#372: Superhumanoids: "Do You Feel OK?"

Comp: origami 120
Genre: see below

Well, it's been just over 5 years since I posted here. I guess I must have gotten a little burned out and now I can get back into it. Actually, given that my last post was in February, I think that I may have stopped because I was too busy recording songs for FAWM... however, note that it's March 2nd as I post, so FAWM is officially over for the year.

I was going to say that this might be my favorite album of 2016, but, well, it appears it came out in 2015 and I just didn't hear it until 2016. Too bad! I think I might have been able to see a concert. This band is in the same general genre that contains Phantogram, Chvrches, CLAIRE, Tiny Deaths, Computer Magic, POLIÇA,... the list goes on and on and represents a lot of my favorite things lately. I suppose it's electronic, dark pop, female vocals... back in the old days I thought of it as "ethereal" but these bands have much more up-front and strong vocal performances (compare to Cocteau Twins, for example, the emphasis on the vocals is a lot stronger in these bands). Electro-pop with female vocals? I've had a lot of trouble picking a song that would best embody what I like about this album, since there are so many choices. Here's one example...

I love how the chorus comes in, with just the right changes in instrumentation. I feel like I could learn a lot about composition from this band. There's also a really nice downtempo solo bit with some very cool echoey vocals before the chorus comes back the third time. One thing I really like about this song is it doesn't have a lot of lyrics and says a lot in what it has.

Mmmmmm.... synths....
  • Current Mood
    good good

#371: DJ Shadow: "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt"

Comp: pax ?
Genre: turntablism
Spotify: Building Steam with a Grain of Salt

Turntablism! DJ Shadow builds his songs with old records, mixing and scratching. And perhaps with sounds of his own. Although I am reading over at wikipedia that the album that this song comes from was indeed recorded using only sampled sounds (Guinness Book says it's the first). The genre is often listed as instrumental hip hop, and that is most evident in the drums, but it's pretty downtempo/ambient-ish. Definitely genre-bending stuff. I love the mix of sounds. In this one we have choral voices that yield to stuttery drums and funky guitar. I love that mix of moods. And the transitions between sections really make you feel like you've been on a journey and ended up somewhere different from where you started. In fact, the whole album melds together and gives you a macro- version of the same feeling. It feels very organic and not cobbled together from disparate parts. In fact this wikipedia page lists all the sample sources for the album's songs. This song, for example, uses bits of 6 different sources. Cool! I don't know any of these original bits. Some of the other songs on the album, I do.
  • Current Music
    DJ Shadow: "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt"

#370: Herbie Hancock: "Vibe Alive (Extended Dance Mix)"

Comp: origami ?
Genre: jazz-funk
Spotify: Vibe Alive

Here's a track I heard today and decided to post. This is another of Herbie Hancock's funky pieces from the 80's (1988) that features the same band as Rockit (#86). I guess this album didn't get good reviews, but I enjoy the jam character of this dance remix. I especially like how mixed in you get chunks of M/A/R/R/S's "Pump Up the Volume" and George Clinton's "Atomic Dog". The vocals are pure funkstuff. It's pretty fun to hear the track evolving as different elements come in and out.
  • Current Music
    Herbie Hancock: "Vibe Alive (Extended Dance Mix)"

#369: Laptop: "End Credits"

Comp: origami ?
Genre: synth-pop
Spotify: End Credits

Another one I don't remember how I found, but there are some excellent songs on here. This one deals with a guy trying to call his girlfriend to break up with her:

"Hey, you're not at home
Or never answer
Pick up your telephone

Stop this teenage movie we've lived
Stop this teenage movie, you dig?

I'm ready to roll the end credits
Ready for the curtain call"

But see, she never picks up the phone. Why? We don't know. One of my favorite things about this track is the use of sound effects. Interwoven between the lyrics of the song we have the phone dialing, then ringing, the woman's answering machine ("I'm not home right now, leave me a message, and I'll call you right back. Thanks!" - so perky), and my favorite, the off-the-hook sound (awesomely, in time with the song tempo). Also, the chorus, even though it's the same line repeated, doesn't get old... it has a nice little anthem quality to it.
  • Current Music
    Laptop: "End Credits"

#368: Nine Invisibles: "King Dubby"

Comp: origami ?
Genre: prog?
Spotify: King Dubby

I don't remember now how I found this album. I guess they're on Delerium Records, along with Porcupine Tree and some other interesting bands. Maybe I just saw a description and thought it sounded good! It's got a nicely unique combination of sounds. Dub, world music, heavy drums, synths, space rock. This song has a great groove. I guess the main composer here is a drummer so that goes without saying. Another thing that I love in this song is the mix of vocal samples. Ethnic sounding stuff but unidentifiable. I suppose that describes the whole album! It's creative. According to some reviews I've been reading, this group formed from members of another band called Ship of Fools - sounds like something I should check out.
  • Current Music
    Nine Invisibles: "King Dubby"

#367: They Might Be Giants: "The Mesopotamians"

Comp: origami ?
Genre: quirky pop
Spotify: "The Mesopotamians"

They Might Be Giants reappears, after a hiatus of only 23 entries but almost four years. Heh. This song came up on my phone's shuffle play today and inspired me to post it. It has what is probably the most improbable chorus I've ever heard:

"We're the Mesopotamians!
Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh!"

