AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

Artist: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Genre: Soul

Notable lyrics: 

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Firstly, I am obliged pay homage to the late ‘queen of soul’, Aretha Franklin, who has passed away yesterday, the 16th of August. Aretha was one of the first ever influential black women in the music industry, rising to the top of her game in the 60’s. Here’s a video of an older Aretha, soulfully covering ‘Rolling in the deep/Ain’t no mountain high enough‘.

‘Ain’t no mountain high enough’, a song by Marvin Gaye, conveniently the king of soul, and Tammi Terrell, who he happened to sing a lot of songs with, is a delightful duet later covered by the great Diana Ross. In a way, it was made famous by Ms. Ross and was later used as an OST in the famous 90’s blockbuster ‘stepmom’; the song is claimed as ‘one of the most overplayed songs in movies’. If anything, the song is also acclaimed as one of the best mood-lifters ever created.

Released in the 1967, the song happens to be one of the best soul songs in existence. The vocals sound as fresh as ever, with a tinge of that vintage magic. In the era where black Americans were still denied equality, wonderful music like this was responsible for fixing the gap between the two bridges. To see and analyse what prominence music has held in bringing about equality is indeed heart-warmingly beautiful.

Not necessarily a love song, the tune revolves around everlasting relationships and how all the impediments in the world can pose no threat to the stability of a well-founded relationship. Indeed a touching tribute to the strength of love and its acquaintances, the song has set high standards for the coming-of-age artists. The level of excellency covered here has remained intact over the past few decades and still happens to be the favorite song of many a people, from all walks of life and of all ages. The refreshing, profound voice of Gaye complemented by Terrell’s strong, pronounced voice has given the song its marvellous attributes. The drums, the instrumental framework are simply all too brilliant.

The song happens to be one of my favorites (yes, I do have a lot of favorites) because of its radiant magnetism, its ability to sweep the listener’s feet off the ground and this time, none of this is an exaggeration.

 

 

FAVORITE PART

Artist: Mac Miller (and Ariana Grande)

Genre: Hip-hop/soul

Notable lyrics: 

Said, you know I know who you really are, ain’t need to lie
Said, the universe couldn’t keep us apart
Why would it even try?

A few weeks ago, I played a less popular ‘pop’ song, when in the car with my mother, and she was surprised after learning that the song was a very famous artists’, because it was particularly great. When I told her that the song wasn’t all that famous, she was taken aback with the mediocrity of people’s likes and dislikes and how they want all their songs to be similar. Her argument was that ‘some people weren’t lucky enough to identify good music and appreciate them’. Now, this woman isn’t a huge fan of western music at all, but she’s got the concept of choosing great music, with some discretion right.

Speaking about the song, it isn’t all that spectacular or ostentatious, in comparison to the best songs to ever exist (I’m not talking about ‘hit me baby one more time’ for Christ’s sake). What I really appreciate is the effort to deviate from the conventions of making music video and actually produce something fairly rich, once in a while. For once, they’ve actually created a good piece for the sake of art and not business. This can create a whole revolution within the industry of ‘pop’ music. I can’t begin to explain how this particular gem can change the entire face of the music venture:                                         The song has credited 3 writers, 2 of which are the actual artists, as opposed to the 8 usual writers required to write a song. Now, the lyrics aren’t really sensational, but aren’t as bland or gaudy as the rest of mainstream pop songs. The setting is very intimate and the lyrics are well-crafted accordingly. Kudos to that. Moreover, the background music, even if electrically produced, isn’t too clumsy. As a matter of fact, it is a rather alluring tune and the music video has been designed appropriately. The aesthetics of the music video and the color tones are particularly pleasing. There isn’t any nudity or unsettling content in the music video, which works out all too well for me and most people (don’t mistake me for a prude, but some pop music videos are highly explicit. After all, sex sells). The best and the most evident part is the lack of voice manipulation of any kind. Every emotion, every imperfection, has been delivered the way it is, the way it’s meant to be. To be fair, it’s too good a ‘pop’ or hip-hop song to be true.

