Tag Archives: U2

Bird Flying High, You Know How I Feel: Some Musings on Sonic Music

19 Sep

Has music ever made you feel high? I don’t mean high like at an Allman Brothers Band Concert or like Keith Richards before, during and after he fell out of that tree.  I’m talking about a feeling of lifting off and just soaring, free from all bonds imposed by gravity and without a care in the world.  Although U2 dreamed big like Michelangelo, Radiohead turned inward to paint tortured lyrics in the same way Van Gogh painted Starry Night and Coldplay merged them to produce an inward looking but still optimistic artist my knowledge of art history doesn’t cover. All three made music that just sounds big.  Turn the lights down, put on your big dj headphones, close your eyes and just lose yourself.

Just put on the previous clip and read on.  The slow opening synth chords move into the Edge’s guitar and the driving rhythm section which culminates into Bono‘s voice.  Like many other U2 songs, especially on the album The Joshua Tree, “Where the Streets Have No Name” makes a political and social message sound so damn cool by adding layers of synthesizers and the Edge’s unique talent for making his electric guitar more than just a guitar.  The rest of the album is just as good.  Throughout their career, U2 has changed their sound by combining elements of other genres, especially in the 90’s, but they can never be accused of dreaming small either in sound or in message.  Their early albums (The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum) capture these ideas at their finest, but checkout the following video for one of their later songs that is maybe not filled with overwhelming sound, but with overwhelming execution.

Upon writing this, I didn’t realize how much I could say in the introduction or about U2 so I decided that I’m going to do a second article about the other major bands I was going to talk about.  There is one band that I wasn’t sure if I would have the space to write about, but apparently now I do.  They are Explosions in the Sky.

If you’re one of those people that listen to music for the lyrics, then these guys are certainly not for you considering they have no vocalist or lyrics.  They do, however, convey emotion just as, if not even more powerful, through three guitars and a single drummer.  The following song, like most of their others, builds slowly and uses different effects operating on separate guitars that come together to surround the listener in a dome of sound.

From a Mess to the Masses: Some Post Punk

15 Sep

Punk rock was loud, messy, uncontrollable and rowdy.  Then Joy Division came and changed all that almost  over night.  Ever hear of U2, the Killers or Phoenix?  All followers of this one band that barreled into the vision of the public almost overnight and then exploded and reinvented itself upon the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis (here’s the fascinating movie about him).  Emphasizing emotional music over loud noise and somber emotions over rage and anger, they were the first to synchronize synthesizers, drum machines and live instrumentation.

Phoenix

Joy Division happens to be one of the most depressing bands ever but those influenced by them moved more towards the land of unicorns and butterflies.  One of those bands happens to be Phoenix who turned the Joy Division sound slightly upside down.  Their most recent release, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, builds upon the simpler drum machine and snyth combinations by adding multiple layers of guitars.  It’s a really cool sound and overall a really great album.

I’m connecting these bands with a synth and drum machine sound and it’s my post so I’m going to throw in a little curveball.  The next band has many related characteristics to Phoenix, incorporating a lot of drum machine and other samples and a lead singer with a wacky falsetto voice.  Passion Pit relies heavily on sound samples which gives a much wider variety of sounds then a simple drum machine, such as in the following song.

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