General Music Talk

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Eva Yojimbo
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General Music Talk

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:40 pm

Split from Raxi's movie thread, but anyone feel free to join in.

maz89 wrote:Thanks, could be a place to start when I'm in the mood for pop. The three artists I'm most unfamiliar with are Janelle Monae, Carly Rae and Arian Grande.
I'm sure you've heard Jepsen's Call Me Maybe. That was on her second album and not E*Mo*Tion, though. If you've listened to the radio at all lately you've heard Ariana. She just tied The Beatles for being the only artist to have the #1 album, and #1-3 spots on Billboard Hot 100. I find it utterly bizarre that her (current) #1 song is basically a semi-remake of My Favorite Things. Also, I adore this:


She's also done a lot of fun stuff with Corden (Carpool Karaoke, Titanic The Musical, surprising the TNT boys, etc.). Sad that she's been through so much shit in the past year-or-so as she seems genuinely sweet.

maz89 wrote:And you're right of course, I totally do dig Lana del Ray's music. Her moody, low key songs are totally my cup of tea. I haven't explored her discography that well though. I know (and love) Video Games, in addition to a few others that became instant faves - Summertime Sadness, Blue Jeans, Born to Die, West Coast, Ultraviolence, Young & Beautiful - but need to give her stuff a proper listen. Same goes for Gaga and Pink, both of whom I quite like but whose albums I haven't heard beyond their singles. Where would you rank Pink's latest album in her discography?[
For Lana, Ultraviolence is my favorite, but all her albums are basically slightly different takes on the same flavor. Ultraviolence is more guitar-based, though, while her first album is more strings-based, but the basic style is still the same. Definitely check out Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval too, as they/she basically invented that style:


I liked Pink's latest but it's probably my least favorite from her outside her first. I think the only "problem" with it is that it kinda sounds like Pink edging towards adult contemporary and losing some of her edge, attitude, and personality. Of course, the flip-side is that it's a bit more mature and subtle. She has a new album coming out next month, too.

maz89 wrote:I was similarly wowed by Beyonce's Lemonade when it came out. Amazing how she put it out all of a sudden and without any fanfare. Don't think I've heard her self-titled album.
Her S/T maybe the sexiest album I've ever heard, and it's sexy in a truly erotic way rather than a trashy "I'm being sexy to sell" way. This song (even without the video) melts me into my seat:

That "cluck" sound right before she says "flavor" is just perfection.

maz89 wrote:I'll admit that I find Katy Perry to be kind of grating (and it has nothing to do with her feud with Swift [razz]), but yes, Teenage Dream was pretty good. A song I like from that one - that gets lost amidst the more popular tracks, I think - is The One That Got Away. So catchy. Generally, I find her kind of schmaltzy though.
Yeah, I can't disagree with anything you said here. I suspect that what I like most about her is just the Max Martin songwriting behind it. He seems to have much more input with her than with, say, Swift where I think he mostly just helps with the production and details. The One That Got Away is a good one. I also quite liked Birthday from her last album, which is another 80s (or late 70s, maybe) throwback:


maz89 wrote:And ah, Avril Lavigne and I go way back. I've heard those albums more times than I can count. Shame that the quality went down afterwards, she had potential. So many great ones in the first two though. Just put on Nobody's Home, reminiscing about this album.
I remember when she first came out I was heavily into guitar and active on a guitar forum and people were losing their shit over her, both for good and bad. Every time I hear her now I always think back to those debates! Back then I only knew the singles, but I was kinda into my "complex is good, pop sucks" phase. Glad I grew out of it!

maz89 wrote:Yeah, I was so happy to find that the Reputation tour video was on Netflix. I loved it, of course, and I also love how she has the artistry to switch things up and re-interpret her own work. I hadn't seen the rock version of WANEGBT, but it's great! A nice contrast to the original, which was more playful and joyous. In this one, she's still bitter and angry. I love how she incites the audience to scream with her, and then, as if in a quick moment of vulnerability, brings a crystal pure clarity to her voice when she sings "I used to think we were forever, ever".
That WANEGBT is from the 1989 Tour (released on iTunes I think). She also has an unreleased Red Tour DVD. I don't know why it wasn't released, but you can find a rough cut of the show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAoMT3C3TeY That song really makes me want to hear a Swift rock album... and New Year's Day makes me want to hear a Swift indie/acoustic album! I'd also love to hear some more stuff like the U2-ish State of Grace. I just hope she doesn't get stuck in a rut trying to copy whatever happens to be popular, but I don't think she will.

maz89 wrote:You mentioned Speak Now as your favorite album from Swift? It's really hard for me to pick a favorite. I like her relatively innocent country/pop love songs from the early days, and I like her tongue in cheek banter in the different variants of pop she does now, but if I had to pick, I'd lean towards the latter. On that note, I love how in her last two albums, she turned the criticism and personal attacks she has received over the years into great, powerful, relevant music. Shake It Off was a fun screw-the-haters track, and Blank Space was a wonderful, delirious embrace of the crazy girlfriend persona her critics thinks she has. And Reputation builds on this with even greater confidence.
I just think Speak Now's about as perfect a pop album as has ever been made. Like, I put it up there with Rubber Soul, Kinks's Village Green, XTC's Skylarking, Smiths's Queen is Dead, and a handful of others. There's no song on there I don't love. There's no song on there that's uninteresting. There's also several that are masterpieces. Mean, especially, deserved every ounce of praise it got. I don't know if I've ever heard a more unassuming song that's so equal parts heartbreaking and encouraging. That "someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me" line always gets me. Whole chorus is ingeniously constructed though: the "big ol' cit-(y)" and "big enough so you can't hit (me)" parts are played higher than the "all you're ever gonna be is (mean)" part; while the "mean" is on the tonic (literally the "mean" of the music!); but the "me" note is below the "mean." So you get this wonderful contrast of the dream being bigger than the "mean," but her currently being smaller than it. This is Word Painting that you almost never see in pop music any more. I have no idea how intentional it is, but it works beautifully! I love how she even experiments with pop-punk for a track like Better Than Revenge. Even back when she was with her country band she already had a sense for how to fit genres to lyrics. Also, Long Live may be my second favorite song of hers behind All Too Well. That one I can't even quite put my finger on why I love it so much. It's just this powerful, nostalgic revelry and ends the album on such a perfect note.

Now that I've got my fanboy splooge out of the way, I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone favoring the electronic pop of 1989, or the darker style of Reputation, or even the mix-of-styles on Red. I mean, you're spoiled for great choices, so it's just a "what's your flavor" thing. I do love how she's starting to play with new personas on her last two albums though, and it is adding a new richness to her work. Like I said, as long as she keeps experimenting and doesn't get stagnant and keeps that great melodic/dramatic sensibility I'll be pleased as punch.

maz89 wrote:I haven't heard his solo stuff yet (you didn't mention it at the time, I think), but I heard all of their albums once or twice and quite liked a few of their tracks. Songs off the top of my head that I stuck with me (not counting the super popular ones from their first two albums): Tomorrow Started, Living in Another World, New Grass, The Rainbow. I think I need to be in a certain mood to truly appreciate their experimental albums though. Maybe I should give them a listen with the NAD HP50s headphones I got my hands on a few months ago (thanks for the rec, btw!). [smile] I'm listening to Eden right now, and totally digging it.
I think I did mention his solo album back then, but it might've just been in passing. It's basically a more singer-songwriter approach to Talk Talk's "band" approach. Yeah, I get needing to be in a certain mood for it to get their experimental stuff; it's a long ways away from pop! It is extraordianary how they got to that point though. I always get full-body chills at the build-up in Eden. Here's perhaps my favorite track from his solo album:
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #1

Postby maz89 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:32 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Split from Raxi's movie thread, but anyone feel free to join in.

Good call!

Jimbo wrote:I'm sure you've heard Jepsen's Call Me Maybe. That was on her second album and not E*Mo*Tion, though.

Ha, yeah, I had heard of that Jepsen song, but I had assume she would be one of those one hit wonders. Didn't realize she wasn't going to be a typical contestant of these Idol shows and actually have a promising career (oh wow, she placed third and didn't even win - good for her!). The song you shared on the 80s thread was actually quite decent. So the rest of "E*Mo*Tion" has a similar style of music?

If you've listened to the radio at all lately you've heard Ariana. She just tied The Beatles for being the only artist to have the #1 album, and #1-3 spots on Billboard Hot 100. I find it utterly bizarre that her (current) #1 song is basically a semi-remake of My Favorite Things. Also, I adore this:

She's also done a lot of fun stuff with Corden (Carpool Karaoke, Titanic The Musical, surprising the TNT boys, etc.). Sad that she's been through so much shit in the past year-or-so as she seems genuinely sweet.

Oh, those impressions were spot on! Nailed Britney with the nasal sound, Aguilera with the runs and melisma, Celine with the sound of her singing voice. This had to be have been rehearsed, right?! Haha. I've heard a couple of songs from Ariana, although they didn't really make an impression for some reason. I think I am guilty of doing what critics of Taylor Swift do: put her into the "made for 13 year old girls" box. But, to be fair, I think I didn't find much originality from the music. *googles a famous song to reconfirm suspicions* Okay, so Dangerous Woman (the song) isn't bad, by any means, and has a powerful voice as has already been established... but I don't know... I just get this robotic vibe from her. She's too perfect, lol. Are there any songs of yours that are favorites? Any songs of hers in which she shows a more vulnerable side to her personality or sound?
'break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored' started playing automatically, and I'm even less sure. Doesn't speak to me. In fact, it makes me want to put on Robyn's Call Your Girlfriend, lol. (We have already shared our admiration of her - she's amazing.)
Ok, youtube then played Love Me Harder, and that's some catchy pop right there.

Jimbo wrote:For Lana, Ultraviolence is my favorite, but all her albums are basically slightly different takes on the same flavor. Ultraviolence is more guitar-based, though, while her first album is more strings-based, but the basic style is still the same. Definitely check out Mazzy Star/Hope Sandoval too, as they/she basically invented that style:

Youtube recommendation had years ago brought me to this song (thank you, Youtube! lol), but did Mazzy Star do other songs as good? The comments section seemed to imply a one hit wonder status. I agree about Lana's songs/albums sometimes kinda bleeding into each other and sounding similar. This is probably why I haven't sunk my teeth into her albums.

Jimbo wrote:I liked Pink's latest but it's probably my least favorite from her outside her first. I think the only "problem" with it is that it kinda sounds like Pink edging towards adult contemporary and losing some of her edge, attitude, and personality. Of course, the flip-side is that it's a bit more mature and subtle. She has a new album coming out next month, too.

Yeah, surprised to see that she already has a new one coming out. She had a five year pause between the last two. I heard Beautiful Trauma and Whatever You Want, and sure enough, they were both solid.

Jimbo wrote:Her S/T maybe the sexiest album I've ever heard, and it's sexy in a truly erotic way rather than a trashy "I'm being sexy to sell" way. This song (even without the video) melts me into my seat:
That "cluck" sound right before she says "flavor" is just perfection.

No one does sexy quite like her. Never realized the song had such explicit lyrics, lol! Could be a companion piece to Drunk in Love. I do think that while I appreciate Beyonce's music and talent, I don't really love her music the way I do Swift's or Fleetwood Mac's or Radiohead's or The Smith's, etc. A personal preference thing, perhaps.

maz89 wrote:I remember when she first came out I was heavily into guitar and active on a guitar forum and people were losing their shit over her, both for good and bad. Every time I hear her now I always think back to those debates! Back then I only knew the singles, but I was kinda into my "complex is good, pop sucks" phase. Glad I grew out of it!

Haha! Glad you did. You've probably consumed more art than anyone else I know (and maybe anyone here), and it's quite cool to see that that doesn't make you snobbish. This is why I liked following fontinau (sorry, I forget his title now) on the Music thread on IMDB. He was a master on classical music, and also a Swiftie.

Jimbo wrote:That WANEGBT is from the 1989 Tour (released on iTunes I think). She also has an unreleased Red Tour DVD. I don't know why it wasn't released, but you can find a rough cut of the show on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAoMT3C3TeY That song really makes me want to hear a Swift rock album... and New Year's Day makes me want to hear a Swift indie/acoustic album! I'd also love to hear some more stuff like the U2-ish State of Grace. I just hope she doesn't get stuck in a rut trying to copy whatever happens to be popular, but I don't think she will.

Yeah, I'm not worried either. I may have been, ever so slightly, worried for Reputation. I mean, after the brilliance of 1989, where can you go? Whatever she'd put out next could only be a 1989 V2 or Speak Now V2, but nope, she proved that she knows how to stay fresh and not become repetitive.

Jimbo wrote:I just think Speak Now's about as perfect a pop album as has ever been made. Like, I put it up there with Rubber Soul, Kinks's Village Green, XTC's Skylarking, Smiths's Queen is Dead, and a handful of others. There's no song on there I don't love. There's no song on there that's uninteresting. There's also several that are masterpieces. Mean, especially, deserved every ounce of praise it got. I don't know if I've ever heard a more unassuming song that's so equal parts heartbreaking and encouraging. That "someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me" line always gets me. Whole chorus is ingeniously constructed though: the "big ol' cit-(y)" and "big enough so you can't hit (me)" parts are played higher than the "all you're ever gonna be is (mean)" part; while the "mean" is on the tonic (literally the "mean" of the music!); but the "me" note is below the "mean." So you get this wonderful contrast of the dream being bigger than the "mean," but her currently being smaller than it. This is Word Painting that you almost never see in pop music any more. I have no idea how intentional it is, but it works beautifully!

Wait, what? Mean is a unanimously praised Swift number? I hope this doesn't tarnish my Swiftie badge, but that's the one track I skip when I listen to Speak Now. [sad] I always found it so petty and childish! Your totally unexpected appreciation of it makes me think I should reconsider though. I like the detailed description of that "word painting" in the chorus.

I also thought the album opener, Mine, felt like a less fantastical retread of stuff she's already done (Love Story and You Belong With Me), and I just preferred the other efforts. But then, if I maintain this reasoning, I don't know how I can explain all of the other story-driven love songs she does in later albums... I guess there's just something different about them musically or lyrically that made me like them more I guess.

Jimbo wrote:I love how she even experiments with pop-punk for a track like Better Than Revenge. Even back when she was with her country band she already had a sense for how to fit genres to lyrics. Also, Long Live may be my second favorite song of hers behind All Too Well. That one I can't even quite put my finger on why I love it so much. It's just this powerful, nostalgic revelry and ends the album on such a perfect note.

I totally agree about Long Live. What a stunning, beautiful number. "Nostalgic revelry" sounds just about right. My other favorite tracks from the album are Back To December, Speak Now, Dear John, Innocent, Enchanted, Last Kiss and If This Was A Movie. If I had to do an even smaller shortlist, I'd choose Dear John because it strips everything down to the bare essentials - the acoustic guitar + amazing acidic lyrics - and has Swift at her most naked and vulnerable. So many gems in this one, really. Apart from the chorus, "All the girls that you run dry / Have dried lifeless eyes / Cause you burned them out / But I took your matches before fire could catch me / So don't look now / I'm shining like fireworks / Over your sad empty town" is powerful for its use of the fire/light motif.

And also Innocent, just because I think it is an underrated number, and people hypothesize it's about Kanye West.

maz89 wrote:I think I did mention his solo album back then, but it might've just been in passing. It's basically a more singer-songwriter approach to Talk Talk's "band" approach. Yeah, I get needing to be in a certain mood for it to get their experimental stuff; it's a long ways away from pop! It is extraordianary how they got to that point though. I always get full-body chills at the build-up in Eden. Here's perhaps my favorite track from his solo album:

Interesting. Seems like this is cut from the same cloth as Talk Talk's later albums. I'll give him a listen on a rainy, sad day.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #2

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:29 pm

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I'm sure you've heard Jepsen's Call Me Maybe. That was on her second album and not E*Mo*Tion, though.

Ha, yeah, I had heard of that Jepsen song, but I had assume she would be one of those one hit wonders. Didn't realize she wasn't going to be a typical contestant of these Idol shows and actually have a promising career (oh wow, she placed third and didn't even win - good for her!). The song you shared on the 80s thread was actually quite decent. So the rest of "E*Mo*Tion" has a similar style of music?
Yep, E*Mo*Tion is all pretty much in that 80s synth-pop style. It's also really, really consistent too. I know the pop fans on Sputnik were fawning over it. It's not great art or anything, but it's damn fun pop. Also, don't overlook the E*Mo*Tion Side B if you end up liking it, as it's basically just more good songs that didn't make it on the original.

maz89 wrote:
If you've listened to the radio at all lately you've heard Ariana. She just tied The Beatles for being the only artist to have the #1 album, and #1-3 spots on Billboard Hot 100. I find it utterly bizarre that her (current) #1 song is basically a semi-remake of My Favorite Things. Also, I adore this:

She's also done a lot of fun stuff with Corden (Carpool Karaoke, Titanic The Musical, surprising the TNT boys, etc.). Sad that she's been through so much shit in the past year-or-so as she seems genuinely sweet.