I wouldn’t really credit Ariana here because a few incoherent mumbles and giggles won’t make a song. However, I really appreciate Mac Miller in the song, he’s simply proficient in this particular song. The R&B aspect of the entire song is ridiculously magnificent. If this is post-modern jazz, I’m definitely impressed.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any better, the live performance proved it wrong. The jazz instrumentals are mind-blowing. Accurate, professional and seductive, the perfect song for a night-ride. So much talent has been used up in the song, it’s actually unthinkable of a proper ‘pop’ song. Now, here’s the sad part: the music video has only 37 million views and that’s a tiny amount when compared to most pop songs. The YouTube section is filled with comments related to their break-up and what not. Why does their relationship matter so much to you? Just enjoy the good music and forget everything else. If you can’t identify a gem when you come across one, you’re doing everything wrong.

MARDY BUM

Artist: Arctic Monkeys

Genre: Alternative Rock

Notable lyrics: 

Well can’t we just laugh and joke around
Remember cuddles in the kitchen
Yeah, to get things off the ground
And it was up, up and away
Oh, but it’s right hard to remember
That on a day like today when you’re all argumentative
And you’ve got the face on

And yeah I’m sorry I was late
But I missed the train
And then the traffic was a state
And I can’t be arsed to carry on in this debate that reoccurs,
Oh, when you say I don’t care
But of course I do, yeah, I clearly do!

Here’s a fun fact about me: when I first saw the album cover, I thought the man on it was the lead singer, with the rugged look and all that. But when I saw Alex for the first time, I was skeptical, because ‘how can such a wiry dude have a sturdy voice?’. Looks can be very deceiving, my mates.

You’re a blithering fool if you have a music blog/ call yourself a music fanatic and haven’t ever mentioned or heard of this phenomenal band. Being one of the very best bands this century has witnessed,  The ‘Arctic Monkeys’ continue to deliver mind-blowing, jaw-dropping songs till date.  The band, a garage project, was founded in 2002, in Sheffield, England; Alex Turner, the lead singer, happens to be one of the more talented song-writers today. With chart-busting singles like ‘Do I wanna know’ and ‘R U Mine’, the band has maintained a very prominent image in the post-rock revival industry. With their ‘The Smiths meets The Cure’ (Morrissey won’t be pleased) style of music, at least most of them, they’ve established a whole new meaning to alternative/indie rock. If indie rock is at all, a popular genre in the 21st century, this band deserves most of the credit.

Mardy Bum, one of my favorite works by the band, happens to be a very happy-go-lucky song, disguised as an apology to the livid missus. The song has been beautifully crafted, with a very first-hand remorse, explaining the reasons for him being late.  A ‘Mardy Bum’ is someone very unhappy with the way things happen; a moaner, basically (no, not like THAT). What I much prefer is the acoustic version; it sounds more appealing and casual, unlike the energetic album recording. The band’s signature use of electric guitars and lively drums are also very evident. Alex’s heavy, North England accent adds more charm to it than necessary. Released 11 years ago, this has to still be one of their very best, authentic songs. The British roots are so very evident, it’s almost too surreal to take in. I’m just really glad to see that Brit Rock hasn’t become completely obsolete.

Also, if you follow the band closely, there’s always a change of trends in their style of music, with every successive album. The new album, ‘tranquility base hotel and casino’ has failed to meet the expectations of many-a-persons, me included. Hopefully, Arctic Monkeys won’t fade away into the shadowy world of mediocrity and loss of self-recognition, like most bands have. Fame and money does that to people, getting into their heads and whispering gibberish. Alex better turn around and chase his humility, before it’s all too late. The Beatles were a disaster in the later years and we can’t afford to let another mastermind go berserk.

