September 13, 2005

English is Overrated: Part 1

MP3 Dungen - Festival

It took me three full listenings of this song to realize that these lyrics were not English. I'd like to think that maybe that's my favorite part of the song, that it pieces together so well that it doesnt matter what language it's in.

The opening six seconds of the song must also fall into my top 5 list of best opening six seconds of a song ever.

Dungen is an extremely interesting and extremely Swedish band, whose album Ta Det Lungt deserves your attention.

Posted by dts at 3:38 AM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2005

Chemicals don't make me sick again

MP3 Of Montreal - Chemicals (Live @ The Abbey, Chicago, 9.2.2005)

It was sometime last August when highly reccomended blog You Ain't No Picasso posted a little snippet of a live version of a brand spanking new Of Montreal song. Having a dedicated interest in the band, I was highly intrigued.

The clip was from a new track that's tentatively being called "Chemicals" that the Athens, GA band has been using to open up shows on their current tour, and despite the fact that the quality of the song was ... just awful ... I instantly fell in love.

So I embarked upon a mission similar to those I've done before: to find a decent MP3 version of an unbelievably obscure song. I checked and rechecked YANP to no avail - it must not have been a hot topic. I skimmed over the official Of Montreal site - no go. Finally, I logged onto the E6 Town Hall, a forum focusing on Elephant 6 bands, and of course Of Montreal, and one of the users was just kind enough to pass along a live version of the song recorded at the bands recent show at the Abbey in Chicago, on 9.2.2005. I may even be breaking some code by sharing it in converted MP3 format. Forgive me.

The synth part is unimanginably hummable, and you'll find yourself whistling it at the most inopportune moments against your will. This rustic live recording will have to suffice until the band records its next album, which probably won't be until summer at the very earliest.

Here's a copy of the whole show in question, in BitTorrent format. I can't get the download to work for some reason, but you might be able to.

Here's another full show in BitTorrent format, this one recorded on 9.6.2005 in DeKalb. The first track is a different recording of the posted song, and if anyone can get the download to work, I'd love to have it.

Please remember, this file and all JSGH files will be available not only at the posted links but also through GMail, by logging into the official Stompio account (UN: johnstompio, PW: neverstops)

Thanks for listening.

Posted by dts at 4:10 AM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2005

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Bach?

MP3 - Procal Harum A Whiter Shade of Pale
MP3 - Johann Sebastian Bach Air for G string

I don't know how many times I've heard radio DJ's say something like, "And there was Procol Harum, improvising on JS Bach," or something of the like, after playing their song "A Whiter Shade of Pale." It's a common fact/myth/rumor that many websites and people will blindly accept. Do these radio DJ's even know what tune of the almighty JS Bach that Procol Harum (aka Van Morrison on Napster, or other download programs) is supposedly plagiarizing? The JS Bach tune is a movement from one of his Orchetral Suites, and is know as the "Air on the G String," because the melody can be played entirely on the G string of the violin.

If you haven't guessed already, I stand in defense of Procol Harum's composition, "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Without going into great detail, let's compare the harmonic analyses of both tunes. LISTEN TO THEM BOTH. That's all you have to do. Don't bust out your Schenkerian Theory books or anything. You will notice that they do have something in common - smooth voice-leading. In a nut-shell, for this song, that means: a suave descending bass-line with a melody that compliments it beautifully. It's not Nirvana (the band) with power-chords-R-Us (no offense intended) - but it is musical nirvana (that euphoric feeling that music often creates, without the aid of drugs). It's something our brain is trained, accustomed, and some will argue "wired" to hear as pleasing.

Continuing, the two melodies are not identical, and the harmony of both pieces is not the same. The only common ground that they hold is smooth voice-leading (descending bass line with a beautiful, contrasting melody).

That should be enough to convince any music theorist that Procol Harum did not rip off JS Bach. However, music theorists do not take into account the ear of the modern-day (let's say c. 1950-present) listener. Someone driving down the Dan Ryan at 6:35 AM, listening to the Drive hears a song start our with a church-like organ theme, accompanied by bass and drums. Immediately, something happens. It sounds old-fashioned; it sounds like something I've heard in Church before. The organ dominates for the majority of the song, and it's not a Hammond B3 organ pumping out some rhythm and blues, or jazz; it sounds like church. It sounds classical. This leads me to another point...

The average listener doesn't know what the lyrics for "A Whiter Shade of Pale" mean. They like it because of the organ melody. The singing fits in with the song, but the organ-bass-drums dominate. This brings up another important point: Bach had no lyrics for his "Air on the G String." The vocal line in Procul Harum's composition is something completely unrelated to Bach's piece.

If everything I've said so far isn't enough to convince you that Procul Harum's composition "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is not a rip-off of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air on the G String," then consider this. Any piece of music composed in a "tonal" style in the 20th Century will sound, if not exactly, then close to something that someone else composed. It could be something similar to someone on the other side of the world, in a different time (i.e. JS Bach, German, 1685-1750), or something your annoying neighbor wrote 2 days ago. There's only so much you can do with music before similar melodies/harmonies start happening. These similarities can be masked by different instrumentation, which is especially easier to modern-day rock composers, who use all sorts of electronic instruments. However, the bare-bones analysis will show you many frightening similarities.