Oh, those impressions were spot on! Nailed Britney with the nasal sound, Aguilera with the runs and melisma, Celine with the sound of her singing voice. This had to be have been rehearsed, right?! Haha. I've heard a couple of songs from Ariana, although they didn't really make an impression for some reason. I think I am guilty of doing what critics of Taylor Swift do: put her into the "made for 13 year old girls" box. But, to be fair, I think I didn't find much originality from the music. *googles a famous song to reconfirm suspicions* Okay, so Dangerous Woman (the song) isn't bad, by any means, and has a powerful voice as has already been established... but I don't know... I just get this robotic vibe from her. She's too perfect, lol. Are there any songs of yours that are favorites? Any songs of hers in which she shows a more vulnerable side to her personality or sound?
'break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored' started playing automatically, and I'm even less sure. Doesn't speak to me. In fact, it makes me want to put on Robyn's Call Your Girlfriend, lol. (We have already shared our admiration of her - she's amazing.)
Ok, youtube then played Love Me Harder, and that's some catchy pop right there.
Yeah, that was definitely planned at least. Ariana also did those (and some other) impressions on SNL and Corden.

I do find Ariana frustrating because I love, love, love her voice, but her music is incredibly inconsistent and there is a lot of generic, uninspired stuff. I think her problem is that she hasn't found a "sound" that really fits her. The lone exception may have been the throwback 90s R&B stuff on her debut (Baby I is basically the sound of my childhood!), but a lot of the more modern stuff I don't think does her justice. She needs something more organic to give her a more soulful sound. Not sure what my favorite of hers is though, but this is a perfect example of what I'm talking about:


As for a more vulnerable side, my first thought was Ghostin', which most people interpret to be about her ex (Mac Miller) that died of a drug overdose:


She also wrote Breathin' about her struggle with anxiety in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

What you say about her being robotic is interesting because I get what you're saying, but I had a different take on it. On Sputnik I'd mentioned the above stuff about my frustration and then said this: "...(but) I keep listening because something about her is really magnetic. I think it's something to do with how her voice is almost detached from everything else. If her music was a Hitchcock film she'd be the ghostly Madeleine that Scotty follows around like a hypnotized puppy dog while she doesn't even know he exists, and the music would be the city of San Francisco. I dunno... smooth, mystical coolness is the only term I can think of." So you say robotic, but I say the above. Different perspectives on what I think is the same phenomenon, though. I hear the potential too, even in small moments like the jazzy chords that open God is a Woman... and then there's something like The Light is Coming, which I can't figure out if I hate or love, but it's undeniably different!

BTW, if you want the opposite to Ariana's robotic-ness, check out Demi Lovato's live versions of Sober and Father. Not sure if any modern pop singer puts more raw emotion into their songs, especially live. Like Ariana's she's really inconsistent on disc, though. Her first two albums are fun, Avril-esque pop-punk, though.

maz89 wrote:Youtube recommendation had years ago brought me to this song (thank you, Youtube! lol), but did Mazzy Star do other songs as good? The comments section seemed to imply a one hit wonder status. I agree about Lana's songs/albums sometimes kinda bleeding into each other and sounding similar. This is probably why I haven't sunk my teeth into her albums.
Actually, Mazzy's one hit was Fade Into You, but Into Dust may be their best. Much like with Lana Del Rey, they were pretty consistent, actually. If you like their "sound" you'll probably like the albums. Here's a Hope Sandoval solo track I love:


But, yeah, Lana/Mazzy/Hope is all about the sound. If you dig the sound/vibe you can sit through an entire album (really, almost any of theirs) and dig it because there isn't a ton of variation and it's all pretty high quality. It's more an issue of just being in the mood, though. If you're the type where a little goes a long way then there's no reason to dig into the albums and you can just stick with the singles. Sometimes I like to drift through the haze for a good 40-50 minutes, though. :)

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:Her S/T maybe the sexiest album I've ever heard, and it's sexy in a truly erotic way rather than a trashy "I'm being sexy to sell" way. This song (even without the video) melts me into my seat:
That "cluck" sound right before she says "flavor" is just perfection.

No one does sexy quite like her. Never realized the song had such explicit lyrics, lol! Could be a companion piece to Drunk in Love. I do think that while I appreciate Beyonce's music and talent, I don't really love her music the way I do Swift's or Fleetwood Mac's or Radiohead's or The Smith's, etc. A personal preference thing, perhaps.
Yeah, I kinda agree about Beyonce, but with her last two albums being something of an exception. They really do feel like artistic statements of the kind you don't get from pop-stars these days.

maz89 wrote:
maz89 wrote:I remember when she first came out I was heavily into guitar and active on a guitar forum and people were losing their shit over her, both for good and bad. Every time I hear her now I always think back to those debates! Back then I only knew the singles, but I was kinda into my "complex is good, pop sucks" phase. Glad I grew out of it!

Haha! Glad you did. You've probably consumed more art than anyone else I know (and maybe anyone here), and it's quite cool to see that that doesn't make you snobbish. This is why I liked following fontinau (sorry, I forget his title now) on the Music thread on IMDB. He was a master on classical music, and also a Swiftie.
I think my rationalist philosophy beat the snobby out of me at some point! I also miss fonti. We had so many great discussions, especially about classical. I remember him being a Swiftie. TBH, back then I kinda thought he was just being a contrarian. I never said anything about it, but I kinda feel like I owe him an apology now! lol

maz89 wrote:Wait, what? Mean is a unanimously praised Swift number? I hope this doesn't tarnish my Swiftie badge, but that's the one track I skip when I listen to Speak Now. [sad] I always found it so petty and childish! Your totally unexpected appreciation of it makes me think I should reconsider though. I like the detailed description of that "word painting" in the chorus.

I also thought the album opener, Mine, felt like a less fantastical retread of stuff she's already done (Love Story and You Belong With Me), and I just preferred the other efforts. But then, if I maintain this reasoning, I don't know how I can explain all of the other story-driven love songs she does in later albums... I guess there's just something different about them musically or lyrically that made me like them more I guess.
Uhhh, Mean won Swift a Grammy for best country song and was the highest ranked modern country song (#24) on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Country Songs list so, yeah, I think you can say it was unanimously praised! Definitely reconsider it! There's a reason it became almost an anti-bullying anthem. I think it has a child-like quality to it, but not childish, and that's part of the magic.

Mine definitely feels like the third part to the Love Story/You Belong With Me Trilogy, and I almost see it as a farewell to the Swift of Fearless as the rest of the album is more varied; though I have a hard time choosing between those three. They share a lot of similarities in how the story is woven into these very elongated, flowing melodies. It's one aspect of her I kinda missed on the last two albums, which are much more melodically compact (no less catchy, though). The sound of those early Swift albums is a lot of bursting through the screen door on a summer day and running through wide open fields with the wind at your back.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I love how she even experiments with pop-punk for a track like Better Than Revenge. Even back when she was with her country band she already had a sense for how to fit genres to lyrics. Also, Long Live may be my second favorite song of hers behind All Too Well. That one I can't even quite put my finger on why I love it so much. It's just this powerful, nostalgic revelry and ends the album on such a perfect note.

I totally agree about Long Live. What a stunning, beautiful number. "Nostalgic revelry" sounds just about right. My other favorite tracks from the album are Back To December, Speak Now, Dear John, Innocent, Enchanted, Last Kiss and If This Was A Movie. If I had to do an even smaller shortlist, I'd choose Dear John because it strips everything down to the bare essentials - the acoustic guitar + amazing acidic lyrics - and has Swift at her most naked and vulnerable. So many gems in this one, really. Apart from the chorus, "All the girls that you run dry / Have dried lifeless eyes / Cause you burned them out / But I took your matches before fire could catch me / So don't look now / I'm shining like fireworks / Over your sad empty town" is powerful for its use of the fire/light motif.

And also Innocent, just because I think it is an underrated number, and people hypothesize it's about Kanye West.
I'm just [yes] -ing to all of this. I could probably write a mini-essay on every song on that album. Dear John is definitely a standout, though. Definitely Swift at her most nakedly emotional. Innocent's a really cool one tone-wise. It has this innocent quality to it, but with all these hints of darkness, with an almost anternative rock vibe at times. It's as if the two forces are fighting each other throughout the song! I also love the lullaby-like melody on Enchanted. Fun fact: if you notice, it's a really close cousin to the Dress bridge. Both have that regular pulse with a kind of anapestic rhythm. In Dress it's --v--v-v while in Enchanted it's --Λ- --Λ (arrow points to the note direction). Anyway, Enchanted SOUNDS like a fairy-tale, and then that chorus hits and it sounds like a fairy-tale come true. Really magical!

OK, too much Swift love here. I have to find something negative to say just to stay respectful... well, she does abuse the hell out of the IV-I-V-vi progression! Rick Beato included two examples in his "Four Chords that Killed POP Music!" video. Although, if I'm being honest, chord progressions in pop are, to me, a bit like plot in film. It's not unimportant, but you can make hundreds/thousands of great songs/films that use the same basic progression/plot!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #3

Postby maz89 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:44 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:What you say about her being robotic is interesting because I get what you're saying, but I had a different take on it. On Sputnik I'd mentioned the above stuff about my frustration and then said this: "...(but) I keep listening because something about her is really magnetic. I think it's something to do with how her voice is almost detached from everything else. If her music was a Hitchcock film she'd be the ghostly Madeleine that Scotty follows around like a hypnotized puppy dog while she doesn't even know he exists, and the music would be the city of San Francisco. I dunno... smooth, mystical coolness is the only term I can think of." So you say robotic, but I say the above. Different perspectives on what I think is the same phenomenon, though. I hear the potential too, even in small moments like the jazzy chords that open God is a Woman... and then there's something like The Light is Coming, which I can't figure out if I hate or love, but it's undeniably different!

Interesting perspective! She's definitely a talented singer, but that doesn't make her unique. There are so many talented girls with equally powerful voices on American Idol and The Voice. Give those girls these songs and similarly A-grade production, and they'd turn out a similar product and maybe even inject more 'feeling' into it. I guess, this is one of those things where you either feel it or you don't. I remember, on American Idol, there was a female singer who had an absolutely flawless, gorgeous singing voice. Yet, many claimed she was a "robot", that it was hard to tell if she even understood what she was singing. I understood where they were coming from, and yet, I saw something alluring about the perfect precision with which she sang, and I felt the emotion. I guess I now understand what they were talking about, heh.

FWIW, I liked Ghostin' but it still feels kinda safe. Grande is very much at home in it, comfortably showcasing her vocal talents. I guess I want her to do what Demi Lovato does (who, as you might have guessed, I prefer to Grande), that is, pour raw emotion into the song. For example, I think Skyscraper is a lovely, heartfelt track, even if it is a bit saccharine (although I can understand if people roll their eyes to it, if it's not their cup of tea).

Jimbo wrote:Actually, Mazzy's one hit was Fade Into You, but Into Dust may be their best. Much like with Lana Del Rey, they were pretty consistent, actually. If you like their "sound" you'll probably like the albums. Here's a Hope Sandoval solo track I love:

But, yeah, Lana/Mazzy/Hope is all about the sound. If you dig the sound/vibe you can sit through an entire album (really, almost any of theirs) and dig it because there isn't a ton of variation and it's all pretty high quality. It's more an issue of just being in the mood, though. If you're the type where a little goes a long way then there's no reason to dig into the albums and you can just stick with the singles. Sometimes I like to drift through the haze for a good 40-50 minutes, though. :)

Me too! But I guess it's just a thing of finding the time for it. So many priorities...

maz89 wrote:I think my rationalist philosophy beat the snobby out of me at some point! I also miss fonti. We had so many great discussions, especially about classical. I remember him being a Swiftie. TBH, back then I kinda thought he was just being a contrarian. I never said anything about it, but I kinda feel like I owe him an apology now! lol

[laugh] I am sure many landed on that conclusion about his praise for Swift. He had a way of being brief and blunt...

Jimbo wrote:They share a lot of similarities in how the story is woven into these very elongated, flowing melodies. It's one aspect of her I kinda missed on the last two albums, which are much more melodically compact (no less catchy, though). The sound of those early Swift albums is a lot of bursting through the screen door on a summer day and running through wide open fields with the wind at your back.

Well said!

Jimbo wrote:I'm just [yes] -ing to all of this. I could probably write a mini-essay on every song on that album. Dear John is definitely a standout, though. Definitely Swift at her most nakedly emotional. Innocent's a really cool one tone-wise. It has this innocent quality to it, but with all these hints of darkness, with an almost anternative rock vibe at times. It's as if the two forces are fighting each other throughout the song! I also love the lullaby-like melody on Enchanted. Fun fact: if you notice, it's a really close cousin to the Dress bridge. Both have that regular pulse with a kind of anapestic rhythm. In Dress it's --v--v-v while in Enchanted it's --Λ- --Λ (arrow points to the note direction). Anyway, Enchanted SOUNDS like a fairy-tale, and then that chorus hits and it sounds like a fairy-tale come true. Really magical!

Yes, totally agree on the Innocent comment - again, well-said! I never thought about it in such detail, but the song does begin in a 'dark', quiet place before Swift opens the curtains ('string of lights') and comforts us in the chorus. Nice. And you're right, of course - Enchanted does stir music reminiscent of a joyful fairy-tale. The old Taylor, eh.

I wish I could understand what you've written about the notes - sorry, I'm a music enthusiast with zero knowledge of notes and stuff. [laugh] For now, I'll believe that there is a close similarity in the songs, although I don't think I could have figured that out if you hadn't said so. Heh.

Jimbo wrote:OK, too much Swift love here. I have to find something negative to say just to stay respectful... well, she does abuse the hell out of the IV-I-V-vi progression! Rick Beato included two examples in his "Four Chords that Killed POP Music!" video. Although, if I'm being honest, chord progressions in pop are, to me, a bit like plot in film. It's not unimportant, but you can make hundreds/thousands of great songs/films that use the same basic progression/plot!

Is this why someone was able to effortlessly do this mashup:

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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #4

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:28 pm

maz89 wrote:
Eva Yojimbo wrote:What you say about her being robotic is interesting because I get what you're saying, but I had a different take on it. On Sputnik I'd mentioned the above stuff about my frustration and then said this: "...(but) I keep listening because something about her is really magnetic. I think it's something to do with how her voice is almost detached from everything else. If her music was a Hitchcock film she'd be the ghostly Madeleine that Scotty follows around like a hypnotized puppy dog while she doesn't even know he exists, and the music would be the city of San Francisco. I dunno... smooth, mystical coolness is the only term I can think of." So you say robotic, but I say the above. Different perspectives on what I think is the same phenomenon, though. I hear the potential too, even in small moments like the jazzy chords that open God is a Woman... and then there's something like The Light is Coming, which I can't figure out if I hate or love, but it's undeniably different!

Interesting perspective! She's definitely a talented singer, but that doesn't make her unique. There are so many talented girls with equally powerful voices on American Idol and The Voice. Give those girls these songs and similarly A-grade production, and they'd turn out a similar product and maybe even inject more 'feeling' into it.
Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. I'd say, yes, there's a lot of talented singers out there, but I'd also argue that Ariana is rather unique talent even among such types. For one thing, she has an effortless smoothness throughout her range. Every time she does runs and riffs I marvel at how seamless it is. Even with someone like Christina Aguilera, who loves doing runs, you can there are certain parts of her range where she has to change up vowels or mix so that she can feel comfortable. She has the best whistles I've heard since Mariah Carey (though she doesn't do them as often), and not many singers can do them at all. I also think her lower range and upper head voice are exceptionally beautiful, tonally speaking, which probably explains much of my infatuation. I also appreciate that, despite that talent, she rarely over-sings. If anything, she tends to under-sing on record; I've actually enjoyed watching her live stuff to hear her stretch out a bit. The thing I've noticed among the American Idol-types (though I haven't watched that so since probably season 5-6) is that they tend to use a much more cutting mix with lots of belts to stand out. Ariana's more a throwback to classic R&B, which you really don't hear as much anymore.

maz89 wrote:I guess, this is one of those things where you either feel it or you don't. I remember, on American Idol, there was a female singer who had an absolutely flawless, gorgeous singing voice. Yet, many claimed she was a "robot", that it was hard to tell if she even understood what she was singing. I understood where they were coming from, and yet, I saw something alluring about the perfect precision with which she sang, and I felt the emotion. I guess I now understand what they were talking about, heh.

FWIW, I liked Ghostin' but it still feels kinda safe. Grande is very much at home in it, comfortably showcasing her vocal talents. I guess I want her to do what Demi Lovato does (who, as you might have guessed, I prefer to Grande), that is, pour raw emotion into the song. For example, I think Skyscraper is a lovely, heartfelt track, even if it is a bit saccharine (although I can understand if people roll their eyes to it, if it's not their cup of tea).
Yeah, it's certainly a subjective thing. You remember what Idol singer you were thinking of? The Idol singer I most remember being a truly outstanding vocalist (who didn't even win... and seemingly disappeared after the show) was Melinda Doolittle.