 

 

FLIGHTLESS BIRD, AMERICAN MOUTH

Artist: Iron and Wine

Genre: Neo-folk

Notable lyrics: 

I was a quick wet boy
Diving too deep for coins
All of your straight blind eyes
Wide on my plastic toys
Then when the cops closed the fair
I cut my long baby hair
Stole me a dog-eared map
And called for you everywhere
Have I found you?
Flightless bird, jealous, weeping
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big bill looming

‘Neofolk, also known as post-folk, apocalyptic folk or dark folk, is a music genre that emerged in the mid-1980’s as an outgrowth of post-punk and post-industrial music, blending acoustic instruments such as guitar and snare drum with elements of industrial music. Neofolk may either be solely acoustic or combine acoustic folk instrumentation with various other sounds.’

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a folk song and this one happens to be an excellent specimen of the kind. The song sounds fairly familiar because it was used as a sound-track in the very infamous vampire-obsession movie, ‘Twilight’.  Guess the sound tracks were one reason to not hate the movie altogether, innit?

Slow and smooth as ever, with an overwhelming tender voice, the song manages to stand apart from general songs like a Holmes signal amidst the vast expanse of the black sea. To be completely fair, the lyrics have certain discrepancies between them; they seem to have been written as different sentences with no correlation, whatsoever, but when merged, it forms a brilliant song. According to genius lyrics,

‘“Flightless Bird, American Mouth” could be about someone who tries to find a lost love. When he finds her, she has become a flightless bird, meant to fly high but grounded, fulfilling none of her youth dreams. Instead, she’s become another pill-wasted American housewife while he’s also a cliché of a fat couch potato watching passively as his life goes by.’

Makes sense doesn’t it? Something written so ordinarily and simple, turns into an extra ordinary and a beautiful song. The tepid and fragile music encapsulates the song and leaves it in a warm little bubble, waiting to bless the ears of another person. The power of supple and wholesome music never fails to release its hold on me and that’s one place I hope to be completely vulnerable, for as long as I breathe.

WE’RE NOT JUST FRIENDS

Artist: Parks, Squares and Alleys

Genre: Dream-pop

Notable lyrics: 

We don’t need nothing, except each other

But there’s no reason to say it out loud

The moon is there for you tonight

I feel the beating of your heart

You should forget it for a while,

We’re not just friends I know you want me to stop the time.

Yes, most of us have been here, feeling the same about a friend. It’s almost inevitable, I presume. But here underlies a certain beauty, almost too incoherent to be expressed in words. For now, I’ll let it be.

This particular song is a very lucky find, a result of an adventurous YouTube spree. The music is so surreal, the guitar strokes capable of inducing a psychedelic effect on you and the voice equally delightful. It’s almost too complex, to comprehend the musical structure of the sound. Per se,  it’s hard to believe that something like this tune is hand-made and not mechanically fabricated. I’m not denying that editing is an essential process while composing a song, but how does something as outlandish as this music just drop onto your head, out of nowhere? It’s hard, even for a pioneer in the music industry, to intricately produce such tasteful instrumentals. I can’t imagine how hard and meticulous it must’ve been, giving birth to an idea for something beyond the ordinary, with less or no professional help (The band isn’t well-known so professional help can be pretty expensive).

The lyrics are very unpretentious, unambiguous and mellow, thereby maintaining an easy balance within the song so as to not make it seem too ostentatious. A clever stitch in time saves 9, doesn’t it?

If this is what hipsters these days are listening to, I must appreciate their prudence.

Bonus video:

 

 

MUSIC SOUNDS BETTER WITH YOU

Artist: Stardust

Genre: French house (Disco)

Notable lyrics: (these are the only lyrics, might I add)

I feel like

The music sounds better with you

Love might

Bring us back together

I feel so good

Pardon me for my lack of expertise in the genre of Electronic music. I’ve been meaning to write about an EDM song for very long now and a groovy disco track WITH lyrics is as far as I could extend my flexibility.

Allegedly, ‘music sounds better with you’ is a cult classic and was one of the highest-selling singles of 1998, in the UK. It was also called ‘one of the most irresistible, sublime dance singles of the decade’ by the critiques and received an average overall of 4.5 for 5. Not too clumsy for a 90’s disco song, eh?                                                                                      Stardust were a one-time musical collaborative effort consisting of producers Thomas Bangalter, Alan Braxe, and vocalist Benjamin Diamond. That’s unfortunate because producing a number of tasteful Electronic Dance songs would’ve hurt nobody.

