Tag Archives: Paul Simon

The Furious Seasons Take Listeners Home In Newest Album Look West

23 Nov

The Furious Seasons released their newest album, and the track Look West does not hold back on the level of emotional feeling felt throughout the song. With lyrics reflecting on life and long shots in life, the listener can emphasize that the thought of life as a winding road is set in motion. With the merging of mentions of nature and sunshine, one can tell that The Furious Seasons is influenced by the outdoors as well. David Steinhart’s vocals touch listeners with every characteristic of folk pop as well. Similar to how the band forming out of 3 piece shows, it’s no surprise as well that the feeling of unity is heard through the music. With all of that aside, the stories interwoven on this album with an authentic and real vibe, take listeners home.

For more listening:

N8 ST9 Has Come Full Circle

28 Aug

N8 ST9

N8 ST9 (Nate Stein) has been on my radar for some time. The post-electronic artist mixes skilled instrumentation with dreamy electronica to create a delicate sound that, while heavy on the electronic percussion, is harmonious. Now, on the heels of his new album Full Circle, I believe it is a good time to introduce him to the readers of this blog. This aforementioned mixture is musically intriguing.

Perhaps most engaging about the new album is its vibe. Electronica and instrumentals sometimes conflict when haphazardly paired together, but N8 ST9 combines the two elements competently, thus creating a cool, euphonic atmosphere that surrounds the listener. The album is split between pure electronic instrumentals (like the two reviewed below) and pop-fueled tracks like “Light Up Myself,” which ST9 wrote for a close friend who is a recovering alcoholic.

Aside from the imprecation outburst to begin the song, “Light Up Myself” is a diverse song that has three distinct parts. The song begins with an ethereal guitar riff that transitions into a Paul Simon-esque verse with creative percussion, which continues even when the song shifts to a modern Indie rhythm. In only two minutes the song effortlessly shifts back and forth from different musical elements and inspirations. This is just accentuated towards the end of the song with the airy piano bridge fit with melodious vocalization. ST9 takes listeners through a musical parade, successfully evoking the ups and downs of his friend’s life.

The above two tracks are the diverse instrumentals I mentioned. “Intention for Bliss,” the opening track on the album, features the fluffy keys reminiscent of an Owl City song. “Watching” features more driving electronica (something I don’t usually go for). In this case, though, I am lured by the 80s beats that blend well with the melody ST9 successfully introduces to the listener.

It’s an impressive release for the young artist, and I am looking forward to listening to more of his music.

Check out the rest of the album and follow ST9 on his Facebook and Twitter

Top 10 Songs of 2011 – #1: “The Afterlife” by Paul Simon

31 Dec

We have reached the promised land, and, by the looks of the #1 song on our top 10 songs of 2011 countdown – so has Paul Simon. A hypothetical heaven, though, one scribbled down by the consummate raconteur who knows the meaning of excellent music. “The Afterlife” is a keen, hilarious, zany, unexpected, metempirical, almost practical (I cannot list enough adjectives to describe the song’s utter beauty), take on heaven and dying.

“The Afterlife” appears on So Beautiful or So What, Paul Simon’s first studio album in five years. Simon is a musical anomaly. There are not many musicians who have the ability of producing critically acclaimed albums consecutively. He has been releasing such albums since the mid-60s – beginning with his folk duo with Art Garfunkel – and advancing forward with perspicacious solo albums. So Beautiful or So What, which was released in April, is the latest example of Simon’s genius. And I don’t use that term lightly.

I am watching the Twilight Zone currently. Rod Serling, the creator of the show, focused much attention on the unknown and alien aspects of humanity. The ultimate was, and still is, death. Much of man’s existence revolves around his inevitable fate. There is simply no way to avoid death. Yes, this may seem like a sobering and unfortunate reminder – especially on a celebratory day like New Years. But I do think there is some beauty in recognizing and understanding the ineluctable nature of our being. What comes after is a matter of faith and opinion. Some believe heaven. Some believe something else. Some believe nothing.

Paul Simon painted a humorous, bureaucratic picture in his song “The Afterlife” of a heaven where filling out forms and waiting in line is necessary before salvation can be reached. But underneath the humor is a seriousness that is emitted best in the third verse.

