Friday, May 30, 2008


It's been a while since I've properly showcased the wonderful art of instrumental music, hasn't it? In the meantime, I've listened more to old favourites, and picked up a couple new ones as well. Let's get to it!


1. Bear McCreary - Passacaglia (from Battlestar Galactica)

An epic beginning that always stops me in my tracks when I hear it; absolutely gorgeous. Rolling, beautiful and classy.

2. Christophe Beck - Accused (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

From season 2's "Ted" episode. (I can't say I remember the song being used in that particular episode, because A - it was years ago, and B - "Ted" was, while not bad, a rather forgettable episode. This bit of score's quite nice, though, with the sad piano beginning leading into some rather foreboding creepy stuff.

3. John Powell - The Bedroom (from Mr. and Mrs. Smith)

A beautiful, strings-based tribute to the title characters intimately titled "The Bedroom", I believe this played over either their first morning together after meeting, or their reconciliation after their massive confrontation in the kitchen. It's short, but it always gives me a smile and maks me a bit nostalgic for the movie.

4. Daniel Licht - End Credit (from Dexter)
5. Daniel Licht - Wink (from Dexter)

My two favourites from Daniel Licht's fantastic soundtrack for Dexter season one, both quite short but enough to make a great impression. "Wink", with its piano and choral sighing, is very nice, and it can be recognised from many background scenes. Meanwhile, "End Credits" is a haunting, creepy little piece that slides down your spine. Sounds like ghosts attempting to sing.

6. Streams of Europe - From the Top of the Mountain to the Bottom of the Sea

Created by an independent video game developer for a game, this piece of instrumental beauty stands extremely well, as do the rest of Streams of Europe's scored pieces. This beautiful, dreamy song was found on thesixtyone. An amazing song to fall asleep to - fills up my head like anaesthetic, knocks me out instantly.


7. Rockabye Baby! - In My Place (Coldplay cover)

I've mentioned Rockabye Baby! before, those of the lullaby-style covers. I'd have to say that "In My Place" works best of those I've heard, being a gentle lullaby that recalls, but does not wholly depend on, the original. A sweet, chimey cover, even if not particularly enthralling.

8. Need More Sources - Sun

An extremely pretty piece from Need More Sources' weather-themed debut album Shed, which trickles through things like sun, "Breeze", "Storm" and the like. This is a nice warm piece, filled with gentle echoes and faraway sounds. Very pretty, and builds nicely as it goes.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Another 'double take', this time following the theme of 'series of sleazy guys interrupting the search for Mr. Right'. A common theme for female singers, indeed, but there's a few similarities here.

I don't want a rich man, but I don't want a poor man either. I don't want a genius, but I don't want an idiot either! Is it too much to ask for somebody decent? Something that might last for longer than an evening?

Can't knock em out, can't walk away, try desperately to think of the politest way to say, "Just get out my face, just leave me alone, and no you can't have my number." "Why?" "Because I've lost my phone."

Released within a year of each other (2006 and 2007 respectively) by budding British pop chanteuses, each of these songs landed on their excellent debut albums. One artist was a staple in my LastFM Top 10 for a long time, and the other had multiple slots down on my Top 100 Songs of 2007 post. Both are cute, even if one ended up with much more media attention than the other.

Both songs deal with two specific annoying-guy incidents while hinting at more in the chorus, one's given up on finding anyone decent while the other is losing hope. Both even quote their guys extensively; one song is their conversations with the sleazes, and the other is mostly monologues from their 'dates from hell'.

Congratulations girl, you've got twins.

Lily Allen - Knock 'em Out (from Alright, Still, 2006)
Remi Nicole - Dates From Hell (from My Conscience and I, 2007)

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(Note: When comparing their debut albums, I begin to start thinking Nicole is the good twin to Allen's just plain mean twin. You've also got two songs preaching doing what feels right: Nicole's hopeful "Go With the Flow" and Allen's don't-listen-to-the-old-fogeys "Take What You Take"; and two kiss off songs about unsatisfactory boyfriends getting the boot: Nicole's reluctant goodbye, "Na Nighty", and Allen's vicious sendoff "Not Big". Just sayin', it's interesting.)