Evidently, producing a Disco song wasn’t as easy as pressing a couple of buttons on your computer. These old-timey DJ’s knew their way around the DJ mixer and could account for the credibility of their music being genuine. The song is indeed very enthusiastic and almost psychedelic (that’s dream trance for you), there’s just something about it that’s so catchy and fabulous. The absence of a ‘drop’ makes it all the more appealing; the band goes easy on the excessive use of computer-generated bass beats and resorts to mellower, pleasant music that simultaneously makes it akin to mainstream music and a million times more superb. I mean, it’s been 20 years. Surely, hoping for progress in the quality of music isn’t unintelligible.

The video is oh-so-peculiar and screams the 90’s craze for experimenting with other-worldly visuals. It revolves around an aerophile little boy who’s hard-set on building his first toy plane and here’s the insane part: the music video might seem irrelevant at first but the band has been genius-ly incorporated into it, with no room for talking. And hey, what’s a better song you can think of than this, to play while constructing a model aero plane?

 

SLOW DANCING IN A BURNING ROOM

Artist: John Mayer

Genre: Blues/Soul (Acoustic)

Notable lyrics:

I was the one you always dreamed of

You were the one I tried to draw

How dare you say it’s nothing to me

Baby you’re the only light I think I ever saw

I make the most of all sadness

You be a bitch because you can

The acoustic version is much better than the album version, take my word for it.

I don’t know where to begin or where to end, with the blissful experience this song imparts. It’s like you’re being encircled with a faint warmth of John’s voice and the guitar tune, whenever you listen to it. Writing this song definitely wasn’t a piece of cake, it speaks for itself. Only a professional song-writer can put words together and add such beautiful sense and elegance to it.

The burning room is simply a metaphor for a worn-out relationship where all you do is tear each other apart and the slow dancing signifies the torture one endures while falling apart completely. The song is all about finding beauty within the chaos itself and finally letting the inevitable happen: letting go; ‘Nothing is permanent but change’, as Heraclitus originally said.

While penning down such original and heart-felt lyrics, John has also made shewed use of his guitar skills, his fondness for some great Blues and make the absolute best craft out of it. What is considered to be one of his most emotional song, the tune is a favorite among the fans and is hailed as a significant milestone in his career of making music; this level of excellence has remained almost unachievable by modern blues artists (there aren’t many). What I fear is that faulty collaborations and a plethora of impure genres have resulted in the dying out of the once highly regarded genre of blues, and I can’t stress that enough. While John Mayer has been a dedicated Blues fan and keeps bestowing upon us, beautiful tunes, a vast number of other Blues artists remain unrecognised, something we shouldn’t be entirely proud of. While most popular artists long after abstract versatility, they corrupt their songs with insincere and physical versatility, which isn’t always compatible with all genres.

The song is recorded in an intimate setting with just the enchanting vocals and acoustic guitar, miles away from the album recording. John remains to be enthralled by Soul music till date and delivers consistent performances with each album, a popular reason you should start listening to the fairly popular artist. Also, addressing the elephant in the room – the infamous controversial interviews, I suggest you learn the difference between a person’s personal and professional life and LET IT GO (I will admit to my indiscreet predilection for Mayer, at this point). This song is proof enough to highlight what an excellent artist and a brilliant performer he is (here’s a few pictures to prove his dedication to playing his guitar), and I HOPE he’ll be a noted member of the Rock ‘n Roll hall of fame in the nearby future.

 

 

VIOLET

Artist: Hippo Campus

Genre: Indie Rock

Notable lyrics:

The sky is lushed in the company
Of those American eyes
See good on earth and truth in lies

Violet, trying to start your riot
Trying to get up and then go
So the world will always know
Violet, you and your fucked up riot
Trying to get up and then go
So the world will always know

You know what’s sexier than a talented “boy-band” which writes its own songs and composes its own music and has a smart name? I can’t think of anything.

