By Sebastian Arnold
Due to COVID, we haven’t been getting as much music as I would like. So instead I’m going to give some songs that I have been totally jiving to and a short analysis as to why I love them. Once more, I hope this expands your musical journey and expands your knowledge of yourself and your taste.
One of my most unpopular music opinions is that I think Portishead is one of the most overrated groups of all time(sorry Portishead). I understand why they are objectively good, they essentially created “vibe music” and I respect them for that. However, when I listened to their 2008 record, I was dumbfounded, they made a Krautrock album and I loved it. The most popular song from the record, “The Rip”, was my favorite. It is just beautiful. It is depressing and lonely, with lyrics of death, and a beautiful electronic sound which to me is the crown jewel of the song. The instrumental goes from an acoustic guitar with light electronic beeps and progresses to full electronics with amazing drums –the Krautrock sound I spoke of before– and it leaves you in a full trance. This song becomes the forefront of your thoughts, the lyrics make you think back on your existence and remember your early years before the “white horses” take you away. The lyrics, as said before, are incredibly depressing; they are primarily that of death at the beginning but once the electronics kick in, the lyrics’ connotation changes and feels upbeat in a weird way. Either way, listen to this song, it is out of this world beautiful and very approachable.
LCD Soundsystem- All My Friends
“That’s how it starts” are the first words of this beautiful masterpiece about life getting by you and seeing yourself become your parents, it speaks volumes of James Murphy’s thought process when writing music as well. It speaks of jealousy of not being one of the “cool kids” who get to go to every party and the eventual becoming of a party animal and then restricting your kids from doing it, to eventually realize “hey, you’re finally dead.” The song has been named one of the best songs of the 2000s with the repeating piano riff heard throughout the entire song –which makes this song near impossible to play live without the help of electronics– the beautiful lyrics, the climax of LCD Soundsystem songs which involves the instruments blaring and Murphy screaming. If you have yet to listen to this indietronica masterpiece, stop what you are doing, and listen.
Beach House-Silver Soul
If you aren’t a Beach House fan, you might know this song from its sample in the Kendrick Lamar song, “Money Trees,” and Lil Peep’s, “Downtown.” Though, in my eyes, nothing beats “Silver Soul” with its incredible instrumentation and an amazing chorus. Legrand absolutely brings out her Nico-esque voice for this track and it pays off making their typical psychedelic/dream pop, well, pop out even more. I’m having trouble describing the beauty of the guitars in the song, there are two playing throughout the entire song with one in the foreground and the other in the background. The guitars are total juxtapositions of each other with the one in the foreground playing clearly and in a plucking fashion with the other distorted and noisy while being strummed. The song’s lyrics are a bit less important to me but big ups to Legrand for having the chorus be a Twin Peaks quote, “It is happening again” shoutouts to the Giant. Outside of the chorus, I can’t speak too much on the other lyrics because they may or may not have to do with less school appropriate material, I’ll let you experience that. Either way, the sequencing and sound of this song make it a true masterpiece and one of my favorite songs ever and favorite Beach House song.
Sweet Trip is one of the most genre-bending groups of all time with their first record being shoegaze, IDM, glitch pop, dream pop, indietronica, experimental pop, etc. and their second record being indie pop, dream pop, twee, and progressive pop… like what? It’s almost a Portishead transition if you listen to both records, but this song is from the first record Velocity:Design:Comfort and this song is a trip that’s for sure. The song is loud, playful, sweet, and an overall good time! It creates a feeling of everything being alright and that love really does exist –the opposite of “Ribs” which is talked about a little later– which just brightens my day up every time I hear it. Not to mention, it is like one of the greatest album covers of all time.
I don’t even think I have to say much about this one, it’s Pinkerton, the Weezer masterpiece, “El Scorcho” is one of the greatest love songs of all time –only behind “Heroes” and “When You Sleep” in my opinion. To quote Andrew Kordik, “How can you not just love that opening? ‘Goddamn, you half-Japanese girls!’ like come on!” which I think says it all. The song tells Rivers Cuomo’s failed attempts at finding love at Harvard –in fact, the whole album is about how much he hated his Harvard years– and really strikes an emotional chord. It is emotional, raw, and noisy but it really is its imperfections which make it such a masterpiece.
