Thursday, April 5, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 21

Paper Tiger - Beck

Beck went through a serious breakup, and he wrote an album. There is no denying the impact of one on the other. Gone is the manic spread of tunes from the previous albums. In their place is solid cohesive songwriting. This is the ultimate breakup album. Thankfully you don't need to be going through epic heartbreak to appreciate it.

This song is probably one of the least depressing of the lot. I mean, it sounds borderline uplifting. Tonally, not lyrically, that is. The whole album is a pit of crushingly depressing lyrics. So it feels a little odd to single it out this song, a relative outlier, to represent the album. But it's just so damned good I can't bring myself to put anything else in its place.

I apparently get off on depressing music. Too much happiness and I start to get suspicious. So naturally I love this album.

Teardrop - Massive Attack

Apparently most people know this song as the instrumental intro theme for House. Yeah… no. I can't even imagine this song without the vocals. I mean, I've seen House. I just get disoriented and keep waiting for the rest of the song to kick in.

As great as the song is, I'm putting it on here for the album as a whole. It was a recommendation to me by Francis. Jessica was very confused when I mentioned this, because she already owned the album. Had for years. And somehow I'd missed the whole business.

The album fit in so well with my other M's: Morphine and Morcheeba. Deep, dark, and lovely.

Clarity - John Mayer

This song is a fantastic album opener. It starts out sparse and gentle, slowly adding elements. It feels like waking and opening up to the day. It takes a full minute to put it all together, but even then it doesn't overpower. It's relaxed. The thing I love about this song is how it comes out of the bridge at 3:18. Restraint, horns, and then the wall of sound hits. It gets me every time. Perfection.

I've already gone over my introduction to John Mayer. I felt some betrayal at the overproduced Room for Squares. Plus I could do without Mayer's pop crush image. Jessica and I went to a concert of his at the Paramount and were overwhelmed by the large number of swooning young girls. Mayer was too, apparently, and openly mocked them from the stage. Sadly it seemed to go over their heads. They weren't so into his jazzy instrumental indulgences with balding accompanists; they just wanted to hear how their bodies were wonderlands. Gag.

Heavier Things was still pretty poppy, but less so than Room for Squares. This thankfully proved to be a positive trend that would continue with the following albums.

Lebanese Blond - Thievery Corporation

I think Jessica and I first came across this via some sort of compilation. From there we dug in dabbled with The Mirror Conspiracy and The Richest Man in Babylon. There's definitely a fusion of a wide range of elements happening here. Latin, Indian, African… the album just kind of stirs them altogether into some sort of super chill soup. Because of that it's hard to develop strong opinions about any track in particular. The whole experience is rather ambient. Not really challenging, just there and… listenable.

It feels weird to punctuate this list with music that feels a bit like filler to me. But it's what I was listening to at the time. I think I needed some ambient filler. As I mentioned before, that sort of music is of particular use to us programmers. Sometimes you need music that doesn't make you think, but keeps you driving forward.

Epoca - Gotan Project

This is such a lovely blend of old and new. Tango music met electronica, and a beautiful thing was born. But I don't know if I have more to say about it than that. Yes, it grooves, it moves, it's hip... but it's destined to stay in the background. It fills a certain kind of need. Party music. Something to put on so that there's not nothing, but it’s not something that's going to invade and derail you from whatever it is you actually want to be doing.

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