Saturday, March 9, 2013

Post 2: Falsettos and beat-boxing should really be combined more often.


   Ok, at this point I have tried to write something not terrible about Arcade Fire three times, one after another, and apparently I’m incapable of effective articulation when it comes to them. Which I hate, coincidentally, because one of the single biggest reasons I decided to start this blog was to make an effective platform to talk about how much I love Arcade Fire, and apparently that strut of structure isn't ever going to be built, or at the very least it will not be put in place for an indefinitely long time. Therefore, I’m going to put the topic to rest for the time being, and simply move on. With one last note: both Neon Bible and The Suburbs are incredible albums, and they’re both available online for under $10 dollars, from wherever you get music from. You can listen to playlists of both albums here (or here) for free, and you should. Both albums are worth listening to in full over and over again (I should know, I have literally listened to both at least 10 times apiece), and they only get better the more times you do it.

   So, that being said, I wanted to talk about another, different album that I found recently, that I really like. 151a (which is apparently pronounced ichi-go-ichi-eh because how could any self-respecting artist pass up that chance) is an album released last year by some guy called Kishi Bashi, and it’s pretty great. I was going to try to describe why it’s great, but then I remembered that I don’t actually know anything about the mechanics of music, I just like listening to it. So, since I am completely unfit to objectively critique music, I’m just gonna call it: this album is pretty rad, you should listen to it! In a lot of ways, it kind of reminds me of Enya; it’s catchy, but has enough ethereal, drifting falsettos that you can either tune out and use it as background music, or pay attention and notice that it’s really good.

   The whole album really only seems to have two settings for songs: hyper-catchy energetic anthems that make you think about how great everything is, and soulfully crooned ballads (or at least some kind of soulful singing style that I would describe as being at least tangentially related to crooning) that makes you think about solitude and large, dry countrysides flooded with sunlight. I should also mention that I have a mild obsession with leaping falsettos (I Believe in a Thing Called Love is hands down the most fun sing–along song ever written, no questions asked), which has certainly given me a predisposition to 151a, but even on songs that contain a bare minimum of octave hopping, there are lots of cool vocal effects going on. If you check out Kishi Bashi’s live performances, you see that most of his music is made by combining looped violin sections with vocal and beatboxing samples, and so on pretty much all of the songs the vocals are used as just as much of a tool as any other instrument, which creates a very… distinctive sound, I guess? It’s definitely a very distinctive style musically, but it also ends up giving all the songs a very unique emotional setting.

   The whole album is really worth listening to through from beginning to end without stopping (which you can do for free here), but if you only want to listen to some singles, my personal favorites are probably It All Began with a Burst, Manchester, and I am the Antichrist to You. I am the Antichrist to you is definitely the most standout track in my mind; it was the first song I heard off the album, and is probably still my favorite overall. It’s the kind of song whose lyrical meaning isn't clear at all, but that doesn't really matter because whatever it’s about, it’s true. It’s the kind of songs that just has some aura of capital T Truth that you can’t argue with and wouldn't want to. Whatever the point is, you just need to listen along with your eyes closed and then go and do things with a lingering feeling that you may be becoming a better person for having heard it.

   I suppose It all Began with a Burst could be considered the lead single along with Bright Whites (which is also really good, by the way), and it sets a pretty good precedent for the tone of the album overall. It has lots of looped layers, yelps and a catchy chorus, and it’s fun to listen to. Honestly though, I've started liking Manchester a lot more overall. When I first listened to Manchester, I thought it was decent but forgettable track, but I've liked it more every listen through since then.  For one thing, I actually paid attention to the lyrics, and it turns they’re moderately incomprehensible but compelling, which is really just how I should describe all of the lyrics on the album. For another, I love the chorus. In addition to good falsetto, I also have a weakness for catchy choruses, and Manchester has one of the best I've heard in recent memory. You should go listen to it on repeat, and then try to get it out of your head for the next ten hours. You will fail!

   As a closing note, I've got a link to a playlist (linked above) of the full album on Grooveshark which you can listen to for free, but the album is also available for streaming and download from his bandcamp for 8$, so if you've got excess cash it might be worth swinging by and picking up. Supporting cool artists is cool! Also, there’s a video on youtube of a really cool live performance he did, and it’s worth checking out too. For real, doesn't his live show look completely rad? It looks so completely rad.

   Also, last of all, here’s a bonus song. Continuing the theme of awesome live shows and adding on my VERY IMPORTANT theme of ‘hey, listen to arcade fire’, this is one of my favorite versions of one of my favorite ever songs, Rebellion Lies. It’s also worth watching the video, if only so you can see a stageful of people sweat rhythmically. Delightful!

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