Friday, March 07, 2008

Your Smile Has Stopped The Hands Of Time (2002) – Roddy Frame

There was a time when innocence was intact. Girls were classmates playing in schoolyards. Boys would watch with wonder under the spells cast by the pre-pubescent princesses cavorting before them. And then, there was the lonely girl who deemed herself unfit for such frolic. She was the one whose lonesome introspection enabled her to cultivate the alluring qualities that blossomed as she matured. Aztec Camera mastermind Roddy Frame recalls this girl from his youth, whom he recognized was so much more special than even she knew. He vividly remembers her smile from all those years back, anchoring them in that time, and he is a boy admiring her reclusiveness from afar.

Even now, he wants to invite her in from the peripheries of the playground.

  • Not available from iTunes Music Store.
  • Stormbringer (1974) – Deep Purple

    Deep Purple come riding in on an insistent, bare bones head-banging riff, as David Coverdale heralds the destruction that Stormbringer—a mythological representation of a tornado’s fury depicted on the album cover as a runaway white stallion in the sky—will wreak upon anything unfortunate enough to be in its path.

  • Listen to "Stormbringer" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Hard Rain (2007) – Shout Out Louds

    He thought it about time to confess to her what should have been fairly obvious. But if it was, she had never let on. So he composed a dramatic proclamation of devotion and placed on her car a written potpourri of laconic prose and excerpted Smiths lyrics which invited her to step outside her door at 11:00 p.m. that evening. He would be waiting to elucidate the jumbled mess of passion and stoicism that had so awkwardly come together on paper. The minutes crept slowly toward the designated moment of rendezvous. Finally, he heard footsteps from inside her house descending the stairs. . . .

    Piecing together the tragic remnants of a phantom romance, the likes of which was quintessentially glorified in eighties pop culture, “Hard Rain” hits with full force in succinct phrases of profoundness: Adam Olenius mumbles with enough pithiness to qualify as Morrissey’s heir apparent for the aughts. Sharing the same musical sensibilities as The Killers—although closer in spirit to The Cure than the former—and with the anachronistic air of authenticity that informed the music of My Favorite, Shout Out Louds successfully evoke the era of ill-conceived letters scribbled from behind the emboldening uniform of black trenchcoats and Walkmen™, hairspray and eyeliner.

    The song’s lively arrangement misrepresents its rueful essence. Olenius culls together tempestuous similes and concrete sensorial impressions to capsulize the pathos of the pivotal moment when an infatuation is professed and consequently rejected with silence. Spectral voices rain down in pelting sheets of remorse as the world begins to collapse around him. Bebban Stenborg interjects with deadpan detachment, perhaps as the rational voice of his psyche, perhaps as the girl vexed by his faux pas. At high volume, the typhoon of guitars that begins to build at 4:28 culminates in one of this decade’s more impressive recorded moments, a maelstrom of inner tumult ensuing from the lapse of judgment, intensifying until it disintegrates into particles of abject failure.

  • Listen to "Hard Rain" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • Saturday, February 23, 2008

    Give It Up (1980) – The Jacksons

    The penultimate track on the Jacksons’ masterpiece Triumph crafts something wonderfully fresh out of the familiar. The lyrics reflect the most basic of pop song sentiments: a giddy optimism of romantic reciprocation and capitulation. The musical arrangement, on the other hand, represents an innovative vision in composition circa 1980. One’s sense of curiosity is piqued and then escorted by a jaunty piano tramp through an entryway where harp glissandos dart by, as discoballs begin to twirl to a post-disco groove on the dancefloor. The two distinct musical motifs intertwine throughout, as the mood alternates between guardedness and delectation. Marlon lends co-lead vocals which, along with Michael’s fragile falsetto, emit enough goodwill to fill a VW van on the way to a Little Miss Sunshine competition. The boogie segues into a color guard of cellos leading a military snare march toward the dawning of a new day with globules of crystalline synth dripping from above. As the smoke from the fog machines clears, there is little use in anything other than falling in line.

  • Listen to "Give It Up" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • Sunday, February 17, 2008

    I Just Really Miss You (2007) – Miranda Lambert

    They typically signify gloom: dark clouds, sad songs, the hard wind. Yet Nashville Star Season 1 finalist Miranda Lambert extracts from such clich├ęd metaphors a moving despondency that overwhelms the listener with empathy. As a Target™ exclusive track, “I Just Really Miss You” proves that not all such addendums are throwaways—the occasional ace in the hole awaits discovery. Lambert has secreted this surprise through limited availability; perhaps she is unsure whether she wants to expose such nakedness to a lowest common denominator, instead rewarding devoted fans who make the extra effort to obtain it. Or, maybe she just succumbed to a cheap marketing ploy designed to sell more copies. Regardless, the song stuns with its simplicity, both lyrically and musically, Lambert hanging her vulnerabilities bare like laundry on a clothesline, letting the rain and wind have their cathartic way so that she can begin anew once the inclemency subsides. The vestiges of a relationship that could not survive still clutter her head and burden her heart, as she reconciles the infeasibilities that compelled them to part. A couple of soul-steering chord changes underscore the perverted celebration inherent in misery, an appreciation of the piquancy of life’s pain.

  • Not available from iTunes Music Store.