Most everything I've heard Ariana do is kinda safe, which also adds to my frustration. I don't think she'll ever be a Lovato type. It's just not her thing. I also like Skyscraper, but those live versions of Father and Sober are truly gut-wrenching.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I think my rationalist philosophy beat the snobby out of me at some point! I also miss fonti. We had so many great discussions, especially about classical. I remember him being a Swiftie. TBH, back then I kinda thought he was just being a contrarian. I never said anything about it, but I kinda feel like I owe him an apology now! lol

[laugh] I am sure many landed on that conclusion about his praise for Swift. He had a way of being brief and blunt...
The "brief and blunt" thing mixed with his controversial opinions often lead to really funny results. I remember the shitstorm he caused with the whole "Kanye's better than David Bowie" thing.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I'm just [yes] -ing to all of this. I could probably write a mini-essay on every song on that album. Dear John is definitely a standout, though. Definitely Swift at her most nakedly emotional. Innocent's a really cool one tone-wise. It has this innocent quality to it, but with all these hints of darkness, with an almost anternative rock vibe at times. It's as if the two forces are fighting each other throughout the song! I also love the lullaby-like melody on Enchanted. Fun fact: if you notice, it's a really close cousin to the Dress bridge. Both have that regular pulse with a kind of anapestic rhythm. In Dress it's --v--v-v while in Enchanted it's --Λ- --Λ (arrow points to the note direction). Anyway, Enchanted SOUNDS like a fairy-tale, and then that chorus hits and it sounds like a fairy-tale come true. Really magical!
I wish I could understand what you've written about the notes - sorry, I'm a music enthusiast with zero knowledge of notes and stuff. [laugh] For now, I'll believe that there is a close similarity in the songs, although I don't think I could have figured that out if you hadn't said so. Heh.
LOL, I just explained that horribly. First, let me disabuse you of any notion I'm some kind of music expert; my theory knowledge is 101 basic and mostly stuff I've just picked up through the years of guitar noodling. My ear sucks and I can only (slowly) figure things out looking at a score or tab. Anyway, I was mostly just noting a rhythmic similarity, and now that I think about I think I was kinda wrong anyway. Dress feels more like an anapest and Enchanted feels more like a trochee... these are actually poetry terms rather than musical terms. What they DO Share in common is a steady eight-note pulse, which tends to emphasize the natural rhythm of the words, whatever that may be.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:OK, too much Swift love here. I have to find something negative to say just to stay respectful... well, she does abuse the hell out of the IV-I-V-vi progression! Rick Beato included two examples in his "Four Chords that Killed POP Music!" video. Although, if I'm being honest, chord progressions in pop are, to me, a bit like plot in film. It's not unimportant, but you can make hundreds/thousands of great songs/films that use the same basic progression/plot!

Is this why someone was able to effortlessly do this mashup:
That's part of it. It's also that most songs will share chords with other songs (as long as the chords aren't too exotic) so to transition from one to the next all you have to do is find one in common they share so that the transition makes sense. Although I wouldn't be surprised if all those songs have some variation on the I-V-vi-IV.

One major thing people miss when analyzing chord progressions is that there's a difference in hearing a certain progression as a chord and hearing it in the melody--not that the two have to be separate, and they're usually related, but there's still a distinction. Just to make the point, one thing Swift is really, really good at is knowing the perfect time to hit a new (usually higher) note in the song so that it makes an impression, and she's especially good at doing this with a 5th. That's important because, in musical terms, the 5th is the note/chord farthest away from the tonic or "home." It's the note with the most tension, excitement, etc. In older classical music (ie, before Modernism), when composers modulated to a key it was usually to the Dominant (5th) precisely because it was the key furthest away from the key the work started in, and it added drama/tension etc. So, to use some of the songs we've discussed as an example, you don't hear the higher 5th in Enchanted until she "meets" him (it's on the word "meet"), you don't hear it in All Too Well until "Long (gone)." If you listen to those songs, you'll probably notice those two words/notes seem to have a special significance to them, and that's why. Yet, in both of these songs you do hear the 5th as a chord before you hear it in the vocals, but it doesn't feel the same.

BTW, have you heard this:

Now I want to hear her team up with Weird Al!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #5

Postby maz89 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:06 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. I'd say, yes, there's a lot of talented singers out there, but I'd also argue that Ariana is rather unique talent even among such types. For one thing, she has an effortless smoothness throughout her range. Every time she does runs and riffs I marvel at how seamless it is. Even with someone like Christina Aguilera, who loves doing runs, you can there are certain parts of her range where she has to change up vowels or mix so that she can feel comfortable. She has the best whistles I've heard since Mariah Carey (though she doesn't do them as often), and not many singers can do them at all. I also think her lower range and upper head voice are exceptionally beautiful, tonally speaking, which probably explains much of my infatuation. I also appreciate that, despite that talent, she rarely over-sings. If anything, she tends to under-sing on record; I've actually enjoyed watching her live stuff to hear her stretch out a bit. The thing I've noticed among the American Idol-types (though I haven't watched that so since probably season 5-6) is that they tend to use a much more cutting mix with lots of belts to stand out. Ariana's more a throwback to classic R&B, which you really don't hear as much anymore.

Well, yeah, a lot of over-singing - understandably - on these singing competitions, but every now and then, you find a great singer who understands the importance of restraint. I do appreciate that Ariana Grande doesn't over-sing, and I accept your point that she's a great singer. I just don't connect with her music at all. Like, you could replace her in her songs with any other girl with a similar sounding voice and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. For me, she's just kinda... bland. I mean, technically superb, but just completely... dead inside. [giveup] [laugh] I understand this is all very personal and just applicable to me, though.

maz89 wrote:IYeah, it's certainly a subjective thing. You remember what Idol singer you were thinking of? The Idol singer I most remember being a truly outstanding vocalist (who didn't even win... and seemingly disappeared after the show) was Melinda Doolittle.

Pia Toscano, who was eliminated way too early in season 11. She should have won, but you know how Idol audiences love to pick white-guy-with-guitar winners. I don't remember, but it is possible that Pia over-sang a bit, but that's just a symptom of being on the Idol stage where you have to show off your vocal chops and do some vocal acrobatics to be noticed (although of course, awesome singers like Clarkson didn't even need to do that). I don't think Pia over-sang though.

I think I started watching the show in season seven (when everyone else stopped watching) and I watched for a few years before giving up. But yes, Doolittle is absolutely amazing even though she's disappeared, as are Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson - even though their music is not my cup of tea and they have kinda disappeared too. Their genre not being pop made a difference, I'm sure. In fact, most of the singers I liked on Idol were not pop singers: Allison Iraheta/rock (I legit cried when she was eliminated in fourth place and it was fitting because she sang Cry Baby in her exit performance - she was great and it's a shame her post-Idol career didn't take off in the way it should have, but that's what happens when your label makes you release a shoddy bubblegum pop album that was nothing like any song you ever sang on Idol), Crystal Bowersox/rock-singer/songwriter (runner-up in season 10, I don't even know why she was on this show, there was no way she could have made the Janis Joplin type of record had she won; she didn't and I don't think she cares), Candice Glover/R&B/soul (winner of season 12, first woman to win it after five years, didn't watch that season but OMG that voice), and Haley Reinhart/rock/jazz/blues (finished third place in season 9, I think, and I especially admire/love her sultry, jazzy voice.) I am tempted to post a link to my favorite performances for each one of them. I don't know why they are all girls, btw. Maybe because girls are underrated, and I despised all WGWGs after a while. The last good male singer they had was Adam Lambert, afaik, and he's doing well I think.

Anyway, I'm still sure there were many others in American Idol who had a similar voice to Grande's. I never paid attention to those types of singers, really. Except for Pia. There was something special about her. [laugh]

Jimbo wrote:he "brief and blunt" thing mixed with his controversial opinions often lead to really funny results. I remember the shitstorm he caused with the whole "Kanye's better than David Bowie" thing.

Oh, man, that's hilarious! I missed that. [laugh] I do remember his love for Kanye though. Hey, we should check that guy's music out. You never know... [laugh]

Jimbo wrote:One major thing people miss when analyzing chord progressions is that there's a difference in hearing a certain progression as a chord and hearing it in the melody--not that the two have to be separate, and they're usually related, but there's still a distinction. Just to make the point, one thing Swift is really, really good at is knowing the perfect time to hit a new (usually higher) note in the song so that it makes an impression, and she's especially good at doing this with a 5th. That's important because, in musical terms, the 5th is the note/chord farthest away from the tonic or "home." It's the note with the most tension, excitement, etc. In older classical music (ie, before Modernism), when composers modulated to a key it was usually to the Dominant (5th) precisely because it was the key furthest away from the key the work started in, and it added drama/tension etc. So, to use some of the songs we've discussed as an example, you don't hear the higher 5th in Enchanted until she "meets" him (it's on the word "meet"), you don't hear it in All Too Well until "Long (gone)." If you listen to those songs, you'll probably notice those two words/notes seem to have a special significance to them, and that's why. Yet, in both of these songs you do hear the 5th as a chord before you hear it in the vocals, but it doesn't feel the same.

Interesting. I feel as though I intuitively know what you're talking about - these tonal changes is what makes the music connect with you. I'll watch out more closely for these tonal changes when I hear these songs. A brief lesson on music from youtube wouldn't hurt either, haha.

Jimbo wrote:BTW, have you heard this:
Now I want to hear her team up with Weird Al!

"I've got security lining the stage", haha! No, I hadn't but I knew that she has a good sense of humor, humor that sometimes borders on self-deprecation. Saw an interview of hers on the Graham Norton show and she was quite funny there, too, cutely confusing cricket with American football. Great comic timing. (A friend I showed that video too, though, had the impression that she was actually a dumb blonde, rather than someone pretending to be, so maybe it's not for everyone, lol.)
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #6

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:39 pm

maz89 wrote: I do appreciate that Ariana Grande doesn't over-sing, and I accept your point that she's a great singer. I just don't connect with her music at all. Like, you could replace her in her songs with any other girl with a similar sounding voice and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. For me, she's just kinda... bland. I mean, technically superb, but just completely... dead inside. [giveup] [laugh] I understand this is all very personal and just applicable to me, though.
Yeah, that's the crux of it; you dislike the music and the voice doesn't make up for it, I'm more mixed on the music but I'm so attracted to the voice that I can keep listening.

maz89 wrote:Pia Toscano, who was eliminated way too early in season 11. She should have won, but you know how Idol audiences love to pick white-guy-with-guitar winners. I don't remember, but it is possible that Pia over-sang a bit, but that's just a symptom of being on the Idol stage where you have to show off your vocal chops and do some vocal acrobatics to be noticed (although of course, awesome singers like Clarkson didn't even need to do that). I don't think Pia over-sang though.

I think I started watching the show in season seven (when everyone else stopped watching) and I watched for a few years before giving up. But yes, Doolittle is absolutely amazing even though she's disappeared, as are Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson - even though their music is not my cup of tea and they have kinda disappeared too. Their genre not being pop made a difference, I'm sure. In fact, most of the singers I liked on Idol were not pop singers: Allison Iraheta/rock (I legit cried when she was eliminated in fourth place and it was fitting because she sang Cry Baby in her exit performance - she was great and it's a shame her post-Idol career didn't take off in the way it should have, but that's what happens when your label makes you release a shoddy bubblegum pop album that was nothing like any song you ever sang on Idol), Crystal Bowersox/rock-singer/songwriter (runner-up in season 10, I don't even know why she was on this show, there was no way she could have made the Janis Joplin type of record had she won; she didn't and I don't think she cares), Candice Glover/R&B/soul (winner of season 12, first woman to win it after five years, didn't watch that season but OMG that voice), and Haley Reinhart/rock/jazz/blues (finished third place in season 9, I think, and I especially admire/love her sultry, jazzy voice.) I am tempted to post a link to my favorite performances for each one of them. I don't know why they are all girls, btw. Maybe because girls are underrated, and I despised all WGWGs after a while. The last good male singer they had was Adam Lambert, afaik, and he's doing well I think.

Anyway, I'm still sure there were many others in American Idol who had a similar voice to Grande's. I never paid attention to those types of singers, really. Except for Pia. There was something special about her. [laugh]
Feel free to post some of your favorite clips. It's been too long since I've seen it to even remember favorite performances, but some of these names ring a bell. I'm guessing I heard/saw bits of it as my mom kept watching it long after I stopped, though she eventually stopped to and switched to The Voice for a while; now I don't think she watches any of them. I think you and I both have an innate preference for female vocalists to begin with.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:he "brief and blunt" thing mixed with his controversial opinions often lead to really funny results. I remember the shitstorm he caused with the whole "Kanye's better than David Bowie" thing.

Oh, man, that's hilarious! I missed that. [laugh] I do remember his love for Kanye though. Hey, we should check that guy's music out. You never know... [laugh]
Only thing keeping from checking out Kanye is that hip-hop is one genre (like country) that I know almost nothing about, so I don't know if I'd have enough contextual information to appreciate genius or distinguish it from crap.

maz89 wrote:Interesting. I feel as though I intuitively know what you're talking about - these tonal changes is what makes the music connect with you. I'll watch out more closely for these tonal changes when I hear these songs. A brief lesson on music from youtube wouldn't hurt either, haha.
You might also look into getting a really cheap keyboard and just playing around with some of the basic ideas. Like, you don't have to learn to play songs or anything, just kinda get a feel for how things like chords, intervals, keys, scales, etc. work. I think music theory probably sounds/seems really complicated and probably doesn't make much sense if you just try to learn it in isolation as a listener with no practical reference, but if you can apply the ideas practically like I do with playing guitar, then it makes sense and seems intuitive really quickly.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:BTW, have you heard this:
Now I want to hear her team up with Weird Al!

"I've got security lining the stage", haha! No, I hadn't but I knew that she has a good sense of humor, humor that sometimes borders on self-deprecation. Saw an interview of hers on the Graham Norton show and she was quite funny there, too, cutely confusing cricket with American football. Great comic timing. (A friend I showed that video too, though, had the impression that she was actually a dumb blonde, rather than someone pretending to be, so maybe it's not for everyone, lol.)
I like how the "la la la"s change to "ha ha ha"s at one point! Anyway, yeah, she definitely has a good sense of humor. I checked out that Graham Norton interview. I honestly can't tell if it was a joke or not, mainly because it's entirely believable that any American wouldn't have a clue about cricket (and I include myself in that)!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #7

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:59 pm

It occurred to me that, in all our talk of female singers, I've never mentioned Eva Cassidy. She only did covers, yet her voice and interpretations were so strong that almost every song she did became my favorite version of that song. Her Live at Blues Alley (recently expanded in the Nightbird set) is probably my favorite live album ever. Every song on that disc is just stunning. She died really young of cancer and was practically unknown at the time of her death. She only released one official studio album, but there's a lot of posthumous collections. While I enjoy her studio stuff, I don't think any of it comes close to capturing the magic of that live disc. Here's a few faves:


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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #8

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:20 pm

OK, how have I not heard of this before? Apparently, there's a guitar pedal out there that imitates the voice of Hatsune Miku/Saki Fujita... now, apparently, it also sucks balls and is hilariously bad. I seriously had tears from laughing so hard at this (go to 3:00):

"Let's play a chord."
Guitar: No!
"Here's another chord"
Guitar: Yo!

[laugh]
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #9

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:21 pm

So, H.E.R. was on Colbert the other day. I'd never heard her (them?), but... man, I loved it. The song is one of those that sounds so classic, like it's already been around forever, and it's rare for me to feel that way after hearing a song once. But what shocked the hell out of me was that it climaxes with an honest-to-Bob GUITAR SOLO! I can't say how long it's been since I've heard a guitar solo by any band/artist on a show like this... and she actually does some tapping! WTF?!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #10

Postby maz89 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:27 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:It occurred to me that, in all our talk of female singers, I've never mentioned Eva Cassidy. She only did covers, yet her voice and interpretations were so strong that almost every song she did became my favorite version of that song. Her Live at Blues Alley (recently expanded in the Nightbird set) is probably my favorite live album ever. Every song on that disc is just stunning. She died really young of cancer and was practically unknown at the time of her death. She only released one official studio album, but there's a lot of posthumous collections. While I enjoy her studio stuff, I don't think any of it comes close to capturing the magic of that live disc. Here's a few faves:

Beautiful, buttery smooth voice. Great control and use of restraint. I heard her take on Cyndi Lauper's Time after Time, and it was gorgeous too. I had never heard of her before you mentioning her. How did you come across her?

Jimbo wrote:weird pedal review

Lol, just so you know I watched the video in its entirety. I'm not sure if I found it as funny as you did, but it was entertaining nonetheless. [razz] Talk about super-weird pedals...

Jimbo wrote:So, H.E.R. was on Colbert the other day. I'd never heard her (them?), but... man, I loved it. The song is one of those that sounds so classic, like it's already been around forever, and it's rare for me to feel that way after hearing a song once. But what shocked the hell out of me was that it climaxes with an honest-to-Bob GUITAR SOLO! I can't say how long it's been since I've heard a guitar solo by any band/artist on a show like this... and she actually does some tapping! WTF?!

Never heard of 'em, but yes, please, bring back guitar solos! The one in this one could have lasted for another minute as far as I'm concerned - took me back to the music of the 70s. Maybe that's why we get this feeling that this song has been "around forever", as you said. I liked it! I'll wait to hear your thoughts when you dive into them, as I'm sure you will. [wink]

Btw, have you heard of CHVRCHES? I just came across their cover of a Kendrick Lamar song, and realized we've never talked about them. I love everything about them: the 80s electronic synth-pop sound, the voice of the lead singer, and the catchy melodies. I've never heard their albums though but I keep coming back to their songs and their covers (I love to see them interpret songs with their style). Try these:

(^The build-up to that beat drop is so "musically" thrilling and satisfying to me.)