Originally from Minnesota, these 20-something (maybe even younger) dudes know what they’re doing and where they’re going. If I’m not wrong, they could be the next big thing. In the era of duplicated, superficial music, these unquestionably talented kids have raised themselves through the thick fog of indolence and good marketing with their own vigour and fresh talent, giving the passionate indie-rock fans what they were in hot pursuit of: clarity.

Deriving inspiration from both retro and modern music, this song is definitely a whole new approach to the making of indie rock; Heavy-rock snobs will not condemn it and mainstream-music fans will not repel it, owing to its eccentricities and tiny regularities alike. The music is definitely nothing like you’ve ever heard before, and is in no way similar to the likes of Arctic Monkeys or Vampire Weekend; it still manages to stand out as a pioneer sub-genre, a one-of-its-kind, with the vague lyrics and the harmonious discrepancies. The guitar sounds are very unconventional and yet, manages to capture the attention of a million people with varying tastes in music.

When I first came across the song, I was very skeptical of a good looking boy-band being any good. Boy, was I ever wrong! The song wasn’t even a bit appealing, initially. It was very different from what I was used to and so, I took my time to get accustomed to the entire concept of this song. But when I did, it hit me hard and, do you know how every person has a set of songs they’d never skip when played on a shuffle? This song definitely belongs to the category. The video is just so endearing, with the pastel shades and beautiful boys with their guitars and random inanimate objects, pretending to be lost in a world of magnificent sounds and not making kissy-faces to the camera. Speaking about the song, which we inevitably must, there are several bold and ear-catching elements, like the strong guitar solo at the beginning, the gradual addition of the drums, the subtle rise in the zeal of the entire performance at the chorus and the final instrumental piece, everything almost too perfectly coordinated. The vocals are definitely just as atypical as the rest of the song; it’s not too try-hard or reverberatory (watch any reality singing contest to understand what I’m talking about).

Being different in the ordinary world is fine. As a matter of fact, different is more welcome than ordinary. In a futile race to be as normal as possible, people often lose their individuality and eventually, the person they are. The reason I chose to create a blog IS to expose the world to the more extra-ordinary, less explored side of music. The band is far from pretentious and very mature in the way thousand other “boy-bands” have failed to be, with their incomprehensible obsession with fame and a large fan-base. More often than not, young boys in the show business are made to believe that good-looks are more accredited for, in comparison to actual talent. They don’t believe in appearing to be prudish or innocent and are not too unsure about cussing, which is fucking great! What’s wonderful is that these young lads have resorted to being unique and experimenting, and that’s the reason they’ve got such unabashedly brilliant songs on their hands. They are aware of their self-worth and are bound to climb up the sky, if they don’t conform to conventions. It’s hard to come across such young geniuses in the music industry, in today’s world of greed and power and I’m happy to inform that all hope has not been lost.

CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU

Artist: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Genre: Swing (Jazz)

Notable lyrics:

Pardon the way that I stare,

there’s nothing else to compare,

beside, her view leaves me weak,

there are no words left to speak.

I’m aware of the plethora of covers of this song (Muse, Heath Ledger, et al) but I guarantee you, this is the most authentic and the best version there is (not to mention, the original one). The song has also played a part in several movies as a soundtrack. So, if it rings a bell, you know why.

Having to be one of the most romantically striking songs there is, the hit track was released back in 1967, the pre-revolutionary era (in terms of music, of course), earning a top position in the billboard charts for a whole week (we don’t respect billboard anymore but back then, the competition was tight), and thereby instantly fetching a gilded record for the artists. During the late 60’s, the highly contagious Rock music was all the rage and Jazz had seen better days. Even if the song is listed as a ‘pop rock’ song, there are certain attributes that make it more of a Swing oriented song; the indiscreet bass guitars, the drums, the lively maracas, an occasional trumpet and the heartfelt, sensual singing that is perfect for serenading a love interest. On the other hand, the lyrics are just as flattering as the rest of the song. If only you could imagine how the ladies back in the day were smitten (just watch the live shows, Frank wasn’t kidding around).

