Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Music Monday #4

In the Dark by The Whigs

wednesday, 4/28/10, 21:19

I love epic beginnings.  Dynamic first impressions that leave you thirsting for more.  Especially if the drums are a prominent facet of said dynamic first impression. 

"Shock me into town.  Everybody wants to take me down... There's a hundred million people in my mind.  Which is me and which is not?"  In their third album, The Whigs are taking on the world, an older dog learning new tricks and perfecting old ones.  The first track of this album for some reason reminds me of the first track of KOL's Only by the Night: solid band takes the step to a bigger, fuller, more confident sound.  And just like Only by the Night, In the Dark delivers cut after cut...

"Free my brain, burn away these chains, there's a light from the sun begging me to come on up and try to unleash the person you see..."  Power trio: powerful bass rhythm, drums on lock (wearing cargo pants and filling every pocket), guitar and vox intertwined, simple but diverse, revealing more and more layers with each layer.  You could spend each listen of this album paying attention to a different facet of the production and arrangements and find something new every time.  "Take my mind and erase it please..."

"Kill Me Carolyne" gets played a lot on the satellite radio station we play at work.  It's the deserving lead single from this album, elbowing its way to the front of the line with a catchy chorus, a repetitive guitar hook, verse drums that crescendo to the chorus, and self-deprecating lyrics that focus on that age old subject: love.

friday, 4/30/10, 00:00

Yes... I stopped writing last night to lie down for a little bit... and ended up falling asleep.  So sue me...

 Where was I...?  Ahhh, yes.  "Kill Me Carolyne".  A love song.  A plea for murder.  Makes sense if you ask me.  If you're in love, you definitely feel like killing someone... at least a little bit... at least...  This is a head nodder, a body swayer, an "Ah ha moment" song.  "And you give me authority to lie. Heeey, kill me, Carolyne.  I know you love me, but you'll feel better if you just suck it up and kill me, Carolyne."  Longing and pleading and I'm not worth it and you're everything so I want to die at your hand so I know the last thing emotion I feel on this earth is because of you.  "You give me eternity to die."  It's coming up on the end of the song, and I'm curious to see if it follows the 2:30-3:00 rule... hahaha... 3:36.  But they squeeze in at least 8 "Heeeeey, kill me, Carolyne"s, so it's forgiveable.

In all honesty, "Someone's Daughter" is the true "Ah ha moment" for me on this album.  "How did I get back her again?  I know what she wants from me.  How can I forget that she is someone's daughter?"  Bittersweet and bitingly honest and I'll take advantage or let her take advantage but she's someone's sweet, little symbol of innocence.  I hope this is the second single because I like this song even more than "Kill Me Carolyne".  It's a song full of testosterone with acutely aware lyrics that communicate such an... ambiguity.  Who's the victim?  The male protagonist or the chick he just slept with?  They're both getting something.  They're both being taken advantage of...

I like tambourines.  Parker Gispert has a knack for guitar riffs and ... "Hey, I don't wanna break down why I'm feeling so lonely when you're around."  These songs are so layered, lyrically, musically, emotionally, dynamically, theatrically.  Storytelling at its finest.  Every song pulls you in and gets you to stay a while, sitting at the foot of that rocking chair, listening to stories around the fireplace.  "Put out the fire now.  I'ma take it higher."  And crescendo to instrumental solo... not really a solo though... more like an instrumental aneurysm.

"Dying" is the departure.  We've gotten catchy and guitar hooks and memorable choruses.  Now let's take our time, delve into the music a little, add some organ in the distance, layer the lead vocal, add some reverb, shaker, and harmonized "oooooooo"s.  And tremolo on the guitar.  "It used to be right in front of you but now it's gone".  Fleet Foxes feel... and now it starts to build... "Somebody better come speed up your heart cuz it's dying" times 3... and build the drums Mr. Julian Dorio... and pan the lead vox left... and bring in the experimental delayed, flanged, guitar notes, staccato... and tweak the delay knob... and layer the instruments... yeah, now we're giving you a different side... and the song will melt into an acoustic being fingerpicked...  and a sitar??

