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Meddling Medley: Wicca Woo, Kojey Radical, and Trails and Ways

29 May

Context can sometimes change the feeling of a song. Today, I describe three songs, and give them their own context, which may subvert your expectations.

Wicca Woo – “Detached”

THE SCENE: You are at a rowdy house party, this song comes on. The crowd is sparse and has quieted down, because most people have moved outside to the pool. A drunken man makes a subtle pass at you, prompting you to move away from the kitchen, where people keep going to refill their drinks. You glumly look around to see if anyone you know is nearby, but you only see that polite but disinterested girl wearing a baseball cap that greeted you earlier. You approach her to begin a new conversation, but she doesn’t realize you are headed her way and turns to leave. As you watch her walk in the opposite direction, credits roll over your face.

THE SONG: Living up to its title, “Detached” is unobtrusive. It could be on in the background for hours and that subtle bass line would keep me relaxed. The vocals are muffled in a strained whisper, but that, too, feels faraway and enrapturing. Fitting as a somber and ambiguous film ending.

Wicca Woo’s debut EP, Woo Wicca, is out now.

Kojey Radical – “Bambu”

THE SCENE: This video.

THE SONG: We don’t usually feature rap, but the audiovisual experience here is worth too much to not cover. The meaning behind it all is limitless: the lyrics, music production, images, and actions therein, all have moving purpose. The words are thought-provoking and delivered like a beat poem, emphasizing certain syllables specifically. My favorite line is “Can’t see the truth when it’s six feet deep.” This takes ‘burying the truth’ to a completely new level; explaining that it is six feet under suggests that not only are we hiding it, we murdered it and got rid of the body. This then brings to mind the very beginning of the track, when Kojey “used to walk past the cemetery” when he went to spend time with friends, imagining the lives they wanted. Oh, the irony: simultaneously, names like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray spring to mind. Our own law enforcement erased their lives, and by extension, their truth, but we won’t allow the Truth to be completely extinguished.

For more information on Kojey Radical, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Trails and Ways – “Jacaranda”

THE SCENE: You take a hike with friends through Griffith Park, but it is years ago, before the drought. The mountains are lush with foliage and flowers, at points creating pockets of shade where the path gets narrow, and occasionally leading to large clearings with soft grass to sit on. Everyone generally takes part in tomfoolery, undoubtedly including climbing a Jacaranda tree.

THE SONG: I love hiking at Griffith Park myself, so I’ll admit that wanting to see it not starved of water is more of a fantasy than anything. But I also don’t think Jacarandas grow on mountains, so this whole scenario is based on a falsehood. Either way, if we ever get any rainfall, I would honor the renewed flora with this track. It is so bright that you need shades, sunblock, and a hat to protect yourself from the UV rays. Like most of what Trails and Ways creates, it is also as catchy as Yogi Berra. And the cherry on top is obviously the fact that they made the word “Jacaranda” work so smoothly in a song. Magnificent.

Trails and Ways are releasing their debut LP, Pathology, this Tuesday, 6/2. Pre-order it here. Find more information about Trails and Ways on their website, and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.

Body of Songs: the Heart with Dave Okumu

15 May

Dave okumuCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk.

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At face value, it seems as though the heart would be the obvious choice for what organ to study and showcase as part of Body of Songs. But this isn’t any old project. These artists sit down with doctors and researchers to learn more about their organ of choice and make a piece of music that truly embodies it. So rather than hearing a throwaway love song, Dave Okumu takes this opportunity to thank his heart for continuing to beat after being electrocuted.

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Body of Songs: the Liver with Ghostpoet

7 May

body of songs - liverCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk

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After hearing “Follow Me Through,” you’re probably realizing that this Body of Songs thing isn’t at all what you expected. The organs that are chosen are very specific, and even stretch the definition of “organ” (coming up: blood?). For now, we’ll explore Ghostpoet and his left-field contribution to the project: “A Plateful of Liver.”

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Bling (Just a Sign of Science)

6 May

After some extensive research, aka a quick but effective google search, I have noticed that there is not enough discussion on the internet about the song, “Bling (Confession of a King),” a deep cut from The Killers’s sophomore album, Sam’s Town. When the album came out, Entertainment Weekly began its review by describing “Bling,” but they rated the album a C overall; were they not listening? The song describes Brandon Flowers’s father, and his decision to turn sober and follow the Prophet Joseph Smith. I think it might be my favorite song by The Killers, which is a fairly bold statement. I’m impressed by the power they deliver with that driving rhythm, balanced beautifully by the poetry for lyrics. A few people on Reddit said that it was their most underrated song, and I think that that is an understatement. Alas, I could probably write an essay on the brilliance of that “Bling,” but that isn’t what I wanted to address today. Another “Bling” has caught my attention, from a group I recently cannot get enough of: Bells Atlas.

There is a pervasive ingenuity throughout Bells Atlas’s music. I wrote about their last single, “Future Bones,” and called it “fresh and original.” After hearing “Bling” and re-reading what I wrote last time, I don’t think I could have described Bells Atlas in a more generic and boring way. Their new single is not only innovative, it’s catchy as hell. I haven’t memorized the words yet, but I’ve been humming it for the past few days without realizing it was even stuck in my head. The lyrical labyrinth is marvelously executed by frontwoman Sandra Lawson-Ndu, who is a very major part of what makes this track soar. Her voice is gorgeous, especially coupled with well-placed reverb and her own voice as back up. Bells Atlas keep climbing, and it makes me more than excited to hear the new EP. Just a few more weeks now…

“Bling” is the second single off of Bells Atlas’s next EP, Hyperlust, due out May 31st. You can pre-order it here. For more information on Bells Atlas, visit their websiteFacebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp.

P.S. The live version of the other “Bling” is truly fantastic.

Body of Songs: the Kidney, with Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener

5 May

body of songs - kidneyCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk

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There is an elegance about this Body of Songs project. The title seems obvious, but that takes for granted that there it is a unifying double entendre. The human body is something with which everyone can relate, bar none. Then there is also the inherent grace in the innovation of the concept: creating music that is truly inspired by, and about, the very vessel that carries our consciousness. First up, we have the track from Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener, a stupendous work that honors the kidney.

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