With a song that starts off with a bold instrumental piece, it’s important to maintain the same calibre throughout the entire song and just that has been done so immaculately, with the outstanding chorus and thereon. The mid-20th century flair is very conspicuous and adds to the originality of the song belonging to the worldly genre of Jazz. The song fades into a gradual end with the actual performance still being as intense as ever – guess they had to stop somewhere!

I can’t point the exact time or place of the song’s discovery, but all I remember was how bewitched I was; I often found myself obsessively listening to the tune while goofing around, unwinding after a long day or – pretty much all the time. Everyone deserves a wonderful favorite Swing song and this one has to be mine.

SEDONA

 

Artist: Houndmouth

Genre: Alternative Country

Notable lyrics: 

Hey little Hollywood
You’re gone but you’re not forgot
You got the cash but your credit’s no good
You flipped the script and you shot the plot
And I remember I remember when your neon used to burn so bright and pink
A Saturday night kinda pink.

I’ve never heard of the genre ‘alternative country’, but that was how this song was classified and I can’t beg to differ. If at all I could, I’d call the genre of this song ‘folk rock’.

The song’s got a bit of a history behind it.

C. Schnebly was an enterprising young man from Gorin, Missouri who had married Sedona Arabella Miller. T.C.’s brother, Ellsworth, had moved to Arizona for health reasons, and convinced T. C. and Sedona to join him in red rock country. The Schnebly’s built a large two-story home that also served as the area’s first hotel and general store. T.C. saw a need for regular mail service, and organized the little village’s first post office. T. C. suggested the names, Oak Creek Crossing and Schnebly Station, to Washington, D.C., but the Postmaster General at the time had a prejudice for one-word names for postmarks. Ellsworth advised him, “Why don’t you name it after your wife?”

And that was how this place in Arizona, with its red sand stones, got the name ‘Sedona’. Remember, no song is without its significance. Every time I go on a spree collecting more information about a particular song, a genre or an artist, I learn something new and fascinating.

I’ll tell you now folks, this song’s got a great deal of metaphors and a careful reading in between the lines, research and consideration is what it took people to decode this brilliant song. What’s wonderful is how Sedona refers not to a person but the place itself. Apparently, Sedona was a prime area for movie shootings, back in the 60’s, before people went after Los Angeles. John Ford, a renowned director back in the early 20th century, has shot numerous movies in the place, owing to its beautiful plethora of sunset red mountains and natural scenery. The song is a dedication to the magnificence of the beautiful desert and not an aspiring actress back in the black and white era of making movies. After the creation of the now official Hollywood, directors deserted (pun intended) this place, hence the ‘little Hollywood’. How many songs you find have historically significant facts like this one? That’s what gives the song its substance.

I found this tune on Spotify (funny thing, this was categorised as Indie Rock), along the likes of Vance Joy, Angus and Julia stone, with their slightly folk-ish disposition and this song has been a favorite on my ‘road trips’ playlist, ever since. Listening to the song while driving into the orangish pink sunset is almost transcendental.

The video is particularly what caught my eye (I only watched it today). A striking minimalist film with picturesque motel – desert shots, all so relevant to the entire setting of the song, with the band members all happy and cheerful, going about their business and playing chess; a few concert shots in and there you go: a wholesome, eye-catching video with a wonderful dusky theme. If you could capture America in a video, this would probably be it (not that I’m quite sure). The Sean Penn-meets-Louis Tomlinson (yeah, the bloke from One Direction) lead singer kicks things up a notch, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better. Needless to say, the feel-good, retro-esque song is just as remarkable as its other components; The vocals are strong and perfect for the song, the electric guitar so accurate and the introduction of a stronger strums and thicker vocals, with a little help from his fellow band mates makes it ever-the-more appealing. Has the perfect band been discovered now or will they just be forgotten like a thousand other unknown ones? I sure as hell hope not!