Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 26

Proper Hoodidge - Amon Tobin

I was at the Experience Music Project for some reason that I can no longer recall. I remember getting my dad a pass as a Christmas gift, but this particular time I know that I was there alone. Regardless of the reason, I found myself in the attached music store, which actually had a decent sampling setup. I found myself reading some staff reviews and trying out some albums in the store.

Amon Tobin didn't sound like anything I had heard before. It was electronic music on a more fundamental level than I was accustomed to. It wasn't just lightly remixed, it was as if someone was crafting music out of the raw waveforms in the ether.

It can be challenging to listen to. Not always satisfactory, but always interesting. Because of the uneven listen-ability of the album as a whole it's not something I can generally just put on, but there are many sparks of brilliance at work here.

Stitched Up - Herbie Hancock & John Mayer

I'm in Oslo, Norway. I've got a Creative Zen Micro and a pair of headphones. I'm sitting in a park, enjoying the scenery and the (unrelenting) sun. My dad is there too, and we're talking a bit about music. I remember playing a couple songs for him then, and just sitting there to enjoy the moment.

I know this was one of the songs. I'm not positive, but I think the others were The Shins "New Slang" and The Postal Service "We Will Become Silhouettes".

New Slang - The Shins

I was introduced to this song by that scene in "Garden State". And ever since The Shins have had this folksy throwback feel to me. Like that melancholy moment at the end of The Graduate where "The Sounds of Silence" plays. I guess there's just something Simon and Garfunkel-y about them.

The Shins have more versatility than I expect of them. "Kissing the Lipless" surprises me every time. And there's that the raw energy when "Sleeping Lessons" breaks through. I feel like I've put The Shins in a box, and I keep forgetting about how much more they have to offer. That initial association was so strong that it's hard to overcome for me.

Vultures - John Mayer

With Continuum John Mayer was officially forgiven of any prior trespasses. The pop is dialed way back here and makes way for the likes of "I Don't Trust Myself", which sounds more like a modern blues song, or "Gravity", with its excellently nerdy choice of a scapegoat. And of course "Vultures".

This is the album I was hoping from Mayer all along. It feels like what he wanted too, but he just needed some distance from being confused as just some pop heartthrob. Hard when the ladies are throwing their money and themselves at you.

Canned Heat - Jamiroquai

I'd guess that most people think of this scene from Napoleon Dynamite when they hear this song. I personally didn't find that movie nearly as funny as everyone else seemed to, so that association never formed for me. I had already long ago filed Jamiroquai and this song filed under "awesome".

It's time for CES, and I've decided to hitch along with some coworkers for their trip to Vegas to work the booth. This is at the same time as the launch of Windows Vista, and there's a corresponding party at some club at Caesar's. Naturally, we go.

The DJ at this event is notably awesome (I look up this "DJ AM" later and find him to be "kind of a big deal"). He has a knack for being able to play completely un-danceable songs and make them awesome without compromising their familiarity. I keep trying to get another drink from the open bar, but find myself pulled back to the dance floor by mix after awesome mix.

Despite the talent on display this is of course a party with too many geeks and not enough dancing. I decide that we need more Jamiroquai. But of course it's loud and verbally communicating a request to the DJ is not possible. I improvise, type "Canned Heat" into my phone and hold it up for him to see. He sees it, nods, and shortly thereafter makes it happen.

When the song comes on the dance floor gets a surge of new energy. It implants this idea in my head that "Canned Heat" is a song with magical powers. This is an idea that has yet to fail me; the song somehow always delivers. It took me some time to realize that this is probably mostly related to that scene from Napoleon Dynamite. Which is a bit disappointing for me, but whatever it takes to get the bodies dancing.

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