They did a song with Hayley Williams from Paramore but I didn't really care too much for it.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #11

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:51 pm

maz89 wrote:
Eva Yojimbo wrote:It occurred to me that, in all our talk of female singers, I've never mentioned Eva Cassidy. She only did covers, yet her voice and interpretations were so strong that almost every song she did became my favorite version of that song. Her Live at Blues Alley (recently expanded in the Nightbird set) is probably my favorite live album ever. Every song on that disc is just stunning. She died really young of cancer and was practically unknown at the time of her death. She only released one official studio album, but there's a lot of posthumous collections. While I enjoy her studio stuff, I don't think any of it comes close to capturing the magic of that live disc. Here's a few faves:

Beautiful, buttery smooth voice. Great control and use of restraint. I heard her take on Cyndi Lauper's Time after Time, and it was gorgeous too. I had never heard of her before you mentioning her. How did you come across her?
I've known of her ever since my days back on Harmony Central Guitar Forum when I was like 15-16. I remember she was a favorite of a few members there. I don't remember when it was that I finally picked up her Live at Blues Alley and Songbird, but I immediately bought everything she did. Former's probably one of the albums I've listened to most.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:So, H.E.R. was on Colbert the other day. I'd never heard her (them?), but... man, I loved it. The song is one of those that sounds so classic, like it's already been around forever, and it's rare for me to feel that way after hearing a song once. But what shocked the hell out of me was that it climaxes with an honest-to-Bob GUITAR SOLO! I can't say how long it's been since I've heard a guitar solo by any band/artist on a show like this... and she actually does some tapping! WTF?!

Never heard of 'em, but yes, please, bring back guitar solos! The one in this one could have lasted for another minute as far as I'm concerned - took me back to the music of the 70s. Maybe that's why we get this feeling that this song has been "around forever", as you said. I liked it! I'll wait to hear your thoughts when you dive into them, as I'm sure you will. [wink]
Yeah, there's technically not much to the solo... just some bluesy pentatonic bends into that little tapping bit, but it's just the fact that it happens at all. I kinda feel like rap breaks have taken the place of guitar solos in popular music, but, yeah, I really miss guitar solos. I don't think I've ever mentioned Alter Bridge, and they're not a favorite band of mine--a lot of their stuff is pretty bland hard rock--but they have my favorite guitar solo of this century, and it helps that it's in their best song too called Blackbird:


Yeah, I'll definitely be listening to that H.E.R. album soon.

maz89 wrote:Btw, have you heard of CHVRCHES? I just came across their cover of a Kendrick Lamar song, and realized we've never talked about them. I love everything about them: the 80s electronic synth-pop sound, the voice of the lead singer, and the catchy melodies. I've never heard their albums though but I keep coming back to their songs and their covers (I love to see them interpret songs with their style). Try these:
I've definitely heard of them, and I remember hearing them a time or two on TV, but never explored them... but, damn, I love both those songs you posted! I don't know if I've ever ran to download a band's albums so fast! Very 80s synth pop but with a slightly darker/heavier sound. Reminds me a bit of Carly Rae Jepsen but, again, darker.

BTW, have you heard Billie Eilish yet? She's mostly been a big deal on YouTube for the last few years, but she just now released her first full-length album. More than actually liking her music I think I just find her intriguing in that she seems to be bringing some darkness and edge back to the mainstream. She's got some good stuff but her album's all over the place. I think she does two things really well: dark, twisted, horror-esque stuff and these light, airy, beautiful ballads. I don't care as much for her attempts at being funny and quirky, and I kinda feel she loses something without the music videos too. Anyway, here's a couple tracks to check out that show the two things I think she does best:



Pretty sure you can tell which style is which. The last three songs on her album (I Love You is one of them) are just breathtakingly gorgeous, though all very, very sad.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #12

Postby maz89 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:55 pm

Jimbo wrote:Yeah, there's technically not much to the solo... just some bluesy pentatonic bends into that little tapping bit, but it's just the fact that it happens at all. I kinda feel like rap breaks have taken the place of guitar solos in popular music, but, yeah, I really miss guitar solos. I don't think I've ever mentioned Alter Bridge, and they're not a favorite band of mine--a lot of their stuff is pretty bland hard rock--but they have my favorite guitar solo of this century, and it helps that it's in their best song too called Blackbird:

I hadn't heard of them either (not surprising though). The song didn't become noteworthy for me until the softer verses in the middle (you know how I love contrast - everything that begins with "ascend may you find no resistance..." could have been a different song altogether) followed by that guitar solo, which I liked. That's a huuuge compliment though. What are your next few picks for best guitar solo this century?

Jimbo wrote:I've definitely heard of them, and I remember hearing them a time or two on TV, but never explored them... but, damn, I love both those songs you posted! I don't know if I've ever ran to download a band's albums so fast! Very 80s synth pop but with a slightly darker/heavier sound. Reminds me a bit of Carly Rae Jepsen but, again, darker.

Super glad you liked those tracks! The last person I introduced Clearest Blue to liked it but didn't "love" it, so it makes me happy to see someone else felt it too. Lauren Mayberry is about our age but looks much younger. Skimming the youtube comments, it's interesting to note how many comments focus on her ageing-resistant face. Anyway, check out the rest of their stuff. While I wish their recent singles (Get Out, Graffiti) had lyrics that matched in quality with their earlier work, the music is just as good so I keep coming back.

Btw, I heard Jepsen's Emotion album and I was not disappointed at all. I didn't read the names of the songs while I was listening to the record (because I was also simultaneously working on *cough*excel sheets*cough*), but it was totally my cup of tea. Gonna check it out with a more focused mind again.

Jimbo wrote:BTW, have you heard Billie Eilish yet? She's mostly been a big deal on YouTube for the last few years, but she just now released her first full-length album. More than actually liking her music I think I just find her intriguing in that she seems to be bringing some darkness and edge back to the mainstream. She's got some good stuff but her album's all over the place. I think she does two things really well: dark, twisted, horror-esque stuff and these light, airy, beautiful ballads. I don't care as much for her attempts at being funny and quirky, and I kinda feel she loses something without the music videos too. Anyway, here's a couple tracks to check out that show the two things I think she does best:

Pretty sure you can tell which style is which. The last three songs on her album (I Love You is one of them) are just breathtakingly gorgeous, though all very, very sad.

Ok, wow. I first heard of her about two years ago when Bellyache became popular for a while. Catchy song, but I credited it to the top notch production - and that cool bass drop that precedes the chorus. I also heard Ocean Eyes after a while and thought it was another decent effort that showed off a pretty voice targeted to the mainstream. But - and I'm really surprised - this stuff is kind of in another league. I saw three tracks - the two you posted and Bad Guy - and I'm amazed at how dark her stuff has become. The good thing is that she seems to be pulling it off without the result feeling contrived... AND she's fucking 17 years old!! I didn't expect Bury A Friend to begin with her wearing black ghoul eyes and speak-singing "what do you want from me, why don't you run from me, what are you wondering, what do you know?" and concluding with "I wanna end me". The eerily nightmarish quality in the video does make it a ton more memorable, and I like how the sound is adapted and molds perfectly with the tone and themes of the track. I know you said her attempts at humor don't work as well for you but I quite liked Bad Guy (assuming that is a song you'd put into that category). She deliriously enjoys being the "bad guy" and while it's fun to see her let loose when the beat drops, what makes it interesting for me is how it fits so well thematically with her other songs - taken as a continuation of the helplessness in the nightmare of Bury a Friend and the resistance to vulnerability and connection in I Love You, Bad Guy functions almost like an conscious cry for help. Hard to see her blood-smeared mouth as being evidence of anything but some terrible, ill-advised sexual relationships. And I Love You is indeed beautiful, more traditional but again, taken with the other songs, it's somehow more heartbreaking than uplifting. Maybe I should check out the album, I might just like it more than you.

I also saw When The Party's Over, and wow, the visual reference to 2001 was well done (the black zoom-out in the beginning and white zoom-in in the ending set up a nice contrast). Wonder how much of an input she has in the direction and concept of her videos. Anyway, I think what I like about her is that she has no qualms about not looking pretty and perfect for the camera. In nearly all of her videos, her face is often front and center, and more often than not, there is something ugly or gross oozing out of or going down her face - black goo, dark red blood, blue paint, etc. You name it. It helps with the whole fuck-this-world-that's-not-worth-living-in routine. But anyway, yeah, she seems to have become super popular really quickly. That's a lot of views.

Does she have a minor resemblance to Scarlett Johansson? A little bit when she smiles? Maybe.

Speaking of quirky female singers who can pull off "eerie", have you heard of Melanie Martinez? I saw her do a cover of Britney Spear's Toxic on The Voice about five-six years ago and was drawn instantly to her breathy, scratchy, unusual sound that was markedly different from the usual bland fare. I later discovered that she actually found success post The Voice with her own original stuff. Her songs aren't as ostentatiously depressing or nightmarish as Billie's; I wouldn't call them subtle either but they're a bit more restrained, particularly because Melanie doesn't bring the focus on herself but unpleasant facets of human nature, i.e. our tendency to lie to each other and to ourselves for the sake of a facade far detached from reality. Here's one of her popular ones:



Here's one with a creepy circus vibe:



Okay, just one more singer that I HAVE to mention because she is a Norwegian whose crystal-clear, powerful voice mesmerizes and intrigues. I LOVE her tone, and there's something magical about her foreign accent, especially when she sings in the higher notes.



And her cover of David Bowie's song is one of my all time favorites. She couldn't have been more than 16-17 when she sang this, I think (currently, 22).



You don't see this in the other videos, but one of the things I love about her is how she completely submits herself to the music when she's singing live. On stage, she takes on this animated persona. It looks weird sometimes and gives the impression that none of it is calculated or rehearsed (refreshingly so), and I love that raw, unfiltered, manic energy. I also love it when she throws in those syllables from her native tongue (reminds me of Bjork wailing those Icelandic syllables in Pagan Poetry). Here's an example of what I'm talking about:



I want to add, like, five more of her live songs, but I think I'll wait to hear your initial impressions first, lol.

Edit: okay, one more track, because I've always loved Aurora's voice on this cover of Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball. How can a 15 year old EMOTE so well?!

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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #13

Postby maz89 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:17 pm

On an unrelated note, what do you make of this cover? This song is in my Taylor Swift top 5, so it is kind of a big deal that I'm intrigued by this cover:



Good on him for not changing the genders in the lyrics.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #14

Postby maz89 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:06 am

Ok. I just discovered Ryan Adam's cover of the entire 1989 album. 4 am here and I am not getting any sleep now. This is so, so good!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #15

Postby Gendo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:54 am

Best cover of a Taylor Swift song:


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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #16

Postby maz89 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:18 am

Gendo wrote:Best cover of a Taylor Swift song:

[biggrin]
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #17

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:49 pm

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:Yeah, there's technically not much to the solo... just some bluesy pentatonic bends into that little tapping bit, but it's just the fact that it happens at all. I kinda feel like rap breaks have taken the place of guitar solos in popular music, but, yeah, I really miss guitar solos. I don't think I've ever mentioned Alter Bridge, and they're not a favorite band of mine--a lot of their stuff is pretty bland hard rock--but they have my favorite guitar solo of this century, and it helps that it's in their best song too called Blackbird:

I hadn't heard of them either (not surprising though). The song didn't become noteworthy for me until the softer verses in the middle (you know how I love contrast - everything that begins with "ascend may you find no resistance..." could have been a different song altogether) followed by that guitar solo, which I liked. That's a huuuge compliment though. What are your next few picks for best guitar solo this century?
Believe it or not, Alter Bridge is just Creed with a different singer, but it's a big difference considering Scott Stapp sucked and Myles Kennedy is probably the best male rock vocalist today. I remember when their first album came out everyone on my guitar board was shocked because nobody thought Mark Tremonti could actually play guitar, and he was kinda shredding it up on the album. I've kept up with them because every album they have a at least a few songs I really like, but they have a lot of generic blah. Surprised you didn't like Blackbird more. Lots of people think that's a masterpiece and one of the best (rock) songs ever written. Lost in Vegas are not easy guys to impress and they thought so too.

Anyway, as for my other picks for best guitar solos of this century, it'd be almost exclusively metal bands as they're among the few still doing it. The first two I thought of were Opeth's A Fair Judgment (it actually has THREE good solos in it) and Dream Theater's The Best of Times:




Opeth's another band I've never mentioned, but there very close to one of my top 5 favorite artists, period. They were the band that got me into extreme metal, but more than that I just think they're masterful composers who mix beauty and brutality like nobody else.

Anyway, I could name lots of others but those two songs are quite long as it is!

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I've definitely heard of them, and I remember hearing them a time or two on TV, but never explored them... but, damn, I love both those songs you posted! I don't know if I've ever ran to download a band's albums so fast! Very 80s synth pop but with a slightly darker/heavier sound. Reminds me a bit of Carly Rae Jepsen but, again, darker.

Super glad you liked those tracks! The last person I introduced Clearest Blue to liked it but didn't "love" it, so it makes me happy to see someone else felt it too. Lauren Mayberry is about our age but looks much younger. Skimming the youtube comments, it's interesting to note how many comments focus on her ageing-resistant face. Anyway, check out the rest of their stuff. While I wish their recent singles (Get Out, Graffiti) had lyrics that matched in quality with their earlier work, the music is just as good so I keep coming back.
I just listened to their three albums yesterday. All good, but I think each one has slightly declined in quality. First one's excellent, second's really good, and third was just good, but definitely more uneven. Definitely going to give them another listen though as this stuff's like musical crack. There's just something about sparkly synth-pop that gets me... kinda like jangle/power pop in that respect.

maz89 wrote:Btw, I heard Jepsen's Emotion album and I was not disappointed at all. I didn't read the names of the songs while I was listening to the record (because I was also simultaneously working on *cough*excel sheets*cough*), but it was totally my cup of tea. Gonna check it out with a more focused mind again.
Speaking of musical crack! Yeah, that album's ridiculously addictive. Be sure to check out the B-Sides release as well, as it's a great addition to it without much (if any) loss in quality. The two albums she released before that aren't bad either, but aren't as consistent. Kiss had the smash-hit Call Me Maybe, and her first album was more acoustic, singer-songwriter pop. I love this track:


I don't know if anyone is making more deliriously effervescent music right now. That's just the sound of pure joy to me. BTW, her new track's pretty good, but the video is adorable (though I feel like Taylor Swift should've beaten her to this concept first! LOL):


maz89 wrote:*Billie Eilish stuff*
Yeah, I first heard her with Ocean Eyes but I kinda lost track until I came across Bury a Friend on the React channel. I was also shocked by how dark (and popular!) she'd become! I wasn't sure I liked Bury a Friend at first, but it's really hooked me the more I've heard it. Something about it that's eerily hypnotic. Bad Guy isn't bad (lol), but I think of it as more of her darker pop stuff, like You Should See Me in a Crown (which I prefer); the annoying humor is more stuff like Xanny, Wish You Were Gay, 8, and My Strange Addiction. I'm not even sure if it's humor, per say, it's more like playfulness... like she's trying to be too cute/ironic and apathetic. It comes across as a bit bratty, but she is only 17 afterall.

You could easily interpret the whole album as a strange conceptual suite, though probably out of order. Speaking of cries for help, Listen Before I Go is basically a suicide letter, and Goodbye (last track) is a mash-up of all the main lyrics on the album. Definitely check out the album as, at the very least, it's got everyone talking. When The Party's Over is another good one, though it reminds me of Ocean Eyes. Pretty sure she has a lot of input on the videos as she's said that she considers herself as much a visual artist as a musical one, perhaps because I think her brother writes most of the music (in a lot of her live performances you can see them together).

maz89 wrote:Does she have a minor resemblance to Scarlett Johansson? A little bit when she smiles? Maybe.
Oh, God, YES! Thank you for this as it's been bugging me for a while that she reminded me of someone and I couldn't think of who, but you nailed it! Don't know why I couldn't think of ScarJo, but absolutely yes!

maz89 wrote:Speaking of quirky female singers who can pull off "eerie", have you heard of Melanie Martinez?
I have not, but I dug both of those tracks. I think what struck me most is how well the music fits the lyrics: the xylophone (I think it is) on the first one is made to sound like a child's toy, and the accordion of the second sounds very much like a circus. Vocals/Melodies are just OK, but definitely worth hearing more.

maz89 wrote:Okay, just one more singer that I HAVE to mention because she is a Norwegian whose crystal-clear, powerful voice mesmerizes and intrigues. I LOVE her tone, and there's something magical about her foreign accent, especially when she sings in the higher notes.
Listening now. Nice to hear some music coming out of Norway besides black metal made by church-burning satanist white-nationalist nazi murdering suicidal cannibals. Yeah, the accent is really cute and does give me a Bjork vibe. That Bowie cover is really good. Loving Forgotten Love right now. Yeah, her movement is almost like performance art. Reminds me a lot of Kate Bush with that element... oh, wow, just got to the part where she hits the falsetto notes... I'd be shocked if she wasn't a Kate Bush fan. Those parts sound so like Wuthering Heights. Wrecking Ball now... really loving her tone on this one, but her technique seems slightly shakier, but yes, very emotional. I wonder if it's intentional as those slight quivers on the chorus fits really well. I like her take on the first chorus that was lower... second higher wasn't quite a strong, but I like when she brought it down.

OK, I guess another one to check out! [biggrin] I'm not going to get through my latest playlist at this rate. I'd gone back to classical and jazz after my last all-pop one; was going through all 105 of Haydn's symphonies, all of Scriabin's music, and the live stuff of Miles Davis and John Coltrane... but now you're pulling me back into pop! LOL

If you like really dynamic music, have you ever given any classical or jazz a chance? I know they can be intimidating just on the sheer volume of how much there is, but in terms of dynamics and the ability of telling stories with just music, there's nothing else like it.

maz89 wrote:On an unrelated note, what do you make of this cover? This song is in my Taylor Swift top 5, so it is kind of a big deal that I'm intrigued by this cover:
Enjoying it. I've been really surprised by how well Swift's songs work in a rock context, even a song like this that's supposed to be, well, more "delicate." It also makes me appreciate the artistry of the original by how well this serves as a contrast. Kinda wish he'd turn down the amp gain though. Teles can sound gorgeous when played with just a touch of distortion and some reverb. One of the ultimate sparkly/jangly guitars.

maz89 wrote:Ok. I just discovered Ryan Adam's cover of the entire 1989 album. 4 am here and I am not getting any sleep now. This is so, so good!
I didn't know this either, but I'm definitely curious...
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #18

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:51 pm

Gendo wrote:Best cover of a Taylor Swift song:
Well, it's funny in a more obvious way. Chorus is actually catchy. Sounds like something Weezer might do. Sucks though he removes all the irony and build-up/payoff of the original though.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #19

Postby Gendo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:47 pm

What do you mean by irony / build up of the original?

