Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My opinion about others' musical opinions

First of all, when it comes to music I am always correct, and that is just how it is.

Actually I don't feel like that at all. In fact, I believe the greatest thing about music is it's universal appeal and it's ability for interpretation in an infinitive number of ways, even by the same listener. One can change an opinion about a song or piece of music every time one listens to it. The fact that music is found in all cultures in some aspect means that everyone in the world can have an opinion about it, even if they don't like it at all.

When I debate, it is always about something I know a lot about. The best debates I have had about music were with the people who had similar tastes and opinions as me because our slight differences in opinion were what drew us to the music itself. For example, I've never had a debate about country music because I don't listen to it. I have voiced my opinion about my distaste for it, but nothing beyond that. However, it is very possible for me to have a debate with a country music fan about bluegrass because I have a love for that kind of music, and it paved the way for a lot of modern rock and a lot of modern country. The point is music has the versatility to include all listeners in a debate. There is usually something in a piece of music that can be related to another style of music, which is familiar to everyone involved in the debate.

Musicians often debate about the style in which a piece should be played or sung. Vocalists can deliver completely different renditions of a work, but all of the interpretations can be effective. A musician performs a piece the best if he or she plays it according to how it touches the soul rather than just following a predecessor. Great debates have ensued over which opera star was the greatest in terms of musicianship, voice, interpretation, looks, and style. However, there can never be a true answer because all opinions are subjective.
That is what makes music debates so fascinating. The debaters will probably never agree because there is never a “correct” way to perform a piece if you are performing it accurately and from the heart.

Jareth vs. Billie Holiday
-Who is better? That is all in the opinion of the debators.

I debate music according to what I know, and what I like. It is really fun to meet someone and bond over differences in opinion and a love for music. The root of any debate is found in the passion of the people involved. So, as long as you have a group of people who love what they are talking about, then the debate will be heated and invigorating.

At least that is what I think, and I am always correct, right?

My Delicious Musical Opinion Blog

I want to start this out by saying first off, I didn’t know you could debate about music seeing as how music is completely a subjective subject. I guess you could just argue about each others’ opinions, which to me seems quite futile. However, I will write this essay as if I do know what I am talking about.

Debating about music is like debating about anything. You have to choose a topic to debate on. Once you know what your topic is, you have to choose a side. This doesn’t mean researching only about your side of the argument. The best way to win a debate is to understand and be knowledgeable about both sides of the argument.

Okay! I think I understand now.

Let’s say we are debating about Mozart and the style in which his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major is supposed to be played. Now if I were about to debate this subject I would first choose my opinion on how it should be done. For example in the seventh measure of the violin solo, the notes are marked to be played tenuto and not slurred. Since the tenuto markings are in fact products of the editor and not Mozart himself, it is really up to the performer to interpret how these notes are to be played. My side would be that the notes should be slurred to guarantee maximum length and flow. To form my side of the argument, I would do research on past performers and their styles while playing the piece. I would find out about as many different styles of playing that one measure of notes. I would then find facts about Mozart and what relates most to his intentions. I would find what the other side of the argument could choose to dispute about and then find good solid facts to counter their arguments. I could incorporate my own opinions along with facts, but only with facts so that my argument is tight and professional. After that I would sit and hope my argument sounded the best.

Woo hoo!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A sugar cookie to sweeten your music library.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas", soundtrack to the animated film, was created and performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. While Guaraldi’s success in reflecting the charm and innocence of the Peanuts is to be commended, listeners will most appreciate this Christmas album can be listened to year round.

Rather than pounding Christmas tunes into our heads, Guaraldi (piano) uses them as a map. In between notes of the melodies, the piano folds in and out of chords and slips through strings of fluttering notes. Monty Budwig’s charming walking basslines and Colin Baily’s shuffling yet steady brushwork (drumset) keep Guaraldi’s wandering melodies in check. While many aren’t used to “Chill,” drifting jazz in their Christmas music, the tunes are still recognizable. The genius of this music is its simplicity. The piano wanders whimsically through Christmas tunes we all know, while the bass and drumset stroll along the musics foundation to keep it moving along. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is extraordinary in its simplicity the same way a Sugar Cookie beats super-embellished-death-by-chocolate-cookies.

This album can best be enjoyed with the extraordinarily simple things in life. So grab a sugar cookie, cuddle a blanket (and probably a kitten too) and listen to this album. You may just pass out because life is too good to you.