There is one important detail that I have omitted. The (1967) keyboardist for Procol Harum supposedly was a huge fan of JS Bach.

Let's suppose for a minute that the tune was, in fact, a rip-off of JS Bach: They fell way short. Bach goes to places with this theme that Procol Harum could not even imagine. Let's say at the very least, that the tune was based on Bach, and that's it. It still serves a different purpose than Bach's piece. Procol Harum composed in a different genre, a different time, a different country. The cultural aspect of a piece of music can never be forgotten. To compare the two melodies and conclude that they are identical (although incorrect in this instance) would be a travesty.

In conclusion..... take from this what you may. Don't believe everything that your local DJ tells you. Or for that matter, don't believe everything that you read online.... except for everything you've read in the last few minutes. Yeah, believe that, but Nothing else that you've ever read online.

Coo' de la

Posted by roche at 4:16 AM | Comments (1)

Far from here by now

MP3 The Vinyl Skyway - That Girl

I admit I don't know much about the Vinyl Skyway. I'll also admit that anything from here that I write that describes them will be pulled off of some random site on google. All I know is that at one point a year ago, I downloaded just about every free song I could get my hands on. I also know that there are only a few hours of the day that I don't spend eating, sleeping, and watching television that I can use to listen to music properly. Thus, whole piles and piles of valuable music went wasted, sitting neglected in my "Unlistened" folder.

Thankfully, one one long summer night of insomnia, I scoured through the vast wasteland for anything that deserved some long overdue attention, and this song surely does.

Fittingly enough, this song sounds like it was written for a late summer evening.

View the lyrics for this song here
Buy Vinyl Skyway's self-titled album here.

Posted by dts at 3:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2005

Start of the dream

Oh, my oh my. What have we done? Where has the love gone?

To whom it may concern:

I've been a fool. I have made a huge mistake. I took you for granted, and now I fear that I may lose you forever. Please, come back to me. It will be different this time. I, I know I'm unreliable, and for that I'm sorry baby. That's just the way I am. I blame it on all those years on the road. Living day to day makes a man as unpredictable as a hound dog in a snowstorm. It also makes a man terrible at metaphors. But this time, this time I'll be round more. Every day. Right there when you need me. Just you call on my name sugar.

I really hope you'll give me another chance.

All my love,

The long summer months have passed. With school in session and a mighty juice pumping high speed internet connection at my disposal once again, John Stompio's musical musings will once again be transmitted straight to your homes through the power of THE INTERNET. Starting... NOW!

MP3 - The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go

Starting today, expect a song to be posted about once a day for the next month. If I miss a day, I'll throw in two the next post. I've also invited a few people to become regular contributors of the site and if you're a good friend of mine with good musical taste then yeah, I'm talking about you kiddo.

I'll kick off the new season with this gem from the Canadian band that all the cool kids are talking about, The Arcade Fire. Their 2004 release Funeral was all over the music blog circuit, and if you missed it, I'm sorry about that coma you were in I hope you're feeling better.

To download, follow link and follow instructions or log into John Stompio's personal Gmail account (UN: johnstompio, PW: neverstops)

View the lyrics for this song here.

Posted by dts at 1:17 AM | Comments (0)

Every once in a while...

Every once in a while something great comes out of that yonder land of William Wallace and, of course, Willie the Groundskeeper. This assumes you have already taken single-malt scotch out of the equation, because lets be honest, its the greatest thing Scotland has ever given the world.

However, a perfectly delectable pop band from Glasgow has recently caught the attention of John Stompio Greatest Hits, and warrants inclusion on this illustrious thing, whatever it is being called these days, that we have going on here. The band is commonly known as Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

Aside from having the greatest band name since Ratt and Dokken graced record store shelves, the band is pretty damn good. They have infectious little pop melodies which you will no doubt be humming to yourself quickly upon hearing them. JSGH(tm) first saw them on MTV2's Subterranean (gasp! MTV...good for something?), and immediately found myself running around to download as much as I could from them. Unfortunately, all I could find was this:

MP3- Dogs Die in Hot Cars - Glimpse at the Good Life

This little gem is kind of like a mix of Brit stalwarts Pulp and The Cure, except without the makeup and emo pretenses. I would say that that is a winning combination. The rest of the album is an entertaining hybrid of 80's new wave and ska.

There is another song, Lounger, which can be streamed from the band's website, and it is every bit as good as Glimpse at the Good Life. The band has one cd out, and are heading into the studio to start up work on their sophomore effort.

Edit: found Lounger as well:

MP3- Dogs Die in Hot Cars - Lounger

Visit the band's official site here
Buy Please Describe Yourself here

Posted by stompette at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)