Yeah Jack couldn't make it as a professional musician, but as a song writer he has some definite talent.

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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #20

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:01 pm

Gendo wrote:What do you mean by irony / build up of the original?
Let me just quote my own review of the song/album:
In this vein (of sonic/dramatic experimentation), “Look What You Made Me Do” is the pièce de résistance of the album. A track universally mocked (even reviled) upon its release in my estimation because Taylor Swift pushed the sonic/dramatic irony to such an extreme that everyone felt the punch while the punch line went over their starry-eyed heads. From the opening chimes and pizzicato strings it’s clear we’re in the realm of fantasy—a dark, twisted one—already lending an ironic touch to the low-key, minimal verses of Taylor “not (liking) your little games,” while humorously/hypocritically playing her own games musically. The bridge speeds up with pounding keyboards and an almost shrilly-high vocal harmony building anticipatory energy with the Rocky Balboa-esque “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time.” After that, one would expect the chorus to land with a triumphant boom, but instead it drops out with a thudding Right Said Fred beat and the titular refrain. If there’s every been a better bait-and-switch in popular music I can’t think of one, and I’ve yet to figure out whether the musical joke—which is utterly intentional; the music video is the dead giveaway—or the reaction to it—with so many taking it so seriously—is funnier. That Swift manage to take to ultimate tongue-in-cheek ode to narcissism (“I’m Too Sexy”) and inject it into the end of a hate-on-haters-verse and self-congratulatory-pump-up bridge is a kind of comic brilliance that’s hen’s-teeth rare in mainstream pop.
It occurred to me later that most of Reputation (the album) is just Swift taking the idea that she got from Blank Space and making a concept album (of sorts) out of it. She basically said that even though the way the media portrayed was completely false, she thought the "character" of a crazy, evil, man-eating witch was fascinating. Blank Space was the first song she wrote from that perspective, but musically it was more conservative/straight. Much of Reputation is her, IMO, trying to find the right way to portray that character musically, but she always keeps a certain ironic distance from it with various musical devices.

I mean, if you took the cover he did and added some fancy production it could be a really good/catchy pop song, but it would lack all the interesting tonal/stylistic/dramatic stuff that Swift does in her songs, including that one.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #21

Postby maz89 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:24 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Believe it or not, Alter Bridge is just Creed with a different singer, but it's a big difference considering Scott Stapp sucked and Myles Kennedy is probably the best male rock vocalist today. I remember when their first album came out everyone on my guitar board was shocked because nobody thought Mark Tremonti could actually play guitar, and he was kinda shredding it up on the album. I've kept up with them because every album they have a at least a few songs I really like, but they have a lot of generic blah. Surprised you didn't like Blackbird more. Lots of people think that's a masterpiece and one of the best (rock) songs ever written. Lost in Vegas are not easy guys to impress and they thought so too.

At first glance, at least, it didn't make a huge impression. I guess I'm not very familiar with rock in general, although that's not to say I dislike it (except the heavier stuff - we discussed this before, about how I'm just incapable of appreciating composers who excel in"brutality"). Out of the two songs you shared, you can probably guess my favorite. Yep, the Dream Theater one. There's something about their music that really lives up to their name. Maybe they can be the 'heavier' yet theatrical rock band that I check out and actually love. The guitar solo was wicked. Btw, when I think of kickass guitar solo, my mind automatically takes me to Funkadelic's Maggot Brain or Jimi Hendrix' All Along the Watchtower. 70s rock is my thing. Judging from what little I know of it, lol.

Jimbo wrote:I just listened to their three albums yesterday. All good, but I think each one has slightly declined in quality. First one's excellent, second's really good, and third was just good, but definitely more uneven. Definitely going to give them another listen though as this stuff's like musical crack. There's just something about sparkly synth-pop that gets me... kinda like jangle/power pop in that respect.

Damn, that took you no time at all! Any favorites from that rough first listen? Yeah, just by listening to their main songs off each album, I've noticed that decline in quality. But, same as you, feel hooked nonetheless. I love Lauren's voice. This was the cover I was listening to that I liked, btw. Not amazing or their best maybe, but the "love me" is stuck in my head now, thanks to the synth pop (over an originally bass-heavy hip hop song) and those backing vocals that contrast nicely with Lauren's - I especially like it when she drops low at "give me a run for the money/ there is nobody, no one to outrun me".



Jimbo wrote:Speaking of musical crack! Yeah, that album's ridiculously addictive. Be sure to check out the B-Sides release as well, as it's a great addition to it without much (if any) loss in quality. The two albums she released before that aren't bad either, but aren't as consistent. Kiss had the smash-hit Call Me Maybe, and her first album was more acoustic, singer-songwriter pop. I love this track:
I don't know if anyone is making more deliriously effervescent music right now. That's just the sound of pure joy to me. BTW, her new track's pretty good, but the video is adorable (though I feel like Taylor Swift should've beaten her to this concept first! LOL):

I surprisingly didn't care too much for these Jepsen tracks. Not enough of the 80s synth pop sound. A bit too sugary and straight (well, only the first one). I totally agree on the video comment for the second - it could have easily been a concept for a Taylor Swift video, given how much she loves her cats (I may know this from following her Instagram).

Jimbo wrote:Yeah, I first heard her with Ocean Eyes but I kinda lost track until I came across Bury a Friend on the React channel. I was also shocked by how dark (and popular!) she'd become! I wasn't sure I liked Bury a Friend at first, but it's really hooked me the more I've heard it. Something about it that's eerily hypnotic. Bad Guy isn't bad (lol), but I think of it as more of her darker pop stuff, like You Should See Me in a Crown (which I prefer); the annoying humor is more stuff like Xanny, Wish You Were Gay, 8, and My Strange Addiction. I'm not even sure if it's humor, per say, it's more like playfulness... like she's trying to be too cute/ironic and apathetic. It comes across as a bit bratty, but she is only 17 afterall.

I kinda agree - I cooled down on my appreciation after I heard these other tracks you mentioned. I mean for me it's not even the lyrics as such. It's just the songs aren't as... good. Musically. I did like Listen Before I go and When the Party's Over though. Keen to see how she fares in the future.


Jimbo wrote:Oh, God, YES! Thank you for this as it's been bugging me for a while that she reminded me of someone and I couldn't think of who, but you nailed it! Don't know why I couldn't think of ScarJo, but absolutely yes!

[cheers]

Jimbo wrote:I have not, but I dug both of those tracks. I think what struck me most is how well the music fits the lyrics: the xylophone (I think it is) on the first one is made to sound like a child's toy, and the accordion of the second sounds very much like a circus. Vocals/Melodies are just OK, but definitely worth hearing more.

This was her take on Toxic in her blind audition. She's not a powerful singer, but it's so satisfying to see her re-interpret songs to fit her wheelhouse. She seems a little out of breath here now, possibly because she was nervous.



Another song from her album that I like - the music video helps in making you feel sorry for her (character). She looks a little like Katy Perry in some shots here.



And this one. A bit obvious and heavy handed in an after school special kind of way... but I like it.



Jimbo wrote:Listening now. Nice to hear some music coming out of Norway besides black metal made by church-burning satanist white-nationalist nazi murdering suicidal cannibals. Yeah, the accent is really cute and does give me a Bjork vibe. That Bowie cover is really good. Loving Forgotten Love right now. Yeah, her movement is almost like performance art. Reminds me a lot of Kate Bush with that element... oh, wow, just got to the part where she hits the falsetto notes... I'd be shocked if she wasn't a Kate Bush fan. Those parts sound so like Wuthering Heights. Wrecking Ball now... really loving her tone on this one, but her technique seems slightly shakier, but yes, very emotional. I wonder if it's intentional as those slight quivers on the chorus fits really well. I like her take on the first chorus that was lower... second higher wasn't quite a strong, but I like when she brought it down.

OK, I guess another one to check out! [biggrin]

Yeah, the Wrecking Ball cover is so good because those quivers and the shakiness really go so well with the tone of the song.

Here's an acoustic version of Running with the Wolves where her voice just shines.



Jimbo wrote:I'm not going to get through my latest playlist at this rate. I'd gone back to classical and jazz after my last all-pop one; was going through all 105 of Haydn's symphonies, all of Scriabin's music, and the live stuff of Miles Davis and John Coltrane... but now you're pulling me back into pop! LOL

If you like really dynamic music, have you ever given any classical or jazz a chance? I know they can be intimidating just on the sheer volume of how much there is, but in terms of dynamics and the ability of telling stories with just music, there's nothing else like it.

I tried classical once. Long ago. But that's exactly what scared me away - the sheer volume. It's hard to manage this stuff with a nine to five job (or in my case, often nine to nine job) in addition to my other hobbies (games, tv shows, movies), but if you have recommendations on how to tackle these genres without getting lost and confused and unsure, I'm willing to hear 'em.

Jimbo wrote:
maz89 wrote:Ok. I just discovered Ryan Adam's cover of the entire 1989 album. 4 am here and I am not getting any sleep now. This is so, so good!
I didn't know this either, but I'm definitely curious...

I was obsessing over it yesterday but I've since calmed down, lol. I think it's just great! It just shows how strong the source material is, how great a song-writer Taylor Swift is. Her pop album re-interpreted and re-imagined as melancholic, nostalgic alternative country rock (commenters have cheekily noted that the album sounds like Ryan Adams covering Bruce Springsteen covering Taylor Swift). CHECK IT OUT. I was amazed at how some of his covers made me fall in love with 1989 all over again, including the songs I didn't care too much for in the original such as Out of the Woods. In Adam's version, the "we moved the furniture so we could dance/ like we stood a chance/ two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying" line just hits right in the feels, along with the chorus where he's almost begging his partner to tell him that they are "out of the woods".

I was less sure if his sound could work for a song laden with ironic playfulness like Blank Space, but it's actually interesting to see how he brings out the emotional devastation buried in it. Swift plays it for laughs, but Adams is saying he's as fucked up as the song's lyrics suggest with a kind of life-goes-on sadness. Similarly, Shake It Off is turned into a sober fuck-them anthem instead of the lighter number the song's title suggests... and it just seems to work because of the mood he creates with the music - and there is some really ear-candy stuff happening here. Okay not entirely successful with every song, but like I said, it's still an interesting experiment. And like I said, it just goes to show how good the writing is that such an attempt could even be made.

Here's where his style (hehe) worked perfectly well with the material:



Goosebumps at "when you're young, you run":





Clean is such a gorgeous song. Top 5 Taylor Swift. (I think by this point, I have 7 songs in my TS Top 5.)

I apologize for turning this thread back into a TS fan club. [laugh]
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #22

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:11 am

maz89 wrote:At first glance, at least, it didn't make a huge impression. I guess I'm not very familiar with rock in general, although that's not to say I dislike it (except the heavier stuff - we discussed this before, about how I'm just incapable of appreciating composers who excel in"brutality"). Out of the two songs you shared, you can probably guess my favorite. Yep, the Dream Theater one. There's something about their music that really lives up to their name. Maybe they can be the 'heavier' yet theatrical rock band that I check out and actually love. The guitar solo was wicked. Btw, when I think of kickass guitar solo, my mind automatically takes me to Funkadelic's Maggot Brain or Jimi Hendrix' All Along the Watchtower. 70s rock is my thing. Judging from what little I know of it, lol.
Heh, and rock, metal, and classical are the three genres I've explored the most! You can blame my dad since I grew up listening to him playing rock music on drums. Of course that was mostly 70s to early-90s stuff. It was discovering Iron Maiden at ~15 that got me on the metal bandwagon, and they're a top 3 band for me (only Beatles and Dylan are ahead). Speaking of 70s rock, have you checked out any of the power pop bands of the time? Cheap Trick, Badfinger, Big Star, The Raspberries? I think you'd dig them. They were the first bands that went full-out mixing rock with pop (Beatles, Who, and Kinks had done it to varying degrees in the 60s). Here's a few favorites:




Yeah, Maggot Brain is awesome, as is Hendrix. I'm almost an enormous Hendrix fan. Like with King Crimson I have a ridiculous amount of live material from him. My favorite Jimi solo remains Machine Gun though. That track doesn't even sound like a guitar, it sounds like a cry of desperation, outrage, sadness, pain and all the feelings of the 60s about Vietnam:


maz89 wrote:Damn, that took you no time at all! Any favorites from that rough first listen? Yeah, just by listening to their main songs off each album, I've noticed that decline in quality. But, same as you, feel hooked nonetheless. I love Lauren's voice. This was the cover I was listening to that I liked, btw. Not amazing or their best maybe, but the "love me" is stuck in my head now, thanks to the synth pop (over an originally bass-heavy hip hop song) and those backing vocals that contrast nicely with Lauren's - I especially like it when she drops low at "give me a run for the money/ there is nobody, no one to outrun me".
Really liking that Love Me track. Hard to imagine that's a Kendrick Lamar cover! One thing I love about them is that they really get the atmospheric aspect of synth pop. It's very different from Jepsen's use where the synths are mostly another melodic voice, often doubling her own voice. In Chvrches the synths are more sparkle and texture. Really beautiful stuff. Chvrches also plays with rhythmic accents where Jepsen's mostly all 1-2 in 4/4... interesting study in contrasts on the same sound/style.

Favorites? Here's a few:

^ Really like the build-up of that one. Starts out out more dream-pop with the guitars, and synths don't drop until about half way in. One of their more emotional tracks too, IMO.


^ Chorus is just so soaring in this. One of their moodiest too, IMO.


^ Something about the synths on this one that's really epic, and expansive. Reminds me a bit of what Toby Driver did on the last Kayo Dot album.

maz89 wrote:I surprisingly didn't care too much for these Jepsen tracks. Not enough of the 80s synth pop sound. A bit too sugary and straight (well, only the first one). I totally agree on the video comment for the second - it could have easily been a concept for a Taylor Swift video, given how much she loves her cats (I may know this from following her Instagram).
Dude, This Kiss is ridiculously 80s synth pop! More of the bublegum than euro variety, though. Yes, it's sugary and straight, but that's kinda what I love about her; I just get a sugar high listening to it! LOL Anyway, yeah, I know about Taylor's cat love too because she mentions it in just about every interview I've seen... and in Gorgeous, of course.

maz89 wrote:*Melanie Martinez stuff*
Interesting take on Toxic. I wouldn't say I love it, but I do suspect she was a bit nervous. There's a few rough spots, but I like the idea. Toxic is such a good song in general that it could be interpreted in a thousand ways. Pity Party... man, she really did look like Katy Perry in the shot where she opens the mailbox! My favorite part of that song is that she managed to rework the Leslie Gore classic into the chorus! LOL I wonder how many kids even got the reference? Last video isn't working for some reason.

maz89 wrote:Here's an acoustic version of Running with the Wolves where her voice just shines.
I checked out her first solo album, and it was pretty good but not great. I think I'm liking all the live stuff your posting better than the studio stuff, including that acoustic Running With the Wolves.

maz89 wrote:I tried classical once. Long ago. But that's exactly what scared me away - the sheer volume. It's hard to manage this stuff with a nine to five job (or in my case, often nine to nine job) in addition to my other hobbies (games, tv shows, movies), but if you have recommendations on how to tackle these genres without getting lost and confused and unsure, I'm willing to hear 'em.
I get it, man. I'm just lucky that I can listen to music when I'm playing poker so it's not uncommon that I spend 6-8 hours of days with music. Of course, my attention's often diverted, so I tend to take whatever grabs my attention and give it better listens in my free time.

With classical, if you don't want to spend your entire life trying to listen to everything (like my foolish ass) it's doable to just pick favorite composers, eras, and genres to explore. Classical is like 600+ years of music, and it's obviously not all going to be appealing. It's just, I know the best experiences I've had with classical is something no other genre or even art-form can match. I'm talking head-to-toe chills, tears, states of flat-out ecstasy "I feel I'm high on drugs" level stuff. It's rare, of course, but it happens. My top recs:

Bach: B-Minor Mass, Passacaglia & Fugue in Cm
Handel: Messiah
Mozart: Symphony no. 41, Don Giovanni
Beethoven: String Quartet no. 15, Symphony no. 9
Schubert: Piano Sonata no. 21, Wintereisse
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Schumann: Piano Concerto
Brahms: Piano Quintet, Clarinet Quintet
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B-minor
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Mahler: Symphony no. 2
Stravinsky: Rite of Spring
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé

Bolded ones are the pieces that have done the "ecstasy" trick on me. Stuff so profoundly moving I have difficulty imagining humans wrote it. Of all those, two really stand out: Mozart's 41st Symphony and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. The finale of the former is some kind of white magic. It's the only work of art that's ever made me cry out of sheer joy. The best argument for God isn't any theologian mumbo-jumbo, it's the finale of that symphony. For Tristan, it's like a 4-hour trip to the depths of the human psyche. If Mozart is white magic, Wagner is black magic. Tristan is 4 hours of the most ravishing, tormenting music ever made. I emerged from my first listen so stunned I was literally walking around dizzy, dazed, and light-headed for about an hour. I know it's a time investment, but it's worth it.

