16 Nov 2010
I talk about music fairly frequently on my site and it’s something that I get a lot of enjoyment out of – both talking about music and listening to music. I’ve gone on at great lengths to point out that because of my musical background, I listen to music a little differently than other people (generic music listening type person). So yes, I do break down songs in my head and listen to all the different instruments and what they are doing – and then one by one, I start putting them back together. This process, I think, is unique and has a few by-products that you might not expect.
I like some terrible songs because I enjoy a specific part without caring about the whole, and
I don’t think I know the words to any song in existence – at least not all of them.
So I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the songs I listened to yesterday and tell you what I like about them. A disclaimer – since I don’t listen to the words, and I watch music videos only slightly more often than driving a pencil in my neck so try not to get caught up in some of the actual videos here – I just used these as a way to get the music online. As a funny side note, I had no idea that so many of the songs I like were as dirty as they apparently are. Until I put this post together, I had never seen any of these before – so don’t say I didn’t warn you Mrs. and Dr. Delicate Sensibilities.
Sorry if you can’t see the video embeds but if you go to my site, it is available for viewing (re: mobile devices that don’t support flash)
Arctic Monkeys – My Propeller
I really enjoy this band – it’s four guys playing four instruments – pretty simple. My favorite parts though are always the drum lines played by Matt Helders. He doesn’t just keep rhythm, he contributes to the pattern and texture of the song. They are complicated beats and he is a big reason why this band is great. I find it all that more amazing that he became the drummer for the Arctic monkeys not because he already played the drums, but because the other guys in the band all received guitars for Christmas so he had to play the drums.
Cage The Elephant – Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
Relatively new band for me, but I like the phrasing of the singer and and the relatively simple hooks from the guitarist
Cage the Elephant – Ain’t No rest for the Wicked , Wicked Devil Reggae Remix
I thought it would be interesting to include a version of a song where the music was completely reinterpreted into a different style and genre of music – and it completely works and works exceedingly well. As much as I like the original version, this reggae remix is awesome.
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
This video is amazing and I probably wouldn’t have stuck any jazz in here (despite it being my favorite type of music) because unless you listen to it or have a musical background – it’s difficult to appreciate what these people are doing when they play. This video really helps to give the listener an idea and appreciation for what they are listening to. You might not like the music, but it is impossible to ignore the ability. John Coltrane was a noted member of the “Hard Bop” period of jazz – a phrase created by journalists and record companies trying to identify the varied types of styles that were derived from the “BeBop” of the early 1950′s. Another interesting fact, John Coltrane used to walk outside into the alleys during his concerts during the solo’s of other players; not because he was a jerk (although maybe he was -I don’t know) but because he didn’t want to stop playing. People would start hanging out in the alleys behind the clubs where he was playing because they knew he would show up and keep playing.
Charlie Parker – Confirmation
I put this video in as a contrast to the John Coltrane song. Charlie Parker, known as ‘Yardbird’ and eventually ‘Bird’ is pretty much credited with creating the style of BeBop. This type of jazz is characterized by very fast tempo’s, ridiculously crazy technique (read: difficult) and improvisation. After having listened Charlie Parker’s smooth bebop style, it’s easy to see why what Coltrane played was called Hard Bop.
The xx – Crystalised
Okay – so it is incredibly easy to make fun of this band for this overly brooding and self-indulgent video, I still like the song. This is another example of a song that I like because of how the parts come together. Unlike the jazz songs we just heard, you don’t have to be a supremely skilled musician to play this music – hell, the drummer isn’t even a drummer … he’s a tapper! I just like the syncopated rhythm of the bass line and how it fits together with the guitar. For me, this is about the pattern of the music, less about the skill.
Interpol – The Heinrich Maneuver
Here is another example of whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts. The melody is all in the singer – everything else is essentially rhythm and bass guitar. This might be one of the easier examples to listen to the individual parts and then start comparing them to one another to see how they fit together. Great bass line.
Queens of the Stone Age – In My Head
Okay – first time to see this video and holy-guacamole! It is awesome in so many ways. This is one of my favorite groups – heavy metal…? Wouldn’t have thought so but this is definitely a rocker band and to think that I have them and The xx on the same playlist…? Insane really. Or is it genius? Break the song apart, listen to the patterns and rhythms of the individual instruments – tap them out and don’t focus on the sounds of the notes. I am dangerous on the road when this song comes on because I am a world class air drummer! I drum the guitar parts, the drum parts, bass parts – I look like I am having a fit (that or being attacked by bees) but I’m sure it also looks like I am having one awesome time.
Because I am.