Stadium Arcadium: A new look at the Red Hot Chili Peppers

"Stadium Arcadium"
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Reviewed by Emily Rose

After the second hour of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new album, "Stadium Arcadium," one cannot help but realize that the band has found their permanent niche in the music industry. A band that has always been known for it's fluctuation between eighties punk, through nineties grunge, and all the way back to sixties pop and classic funk surprises their fans, and dumbfounds their critics, with the new venture.
The box set is twenty-eight songs long, and is packed with innovative tunes never expected from the band that once shouted to International youth, "give it away now." The band seems to have traded its in-your-face lyrics, which frankly never really made sense, for more subtle and bittersweet riffs and heartfelt verse. This is not to say that the Red Hot Chili Pepper's are overdue for a change. In fact, the opposite is revealed through this album. "Stadium Arcadium" makes even the most die-hard Peppers fans realize that they have always been changing and reforming their style. However, it is my belief, that the Peppers have finally found the groove that is completely their own and totally effective in showing what each band member is capable of doing. For example, the second song on disk one, entitled, "Snow" is a testament to the unity the band holds. John Frusciante begins with a complex and hypnotic guitar riff and the sound is morphed into a beautiful compilation when the entrances of Flea on bass guitar, Chad Smith on drums, and of course, Anthony Kiedis' vocals take place.
The fans of Red Hot Chili Pepper's more bumping, hip-hop inspired, rock will not be disappointed either. Tunes like "Hump de Bump" and "Charlie" echo back to Jimi Hendrix vocals and show off Flea's guruesk presence with his bass, something that was neglected in previous albums like By The Way.
Of course, as with any two disk album, there are occasional songs that are not up to par with the rest of the album. In this reviewer’s opinion, two of those songs were released as singles over the last year. "Dani California" and "Tell Me Baby" are two of the least innovative songs on the entire album. Maybe the Peppers thought it would be necessary to release to songs that are extremely similar to their previous albums before shocking their fans. However, I think this was a mistake that might have cost them sales, even though "Dani California" has been in the top ten internationally for who knows how long.
My advice is, get this album. It has appeal to every kind of music fan. It is also refreshing to see an older band still staying afloat in this ever-changing music industry.

Coldplay X & Y

Coldplay seems to have a knack for delivering sweeping musical lines and lyrical hooks that you keep humming in your head, and their X & Y album certainly doesn't stray from that. Each track, even from the beginning with "Square One" just captures your attention, if only for the first time that you hear it. It feels, however, to be a sad album in comparisson to their once wildly popular A Rush of Blood To The Head album, which was upbeat in contrast. But despite this feeling, the album is actually about hoping, fixing, and dreaming of a better tomorrow. Ironic, but still inspiring.

Each song until the last quarter of the album has a very similar shaping to its sound. The first nine or so songs start out in the same manner, which is very slow and sort of quiet. But about a little under a minute into each song, the beat picks up and starts an ascention in the volume of the voices, guitars, and bass, along with more presence from the percussion. Towards the end of these pieces it slows down. The best thing to compare this to is the bell curve, with the curve actually being pretty close to the end. The piece most noted for this is "Fix You" which was played almost incessantly on the radio, thus almost spoiling the pseudo-supernaturalism of this song. Few works of music out in the modern musical world can invoke such emotion and thoughts. Mega props to songwriter and singer Chris Martin for this song, for if he can produce songs like this, it is a true attest to the talent and quality of Coldplay. If one were to speculate, this song at its climax would have killed in the ending of The Notebook, causing more boxes of tissues to be used than in cinema history. "Fix You" is an odd combination of sadness, happiness, and pure beauty, and can't be equally compared to the rest of the songs, but something like "Talk," with its timeless, tireless quality, is something to be admired.

There are some songs that people would call filler, such as "What If?" "X & Y" and "Twisted Logic" but these are hardly that. "X & Y," the inspirational piece to the album, is almost ethereal in its mood-altering substance. This is the kind of song to which a person would just lay down on a bed and take it, closing their eyes and feeling themselves "floating on a tidal wave" or "drifting into outer space" as the song goes. "Speed Of Sound" is truly a "feel good" song that makes you want to sing along almost every time you listen to it.

Coldplay's uniformity in their pieces spanning all their albums is truly remarkable. Even Weezer, with their five albums, wasn't able to maintain a uniformity amongst their songs, hence the ever-present question "do you like old Weezer or new Weezer?" Coldplay fits not at all into such a category. And it is in this uniformity that qualifies this wonderful group for a sort of timelessness, sort of like it will be something that the current generation will still be listening to well into their sixties, assuming the radio stations don't pull on them what they did to The Killers. In my humble opinion, I think Coldplay X & Y is definitely worth the $14, and I look forward to the upcoming albums.