Monday, May 26, 2008


Occasionally, two songs will focus on similar stories despite being individually fantastic. It's almost as if two artists tapped into the same vein of creativity to different, just-as-great, ends.

Congratulations, it's twins!

Don't you mess with a little girl's dream, 'cause she's liable to grow up mean.

Well you may be king for the moment, but I am a queen, understand? And I've got your pawns and your bishops and castles all inside the palm of my hand.

While you were licking your lips 'cause I was miserable, while you were selling your soul, while you were tearing a hole in me... I was taking control.


Turn your ugly face; oh you're so surprised to see me. Yeah I was your little childhood playground toy. And if I remember.... yeah if I do remember rightly, I said the tables will be turned around, boy.

Who's getting scared now? Tell me, how does it feel? It feels so good from where I'm standing...

So you're gonna stab me down now boy? Now you're gonna crush me down now boy? Well, somehow I don't think so.

Sound similar? Indeed, both of these songs deal with a woman, having formerly been attacked by a man, returning the favour tenfold and loving it. Both of these paeans to vengeance are vicious and empowering, and some of the more intense stuff from both artists. The first three lyric samples are from Poe's "Control", and the latter three from Imogen Heap's "Getting Scared".

Both songs are utterly delicious, and I'm proud to share them with you.

Poe - Control (from Haunted)

Imogen Heap - Getting Scared (from I Megaphone)

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


"I don't know who you're talking to with such fucking disrespect."

Artist: Alanis Morissette
Album: Flavors of Entanglement

  1. "Citizen of The Planet" – 4:22
  2. "Underneath" – 4:10
  3. "Straitjacket" – 3:08
  4. "Versions of Violence" – 3:36
  5. "Not As We" – 4:45
  6. "In Praise of The Vulnerable Man" – 4:07
  7. "Moratorium" – 5:35
  8. "Torch" – 4:50
  9. "Giggling Again For No Reason" – 3:48
  10. "Tapes" – 4:26
  11. "Incomplete" – 3:30
I've been a long time fan of Alanis, though she's run me hot and cold over the years. Sometimes she seems profoundly honest, and other times, merely whiny. But you can't say that she doesn't put all of her heart (and all of her hurt) into her songs. It's the same for this album... but something's different on Flavours of Entanglement.

And I like it.

You know why? Two words: Guy. Sigsworth. Sigsworth's an utter genius of a producer, responsible for producing much of the output from Imogen Heap (and acted as half of their duo Frou Frou), Kate Havnevik, Bjork, Madonna and even Britney Spears' new album (where the production was the most praised part, above even Spears herself). I wouldn't say that Sigsworth overtakes Alanis here; indeed, it's because he and Alanis work so well together that his part here is so treasured.

A problem with Alanis' work before was its focus on the words, with the music often a slow, sad piano-driven backdrop to Alanis' very emotive lyrics. The effect was often overpoweringly droppy and depressing, making both words and music seem overdramatic. Sisgsworth rectifies this, helping Alanis show some real fire on "Straitjacket", giving her a lush background to underscore (instead of belabour) the message of "Citizen of the Planet", give an understated sadness to "Torch", an apocalyptic landscape backing the synthed-up "Versions of Violence", and adding a sense of rolling, content joy to "Incomplete". The music is, here, just as much part of the message as the songs.

And the songs, well, they're the strongest set Alanis has had, possibly ever. Part of this is restraint; she produced almost three times as many songs as featured here, with the best getting a spot on the album. She also allows herself to properly address the shared experience as well as her own experiences. Songs from previous albums like "That Particular Time" (Under Rug Swept, 2002) were good but very specific. Many of her songs were the same way, not quite tapping into that 'everyone knows' feeling that rocketed her into fame with "You Oughta Know". In fact, her last album (So-Called Chaos, 2004) was a misstep because, though so many of the songs were of a high quality, they were also very, very personal; they didn't have that universal factor needed.