Back to a riff and those sweet pocket drums.  This feels like Spoon's "Cherry Bomb", and I love that effin' song.  The Whigs have a lot of different tricks up their sleeves.  "I don't even care about the one I love, and there's a black heart inside of me."  These songs are sad.  Road weary, much?  Having the time of your life but longing for that stability, that shoulder to cry on, those arms that envelope you when you're at your lowest point... Longing.. joyous longing...

"I won't get caught but I'm runnin' now".  Hahaha... Sugarplastic feeling...  "I'll take my mother's name and I'll paint it on the back of my arm".  Another "Ah ha moment" song.  I want to live this hero's life... and at the same time not at all.  He's really lonely, but leads an amazing life with adventures and freedom and pressure and expectation and longing... always that longing.  This is a great album.  It shows tremendous growth but leaves space to evolve even more...  I'm gonna stop this session now, but can't wait to come back!!!

Starting with "I Am for Real" next time...

sunday, 5/2/10, 00:22

hmmmm... probably gonna fall asleep before actually getting around to listening to In the Dark again... at least I'm being honest...

sunday, 5/2/10, 08:08

Starting with "I am for Real"... Hmmmm... "I am the Walrus" much?  Then the guitars kick in, and it's anything but... The memorable factor of the riffs on this album is through the roof.  "I don't need to kill anyone to let them know that I am real.  I don't need to walk in your backyard to let you know that's where I stand."  It's the hipster beat slowed down, which makes it more masculine, if that makes any sense...  Let's add the shaker on the second chorus to set it apart a little bit.  "I respect your home and what you say when you're speaking to me, and when it's time to look you in the eye, do you know where I'm coming from?"  The dynamics on this album are what make me so viscerally attached.  The arrangements begin simply then build a little and by the end of each song, you realize that you've been taken somewhere, lyrically, musically, emotionally... and you may or may not like where it's taken you because the songs are that honest.

God... it's the 10th track and it hits as hard as the typical 3rd track "single"...  "How am I gonna see where you're coming from if you keep keeping me in the dark?"  Another "ah ha moment"... it's the title track and it deserves every bit of this distinction.  Added harmony on the second chorus, again building upon that solid foundation, steady backbeat.  This song moves you... and makes you move...

Yessssss... song outro into song intro and added epic-ness...  6:24 for the last track leads me to believe that The Whigs are going for some finale fireworks.  "Her naked body shivers cold.  She keeps it safe beneath her clothes.  A prisoner in her skin she hides.  It locks away her bones inside."  Very KOL... until the chorus which is vintage Whigs, if a little wordier... I like muted glockenspiels in between chorus and 2nd verse.  Parker Gispert's voice fragility on the verses draws you in...  I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the chorus after the dynamics of the verse... too many words... but it might just be because I don't focus on lyrics initially... maybe this is an "ah ha moment" in waiting... are those sleighbells on the bridge?  And there are some guitar effects that I can't quite place... some sort of modulation... not a flanger or phaser... something that combines tremolo, delay, and, I guess, phasing...?  Yeah, I think this track deserves a couple run throughs before final judgment is passed...  I do like the piano chords at the end...  Annnnnnnnnnd... I'm going back to sift through the choruses...

"In my soul, I feel, I don't think I know I don't think I ever know
I don't think I want my clothes back anymore
It takes time, I think, to make it all the way to make it all go away
I don't think I want my clothes back anymore"

Hmmmmm... the final cut starts off promising enough... but melts into a forgettable track for me... who knows maybe it'll grow on me...

monday, 5/3/10, 21:15

Overall, I absolutely love this album.  'Nuff said.

Next week, I'll be taking on Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.  Thanks to my co-worker Liz for the recommendation!!

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