The best part is it WORKS and you can sing along to it. Go ahead and try! The scheme here is that The Mesopotamians are a band that nobody's ever heard of and there are links between the band and the historic people. It's cool. Also, the mention of Hammurabi reminds me of an old text-based computer game we used to play... it was a resource utilization and allocation game, and wow - the wiki says it was written in 1968, even earlier than I thought! Anyway, back to The Mesopotamians. A while back I found a fun animated video for the song and you can see it here at the tube. After I hear this song I'm sure I'll be singing it to my daughter for the next couple of days. It's that fun! Think she'll get a kick out of it too.

Lots of thanks to our friend Bryan for giving us this CD a few years ago!
  • Current Music
    They Might Be Giants: "The Mesopotamians"

#366: Arthur Loves Plastic: "New Year's"

Comp: origami ?
Genre: electronic
Spotify: not there!

So! This post represents the first post of a new year's worth of posts (365 previous posts) and it's on New Years Eve! How's that for appropriate! So how long did it take me to make one year's worth of posts? #1 was 14 Sept 2006. That's only a bit over 5 years... okay. Let's get back to work! I previously talked about Arthur Loves Plastic in #171. Here she is again, with a song featuring vocals by Lisa Moscatiello. Unfortunately, all of my listening opportunities fail on me here - Spotify doesn't have this album, and ALP's Tapegerm page doesn't have it any more either! You can hear a sample of the original song here, or you can hear the whole length of my own remix of it here, but neither of these are very satisfying if what you want is the original song (also, I am pretty bummed that the only comment on my remix is "out of tune" - blah!). Anyway, this song is topical, of course, so I picked it today. It's not the most upbeat set of lyrics, though!

"Poised on the brink of destruction
Dancing on the rim of despair
Turning away from the past
And the ghost that lives there

Everyone says I'm a trooper
But I tend to disagree
It's just a drunken stupor
Saving me"


"Confetti's released in the square
And the same old thoughts remain
I'd have some hope if I dared
But nothing's changed

Cold dark night and a loud cry
All I do is stare
And stagger to my room
To sleep so I don't care"

However, in true ALP fashion, the music is pretty danceable and catchy. I especially love the chord sounds. Happy New Year!
  • Current Music
    Arthur Loves Plastic: "New Year's"

#365: Kraftwerk: "Music Non Stop"

Comp: origami 95
Genre: industrial
Spotify: Music Non Stop

So! I've done 365 of these here song posts and somehow have managed to not post a Kraftwerk song yet. If you can't tell from the name, these guys are German, and have been recording music since 1970, making them pioneers in this genre (electronic music). I guess they're not exactly industrial as we know it, but they certainly had a large part in starting it in the right direction. They are well known for using synthesizers and especially vocoded vocals, presenting a robotic "persona" and dancy but impersonal songs. This song has a fun rhythm which is set up by a voice speaking "boing, boom chop-chop, boing, boom chop ping, boing, boom chop-chop, boing, boom chop chun" and the drums come in among the words. Pretty catchy! This version comes from the album The Mix, which is a compilation album of sorts, of re-recorded versions of older songs. The band said that they wanted to make an album that represented the current (1991) sound that they had in concerts, so they re-did the old songs instead of just making a greatest hits album. I enjoy hearing the new versions alongside the old ones. Ah, according to the wikipedia, this version of the song has elements from a different song, "Boom Boom Tschak", which is where the vocal rhythm I mentioned above comes from. I like the two songs being put together in this version.
  • Current Music
    Kraftwerk: "Music Non Stop"

#364: FC/Kahuna: "Machine Says Yes"

Comp: ?
Genre: electronic
Spotify: Machine Says Yes

Did you know that Pandora, the excellent configurable internet radio, has most of my own (Heuristics Inc.) CDs? Yeah! And you can make stations to play based on my music. But here, I did the work for you already: Heuristics Inc. Radio. I have found quite a few great bands by listening to this station over the years. Here's one of them. These guys are British, but the vocals are done by an Icelandic woman, Hafdís Huld. The album is nicely varied. This track has a very distinctive bassline - woow woow woow woow and combined with the drums makes for a very danceable track. I love the intricacy of the drum track on this one. It's got a great breakdown/solo section too. I guess there's only one verse, then a bit of repetition of the chorus, but a good amount of instrumental sections too. But here's the most memorable part of the lyrics (from the chorus):

"I'm gonna stay here with you
There's nothing else to do"

I'm glad I found this one on Pandora, bought the CD. Well worth checking out!
  • Current Music
    FC/Kahuna: "Machine Says Yes"

#363: Portishead: "Machine Gun"

Comp: origami 80
Genre: trip-hop
Spotify: Machine Gun

I talked about Portishead way back in #11 for a sudden drumbeat. Well, I picked another prominent drumbeat for my next post of theirs. This song came up on my mix CD in the car today and I decided to post it if I hadn't done it already. In this case, the drumbeat comes in at the very beginning, and continues throughout with some changes. I find it very compelling, especially because there are not many instruments in the mix. You have no choice but to concentrate on the drums. Then at the end there is a great classic old-style synth solo. One time I was listening to this in my office and an unexpected guest came in, and he loved this song... also unexpectedly. What good taste! Not sure what the lyrics are saying though, they're pretty oblique.
  • Current Music
    Portishead: "Machine Gun"