Compare that to "Straitjacket", which while clearly a song drawn from personal experience taps into the very common feeling of your partner seeing you as someone completely different, and taking aim at the hypocrisy in so many relationships. Or "Citizen of the Planet" and "Underneath", which tap more into idealism (a global community vs. nationalism and personal responsibility effecting things on a grand scale, respectively) instead of personal problems. These hark back to "Utopia" (Under Rung Swept) and b-side "Symptoms" (Hands Clean [Single], 2002). The latter I've featured before, in fact, praising its writing.

The most accessible and moving song from So-Called Chaos was its lead single "Everything", which tapped into the idea that we can only be loved when loved for everything within us, good and bad. This was even preceded by "You Owe Me Nothing in Return" (Under Rug Swept), admitting the idea of selfless, independent and unconditional love. She even explored the theme in "Still", her contribution to the Dogma Soundtrack in 1999, three years before Swept. This was an issue Morissette has struggled with as a young pop star, being constantly derided for her weight and not allowed to write her own songs, and a feeling that has followed her throughout her adult life. This is followed up on Entanglement with "Incomplete", which challenges the goal-based idea that we are constantly 'incomplete', always struggling to become better, freer, stronger and never accepting ourselves for who we are. It struggles with the dichotomy of it, realising that it both propels us through life and also disallows up from ever being truly happy with ourselves, and you feel that Alanis is finally accepting this and urging us to as well.

If "Incomplete" was a continuation of themes explored in "Everything" (and, to a lesser degree, Under Rug Swept's "Precious Illusions"), then "In Praise of the Vulnerable Man" is a direct sequel to songs such as "Knees of My Bees" (So-Called Chaos), "21 Things I Want in a Lover" (Under Rug Swept), and maybe even "Unsent" (Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, 1998). In the earliest, she praises the men she left behind; in "Lover" she illustrates the man she wants, and in "Bees" and "Vulnerable" she revels in having found him. We can tie both of the latter to beau Ryan Reynolds, who was reportedly responsible for the happy tone of Chaos - and whom Morisette split with during the writing of this album. "Vulnerable" may have been written during the relationship or after it had ended, but either way it works as a nice tribute to him and their relationship. This is not the woman scorned of Jagged Little Pill (2005), but a more mature, grown up woman.

Last record, Morissette's "This Grudge" (So-Called Chaos) declared her angst over the mystery relationship that fuelled her anger during Pill, Junkie, and Swept to be over, moving forwards into a happy relationship with Reynolds. Reynolds might be gone, but Morissette has shown here that she's ready, once and for all, to move on.

Alanis Morissette - Incomplete
Alanis Morissette - Straitjacket

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(NOTE: Thank you to 'Anonymous' for providing me with a copy of "Moratorium" when my copy was defective.)


"There's a man so bright he blocks the light, and he'll always be so; and he's like no sleep on the weekend."

I've been watching Ms. Hannigan since her split with better-known partner Damien Rice, and I'd be lying if I told you her solo debut wasn't up there on my list of most anticipated releases of the soon future (there with the new albums from Andrew Bird, Amanda Palmer and My Latest Novel).

Her demos, revealed on her MySpace, have been very nice, and the standout is the fantastic 'Sea Song'. A low, beautiful song that wonderfully showcases Hannigan's voice (often a high point of Rice's albums). Just listening to it, you feel like you're standing on the seashore at midnight, feeling the night winds and the water on your feet and listening to the wind sing. Next second, you're at the bottom of the sea itself.

Also, the writing here is of a much higher calibre than many others; it's very subtle. Hannigan takes the same structure of each set of metaphors, but the exact phrases are very different - for example, describing someone as 'a smile on a Monday' against 'no sleep on the weekend'. A sign of hope and kindness in a bad day, versus a feeling of sleeplessness and elation, while both using 'Days of the Week' metaphors. Excellent stuff.

This version is only a demo, but I'm hoping Hannigan doesn't do too much to it. It's brilliant as it is.

Lisa Hannigan - Sea Song (demo)

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


Courtesy of the fantastic Zeon, I've gotten my hands on the new single from tBoS favourite Natalie Walker, whose lush and gorgeous song "Circles" placed #5 on my Top 100 Tracks of 2007 list.

