Sunday, October 29, 2006

Five Songs I'm Loving This Week

Jeremy Enigk, "Been Here Before"

I'd never heard of Jeremy Enigk before, but I'd heard the name Sunny Day Real Estate. I've never actually heard any of their music 'cause back then I was too goth to listen to anything with the word "sunny" in it (obviously I've changed a lot since then), and also I lumped SDRE (as the kids called them) with the scream-o bands I disliked.

I'm still ignorant as to whether Sunny Day Real Estate was scream-o, emo, grunge or vitriola music. Jeremy Enigk, the principal songwriter/singer/everything for SDRE has released a new solo album, World Waits. The first single, "Been Here Before" is not scream-o, emo, or anything belonging to teenagers circa 1997. Instead, it's a mature, melodic and thoroughly complete entity, showing range beyond my (limited and probably biased) perception of the lengthy-named bands of the 90's.

The song starts off with a deceptively ambient, atmospheric guitar line, but eventually builds to a crescendo that while forceful and dramatic, is not screechy like the scream-o bands I shudder at. His clear vocals initially ride along with the soft guitar part, but with the introduction of the crashing drums and a change to a more persistant and intense guitar line, his voice coalesces, carrying the song to a strong but still melodic conclusion.

(If I'm wrong about SDRE, let me know. Enigk's Myspace even says they were emo, and I dislike emo.)

Jeremy Enigk's Myspace and Official Site.

Channels, "Fear Is a Man's Best Friend"

I have a soft-spot for songs with dire, nihilistic lyrics encased in poppy, catchy music. Maybe I like the contradiction; maybe I just like really bright music with really dark lyrics. For some reason, lines like "we're already dead but not yet in the ground" make me feel comfortable, like I'm listening to my goth of yore. Yet the music still serves the indie girl in me. I've heard the mark of a genius is to be able to hold two opposing viewpoints concurrently. Maybe this just goes to show that I'm one sharp l'il Indie girl.

The dark lyrics slip into irreverance with lines like "life and death are things you do when you're bored". I will say I'm a little alarmed by that sentiment, but with the current level of apathy in my country I can totally see that line as being timely and disturbingly accurate. The main character from Harold and Maude "killed" himself because he wanted to have an effect on his mother. A modern Harold might be so disaffected that he would pretend to commit suicide because he got tired of playing Half-Life and he didn't have any money to go down to Tilt.

Seriously, I'm not sure what this song is about, but while the lyrics are creepy, the music is downright boppy. The guitar follows the melody gently, supporting it almost like a hammock. The verses move slowly, in no hurry to reach the crunching, guitar riffy bridge. The explosion of a bridge segueways into a seemingly at-odds sing-songy chorus. The different parts merge in a very interesting, very arresting whole (from their EP Open).

(Huh. According to their website, this song is originally a John Cale song, but they've reworked the music some. It so totally makes sense that the lyrics are his, though).

Channel's Website,Their Label Site and Myspace.

Damien Jurado, "What Were The Chances"

Hey, guess what? Damien Jurado's one of my favorite songwriters and guess what? He has a new album! It's a good year if it's a year with a new D.J. release (and he releases alot, so I shouldn't complain so much).

In this song, he shares vocals, something atypical of his style. It's a nice effect, though; adding an echoey (but not matching; the other singer is female) and at some times responsive element to the song. The music is hauntingly numb, like those days when you don't know how to feel so you just sit and stare. Remember what I said about the lyrics in the last song, though. I like sadness in music. Like that feeling of despondency, this song creeps into your conscious and places itself into your music receptors before you even realize you're listening to it.

Damien Jurado's Online Presence is Here, Here and Here. The name of the album is And Now That I'm In Your Shadow.

Badly Drawn Boy, "Born In The U.K."

Okay, ignore the Hail To The Queen bit at the beginning. That part annoys me. The rest of the song is up there with the best of Badly Drawn Boy. It's upbeat, but not silly. It's vaguely Golden Age sounding, as in poodle skirts and bonfires. The Jerry Lee Lewis piano playing is what invokes images of Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married. I feel like I should be getting ready for a prom in 1956.

It literally seems to be about him being born and raised in London. He even mentions the year he was born. I like the fact that the song is a mini-biography; in fact, according to his website, that's exactly what it is: "The first track is 'Born In The UK', 160-seconds of rollicking rock'n'roll which details the events that have shaped his life since 1969." It goes on to say that he wanted to "'capture something about being British or English. [He] didn't want it to be just a list of events, but it had to be things that captured a version of events in [his] life.'"

"Born In The U.K." is the title track from his new album, released two weeks ago.

Badly Drawn Boy's Website and like 98% of the Western World, he has a Myspace.


Sarah Harmer, "Capsized" (2000)

This is a stark, heartbreaking song, accompanied by a sparsely played guitar and supported by a constant keyboard refrain. I'm not sure if the song is about a romantic break-up, but it seems to be about someone in her life who is causing her to feel pain. She says "It's been years since you capsized, and you've been lying out there in the sun". We don't know who capsized, but it seems to have left her feeling void and feeling abandoned. Earlier in the song she says she wishes she could wake up from the dream, and she tells the person "there's a hurt and sadness there, maybe I'll tell you all about it. I thought you'd care". Hopefully the person does care--this song is so sad that I want her burden to be lifted.

This is from her 2000 album They Were Here. She has a new album called I'm A Mountain. I haven't heard any of these songs, but if I find one of them extremely favorable, it'll make its way onto this blog.

Sarah Harmer's Website. She doesn't have a Myspace, but a fan made one for her.

Note: I had intended to do a podcast, but tonight's blog post took much longer than usual because it turns out (ha ha) that while the Channels song is on my mp3, I somehow deleted it from my hard drive. I couldn't find it at all, and no mp3s were present on the web. I had to download it from Musicmatch, burn it to a cd so that I could reupload it as an mp3 file. Yes, this Five Songs post has been very problematic for me. I'm tired now.

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