A New Side of “Metal”

Foxy Shazam’s “The Flamingo Trigger”

Foxy Shazam is the newest band in the metal world, if you really want to call what they do metal. “The Flamingo Trigger is their first and only full length album to this date. This band is labeled as metal but generally has made up its own genre of music. To describe it best I can, I’ll say this album is almost a mockery of metal as we know it.
Lead singer Eric Nally is really who makes this band most unusual. A third of the time he is doing his death metal scream. Another third of the time he is doing his high pitched “boy-going-through-puberty” scream which cracks and squeaks but in an oddly satisfying way. When he’s not screaming in any way, shape, or form, he is talking. However, he talks with the same excited, cracking, and squeaking voice that he usually screams with.
Apart from Nally’s weirdness there is also the point of the odd lyrics themselves. For example, in “No, Don’t Shoot!” half the lyrics aren’t even real words. The best way to describe what he is saying in the chorus is “Dija bija dija bija dija boodah. Dija boooodah dija boojahhh. No, don't shoot!” Seriously, I’m not joking. Listen to it and see for yourself. Other songs such as “My Wife’s Juice and Water Tower Wine” have actual words in the lyrics, yet they are fairly childish and meaningless as well. The first verse in this song says, “Someone call the cops and tell them to come and stop me. Someone call the nurse because my tummy kinda hurts. Someone call the fire department cause my pussy cat's stuck in the tree and I'm afraid of heights.” And then again, there are other songs, with real words, that mean something to the musician such as in “The French Passion of Animality Opera” Nally says, “That concentrated gaze you gave my eyes, I've never looked this deep into myself before and I'm pretty sure that I'm only human, then again I could be wrong.”
Eric Nally is not the only person in the band that makes it interesting. Besides the guitarist who plays the fairly normal distorted metal chords, and the bassist who plays your fairly average bass lines, and the drummer who keeps up with Nally’s constant rhythm changes, there is another band member that makes this band sound out of the ordinary and quite spiffy. Keyboardist Sky White is not your average junky that the singer of a band grabbed off a street corner and said to him, “Just play these two notes and you’ll be fine.” White has obviously had quite a bit of experience in playing the piano. His runs are better than average. His best runs are in “The French Passion of Animality Opera,” “October Surf Suitcase Fish,” and “Seagulls Over Rhinosouras Bay Part II” which is actually a full feature of his keyboarding skills.
This band is so unique that it is a slap in the face to listen to them for the first time. I promise you that if you listen to Foxy Shazam, Nally will draw you in and hook you with his boyish scream and fun personality. I think everyone should give them a chance and take a listen.

Blue Man Group - The Complex

Blue Man Group released their second album, The Complex, April 22, 2006. The album includes fourteen heart pumping tracks. If you've never heard Blue Man Group before, you will be either amazed or bored with their constant beating of various instruments. With a song titled, Piano Smasher, just looking at the track list can give you an idea of what their music might sound like.

With Blue Man Groups "no vocals" idea... several new guest artist are introduced on this cd, including two well known artist; Dave Matthews in Sing Along, and Gavin Rossdale, of Bush, in The Current. All the guest artist add their own unique touch to Blue Man Groups already established music.

Whether you're looking for something to pump your radio or just get your blood moving, Blue Man Group has several different ways of going about it. About 1/2 of the album includes more "relaxing" (if it's kosher to use such a word when describing these guys) vocal songs, some are completely instrumental, and songs like Time to Start and Your Attention Please, focus on getting the audience up and moving!

This is a love or hate album... there's no in between. If your not into the new somewhat techno music ... the constant thumping might give you a headache. But, for all of you who enjoy listening to the hammering sound of trash cans, PVC tubes or anything in general ... rock on because this pulsating cd is just for you!

