Monday, April 19, 2010

Music Monday #2

Teen Dream by Beach House

-----monday, 4/12/10, 22:36

I've boarded the Beach House train fairly late.  This album is the band's third, and it has already made numerous best of 2010 (so far) lists.

I love Victoria Legrand's voice.  It's simultaneously youthful and ancient, wise and naive, playful and saddened.  The music is perfectly described as "dream pop".  I just can't decide if it's a nightmare or a fantasy (and neither conclusion would be a bad thing). 

There's that whole full arrangement thing again.  How do you make things sound so full?  How do you know when it fits?  Trial and error, I guess, and from the sounds of it, Beach House has gone through their fair share of trials and errors because they nail the arrangements with apparent ease.

Is it strange that I feel like this would be the perfect "taking a Greyhound bus cross country" soundtrack?  Organ and electric guitar and synthesized drums never sounded so good.

Here I go again... picking up my guitar and writing after listening to amazing music.  Let's see what ambient noisistry pours out of my brain this time around...

-----thursday, 4/15/10, 01:31

Insomnia is a bitch, but it's manageable when you get to listen to and wax poetic about Beach House.  This album is kinda like a "teen dream" in that it makes me fantasize about a girl traipsing around with black and white horses a.k.a. Zebra(s).  What does that mean?  It means I'm tired and this album makes it bearable to be awake instead of asleep.

Bands with 2 people in them make me wonder how they perform live.  And I just went to their myspace and discovered that the only SoCal date they're playing is at Coachella.  This second track has a Beach Boys meets Komeda feel.  Komeda... now there's an amazing band.  Hmmm... if Nico sang for Komeda, it would sound an awful lot like Beach House.

"It's a vision.  Complete illusion.  Yeah."  I can't understand most of the lyrics, and this fact makes me feel inadequate, but isn't that the point of most indie music, nay, the entire "indie scene" anyways?  "You don't understand what they're saying?  And you call yourself a music aficionado... pffffffffffffffffttttt..."

This album solidifies that I'm drawn to music a little more than lyrics.  I only come to find myself connecting with lyrics on the 4th or 5th listen.  Seeing a band live helps with the whole lyrical connection, as well.

"It is happening again.  It is happening again."

Did I mention that I love when songs have outros that morph into intros for the next song?  Well, I do...  Silver Soul into Norway is beautiful... a very good transition.  "Don't you know it's too old.  Norway."  I don't know much about Norway, but I think about vikings for some reason...  "The beast (feast?) it comes to you."  There's some My Morning Jacket residual inspiration here, too. 

For the most part, this album occupies the same aural space and keeps the same tone throughout.  The first four tracks all have similar feelings: electronic drums, layered organs, picked electric guitar parts, that dreamy androgynous warble that makes lyrics seem unimportant...  "In a matter of time, it will slip from my mind."  Hmmmm... Ladytron's Velocifero and whatever the first MGMT album was called (you know the one with "Kids" on it) have strong footholds on this album, too.  Yeah... Velocifero... that was a good album... this is a good album, too, but I'm struggling with whether it's one of those "take it to the desert island" albums.

"More.  You want more.  You tell me.  More.  Only time can (love? loan?) me."  Well-said, Victoria.

"You are coming home.  Are you still alone?  Are you not the same as you used to be?  As the sun grows high and you serve your time, does each day seem like another lie?"  This song makes me sad.  Good sad.  Nostalgic sad.  Epic.  Dynamic.  This is the first song where I felt the urge to google the lyrics.  And I did.  And the song is now that much more beautiful.  This song is the "Ah ha" moment.  This album is now a "bring it to the desert island" album.  As long as you have a way to google the lyrics...  "Coming home.  Any day now."

Thank you, anonymous commenter on Music Monday #1... I will now examine each song of each album I'm going to review.  It's so much better that way...

I'll continue with "Lover of Mine" the next time I sit down with this album... It's really, really good.  It makes me want to revisit all the other albums it reminds me of like MMJ's "Evil Urges" and The Deadly Syndrome's "The Ortolan"...

-----friday, 4/16/10, 22:41

Coachella started today.  Beach House plays tomorrow.  You're lucky if you're there right now.

"Lover of Mine" has a very strong Komeda feel to it.  Would not be surprised if Beach House was familiar with Komeda's stuff.  "The only thing you've got.  You know you're better off without it."  If you don't think this describes what love feels like sometimes, you've never been in love.  Interesting that in a song about love, the word "fear" is so often used...

I lied.  I don't want to review every song.  Unless I feel every song warrants mention in the review.  To set rules and come up with guidelines is to stifle... ooooo... the guitar riff in "Better Times" that comes in at 0:51 makes me very happy...  "My heart stands for nothing, and your soul's too weak."  So much longing in these songs.  There's an optimism that peeks through sometimes, and the sun is that much more beautiful because it has to fight to break through those clouds... Deep, Glynn.  Deep... "How much longer can you play with fire before you turn into a liar?"  Accusations fly.  The contrast between the music and the lyrics is brilliant.  Look! Our organ layerings and sparse guitar riffs over tambourines and synth drums are super peppy... while we sing about being afraid of love and lacking the conviction to stand for anything.

MMJ again... "10 Mile Stereo".  Yim Yames would be proud.  "They say we can throw far, but they don't know how far we throw".  The orchestral crescendo into the chorus (it's really just a keyboard, but it feels like so much more)...  The subtle arpeggiation.  Beach House is a master of subconscious instrumentation.  So curious to see how they would pull this off live...

"Real Love" is the reason I purchased this record.  I was driving home from work, listening to KCRW and this song came on.  I didn't know who it was so I Shazam'd it with my iPhone (I'm hip like that), and I saw that it was Beach House.  I'd heard of the band and the album through the grapevine.  They were indie darlings, which, depending on my mood, instantaneously turns me off to a band.  But something about this song...  Even now, the harmonized "oh"s... I get chills.  It's not too surprising to find out that Chris Coady produced this album.  He's also produced the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and there's that same sparse, compact, complete-ness on these tracks.

I'll save "Take Care" for the next session...  I need to go make things right... right now...

-----sunday, 4/18/10, 00:04

The intro for "Take Care" feels like "Can't Help Falling in Love with You".  "I'll take care of you if you ask me to in a year or two."  Repetitive doesn't sound repetitive on this album for whatever reason.  There's a beauty in the simplicity of Beach House's music.  And maybe that's because it sounds simple but isn't.  It's very intricately arranged but still feels and sounds straightforward.  Once again, kudos to Chris Coady for production.

I listened to the entire album today on a longish drive today.  It is strong from beginning to end.  A true "album".  Sure, you can skip around to specific cuts, but it is almost stronger as a complete body of work.  I can already see myself switching back and forth between favorite songs.  There are legitimately 4 or 5 tracks, which will battle it out for the title of best on the album.  I think my heart will always have a special place for "Used to Be", though, because it was the song that took this album from good to great for me.

I can already tell Music Mondays are going to be one of my favorite features of this blog.  Already I've got two weekly features: Saturday Song and Music Monday.  Let's see if I can't fill another day or two with weekly content.

Next week, I'm gonna be mixing it up with a completely different genre of music.  So far I've gone with: Built to Spill- indie rock.  Beach House- dream pop.  And next week... Meshuggah's Contradictions Collapse.  Good ole metal, baby.  Can.  Not.  Wait!!!!

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