Buddha and Moses and all the noses
From narrow to flat
Had to stand in the line
Just to glimpse the divine
What’cha think about that?
Well, it seems like our fate
To suffer and wait for the knowledge we seek
It’s all His design
No one cuts in the line
No one here likes a sneak

We all must wait for the knowledge we seek. I think this verse goes beyond Simon’s take on heaven and the divine. What he mentions in this verse is a fundamental part of humanity. It doesn’t matter who you are. You can be a biblical prophet or Paul Simon or a regular Joe. No one cuts in line. We all are humans on this Earth who must wait and ponder.
And , when Simon’s climbs the ladder and meets the Lord he can only muster up this:
Lord, is it Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Lord, Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Be Bop a Lula

When I first heard this I laughed hysterically. There is something so wonderfully funny and truthful about this lyric. Finally, in Simon’s world, man is given the chance to talk to the creator – the being who has apparently sponsored humanity and has all of the answers one seeks. Yet the only thing the character can muster up is gibberish. A mistaken song lyric. And perhaps that’s all there is. Well at least in the realm of this song.
And how refreshing the song’s melody is as well. It features a fun rhythm backed by Simon’s 12-string acoustic guitar, a neat guitar riff, some hip percussion, a sax, keys, and even an accordion. The rhythm is proficient and quite fitting. It is a pleasure to continue listening to Simon’s effortless voice over create, transforming rhythms. He is a master at what he does and his musical themes will never get old.

 

Mrs. Robinson, Are You Trying to Seduce Me?

3 Nov

People of today, Lady Gaga isn’t the first one to push boundaries of what we are willing to accept from our stars in terms of eccentricity.  Elton John started blazing trails of strange looking clothing, obnoxiously large earrings and oversized sunglasses back in the 70s, and his reign as a pop icon has lasted for more than four decades.  Just to give you some perspective on how popular he is, here are some stats I find unbelievable.  He’s sold more than 250 million albums, putting him in the same class as Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones; those numbers helped by his seven straight number one albums in the US. Oh, in case you weren’t impressed enough, his tribute to Princess Dianna A Candle in the Wind, sold 33 million (THAT’S RIGHT 33 MILLION) copies.  (To put that in perspective, it takes one million copies sold to make a record platinum certified and five million to make it diamond certified.)  He’s still relevant too, check out Elton at the Grammys with Eminem.

They probably consider themselves a folk duo, but Simon and Garfunkel are pretty much everything a pop band should be.  From the folk mold, they sampled acoustic instrumentation, simple harmonies and traditional song structure.  But folk in many cases had become political (like Dylan) or attempted to emulate the common man by sounding like him (like Woodie Guthrie) or was rough around the edges (like Pete Seeger), yet Simon and Garfunkel inherited none of these characteristics.  Their songs are finely polished and record not man at his most weary, but man at a stage of perfection, with graceful harmonies that are caressing enough to put a baby to sleep.

“The Afterlife” by Paul Simon – A Memorable Song off of So Beautiful or So What

20 Apr

Elvis Costello wrote a laudatory review of Paul Simon’s new release So Beautiful or So What for The Huffington Post. In the review he commented that, “Throughout the record, I kept coming up against what I can only call, rock and roll surprises; not some orthodox formula but indelible, hypnotic guitar motifs and swinging, off-center rhythms tipping your expectations into a new kind of thrill.” Costello concluded that So Beautiful or So What, “rejects the allure of fashionable darkness and the hypnosis of ignorance – better to contemplate and celebrate the endurance of the spirit and the persistence of love.”

I find Costello’s review to be apt. He, a fantastic musician himself, targets two constant musical traits that Paul Simon explores. One, a propensity for zany guitar swings and lyrical fearlessness, and two, an immutable driving “spirit.” Both of these attributes find their way into the tracks of So Beautiful or So What, and Simon’s 12th studio album and first release since 2006 enters listeners and serenades them with creative music. Paul Simon is a consummate musician who has been honing his skill for over 40 years, only now to have reached the zenith of his talent.

“The Afterlife,” track two on the album, is a great example of Costello’s praise. The guitar riff is “hypnotic” and “swinging.” Let me add a few adjectives. The riff is also effervescent, sweet and toe-tapping. It’s strong rhythm sticks to listeners like a lollipop, fruity and inviting. The beat persists through the 3:39 piece and compliments Simon’s folk croon well.

In the song, Simon sing:

“Buddah and Moses and all the noses from narrow to flat, had to stand in the line, just to glimpse the divine, what you think about that?
Well it seems like our fate to suffer and wait for the knowledge we seek. It’s all his design, no one cuts in the line, no one here likes a sneak”

This, the third verse, is followed by the chorus, “You got to fill out a form first, and then you wait in the line,” which is repeated throughout the song.

The verse/chorus is my favorite lyric in Simon’s “Afterlife” lyric. It is candid religious commentary from Simon, and it is not polemic or argumentative, like some religious thought is. Simon sings that everyone must wait, no matter who you are. It is our “fate” to wait in line for the “knowledge we seek.” In the next verse, when Simon’s narrator finally meets god, he is so awe-struck that all that comes out is, “Lord is it, Be Bop A Lu La or Ooh Poppa Do.” And, if I had to guess, Simon would probably pose this question to god if he meant the omniscient being.

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