CD Review: Kelly Clarkson

The young Texan made it big by winning American Idol, but Kelly Clarkson did not reach total stardom until the release of her second album, Breakaway. The young singer proved she has some major pipes on the show, but Breakaway is the first time the world gets a real glimpse of just how talented she really is.
Her first album, Thankful, kept her in the American Idol mold and gave her no room to express herself as an artist. This is not so with Breakaway. Kelly took the reigns on this one and provided numerous hits, including the girl power sing-a-long anthem "Since U Been Gone." The song talks about how a girl "can breathe for the first time" and is "so moving on" from an ex. Clarkson also talks about heartache with "Behind These Hazel Eyes," a rock driven number with a ton of power, and "Gone," displaying a want for independence. She delivers a knockout with "Walk Away" calling someone's bluff and simply telling them to leave and "walk away."
Kelly illuminates her past with "Because of You," a power ballad dealing with familial struggles growing up. The haunting melody of "Hear Me" has Kelly desperating calling out for someone to find and rescue her. "I Hate Myself for losing you" explains jsut that: how she's angry with herself for letting someone slip away. She reaches out for answers in the melancholy track "Where Is Your Heart." This song comes in the middle of the album, slowing things down a bit following the angst-lined "Addicted," where she compares a relationship to being addicted to a drug that has the significant other constantly with her "like a leech sucking the life from [her]."
She turns things around with the optimistic ray of hope in "You Found Me." Here she expresses how she was found "when no one else was looking" and wondering "how did you know just where I would be?" She wraps up the album with a heart-tugging live rendition of "Beautiful Disaster," a gorgeous duet of voice and piano.
Breakaway is an awesome album because it delivers songs from all over the spectrum from the emotional releases of "Addicted" and "Because of You", to blare through your speakers and scream it like you don't care tracks like "Walk Away." This album offers a variety of songs that can appeal to a wide range of people, and serves up a fun time for the girls while driving in the car.


The concept and genius of electric six is hard to explain, especially if you don't have sense of humor. Simply put, if disco and metal had sex, and then disco did a lot of coke while she was pregnant, electric six would be the product.

Electric six's first album, appropriately called "Fire," is all about fire, nuclear war, spendin money, fire, gettin the party started, fire, and gay bars. Did I mention fire? All the songs on this album are powered by beating bass drum disco beats and scorching guitars reminiscent of foghat and aerosmith. But you really listen to the album for the bizarre, tasteless and hilarious lyrics of front man Dick Valentine (his stage name).

Songs like "she's white" and "naked pictures of your mother" reflect valentine's unusual writing style. After you hear the songs, you wonder if what you just heard really happened. And it did. And you want more. After listening to the cd, you begin to realize the album is a mockery of American cliches and stereo types. Even the music minus the vocals, is played with such conviction, yet with a sense of American decadence and triviality. Is that a word?

despite they're silly music, electric six is quite a serious band. They have way more edge and substance than any indie pop band, and they could definitely beat up PANIC! at the disco. So if you're looking for some party music, or just a ridiculous time, e6 is the way to go.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


ps: they have two other albums; señor smoke, andSwitzerlandd, which just came out lastTuesdayy.

Anna Nalick, Wreck of The Day, Re-release

So, I sat pondering in what way I was going to approach this CD review. I first thought that I wanted to do a true CD review I needed to pick a CD or a group that I had not heard before. I then realized that I would not be able to write a good review about a group that I did not know enough about to make an educated judgment of, yes, it would have been unbiased, but it would have been bad. My next step in the deduction process was that I would pick a CD from a group I liked but use an album that I had not yet listened to. I started to do that and then realized that I did not have the patience to listen to a completely new CD. So, I finally made a decision, I chose an artist I liked, even though I would probably write with a bias, and I chose an album that I had listened to some of but not all.
After that long, unnecessary introduction I can finally tell you the long awaited CD choice. Anna Nalick’s Wreck of The Day Re-release. I will have to say that her voice and style goes along with quite a few of my other favorite singers, or at least singers that I have enjoyed in the past including Norah Jones and Corinne Bailey Rae. Now, I must say that if you do not agree with the other two artists that I compared Anna Nalick to, please, do not throw away the album before even looking at it. Although the album is named Wreck of The Day, the most often heard song from the album is Breathe (2 a.m.). Again, I must tell you, do not judge a book by its cover, or in this case an album by its most popular song. Yes, Anna does have her own style that you will find in most every song, but every song is not exactly like Breathe, which is the case in some albums.
Her voice is not as airy as some female singers and also is a nice change from the high soprano sound that can be found in many other singers. I will have to admit that I hold a personal bias for artists who use piano in their music but Anna’s sound is a good mix with her piano and guitar. As I continued listening to the CD I will have to admit that the second half has a much slower and more depressing feel than the first half. Now, in some people’s opinion this is the way a CD should be, it should begin with a more upbeat feel and then conclude on a slower more relaxed note. On the other hand, if a person was to buy this CD because they liked either the most popular song Breathe, or because of the title track the end may disappoint them. Overall, this is one of my favorite artists, all though it may not be my favorite CD.