Of the others, two more top recs: The Beethoven slow movement is perhaps the single most moving piece of music I've ever heard. Beethoven intended it as a hymn of praise when he was recovering from a life-threatening illness, and it shows. The Mahler 2nd is classical on its grandest scale, and that finale is up there with the Mozart as one of the most glorious things the human mind has ever produced in music. You might also make Schubert's Wintereisse a priority as it's actually a song-cycle. Classical songs are just voice & piano so it's different than pop, but it's truly poignant stuff. And I'll just post this as it's one of my few favorite pieces that's about the length of a song:


Jazz is easier only because I haven't explored it as much, but the best is really special stuff. I'll just give a top 5 here:

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (Of course, it's as great as its reputation suggests, and if you don't like this, you probably won't like jazz)
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (Jazz goes transcendental. Like an extended prayer or hymn)
Charles Mingus - Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (a cross between jazz improvisation and classical composition. Truly creative stuff)
Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners (Off-kilter, weird, beautiful)
Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch! (Jazz goes avant-garde. Very quirky, but I love it to death)

maz89 wrote:I was obsessing over it yesterday but I've since calmed down, lol. I think it's just great! It just shows how strong the source material is, how great a song-writer Taylor Swift is...
Well, I coulda told you the source material was strong. ;) Anyway, I'll definitely make it a point to check the whole thing out, so I'll refrain from listening to the clips. But, yeah, her songwriting is so good that it's easy to imagine many possible interpretations of many pieces. I even like to watch her change it up live, like the rock version of WANEGBT I posted.

maz89 wrote:Clean is such a gorgeous song. Top 5 Taylor Swift. (I think by this point, I have 7 songs in my TS Top 5.)

I apologize for turning this thread back into a TS fan club. [laugh]
LOL, Like I'd complain about more TS appreciation! Anyway, I have difficulty ranking songs, but definitely Mean, Long Live, and All Too Well are up there for me... the ones that make me cry and stuff. Two really underrated ones I'll mention is How You Get the Girl and You Are in Love. Former is just such perfect, joyful pop. Latter is one of the best evocations I've ever heard of what it feels like being in love, where everything around you is imbued with this kind of glowing magic. She's so amazing at conveying stuff like that. "You can hear it in the silence..." it's just so true.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #23

Postby maz89 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:27 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Heh, and rock, metal, and classical are the three genres I've explored the most! You can blame my dad since I grew up listening to him playing rock music on drums. Of course that was mostly 70s to early-90s stuff. It was discovering Iron Maiden at ~15 that got me on the metal bandwagon, and they're a top 3 band for me (only Beatles and Dylan are ahead). Speaking of 70s rock, have you checked out any of the power pop bands of the time? Cheap Trick, Badfinger, Big Star, The Raspberries? I think you'd dig them. They were the first bands that went full-out mixing rock with pop (Beatles, Who, and Kinks had done it to varying degrees in the 60s). Here's a few favorites:

You're right - loved 'em all. Are you saying I need to check out all of their albums, or is there a best-of collection I can go through on youtube?

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Yeah, Maggot Brain is awesome, as is Hendrix. I'm almost an enormous Hendrix fan. Like with King Crimson I have a ridiculous amount of live material from him. My favorite Jimi solo remains Machine Gun though. That track doesn't even sound like a guitar, it sounds like a cry of desperation, outrage, sadness, pain and all the feelings of the 60s about Vietnam:

That was intense! Imagine being in the crowd and experiencing it live... Hadn't heard it before, but I imagine it's the kind of track that keeps reeling you in and rewarding repeat listens.

maz89 wrote:Really liking that Love Me track. Hard to imagine that's a Kendrick Lamar cover! One thing I love about them is that they really get the atmospheric aspect of synth pop. It's very different from Jepsen's use where the synths are mostly another melodic voice, often doubling her own voice. In Chvrches the synths are more sparkle and texture. Really beautiful stuff. Chvrches also plays with rhythmic accents where Jepsen's mostly all 1-2 in 4/4... interesting study in contrasts on the same sound/style.
Favorites? Here's a few:
^ Really like the build-up of that one. Starts out out more dream-pop with the guitars, and synths don't drop until about half way in. One of their more emotional tracks too, IMO.
^ Chorus is just so soaring in this. One of their moodiest too, IMO.
^ Something about the synths on this one that's really epic, and expansive. Reminds me a bit of what Toby Driver did on the last Kayo Dot album.

Hadn't heard any of these songs, and I liked them all. The first one might be my favorite. I think you hit the nail on the head on what makes them so good - that atmospheric usage of synth pop. Sparkle. Texture. Those words sound appropriate. [yes] Still fawning over that Love Me cover.

Jimbo wrote: Last video isn't working for some reason.

Does this work?



Jimbo wrote:I checked out her first solo album, and it was pretty good but not great. I think I'm liking all the live stuff your posting better than the studio stuff, including that acoustic Running With the Wolves.

I think you may be on to something there - she's way more fun listening to live. Although, I do like the studio versions of Runaway and Running With The Wolves. Here's another one I just came across and liked:



Jimbo wrote:I get it, man. I'm just lucky that I can listen to music when I'm playing poker so it's not uncommon that I spend 6-8 hours of days with music. Of course, my attention's often diverted, so I tend to take whatever grabs my attention and give it better listens in my free time.

You are indeed lucky! Your profession has allowed you to explore and deep dive into the arts in a way that very few others could replicate. [smile]

Jimbo wrote:With classical, if you don't want to spend your entire life trying to listen to everything (like my foolish ass) it's doable to just pick favorite composers, eras, and genres to explore. Classical is like 600+ years of music, and it's obviously not all going to be appealing. It's just, I know the best experiences I've had with classical is something no other genre or even art-form can match. I'm talking head-to-toe chills, tears, states of flat-out ecstasy "I feel I'm high on drugs" level stuff. It's rare, of course, but it happens. My top recs:

Bach: B-Minor Mass, Passacaglia & Fugue in Cm
Handel: Messiah
Mozart: Symphony no. 41, Don Giovanni
Beethoven: String Quartet no. 15, Symphony no. 9
Schubert: Piano Sonata no. 21, Wintereisse
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Schumann: Piano Concerto
Brahms: Piano Quintet, Clarinet Quintet
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B-minor
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Mahler: Symphony no. 2
Stravinsky: Rite of Spring
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé

Bolded ones are the pieces that have done the "ecstasy" trick on me. Stuff so profoundly moving I have difficulty imagining humans wrote it. Of all those, two really stand out: Mozart's 41st Symphony and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. The finale of the former is some kind of white magic. It's the only work of art that's ever made me cry out of sheer joy. The best argument for God isn't any theologian mumbo-jumbo, it's the finale of that symphony. For Tristan, it's like a 4-hour trip to the depths of the human psyche. If Mozart is white magic, Wagner is black magic. Tristan is 4 hours of the most ravishing, tormenting music ever made. I emerged from my first listen so stunned I was literally walking around dizzy, dazed, and light-headed for about an hour. I know it's a time investment, but it's worth it.

Of the others, two more top recs: The Beethoven slow movement is perhaps the single most moving piece of music I've ever heard. Beethoven intended it as a hymn of praise when he was recovering from a life-threatening illness, and it shows. The Mahler 2nd is classical on its grandest scale, and that finale is up there with the Mozart as one of the most glorious things the human mind has ever produced in music. You might also make Schubert's Wintereisse a priority as it's actually a song-cycle. Classical songs are just voice & piano so it's different than pop, but it's truly poignant stuff. And I'll just post this as it's one of my few favorite pieces that's about the length of a song:

Jazz is easier only because I haven't explored it as much, but the best is really special stuff. I'll just give a top 5 here:

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (Of course, it's as great as its reputation suggests, and if you don't like this, you probably won't like jazz)
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (Jazz goes transcendental. Like an extended prayer or hymn)
Charles Mingus - Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (a cross between jazz improvisation and classical composition. Truly creative stuff)
Thelonious Monk - Brilliant Corners (Off-kilter, weird, beautiful)
Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch! (Jazz goes avant-garde. Very quirky, but I love it to death)


Thank you for all of this. I have saved all of it and want to give it a shot. I'm actually quite excited and looking forward to experiencing those head-to-toe chills. One question to understand how this works - will I find the original recordings for the compositions you've mentioned above? Or will I find 'covers' and are there specific arrangements/groups/artists who I should look out for? Yeah, I'm afraid I don't really know much about this...

Also I thought the track you shared was beautiful but I really do wish I had understood the words. Felt like I was missing something there, although, of course, I wasn't. Btw, know any French composers? Learning French (gonna go to business school in France this fall) so I'm on the look out for French music to help. [wink]

Jimbo wrote:Well, I coulda told you the source material was strong. ;) Anyway, I'll definitely make it a point to check the whole thing out, so I'll refrain from listening to the clips. But, yeah, her songwriting is so good that it's easy to imagine many possible interpretations of many pieces. I even like to watch her change it up live, like the rock version of WANEGBT I posted.

When do you plan to get to this? I kind of want the Jimbo song by song treatment. The same way Ryan Adam did a song by song reinterpretation. Lol.

Jimbo wrote:LOL, Like I'd complain about more TS appreciation! Anyway, I have difficulty ranking songs, but definitely Mean, Long Live, and All Too Well are up there for me... the ones that make me cry and stuff. Two really underrated ones I'll mention is How You Get the Girl and You Are in Love. Former is just such perfect, joyful pop. Latter is one of the best evocations I've ever heard of what it feels like being in love, where everything around you is imbued with this kind of glowing magic. She's so amazing at conveying stuff like that. "You can hear it in the silence..." it's just so true.

I sound like a sycophantic yes-man in this thread, but yes, I love both of those songs, probably only slightly less than Clean. Clean belongs to the 1989 underrated group with these two though. I guess they're all underrated in the sense that they didn't get the radio attention that her singles from that album got. The more vulnerable, delicate, ethereal side of Swift isn't as radio friendly compared to, say, her fun crazy girlfriend posturing in Blank Space, the sexy, hypnotic 80s sound of Style, and the screw-the-haters anthem of Shake It Off. I'm glad Delicate off the new album was chosen as a single - it has gotten attention. If there are two songs I don't care as much for on 1989 btw, it's Bad Blood and I Know Places btw.

I think Change from her first (?) album is underrated - I think it's the first song that made me take notice of her. Well, that and Love Story, which it's quite similar to.

Don't know if they're underrated but did you hear her songs on The Hunger Games soundtrack? I liked both Safe & Sound and Eyes Open. The former has an acoustic sound and a bit of an eerie vibe to it (her voice sounds so good on the "ooh-ooh-oohs" at the end there). The latter is more of a typical rock pop song with a foreboding tone - kind of like the more darker cousin of The Lucky One or any of TS's other songs about being paranoid or cautious, lol.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #24

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:33 am

maz89 wrote:
Eva Yojimbo wrote:Heh, and rock, metal, and classical are the three genres I've explored the most! You can blame my dad since I grew up listening to him playing rock music on drums. Of course that was mostly 70s to early-90s stuff. It was discovering Iron Maiden at ~15 that got me on the metal bandwagon, and they're a top 3 band for me (only Beatles and Dylan are ahead). Speaking of 70s rock, have you checked out any of the power pop bands of the time? Cheap Trick, Badfinger, Big Star, The Raspberries? I think you'd dig them. They were the first bands that went full-out mixing rock with pop (Beatles, Who, and Kinks had done it to varying degrees in the 60s). Here's a few favorites:

You're right - loved 'em all. Are you saying I need to check out all of their albums, or is there a best-of collection I can go through on youtube?
Big Star and Raspberries didn't release much: just three albums each, and they're all worth hearing. Big Star's last album (Third/Sister Lovers) is one my 10/10 favorites. It was made when the band was breaking up and certain members were going through rough times, so it has this bizarre mix of some super fun, poppy, catchy stuff, but also some really dark, depressing, harrowing numbers. It's a bit of a schizophrenic album, but a great one. Raspberries last album (Side 3) is also my favorite from them, but it's just great, consistent songwriting all the way through rather than being occasionally dark like Third/Sister Lovers.

With Badfinger I think a "best of" collection would suffice. They were consistently good but unless you really love them I don't think the albums are necessary, though Straight Up, No Dice, and Wish You Were Here are their best. Cheap Trick is the longest running band of these, but I only think their 70s albums (first four) are must-haves. You could also just get a "best of" that would probably suffice, but I frankly prefer their 70s stuff to most all of their post-80s stuff (which any "best of" would have their 80s hits).

Another name to mention: heard any Steely Dan? They're another top 20 band of mine. Different from the above, and more difficult to describe. They had a weird mix of jazz's sophistication with pop songcraft and rock style. Many say they invented the soft rock genre, but they were far more intelligent and artsy than any other soft rock bands, who were more about just being smooth/mellow and not too harsh/confrontational. Steely Dan was basically two guys: Walter Becker (recently deceased) and Donald Fagen. Early on they had a "band," but they wrote all the songs. Later on, they just ditched the band, wrote the music, and hired the best studio musicians to play it. They were obsessive perfectionists, especially in the studio, and many of their albums are still used by audiophiles to test equipment. I love all their albums (though their last two were underwhelming), but if I had to pick one, I think Aja is their masterpiece. Hard to represent them with one song too, so I'll pick a few:





maz89 wrote:
Eva Yojimbo wrote:Yeah, Maggot Brain is awesome, as is Hendrix. I'm almost an enormous Hendrix fan. Like with King Crimson I have a ridiculous amount of live material from him. My favorite Jimi solo remains Machine Gun though. That track doesn't even sound like a guitar, it sounds like a cry of desperation, outrage, sadness, pain and all the feelings of the 60s about Vietnam:

That was intense! Imagine being in the crowd and experiencing it live... Hadn't heard it before, but I imagine it's the kind of track that keeps reeling you in and rewarding repeat listens.
That's from his last official release called Band of Gypsys, which was basically a compilation of his "best" performances of a four-set Near Year's Eve/Day stand at the Fillmore East in '69/'70. There's other live albums from that stand including Live at the Fillmore East and Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote: Last video isn't working for some reason.

Does this work?
Yes, that works. Listening now. Is it weird that the beginning of the video reminds me of David Lynch? Into the music now... enjoying the subtle, droning organ in the background. I think what I'm enjoying most about this one is the poignant lyric content and the comment on modern standards of beauty. In a way it reminds me of Beyonce's Pretty Hurts. Again with her I notice those toy-like musical touches like the xylaphone-esque instrument that, along with the lyrics and her "sweet voice" has a tone of innocence lost/ruined/tarnished.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:I checked out her first solo album, and it was pretty good but not great. I think I'm liking all the live stuff your posting better than the studio stuff, including that acoustic Running With the Wolves.

I think you may be on to something there - she's way more fun listening to live. Although, I do like the studio versions of Runaway and Running With The Wolves. Here's another one I just came across and liked:
Yeah, that's really good too. She's such a hypnotic performer. The chanting in that one very much reminded me of Dead Can Dance and Lisa Gerrard.

maz89 wrote:Thank you for all of this. I have saved all of it and want to give it a shot. I'm actually quite excited and looking forward to experiencing those head-to-toe chills. One question to understand how this works - will I find the original recordings for the compositions you've mentioned above? Or will I find 'covers' and are there specific arrangements/groups/artists who I should look out for? Yeah, I'm afraid I don't really know much about this...

Also I thought the track you shared was beautiful but I really do wish I had understood the words. Felt like I was missing something there, although, of course, I wasn't. Btw, know any French composers? Learning French (gonna go to business school in France this fall) so I'm on the look out for French music to help. [wink]
I'm almost scared that I've set your expectations too high! The whole "chills/ecstatic" thing is of course very personal/subjective, and you may react to some or none of that the way I did!

Anyway, in classical, unless you're talking about stuff from about the last 70 years-or-so there are no "original recordings," just different interpretations from different orchestras/ensembles/performers/conductors. Everyone has their favorites and those they hate. Fortunately, I think for a first listening the performance matters less than the work itself. Once you've listened to a work many times then you start noticing differences in interpretations that can make a big difference. Mostly what different performances give you are different tempos, styles, and balances/dynamics (and audio quality). So one performance might be slower, with a big orchestra using a lot of rubato (slowing/speeding up of tempo within phrases) that emphasizes the strings and brass, and another might be faster, with a smaller orchestra using steady phrasing that emphasizes the woodwinds. These things make a difference, but you need to know a piece well to really "hear" them. I of course would be willing to offer my own recommendations, but just know I've hardly heard everything out there and my preferences may not be yours. It would probably be best that when you want to listen to any given piece, just ask me and I'll give my recs for that piece.

I might also mention there are often fine recordings available for free on YouTube. EG, Leonard Bernstein was a great Mahler conductor and his DVD performance of the 2nd is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bdc5n562zZg Probably my top recommendation for Tristan Und Isolde--which is a fiendishly difficult work to get right: it requires a great soprano, great heldentenor, great conductor, great orchestra, and great sound... and very few performances have even 3/5 of these qualities, none that I've found has all of them--is Bohm's available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7GNgxxjNbw

If you click on the YouTube link for that Mahler song I think it had a translation of the lyrics. There's actually one video of it (this one sung by a male) that has the translated lyrics on screen:

That songs also a wonderful example of what I've talked about with Taylor Swift making musical drama out of lyrical content. If you just read the poem by itself, it sounds like a celebration of being on one's own and isolated from the evils of the world, but I think the music tells a different story, one that's much sadder, with a great deal of melancholy and loneliness, but also with hints of beauty and contentment. Opera has much of this, where the music often offers greater insights into the characters than just what's written on the page.