So, what about "Over and Under? It's not exactly "Circles" (because, really, what is?), but it's a pretty good song in its own right. Walker ditches the piano for a more techno, lost-in-the-mists sound. I'd say that's the song's biggest mistake because Walker's voice is great, and the strength is pretty diluted here.

However, when the chorus kicks in, and she's singing with a hint of a male backup singer as her voice echoes out, the song hits a high point sound-wise. She emotes well during the song, bringing out the annoyance and frustration (though the production does its best to cover over this with annoying techno-y beats). The song itself is nice, neither amazing or disappointing, but a little middle-of-the-road considering what I've heard from her in the past. I'm betting it'll grow on me.

However, I'll let you judge for yourself!

Natalie Walker - Over and Under (Original Version)

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Monday, May 12, 2008


Geez, I have neglected you guys, huh? Here's some stuff I've been enjoying lately...

1. Conjure One - Tears From the Moon (with Sinead O'Connor on vocals)
2. Conjure One - Centre of the Sun (with Poe on vocals)
3. Conjure One - Make a Wish (with Poe on vocals)

Recently grabbed these off of Amie St., as they gave me a free $2.00 this past week. Love both these vocalists, and I have been craving more Poe since finding out about her Conjure One guest spots. These are the standouts of the ones I grabbed. The last is one I've had for a while, the one that prompted the Amie St. purchases.

4. Drawing Down the Sun - Porcelain Girl
5. Drawing Down the Sun - Unravel

There's something mysterious and intriguing about this band, another Amie purchase formerly unfamiliar to me. It's hard to explain, really, but it's very pretty, and seems to be a bit trip-hop/electronic gothic rock with a wonderful female vocalist. Will be looking into them further, because I can see a future for them.

6. Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

This beautiful, folky, harmonic song is addictive. From that gorgeous building opening all through the track, it does feel winteresque, like a troupe singing as they walk through a wintery forest. There's a fantastic beat under the soaring harmonics, keeping it clip along at a nice pace. The lyrics are very curious, including the phrase, 'turning the white snow red as strawberries in summertime'.

7. Sia - Playground

The next of Sia's album Some People Have Real Problems to click with me, this is a playful little piece recalling childhood and the wish for that simplicity. Ironically, though it's meant to deal with childish themes, it's one of Sia's sexier-sounding songs (probably intentional, there). It's just so damn charming.

8. Islands - Pieces of You

The bizarre stylings of Islands have been drawing me in as of late, and this is a great sample of that, from their new album, Arm's Way. There's an amazing energy to their music, with the music and the vocals working together to pull you toward the sky. Also, I can never listen to this song without bopping along to the beat.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008


Another roulette! Sorry the posts haven't been too in-depth as of late, but I'll be distracted for about another month. Until then, though, I'll try to keep posting good music!

1. The New Amsterdams - Turn Out the Light

A quietly affecting song from new (to me) band The New Amsterdams, who combine a hint of a country aesthetic to more low-key, indie singer-songwriter fare. This song relies on the textured voice of the vocalist and the subtleties of the music behind it.

2. The Perishers and Sarah McLachlan - Pills (live)

One of my favourite female singers joins The Perishers on my favourite of their songs, from McLachlan's newest B-Sides compilation. She's got some real gems on this new one, including an old favourite, her musical rendition of "The Prayer of St. Francis".

3. Throw Me the Statue - Moonbeams

Backed by a mournful horn and funeral beat, this low-key song from Throw Me the Statue is a recent discovery that works quite nicely. It stays grounded by the darker beats and the straightforward vocals, whose singer sounds like a dozen indie singers and yet has a tone very much of his own. That man is Scott Reitherman, who it turns out is responsible for all the instrumentation as well; quite surprising, and definitely impressive.

4. Daughter Darling - Dust in the Wind (Kansas cover)

This song should be familiar to about everybody, as the original Kansas song is very well-known. In fact, devout readers of this blog should find more than the song familiar, but the vocalist - Daughter Darling is, in fact, the former band of tBoS favourite Natalie Walker. The group split mid-second album, and the pieces became Nat's debut, Urban Angel. One of my favourite covers, I must say, with the trip hop element alongside the gorgeous strings and Walker's amazing voice.

Small but excellent group for this one, I'd say. Give them all a listen!

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