This song should’ve started a pop revolution… it takes the methods of Brian Wilson and creates a beautiful art-pop song that transcends traditional hipster-mainstream boundaries. It creates an aura of uncertainty yet feels a dash of hope. It is the perfect song while driving at night seeing the beautiful starry night sky, it’s enough to make one cry. It is however very sentimental and existential, so fair warning to those who are looking for something a little warmer. Either which way, the song is beautiful and that’s why it’s one of the songs of the week.
When I say that the MGMT record, Congratulations, is the California o f our era, I mean it is the California o f our era. Experimental surf rock with an emphasis on noise, if that doesn’t scream Mike Patton, I don’t know what does. Ok, maybe it doesn’t have the metal of California b ut it has the same vibe, and “Siberian Breaks” is proof of this. The 12-minute progressive psychedelic surf rock song is memorable, warm, calming, and avant in the best possible ways. It wears no influences on its sleeve and feels like a creative masterpiece –despite my saying it was Mike Patton, I just meant genre-wise– which creates an atmosphere that only MGMT, the creators of the Gen-Z amazing classic “Kids”, could make. The song is fantastic and when MGMT is remembered, I hope this song is the one people bring up.
As a drainer, I feel a moral obligation to include at least one Bladee song on this list, and I just so happened to pick a fantastic one. “It Girl” essentially entails the responsibilities and life of an It Girl, a woman who people dream of and/or want to be, and how you must sacrifice much to gain said status. Of course, the song has an underlying meaning, for it wouldn’t be Bladee if there wasn’t, and in this case, the underlying meaning is the struggles which Bladee has with his own anima/animus and how he might’ve been better at being a woman in place of a man. His ethereal vocals push that point across and his time signatures which he uses are copied from Nirvana lead singer, Kurt Cobain, due to him also struggling with similar issues and his secret desire to be a woman –which led to his suicide due to his wife abusing him over these struggles… screw you, Courtney Love. Bladee talks about how his family and friends feel like he is making a mistake with changing his gender identity but Bladee feels like he must work to gain their approval even if it will never come. It’s a beautiful track and a deep critique of transphobic culture and how they will never know the struggles of one who cannot identify with their own gender.
I brought up this song last week in my “Albums for Quarantine” article, but it’s because it is beautiful! The lyrics are essentially Panda Bear telling his brother off, saying he needs to take responsibility for his life, which is the polar opposite of his song “Brothersport” in Merriweather Post Pavilion w hich is about supporting your brother through thick and thin. Panda Bear can be flip floppy I suppose, but that’s beside the point, the song goes from owl noises to Beach Boys hymns to the most interesting South American, Amazonian, possibly Samoan instrumentations to singing gibberish and weird noises, all with a repeating guitar riff over it, creating one of the most atmospheric and relaxing songs of all time. The moment I heard this song, I fell in total love with it, and I hope you will too because I believe it to be a masterpiece, close to peak music with it being creative, long, rhythmic, gorgeous, and psychedelic as can be. My favorite part has to be the crying part, where Panda Bear is just crying with the guitar riff going until it sounds like he has a full-blown mental breakdown and just starts speaking gibberish, and then it leads to a baby crying as if to say he has totally regressed back to being fresh out of the womb. It was a key reason for me to become more of a spiritual person as it really does make you feel totally relaxed, and I meditate with this song a lot.
First off, I wanna give a Lil B style shoutout to my dad for introducing me to the early European Electronic music scene with stuff like CAN, Brian Eno, Art of Noise, Tangerine Dream, Faust, David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, and, of course, the greats, Kraftwerk. “Autobahn” is Kraftwerk’s magnum opus, it’s a progressive 23-minute long song which takes computer music to another level; the song feels perfect for, you guessed it, driving down the Autobahn, there really is no lyrical quality to it, I kind of tune it out but the sound is to die for. The instruments used are Moog synths in order to make the bassline which they added a ton of echo to, a flute with tons of reverb, percussion pads, and a phasing synthesizer. This song is THE progressive electronic song, it goes from happy to ominous to moody to upbeat all to culminate in a journey that brings you through the senses.