I know many French composers. Messiaen, Ravel, Debussy, F. Couperin, et al. are all favorites of mine. My first opera was Georges Bizet's famous Carmen, which is a French opera set in Spain (but it's sung/spoken in French). Messiaen is probably my favorite modernist composer, and like most modernists he's often quite challenging, but I find his music immensely imaginative, colorful, inventive. His Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus is the greatest piano work of the 20th century I'm aware of, and his Quartet for the End of Time is certainly one of the best chamber works of the century. Ravel and Debussy were part of a movement called "French Impressionism," undoubtedly due to the association with the painting style of the time. They both composed a lot of really beautiful stuff, and their work was something of a transition from 19th Century Romanticism to 20th Century Modernism. For Debussy, La Mer is fantastic, and I already recommended Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, but really both wrote very little material that's not worth hearing. You can pick up complete editions of their works for really not much: Debussy and Ravel Of all these composers, F. Couperin is the oldest, a Baroque composer (17th/18th century) of almost entirely keyboard works. What I love about his keyboard works, though, is that they almost anticipate Ravel and Debussy with how often they're based on depicting characters or things from real life, and they're so imaginative with how they do it. With him, I'd probably just recommend picking up different compilations. Though I have a complete collection, it's all on harpsichord and I'm really more of a piano guy. Something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCwkMSTFV_E

Anyway, there are tons of other French composers besides these, but they're my favorites. Camille Saint-Saens was a big name with many popular pieces. I love his Organ Symphony. Berlioz was a hugely influential Romantic composer, and his Symphonie fantastique was a watershed work in the form (his Les Troyens is also one of my favorite operas). Lully and Ramaeu were also very influential baroque opera composers. Faure may have been the most well-rounded French composer with great works in a variety of style sand genres... really, the list could go on and on.

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:Well, I coulda told you the source material was strong. ;) Anyway, I'll definitely make it a point to check the whole thing out, so I'll refrain from listening to the clips. But, yeah, her songwriting is so good that it's easy to imagine many possible interpretations of many pieces. I even like to watch her change it up live, like the rock version of WANEGBT I posted.

When do you plan to get to this? I kind of want the Jimbo song by song treatment. The same way Ryan Adam did a song by song reinterpretation. Lol.
Eh, it's hard to say. Lately I've even paused listening to my last playlist as I've gotten obsessed with watching a YouTube show called Critical Role. Each episode is about 3 hours and there are ~120 episodes in just the first season/campaign! I don't know if starting it was the greatest or worst decision I've ever made, but it's very addictive!

maz89 wrote:
Jimbo wrote:LOL, Like I'd complain about more TS appreciation! Anyway, I have difficulty ranking songs, but definitely Mean, Long Live, and All Too Well are up there for me... the ones that make me cry and stuff. Two really underrated ones I'll mention is How You Get the Girl and You Are in Love. Former is just such perfect, joyful pop. Latter is one of the best evocations I've ever heard of what it feels like being in love, where everything around you is imbued with this kind of glowing magic. She's so amazing at conveying stuff like that. "You can hear it in the silence..." it's just so true.

I sound like a sycophantic yes-man in this thread, but yes, I love both of those songs, probably only slightly less than Clean. Clean belongs to the 1989 underrated group with these two though. I guess they're all underrated in the sense that they didn't get the radio attention that her singles from that album got. The more vulnerable, delicate, ethereal side of Swift isn't as radio friendly compared to, say, her fun crazy girlfriend posturing in Blank Space, the sexy, hypnotic 80s sound of Style, and the screw-the-haters anthem of Shake It Off. I'm glad Delicate off the new album was chosen as a single - it has gotten attention. If there are two songs I don't care as much for on 1989 btw, it's Bad Blood and I Know Places btw.

I think Change from her first (?) album is underrated - I think it's the first song that made me take notice of her. Well, that and Love Story, which it's quite similar to.

Don't know if they're underrated but did you hear her songs on The Hunger Games soundtrack? I liked both Safe & Sound and Eyes Open. The former has an acoustic sound and a bit of an eerie vibe to it (her voice sounds so good on the "ooh-ooh-oohs" at the end there). The latter is more of a typical rock pop song with a foreboding tone - kind of like the more darker cousin of The Lucky One or any of TS's other songs about being paranoid or cautious, lol.
Clean is one of those songs that I seem to forget about until I go back and listen to it and think "yeah, this is really great." I don't know why it doesn't seem to stick in my mind as much afterwards, though. I know she cowrote it with Imogen Heap, whom she admires. Have you heard anything else from Heap? I haven't. But you're definitely right that these songs aren't as radio-friendly, and, in a way, I think Swift's hit singles have a done a disservice in terms of depicting what kind of artist she is, and it's difficult to disabuse people of the notion that she's just a fun, frivolous, purveyor of catchy, frothy, meaningless pop. Even something like Blank Space only has some depth if you understand the whole persona thing she's doing, and that really makes more sense in the context of the album, and especially more after listening to Reputation. I would also agree that I Know Places is kinda meh, but I think Bad Blood is one of those that's kind of fun if not particularly great.

I had to give Change a quick listen to freshen my memory... basically her "Hallelujah" song (I always think of the Paramore song). It's not bad, but it's kinda bland, like much of her first album is. You can hear sparks of her melodic talent, but it's very imitative of the radio trends of the time and she sounds less in command than she was from her second album on. Funny that listening to it I can kinda hear hints of what she'd do much better on a song like Long Live. If we're talking her first album, I think I'm Only Me When I'm With You is quite good, if only because it's the best showcase for her long-winding, flowing melodic sensibility that she'd really show off on her next two albums. I also like start/stop staccato guitars in the chorus, which is a nice contrast to the vocal melody, and the little violin coda at the end is a nice country touch. My favorite from her first album, though, is probably Shoulda Said No. That's such a rocking song in general, and the one song on that album where she really sounds in control and authoritative. She really attacks those consonants in the chorus, which really sells the idea that she's pissed off. There's some other nice touches in the verses with how she elongates and "whines" certain syllables and vowels.

I didn't even know she wrote anything for The Hunger Games. I'm short on time now but I'll make sure to check them out real soon.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #25

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:41 am

So, new Taylor Swift single/video:


I think I'll entitle this review: Taylor Swift's Technicolor Dream Song.

I don't know what I was expecting from her next, but it wasn't this! There's no missing the opening symbolism of the snake--the symbol of her Reputation album/tour--bursting into a group of colorful butterflies. Intro film is really cute (are one of those cats the same from the recent Jepsen video?), again making it really obvious we're in Swift's humorous/ironic mode, but this time it's completely different from Reputation's "ironic cynicism/bitchiness." This is more... ironic happiness? Ironic optimism? Ironic self-love? I dunno. Video is pure Classic Hollywood Musical but turned up to 11 with several references in it, and again this kind of exaggeration hints at... if not irony then, at the very least, self-awareness. The music plays things straighter, a kind of return to the marching band/horn duo of Shake It Off, but with perhaps even more emphasis on the marching band here, and there's just no escaping how bright and happy it sounds. Those bright horns match perfectly with the soaring tail-ends of rising "Me." Speaking of the latter, it's another example of how Swift makes certain words and phrases pop, and here it almost sounds like she's swelling the word to the size of a balloon threatening to pop. The lyrics are so over-the-top saccharine that I can't help but think, again, that it's either very ironic or very self-aware; the whole "no I in team, but there is a me" and "can't spell awesome without me" are so stupid they're really hilarious. I can't help but imagining Taylor writing this with a goofy grin on her face and thinking "hmmm, if I'm going to pull this off, I've got to go so ridiculously over-the-top," and hence was born the Taylor Swift Skittle Explosion that was the video and that inflationary chorus. The fact that it's actually a duo actually drives home the whole "musical" vibe as well.

Negative criticisms? Well, if we eliminate the video I don't know how much (If any) of the whole musical/ironic vibe comes through. It could easily pass for just a really happy/positive pop song. It seems to lack the sonic/dramatic punch of Reputation or her best of the past. It's still plenty fun and catchy, though, and really I've come to expect this from Swift's singles. Look What... was a bit of an anomaly in this regard, and just like with that I have no idea how representative this will be of the album, but I do suspect Taylor's probably in a much more positive head-space this time around, and if she is crafting a more positive, self-assured persona to explore this time around it could definitely yield some new and interesting results. I noted in my review of Reputation how she tended to go in 3-album cycles, and if so this would be the start of a new one. New cycle, new persona, perhaps some new sounds/experiments to go along with it. We shall see, but we're off to a fun/interesting start.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #26

Postby maz89 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:06 am

Oh man, it's like she took the "bubblegum" from bubblegum pop and just went un-apologetically wild with it! In the end, the thick colorful rain is just sickly and looks like... jizz! Lol, I guess that's appropriate since it does tie in with this over the top, ecstatic, masturbatory celebration of self she's doing here. Without the music video though, and on its own, it does seem straightforward and doesn't excite me for her album the way LWYMMD did for Reputation. Then again, this fits the mold of Shake It Off/1989 - although I definitely think that Shake It Off is catchier and better written. I mean, at one point, she exclaims "spelling is fun!" here and that's even worse than the "no i in team" stuff, lol. I agree that it'll be interesting to see what she does in this positive head-space. Btw, she (or the people managing her youtube account) mentions in the comments to the youtube video that the name of the album and second single are both revealed in the video. Any idea what she might be referring to?

I'll get back to the other stuff later. [smile]
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #27

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:06 pm

Well, it's been an interesting few months. Biggest news first, I guess: I saw Ariana Grande back in May. I can honestly say her studio albums just don't do justice to her voice and how good of a singer she is. She just killed it live despite doing runs and riffs in just about every song. I don't think I heard a bum note once, but she blew everyone away more than once. Even my jaded dad was impressed. After the show I did go back to listen to her albums and couldn't help but feel disappointed by comparison. There are definitely good songs sprinkled throughout, but they suffer from being over-produced, too "careful" (not allowing her to show off enough), and from having "too many cooks in the kitchen," meaning that they sound like an incoherent melange of whomever she was working with at the time. Her first album is probably the only one that seems to have a solid "vision" behind it, where she was definitely in love with 90s RnB and wanting to be Mariah Carey. It also has a handful of her best songs. This may be the best late-80s/early-90s RnB pastiche I've heard:


Meanwhile, this sounds like her channeling some 50s/60s girl groups:

(actually missed one note there, the "e" at 1:56 --still awesome).

Dangerous Woman might be her overall best album, but even it has the problem of sounding like it's trying to go in a thousand different directions. I wish she'd go back to that first album and dig through more of those Mariah/early-pop influences as it would give her a focus that her newer stuff is really lacking.

**********
Taylor's second single was released:

OK, so most people didn't dig Me! I thought it was a kinda cute, catchy piece of cotton candy fluff... but, I'm just like, damn, this new song is amazeballs. It starts out pretty standard, but when she hits that little 16th-note descending pre-chorus it gets brilliant, and that she goes from that to the rising 16th/dotted-8th "oh-oh" harmonies of the chorus and it's just... well, it's, instantly one of my favorite things that she's ever done. The bridge is kinda bland by comparison, and I wish the backing music was a bit more original/interesting, but vocal-melody wise this is Swift at her best IMO.

It's awesome to see such an overt pro-gay/anti-bigotry anthem like this that is actually great and not cheesy, too self-serious or whatever.

**********

Similar to Swift, we weren't thrilled with Carly's first single, but also just like Swift, her second one was much better and instantly became a favorite:

This just has such a cool, vibey feel all through it, and I love how quietly desperate and passionate it all sounds. Like she's just barely holding back until it hits that pre-chorus and chorus... those subtle echoes and lingering on the final consonants of "much" are just delicious and says so much about what the song is about.

Entire new album ended up being pretty killer. Not quite as great as E*Mo*Tion, but it's highs were every bit as good as E's highs. Only a handful of filler songs bring the quality down a touch. I'd still give it a solid 8/10. Too Much is definitely one of the highlights, but there are plenty of others as well. I also love the opener Julien:

Such a groovy, late-70s/early-80s disco-funk vibe here. Carly's said she considers this song the heart of the album, which is strange given that nothing else on the album really sounds like it. Really, the album's first half sounds like an awesome collage of pop genres of the past mixed with certain modern touches, including songs that would've fit perfectly on the 80s-throwback that was Emotion (Want You In My Room is probably the most Emotion-like track here). Another I really love is the quirky, almost psychedelic, 60s-sounding Everything He Needs:


If Carly isn't sure about what sounds she wants to pursue in the future, I'd nominate both Julien or He Needs Me as fantastic new avenues to explore some more. Neither sounds like anything else that's on the radio right now, and both are really great songs. Really, I think the albums falls flattest when Carly's trying too hard to sound contemporary. Most of the weakest tracks on the album are those that sound like everything else out there today. Thankfully, there aren't many of those, and even some of those aren't bad. The best song on the album in the contemporary style is Automatically In Love:

^ That easily could've been a track off one of the new Ariana Grande albums, but it still has those weird, off-kilter Carly touches with the deep synths and how the chorus just alters the note-values enough to make it sound different from the verses even though the backing music is the same in both.

**********

Surprisingly, I also liked Katy Perry's new single. Probably the best thing she's done since her Teenage Dream days:


As is typical for her, this is far less creative/substantial than the efforts from Swift and Carly, but it also harkens back to when she had a knack for these ridiculously catchy chorus that would burrow into your head after a single listen. Actually, the chorus here is quite reminiscent of the pre-chorus of Swift's new song in basically being a string of 16th notes, but the differences are obvious as well; especially in how Swift's pre-chorus actually has similar rhythmic motifs (with variations) both in the verse and chorus, which ties the whole song together. Perry's verses are much duller and has no relation to the chorus, so it just sounds like two different songs. The backing music is far worse too (and the backing music in Swift's was by no means great).
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #28

Postby maz89 » Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:03 pm

Nothing about Swift's new album? Boo! I've gone through the tracks and I have to say... I love most of them! They definitely have a more different, colorful, cheery kind of vibe and it seems different from what she's done before. Will come back when I have more to say about it (because priorities...)

Sorry for being absent Jimbo. I'll definitely go through the rest at some point although I have no idea when. :(
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #29

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:29 pm

^ Great to see you back maz! Raxi and I have had a lot of good discussions over in the gaming forum too, especially the recent stuff about TLOU. Anyway, I'm definitely planning on reviewing Swift's new album soon. I've heard it once and want to go through it a few more times before I write something substantial. Initial impression is that it's awesome. Despite a few filler tracks towards the end, I like or love most everything else. Tool also just released their new album (first one in 13 years!) and it's also super long (and extremely dense!) so I'll be giving it multiple listens as well. Plus I'm in the middle of playing Dark Souls, plus football season's starting, so a lot going on!
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #30

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:17 pm

Image

I said in my review of Taylor Swift's Reputation that her albums go in cycles of three: tentative steps forward (Debut, Red), perfection of new style (Fearless, 1989), and experimentation with new style (Speak Now, Reputation). If the cycle continued, that would make Lover her "tentative step forward." In a sense, the cycle continues as this definitely does see Swift taking some steps towards new sounds and styles, but in the place of the tentativeness is the confidence of a craftsman who's reached a level of near effortless mastery. Perhaps the thing that strikes me most about this album is how easy everything sounds, no matter the mood, attitude, lyrical content, or adopted style. It sounds like an album from someone who has become so confident in their songwriting that they instantly knew how every piece--every instrument, every production choice, every vocal line--should fit together.

That confidence is even more remarkable when considering the range of the album, which may just be Swift's most kaleidoscopic on every level. Initial impressions given by Me! and You Need to Calm Down were that this was going to be a fun, happy album; and why those moods are present here, they're hardly the whole story, or perhaps even half the story. For every celebratory Me! or sassy Calm Down there is a counterpart. The Archer, especially, joins the ranks of Swift's songs (along with Long Live and All Too Well) that can make me cry, achieving this with nothing but an atmospheric, synth-drenched background and no beat supporting some of Swift's most poignant lyrics of her career: "I wake in the night, I pace like a ghost / The room is on fire, invisible smoke / And all of my heroes die all alone / Help me hold onto you". That "Help me hold onto you" is especially poignant as it comes as a hushed refrain after the previous lines build tension with their increasing rhythms, evidence of her songwriting skill even in minimal pieces like this. On the other hand, Soon You'll Get Better hearkens back to Swift's country roots and is a guileless, moving homage to her mother.

The latter represent Swift at her most vulnerable both lyrically and sonically. Elsewhere there's a fascinatingly complex mixture of vulnerability and strength. The Man proves to be a new Swift masterpiece. On the surface, it's an extremely confident feminist manifesto about the double standards that people have when it comes to male and female artists (and it hardly needs to be mentioned that everything Swift says is right on the money) that's accompanied by an equally confident electronic swagger that recalls the steelier songs on Reputation and 1989; but beyond the surface is the implied recognition of the hurt that such double standards inevitably bring. I Forgot That You Existed is a less substantial effort in a similar style, but it makes for a breezy, confident, catchy opening to the album.

Elsewhere, Swift's "stortyelling" style makes a welcomed return. Of these story-based songs, Cornelia Street is another new masterpiece and one of the album's finest moments. Its gentle piano mixes with a wavering, tremelo synth as Swift slowly, subtly builds the narrative until the chorus when U2-esque beat joins her beautiful head voice in one of the finest moments on the album and, indeed, of her entire discography. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince is sonically reminiscent of Reputation's icier tracks, which pairs well with a darker, more cynical view of high school romance.

