Today's been a busy day, mentally-speaking, and instead of following my usual pattern of either talking it out of my system with other people or ignoring it until the wheels in my head stop spinning, I figured I'd inflict another blog post on the world. :)
Have you ever noticed that when describing a new band to other people, most of the time, you default to describing them based on other groups that have a similar sound instead of describing the sound itself? I was thinking about that earlier today while listening to a new album that's currently rocking my socks off. I love to share music I think is amazing with other people, but when I was trying to figure out a good way to describe Elbow to people I think would like them, I found myself trying to figure out who they sounded like instead of trying to find the words to describe the music itself. It's so much easier to make comparisons than use your own words to describe something, which is a little sad to me.
It reminded me of one of the many random events that occurred while I was volunteering at the library a while ago. A blind woman came up to the welcome desk and asked for some assistance with a couple basic things, and at one point, she wanted to buy some thank-you cards from the library shop. She asked me to describe the cards to her one by one, and the knowledge that she'd choose based entirely on my description gave a sort of pressure to the situation that doesn't normally exist when picking out greeting cards. It was surprisingly difficult to describe the scenes on the cards to her, which really made me think about how much I take in sense-wise without it actually registering in my mind. Describing something visual was difficult enough, but describing a smell? Or a sound? No wonder people revert to comparisons when trying to describe music. That being said, bear with me while I mangle a quick outline of some current favorite tracks.
While I'm writing this sentence, I'm listening to Grounds for Divorce (Elbow), and I'm really digging it. It's one of the most interesting songs I've listened to in a while because it's insanely layered. Every time I listen to it, I notice something different - a new little gravelly spot in the vocals, a new piece of the bassline, etc. Gah, even now when I try to describe the scene it sets for me in my mind, it's really hard to think of the right words to put it in. It feels like a song that should be heard in a bar with a beer in one hand and the other pounding out the time on the table. There are so many moments in this song that are ripe for audience participation - repeated lines, post-chorus intensive percussion sections, vocal hooks, you name it.
Next up is The Bones of You, also by Elbow. This song stood out to me when I was thinking about buying the album, and the percussion hooked me right away. I'm a sucker for a good beat, and this one definitely has that. This song feels like a driving song to me. It feels like a song that should start a summer road trip mix. Car windows open, sunshine streaming in, driving down the Oregon highways that I miss so much sometimes I can hardly stand it (one of the very few things I miss about living in OR during undergrad). I used to go for long drives when I just needed to get off campus and not think about things for a while, and I really wish I'd had this album back then.
On a somewhat related note, Derezzed by Daft Punk from the Tron soundtrack is definitely near the top of my list of current favorites. I've been a fan of Daft Punk for quite a while now, and their soundtrack to the movie was absolutely fabulous. This particular track is a favorite because of the incredible moment about ten seconds into the song where the beat gives way to the heavy synth. While Elbow is great for a leisurely car ride, Daft Punk (this song in particular) makes me want to sign up for motorcycle certification and start saving up for a sport bike.
I really don't know how I've gotten so far in life without knowing about Rodrigo y Gabriela. I don't even remember why I happened to look them up on Youtube a week or so ago, but I'm glad I did. Watching them play Tamacun and Diablo Rojo makes me feel the kind of awe that I don't really feel very often when it comes to watching musicians perform. I've always loved Spanish-style guitar, and their music makes me want to take up some form of dancing that would allow me to not look like an idiot while dancing to the beat. I bought both of these songs on iTunes, and while they're great, it just isn't the same as actually watching the song being performed. When you just listen to it, you don't see the fingers flying all over the place, or them getting so wrapped up in the beat that they're practically dancing in their chairs. I think they swung through Seattle (or Marymoor, at least) earlier this year, and I can't imagine how amazing they'd be live.
And with that, it's time to pack it in for the night. I'm off on what I'm sure will be an epic cabin adventure with some friends tomorrow through Wednesday, and I still have to track down half my snow gear. I've located my coat, pants, and boots so far, so all that's left is to hope that my goggles and gloves aren't stashed in storage somewhere...