit #6 on the charts depicting an insatiable urge of individuals for pure, old-fashioned, unadulterated music. There are no special effects here. It is Bridges, a keyboard, two guitars (one of bass variety), and some drums. The formula for great music is not complicated. When I wrote about this song some time ago, I also had some flattering comments about the song, which I will share below.

“Coming Home” immediately takes on the feel of “You Send Me” with tastes of “A Change is Gonna Come,” and Bridges soft croon, a smoother Hozier (to make a modern comparison), has a rich Gospel feel to it that is just the right kind of sweet, not mawkish and not overpowering – it’s a voice that you can sink into, like silky gelato. The song itself is classic early Motown. It is carried by a bluesy piano and guitar mixed with traditional percussion. It is not difficult to imagine Sam Cooke or Otis Redding singing this song, and Bridges’ voice is not really a step down; heck, I am almost willing to go so far to exclaim that Bridges parallels the singers in a sense. Not too shabby.”

Top 10 Songs of 2015 – #4 “Here in Iowa” by Korallreven

22 Dec

 

korallreven

“Here in Iowa” is an objectively great song. The samples are all over the place, but it’s the story behind the song that makes it so special. This is a farewell song, and every part of it contributes to the legacy of Korallreven. 

Perhaps I’m being too dramatic. Korallreven are a Swedish duo, comprised of Marcus Joons and Daniel Tjader, the latter of which is also known for his involvement with The Radio Dept. They put “Here in Iowa” out in August, and released a statement along with it, explaining that they would be ceasing to release material as Korallreven. This track gave their goodbye weight, carrying the emotion that a written note could not; it is, for all intents and purposes, an act of closure. 

But “Iowa” is not a sad song- on the contrary, it was also one of the happiest songs I heard all year. It reminds me of one of my favorite television farewells, the final scene of Flight of the Conchords. Bret and Jemaine were deported back to New Zealand and had to revert back to their old professions as shepherds, but they still found ways to do what they love- make music. I presume Joons and Tjader are going to work on other projects now, but of what nature I am unsure. I’m certainly looking forward to it, but I won’t forget Korallreven anytime soon.

Find more information on Korallreven, visit their out-of-date website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

%d bloggers like this: