“Strolling Past The Old Graveyard” (feat. Karl Blau) – Gigi (found on Maintentant)
A decidedly 60’s glaze goes down a treat when matched with the voice of our old friend Karl Blau. Dude would have been right at home recording 2 minute pop ditties back in the day, and a pair of Vancouver-based cats by the names of Nick Krgovich (No Kids, P:ANO) and Colin Stewart (Destroyer, Black Mountain) know it well. Stewart writes the songs, Krgovich produces, and together, along with a baffling list of collaborators (Bobby Birdman, Mirah, Owen Pallet, etc.) they make up the musical entity known as Gigi.
This particular song is pretty damned hard not to like, as Gigi went into it with a mind to mimic Phil Spector. Blau’s singing is top-notch, and it’s a revelation to hear him in this context, especially with such a strong sauce of backup singers completing the pasta. Also, be sure to note the horn solo at the 1:25 mark. Combined with the absolutely gorgeous singing, it makes for quite a wow moment.
Some people may walk past an old graveyard, or shuffle slowly, or, hell, run like the blazes. Karl Blau and Gigi, naw, they be strolling merrily. The bone yard will the furthest thing from your mind when listening to this little gem.
“Cliff Diving” – Elk (found on the Honey Range EP)
The last song on Elk’s astounding debut EP, Honey Range (click here for a full synopsis of that release) this piece of looped beauty revolves around a majestic display of operatic singing, similar in mood to “The Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes. Hell, it might actually be a sample from “The Flower Duet.” The question arises for the nth time, “where have I heard this before?”
Naturally, Elk adds his own jubilant exultations to the mix, but in Pinback-ish fashion. Words have been sacrificed of their actual meaning, reduced to the simplicity of what they actually sound like, and that makes for an even more subjective listening experience. Some of these vocal bursts sound like something a child might scream the second after jumping from the highest point on a swing’s forward motion. Just a wild cry of emotion whilst being launched into space, all focused on that split-second of weightlessness before gravity sucks everything back to the ground.
“This Is How It Is” – TSIGOTI (found on Private Party Speaks to the People of the Party)
Feeling anti-war? Well, this band made an entire album about that feeling, loaded with facts, anger and first-person experiences. Set to a pensive bass pluck, this particular song is basically a spoken word type-thang, full of horrifying statistics about the effects of armed conflict. You know, little nuggets like “They figure about 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes because of conflicts, or violations of human rights, and are now currently living as refugees. About 2 million children have been killed in conflicts over the past decade.”
The almost matter-of-fact way singer Thollem McDonas drops each immensely depressing fact is oddly funny, in a way. It’s like he’s making a commentary on how the human race just absorbs these stats with a sigh, “oh well,” and “let’s go see that new Michael Bay film.”
True, it’s not the most cheery tune, but there is definitely a time and place for it. Something to think about…
“Nut In Your Eye” – Alcoholic Faith Mission (found on 421 Wythe Avenue)
I know, the title alone is like, what?! Is this a B-Side rarity from Eazy E that just saw the light of day?
Actually, we have a 5-piece band from Copenhagen, Denmark to thank for the pensive glitter and gloom of “Nut In Your Eye;” a slowly churning love song marked by the high-pitched voice of singer Kristine Permild. It eventually turns into a duet with fellow singer (and multi-instrumentalist) Thorben Seierø Jensen, but Permild’s voice steals the show. The instrumentation is pretty straightforward, with rousing piano, acoustic guitar and crashing cymbals, but the chief component is undoubtedly the sample-played-backwards-sounding keys. Sure, it’s a hallmark of music in the satanic vein, the reverse trick, but here it adds a feeling of wistfulness. For a second it really hearkened back to the “Intro” song on Ágætis Byrjun, from Sigur Rós.
I’m currently single, so the song only resonates so much. Couples might have better luck.
“Internal Combustion” – Phillip Oskar Augustine (found on The Lifestyle Of One)
It’s not summertime, at all, but you would never know it listening to this song by Tyler Wallace, aka Phillip Oskar Augustine. The man’s got a sunny voice, a bit like Panda Bear’s, and he makes a nice bed for it out of chipper synths, surfy guitars and a strong, bouncing back beat.
“Internal Combustion” actually reminds me a bit of the music you might hear on a kids show. All you need to do is change up the lyrics. I envision a few verses about all the merits of playing outside, versus staying inside and burning your brain with television. Not that I would want to change the lyrics, as they suit just dandy, but something about this track just smacks of sun-dappled adventures outdoors.
What’s smashing is, it isn’t even the most played song on Augustine’s Myspace page. And I purposely haven’t even listened to the rest yet. When the clouds gather above and the cold January rain comes down, then I’ll soak them up.
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– Matt Lehtola