Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Bono? (and three other songs)

Thought this would be a clever silly title for my latest blog entry since U2's latest release is titled "Blow Your House Down". Anyway, here are this week's songs:

"Blow Your House Down" by U2: 1991 was an amazing year in music (if only I wasn't a toddler back then so I could appreciate how great the music was then)!! Nirvana's "Nevermind" and Pearl Jam's "Ten" were both released back then, as was U2's "Achtung Baby", of which "Blow Your House Down" is now a previously unreleased "outtake" of. And what an amazing song it is!! At seven and a half minutes, "Blow Your House Down" is certainly an epic among U2's already adventurous, innovative catalog of music! Its sound combines the best legendary, arena-rock worthy sound of The Rolling Stones with the experimental electro-funk-rock that David Bowie experimented with midway through his career. If Pearl Jam could make 5 and a half minute songs like "Jeremy" and "Alive" into the big hits they were back in '91, why couldn't U2 have been daring enough to release a 7 and a half minute song like "Blow Your House Down" back then?!? Oh well, better late than never, right?!

"Holy Moses" by Washington: With a name like "Washington", you wouldn't expect hypnotic but danceable alt-pop from an arty female performer, would you?! Surprise!! Whoever "Washington" is (perhaps the last name of the singer?), she must have been into more forms of expressive art than just music! The video for "Holy Moses" functions almost like an exotic performance art piece that's part circus act, part music video, and part musical! The lead singer's face makeup and somewhat seductive outfits seem to be drawing comparisons to Lady Gaga on YouTube, though I would say David Bowie might be a better comparison (at one point, the lead singer has red and blue face makeup, reminiscent of the cover of Bowie's "Aladdin Sane"). If you're looking for a catchy piece of music with flashy imagery, then I highly recommend "Holy Moses"!

"So American" by Portugal. The Man: Of the three songs Portugal. The Man have gotten attention on adult alt radio so far (including this one), I've started to notice they all have a similar mid-tempo-ish beat and they all have either a violin or a cello (hard to tell which, though probably the latter) in the background. Though "So American" uses the same structure as most Portugal. The Man songs, I still like it. The melody is fun and bouncy, and, though the lyrics of "So American" express political and religious dissatisfaction, Portugal. The Man do so here in their own original, quirky way, particularly in the opening lines ("If pain was a color to paint on you, your heart would be the color blue").

"Tumblebee" by Laura Veirs: With acts like Feist and Tilly and The Wall having both made appearances on "Sesame Street", it only seems fitting that the bouncy-sounding indie-folk-pop-ster Laura Veirs' latest release just happens to be a children's album!! "Tumblebee", then, might mark a first in adult alt radio - the first time a children's song is gaining airplay on stations that would normally play bands like R.E.M., Counting Crows, and Coldplay in heavy rotation!! Unfortunately, the whole song isn't available yet, but a 50-second sample is currently available, so I got a good impression of what the song was like. Though the lyrics might be simplistic (and somewhat "cutesy"), "Tumblebee"'s sound is pure indie, almost like a song off the "Juno" soundtrack. Now, if only people like Ben Folds, Belle and Sebastian, The Decemberists, and Mumford and Sons could all release songs on a Joe Raposo (songwriter of "Sesame Street" fame) tribute album, THAT would be amazing!! In the meantime, though, "Tumblebee" satisfies the kid in me just fine!!