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Chat-Up Lines: Songs The Musically Impaired Can Sing Along To

27 Jun

From Left: The Dandy Warhols express their love/hate of indie culture; Alanis Morissette hates pretty much everyone (but you can singalong with her!)

Although I don’t agree with the countless people who claim that ‘music is their life’ and that their iPod is probably more important than a functioning heart (silence is perfectly acceptable sometimes on a bus ride,) I do enjoy the music that I love. I love creating playlists, organising my album artwork and writing about it. But there’s a glaring omission when it comes to music in my life. I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I can’t write a tune, can’t play an instrument but worst of all can’t sing. I’m endlessly envious of those that can sing, although it does fill me hope that The Wanted have commercial success (because really, I’m not too far off their level of inadequacy). Nevertheless, not being able to sing along to my favourite songs (but always trying) can prove frustrating (and others). There is some hope for those of us who are similarly vocally challenged. On the review of Last Friday NightRolling Stone notes that “Perry likes her songs chatty; in the kegger romp “Last Friday Night,” she chirps, “Think I need a ginger ale/That was such an epic fail.'” As Last Friday Night is pretty much comprised of chanting and some repeated catchy lines (Last Friday night/ Yeah we danced on tabletops/ And we took too many shots/ Think we kissed but I forgot) it’s far easier to sing along to than say, I Will Always Love You. It also helps that it’s likely that you’ll be drunk when it’s being played, and thus automatically sound better (Did you hear me on karaoke?! Enroll me in Brit school now!) In honour of her 8 minute video (which includes Hanson (!) – the musical equivalent of my stars aligning) let’s take a look through some of the chattiest songs: Continue reading

Songs for the Summer 2011: The Joker & The Thief + BASTILLE

9 Jun

You’d be forgiven for shrinking at the thought of another charity album. I’d much rather donate to charity than listen to Dizzee Rascal rap alongside Busted. However, forget any Band-Aid related nightmares, the Strummerville ‘Songs for the Summer 2011,’ is a compilation that goes over and above the recent, uninspiring Songs for Japan. Certainly, that was a worthy cause but I can’t fathom why they decided Justin Timberlake’s ‘Like I Love You’ was an appropriate addition to the album. Strummerville, the foundation named after The Clash frontman, Joe Strummer, has released its 2011 charity album. The foundation is great and endorses musical projects nationwide as well as being a significant sponsor of upcoming bands and a flagship for new bands. Their album is available for free download here. As you’d expect, it features some fantastic British music tailored for summer listening and the Can You Hear This-approved BASTILLE (whose interview can be found here). Here’s the full track-listing:

  • The Joker & The Thief – Be The Boy
  • Bastille – Icarus
  • Dark Moon – Blackbird
  • The Welcome Committee – Rich Kids
  • Shooting Star Poets – That Boy Don’t Dance
  • La Rebla Fam – A British Morning
  • The Vagabonds – John Mellor
  • The Lights – Mostly Water
  • The Great Whale – Don’t Lost Your Mind
  • The Barker Band – Chapel
  • Benjamin Folke Thomas – Thoroughly Alone

For anyone who appreciates their summer music part dancey (That Boy Don’t Dance), part rocky (everything else) with sides of angst (Rich Kids) this album is a pretty good deal. If, and I always try to avoid it, you do the math, a free album is always a pretty good deal. However, in a period where you can find a lot of free music, this album is quite exceptional. I can’t pretend to like every track though. The Welcome Committee and La Rebla Fam both brought back awful memories of my Hadouken! period, which belongs firmly in 2005.

Two tracks however, stand out. The first is BASTILLE’s Icarus. Any band that can merge indie-rock with mythology ranks pretty highly in my books. Icarus (with its booming chorus of ‘Icarus is flying too close to the Sun’) contains overtones of Friendly Fires’ debut album and feels remarkably polished for a relatively unknown band and showcases their potential. It feels urgent and important; for the first time in a long, long, Taio Cruz-induced numb period, this was the first track to really excite me. Listen to (and love) it now before XFM get their hands on it and play it on loop. Where Hard-Fi stepped into the British, indie, summer scene, BASTILLE follow. However, where Hard-Fi’s Suburban Knights had all the profundity of a Facebook status, BASTILLE’s outing has some staying power.

The other highlight of the album is Be The Boy by the unfortunately named The Joker & The Thief (unfortunate only in the sense that Australia’s Wolfmother released a semi successful record that clogs up Google autosearch; it was playable on Karaoke Revolution Presents American Idol Encore, the pinnacle of most band’s careers). I saw the band last year at a festival and was hugely impressed, so was pleased by their addition to the album. To clear things up,  Strummerville how ‘the five-track EP creeps from atmospheric beginnings to bombastic sonic explosions, focusing on their authentic, rootsy sound combining powerful voices, bellowing saxophone, foot-stomping rhythms and gutsy guitars.’ Yeah, that didn’t particularly enlighten me either. The Joker & The Thief do however deploy the saxophone better than some contemporary artists (see: Lady Gagas The Edge of Glory). Take a listen and see if those superlatives work for you:

It has the makings to become the soundtrack for many a tent at festivals this summer (perhaps more Hop Farm than Reading, apparently festival going sixteen year olds are more interested in the remarkably vapid My Chemical Romance). This song feels heartfelt yet never sentimental; it could become the cooler, older brother to teenage anthems like Forever Young as the band sing:

Show me your heart, my pretty lady

That sound? The collective sigh of teenage girls everywhere. Move over Mr. Followill.

  • For more information about Strummerville, their projects and album releases, check out their website: www.strummerville.com
  • For the compilation of the album, here’s the link.

Eff, Marry or Kill: Summer Music Edition

30 May

Eff, Marry, Kill: the rules are pretty simple. Out of three options which would you eff, marry or kill. Pretty playground huh?  Perhaps but indulge me, I’m a school kid and this has a point. In honour of Nymag’s rather excellent Eff, Marry or Kill: Summer Movie Edition, I thought I’d do one especially for the tracks we’re likely to be hearing this summer. In what other format could you legally kill Bruno Mars? Continue reading

Getting Graphic: Do We Like Explicit Music?

2 May

Recently, it seems to me that we’ve been buying and praising more explicit music than we usually do. The huge increase in the popularity of rap collective OFWGKTA for me has really grabbed my attention and begged the question: Do people really like listening to this stuff? Continue reading