Sonically, much of the album would've fit well on either Reputation or 1989. Cruel Summer is one of the finer tracks in this vein with its echo-drenched vocal harmonies, velvety bed of soft synths, and thumping electronic beats. London Boy is a lesser effort in this style, pitched in Swift's cuter, wry, humorous mood. Most of these tracks are packed in tightly towards the album's end, perhaps to their detriment as they tend to blend together a bit: namely False God, Afterglow, and the album closer Daylight. Of these, False God is the highlight. Despite strongly recalling Reputation's vibe there are a few stylistic choices that set it a part, especially the sax, the uber-smooth beat, and Swift's verse vocals that goes in for some non-metrical semi-spoken sections that's a new device for her.

However, I've said that this is Swift's "steps forward" album, and that mostly comes in the form of her experiments with indie pop. These experimental (for Swift) tracks almost all prove to be pleasant highlights, as the genre matches her talents and temperaments extremely well. Lover sounds like Swift's country past filtered through the haze of Lana Del Rey/Mazzy Star, and further proves how adept Swift is at matching sonics--here of the luxurious, sensuous, rhapsodic variety--with lyrics. I Think He Knows is Swift at her most effervescent; ridiculously catchy vocals over a plucked bass and finger snaps, before her head-voiced chorus and various pristinely placed sound effects. Paper Rings sounds like the poppiest of pop-punk ca. 2000 with its snappy tambourine beat, chuggy guitar, and smiling organ in the chorus. Death by a Thousand Cuts is a more somber take on the genre, with its electronic guitar arpeggios accompanying Swift's heartbroken lyrics before the chorus hits with its beautiful cascading Eastern sounds and synths. Perhaps the highlight of all these is It's Nice to Have a Friend, which leans even more into the Eastern vibe. It's a stunningly gorgeous minor gem, utterly perfect in its trim 2:30-runtime. It's Swift at her most sweet and innocent, yet the artistry--the instrumentation, the production--prevents it from being cloying or sacharine. In a way, it strongly reminds me of The White Stripes's We're Going to be Friends, a similarly sparse song on the same subject.

It's probably too early to tell where Lover ranks with Swift's albums. If I'm looking for criticisms it's easy to say that it lacks the audacious artistry of Reputation, the coherent vision of 1989; but this would seem to be criticizing it for something it isn't and wasn't trying to be. What it is is Swift's most sprawling, varied, and effortlessly masterful album. The way it moves through moods, themes, and styles with such deftness is almost dizzying, and whatever it lacks in a singular vision or daring experimentation it makes up for in being perhaps the best overall portrait of Swift's extraordinary talents as a songwriter and craftsman. Despite its extraordinary length, there's barely any throwaway tracks here, and even the lesser ones almost all possess some elements of interest. At the end of the day, pop music just doesn't get much better than this, and all I can think is that it's a shame how few appreciate it because of her immense popularity.

9/10
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #31

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:03 pm

BTW, if I'm ranking the album tracks, this is my (rather tentative) ranking as of now:

1. Cornelia Street
2. The Man
3. The Archer
4. You Need to Calm Down

5. It's Nice to Have a Friend
6. I Think He Knows
7. Lover
8. Soon You'll Get Better

9. Paper Rings
10. Cruel Summer
11. Death by a Thousand Cuts
12. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
13. False God
14. I Forgot That You Existed

15. Daylight
16. Afterglow
17. Me!
18. London Boy

The "splits" are how I perceive the "tiers." The top 4 are what I consider the masterpieces and among the finest songs in her discography. 5-8 are all excellent songs that would probably be highlights on the albums of lesser artists. 9-14 are all good songs that are solid without being outstanding. 15-18 are the "OK" tracks that are more filler than substance. I don't even think any of these are terrible. It's actually rather remarkable that she managed an entire normal-length album of consistently good-to-great songs.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #32

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:07 pm

And this seems strangely appropriate given that both artists just released new albums:
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #33

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:16 pm

Saw Jinjer last night at a small club just up the street from me. I probably wouldn't have bothered but tickets were only $20 and the place was only a 6-minute drive away. As with most shows like this, there's a really cool intimacy with the audience and the bands. I actually met/talked to a lot of really nice people there as they set up between bands. Unfortunately, most of the supporting bands were ass with one exception, who wasn't even listed on the venue's website, called Sumo Cyco. Really cool mix of pop, punk, and metal/hardcore, but the highlight was the singer, Skye Sweetnam, who, besides from having a great voice, was phenomenal at interacting with the crowd. Several times she was out in the crowd performing, and twice she was literally less than a foot away from me. Looked them up this morning and they've definitely got some cool stuff:


Jinjer was awesome too, but it was quite late when they came on--I got there about 6:45 and they didn't come on until about 10:45--and I was pretty wiped by then, especially the way the crowd was packed like sardines near the front and there was no AC. At one point I just had to get out of there to get some water, hydrate, and cool down. I still enjoyed the rest of the show from further back (behind the mosh pit, rather than the front). Anyway, band was tight as hell, which is quite impressive given how knotty their music can be. For those who haven't seen/heard (of) them, pretty much everyone and their dog has reacted to their video for Pisces. It has to be one of the 2-3 most reacted-to music videos online:
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #34

Postby maz89 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:46 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:BTW, if I'm ranking the album tracks, this is my (rather tentative) ranking as of now:

1. Cornelia Street
2. The Man
3. The Archer
4. You Need to Calm Down

5. It's Nice to Have a Friend
6. I Think He Knows
7. Lover
8. Soon You'll Get Better

9. Paper Rings
10. Cruel Summer
11. Death by a Thousand Cuts
12. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
13. False God
14. I Forgot That You Existed

15. Daylight
16. Afterglow
17. Me!
18. London Boy

The "splits" are how I perceive the "tiers." The top 4 are what I consider the masterpieces and among the finest songs in her discography. 5-8 are all excellent songs that would probably be highlights on the albums of lesser artists. 9-14 are all good songs that are solid without being outstanding. 15-18 are the "OK" tracks that are more filler than substance. I don't even think any of these are terrible. It's actually rather remarkable that she managed an entire normal-length album of consistently good-to-great songs.


Are you taking these rankings directly from my head or something? [razz]

Enjoyed reading the review!

YES, a thousand times YES, to Cornelia Street being #1 - easily my favorite song off the new album.

This is how I'd rank them:

1. Cornelia Street (its own damn tier... this was the one song that stuck with me when I went through the album and after 27 listens, I'm still not sick of it... you've summarized what makes it so good so I won't repeat)

2. The Archer (don't think I can add to what you've already perfectly said about this - love how TS conjures so much emotion with such minimalism; it's the Delicate of Lover and it was always going to be my favorite)
3. I Think He Knows (perfect mixture of playfulness in the lyrics, pacing and music -- everything you said about self-confident sound is evident in this song alone; in a way, similar to the dynamic quality of You Need to Calm Down)
4. Lover (classic vulnerable TS fare)

5. The Man (lyrics are just perfect with a touch of humor; glad she didn't go the emotional route, we already have Running Up the Hill ;)
6. False God (love the trumpets and chill, laid-back style)
7. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince (again, solid storytelling with a dark Reputation-ish vibe, sticks out among the other upbeat stuff in the album in a great way; love the lyrics and high school setting, it feels like the darker version of You Belong With Me)

8. Paper Rings (an upbeat indie pop/rock kind of number, reminiscent of Avril Lavigne's best)
9. Death By A Thousand Cuts (love the unexpectedly beautiful, "colorful" chorus, and how it kinda stands in contrast to the darker theme)
10. Cruel Summer (reminds me of a pop number by Halsey; but I like it, even if it feels generic, just for the way Swift rhymes "it's ooh, whoa oh" with cruel summer, lol)
11. You Need to Calm Down (is it weird I absolutely love the start of this song and only like the chorus? I even love the 'Oh-oh-ohs'. I think I've just heard this song too many times...)
12. It's Nice to Have a Friend (not sure why I don't have this ranked higher. I like its Hawaiian? sound and friendship feels; I guess it kinda gets lost in the mix of the more punchier songs)

13. London Boy (it's a cute track, has fun with the British lover gimmick)
14. Daylight (the chorus is actually pretty good; it just doesn't feel as fresh as the other tracks)
15. Soon You'll Get Better (ranked so low because I keep forgetting what it sounds like)
16. I Forgot That You Existed (I like it for its dry humor, as you said, but I tend to skip to Cruel Summer; I liked this youtube comment about how this song ironically makes you think about the person that you forgot existed)

17. Afterglow (I tend to forget what it sounds like)
18. Me!

The last 2 songs are the only ones I tend to skip. But like you said, I'd hardly call them "bad" and I'm equally impressed by how she's been so consistent (... maintaining her streak).

Since I'll be living in Europe for a while, I really hope to catch her next tour! Waiting for her to announce the dates...
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #35

Postby maz89 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:01 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:And this seems strangely appropriate given that both artists just released new albums:

More confirmation that this song works better as a rock song.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #36

Postby maz89 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:29 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Saw Jinjer last night at a small club just up the street from me. I probably wouldn't have bothered but tickets were only $20 and the place was only a 6-minute drive away. As with most shows like this, there's a really cool intimacy with the audience and the bands. I actually met/talked to a lot of really nice people there as they set up between bands. Unfortunately, most of the supporting bands were ass with one exception, who wasn't even listed on the venue's website, called Sumo Cyco. Really cool mix of pop, punk, and metal/hardcore, but the highlight was the singer, Skye Sweetnam, who, besides from having a great voice, was phenomenal at interacting with the crowd. Several times she was out in the crowd performing, and twice she was literally less than a foot away from me. Looked them up this morning and they've definitely got some cool stuff

Interesting track. I have a feeling they'd be cooler live though, especially if she was great at interacting with the crowd.

Jinjer was awesome too, but it was quite late when they came on--I got there about 6:45 and they didn't come on until about 10:45--and I was pretty wiped by then, especially the way the crowd was packed like sardines near the front and there was no AC. At one point I just had to get out of there to get some water, hydrate, and cool down. I still enjoyed the rest of the show from further back (behind the mosh pit, rather than the front). Anyway, band was tight as hell, which is quite impressive given how knotty their music can be. For those who haven't seen/heard (of) them, pretty much everyone and their dog has reacted to their video for Pisces. It has to be one of the 2-3 most reacted-to music videos online:

Well, it started off nicely enough... reminded me of The Gathering... and then it became a satanic ritual to summon the spirits of the underworld. [none]
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #37

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:48 pm

maz89 wrote:Are you taking these rankings directly from my head or something? [razz]

Enjoyed reading the review!

...

[biggrin] Thanks

Seems we don't have any real major disagreements; biggest gap between our rankings is 7 four times: You Need to Calm Down (Me: 4, You: 11), It's Nice to Have a Friend (Me: 5, You: 12), Soon You'll Get Better (Me: 8, You: 15) and False God (You: 6, Me: 13) and 5 twice: Miss Americana (You: 7, Me 12) and London Boy (You: 13, Me: 18). As for Calm Down, that's why I'm disciplined about not listening to songs too much! I think I'd only heard it 3-4 times before hearing the album, so I still love it. For ...Friend, I'd suggest giving it a careful listen. It does easily get lost in the shuffle of the rest of the album that tends to be much flashier, especially because it's so short, but I could make an argument it may be the most unique song in Swift's discography. Nothing else sounds like it, and neither does it sound like anything else out there I've heard. I'm not sure exactly what instrument she's using besides the trumpet towards the end, but I think the opening is some Asian (Japanese? Chinese?) instrument. At least, it sounds familiar without me being able to precisely place it. Soon You'll Get Better is, for me, almost as emotional as The Archer. I don't think it's as beautiful, but as someone who's watched over loved ones who's been in the hospital, I think she nails that feeling of helplessness but also that shred of hope that we all hang onto hoping they'll "get better." That "I hate to make this about me, but who am I supposed to talk to?" hits me right in the feels.

BTW, this is a bit tangential, but also check out Lana Del Rey's new album when you can called Norman Fucking Rockwell! It's easily the best thing she's done, and while I'm not quite as blown away as critics seem to be, it does have a number of superb tracks. More than any of her other albums this is the one where the quality of "songs" have, mostly, caught up with her seductive quality of her "sound," and it very much does feel like a portrait of a crumbling America. My only complaint is that I think it runs a bit long and some of the middle tracks blend together a bit (especially given how rarely she varies the tempo), but the highlights make up for it. Here's a couple of favorites:



(FWIW, if you do plan to hear the album, you might skip the last track. It's such a perfect closer to the album that listening to it outside that may "spoil" it just a tiny bit).
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #38

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:07 pm

maz89 wrote:
Eva Yojimbo wrote:Saw Jinjer last night at a small club just up the street from me. I probably wouldn't have bothered but tickets were only $20 and the place was only a 6-minute drive away. As with most shows like this, there's a really cool intimacy with the audience and the bands. I actually met/talked to a lot of really nice people there as they set up between bands. Unfortunately, most of the supporting bands were ass with one exception, who wasn't even listed on the venue's website, called Sumo Cyco. Really cool mix of pop, punk, and metal/hardcore, but the highlight was the singer, Skye Sweetnam, who, besides from having a great voice, was phenomenal at interacting with the crowd. Several times she was out in the crowd performing, and twice she was literally less than a foot away from me. Looked them up this morning and they've definitely got some cool stuff

Interesting track. I have a feeling they'd be cooler live though, especially if she was great at interacting with the crowd.
At one point, the second time when she was right in front of me, she had the whole crowd get down on the ground while she was singing, and when the chorus hit she had us all jump up at the same time. That was a first for me at a concert! So, yeah, much cooler live. I still like the music though from what I've heard. It's interesting that Skye was apparently a pop singer before forming the band. I downloaded one of her albums yesterday and bought the second one so I'll let you know what I think when I hear them.

maz89 wrote:
Jinjer was awesome too, but it was quite late when they came on--I got there about 6:45 and they didn't come on until about 10:45--and I was pretty wiped by then, especially the way the crowd was packed like sardines near the front and there was no AC. At one point I just had to get out of there to get some water, hydrate, and cool down. I still enjoyed the rest of the show from further back (behind the mosh pit, rather than the front). Anyway, band was tight as hell, which is quite impressive given how knotty their music can be. For those who haven't seen/heard (of) them, pretty much everyone and their dog has reacted to their video for Pisces. It has to be one of the 2-3 most reacted-to music videos online:

Well, it started off nicely enough... reminded me of The Gathering... and then it became a satanic ritual to summon the spirits of the underworld. [none]
[laugh] You probably understand why it's become such a popular "reaction" song because everyone enjoys watching how people react when the chorus hits. If you look up "Jinjer Pisces reaction" on YouTube you'll get dozens of hits, and that's how I first heard it/them. Here's two of my favorites:



The funny thing is that for people like me who's been into metal for ages, female "growlers" aren't actually new; I saw a metal-fest type show over a decade ago where Arch Enemy was one of the supporting bands, and they were the first prominent band I heard with a female growler; but people who aren't into the genre are shocked when they hear a woman doing that. I will say, though, that even for someone experienced with these types of vocals, Tatiana (singer for Jinjer) is exceptionally good at it. Her lows are really low and her distortion is extremely rich while still being quite comprehensible. That combination is quite rare.

FWIW, I also know those vocals are off-putting at first; my first real experience with them was with Opeth when I was about 15-16. I hated the vocals but loved the music so I kept listening, and over time I came to tolerate them, and now I quite enjoy them when they're done well, and I especially appreciate them when they're mixed with clean vocals because the contrast is so nice. I don't even hear them as "aggressive" or "angry" or "demonic" or whatever anymore; I just hear them like I would a distorted electric guitar, just another way to use an instrument.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #39

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:24 pm

LMAO, these are becoming a bizarre addiction for me:


I mean, seriously, how the fuck does this black magic work? He must've been high (hiiiiiiiiiiiiigha!)
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #40

Postby maz89 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:49 pm

I just want to say that I LOVE Lana del Ray's new record. It's as if she's finally gone back to her roots -- I like how you've put it, as she has indeed found the perfect sweet spot for her seductive voice in these slow paced, semi-meditative songs. I'm going to come back with impressions after giving it a few more listens.

Btw, Swift performed in Paris a week or two ago and I couldn't believe I had missed it (I live nearby) until I realized she had invited only her most craziest fans (which makes the whole thing even more bizarre to me because I think we'd certainly qualify as being among her most craziest fans).
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #41

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:02 pm

Not to "compare all the girls who are killin' it," but the girls are indeed killin' it this year... first Carly, then Taylor, then Lana. You go girls!

Haha, I don't know if we'd count as her "craziest fans" since we seem to enjoy the music more than the celebrity stuff. There are people that obsess over every aspect of their favorite star's lives. I don't know what Taylor had for breakfast today, I just know she writes hella-good songs. I've even got her entire discography back on my playlist along with a range of new-and-old stuff: Pretenders, Replacements, Arcade Fire, Joanna Newsom (check her out if you haven't), Chromatics, Bon Iver, Portishead, Charli XCX, and Thank You Scientist.
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Re: General Music Talk   Reply #42

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:23 pm

BTW, I tried to look up what the instrument being used on It's Nice to Have a Friend was because it was driving me nuts. I've heard it before but couldn't place it. I was thinking Eastern but turns out I was wrong; it's a steelpan from Trinidad. Here's a video of someone playing one:
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." -- Carl Jung


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