SONG OF THE WEEK: The Hollies- “We’re Through”

The Hollies, Image Courtesy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive

In need of 2 minutes and 16 seconds of cathartic dancing-around-the-room-by-yourself bliss? Maybe you’ve been fiending for this feeling since the weekend ended. Maybe you’ve got some pent-up frustration because, hey, the block can suck. Maybe you just want to listen to a nostalgic bop. Fear not, The Hollies’ “We’re Through” will provide what you’re looking for. Though not one of The Hollies’ most popular hits, the number of listens to this song on Spotify has been climbing and climbing since its feature in an episode of Netflix’s most recent series, The Umbrella Academy (based on comics written by Gerard Way, lead singer and co-founder of My Chemical Romance). Its exposure in The Umbrella Academy was what brought me back to The Hollies and here I am now, listening to “We’re Through” on repeat this week.

The song, thanks to its deliberate bass, fingerpicking, and haunting, echo-y, but upbeat three-part harmonies, is perfect for momentarily letting go (of anything and anyone). Acknowledgement that “I should be better off without you…” is liberating! Get rid of toxic people and toxic relationships! Dance it out! (After a couple listens I begin to think this song is more likely to get me to make more changes to what ‘sparks joy’ in my life than Marie Kondo ever could.) The repetition of the mantra “We’re through, we’re through, we’re through” near the end of the song becomes therapeutic. The swell of the music and the shake of the cymbals at the end brings the sentiments of the song to a nice, final conclusion. Ultimately, we, as beings who want to be wanted and loved, sometimes have a hard time recognizing when others “never treat us tenderly.” Hopefully this song helps with a part of that realization process. If not, it’s still one hell of a bop—I hope you all enjoy. Cheers to t-minus 3 days until the weekend!


You can listen and groove to the song here:

 

SONG OF THE WEEK(END): Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds- “Burn You Up”

Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds performing at Globe Hall in 2016. Image Credit: Nikki A. Rae

This song has haunted me all week. From the deep, deliberate drum beat at the song’s beginning to the singer crooning, “You know it’s gonna burn you alive…burn you up, burn you up” at the bridge, listening to this track transforms me into a more melancholic version of myself. “Burn You Up” reminds me of a failed relationship and lost love I’ve never even felt nor experienced before. However, the song isn’t overwhelmingly sad. It’s tinged with sweetness, present in the way the guitar chords are somewhat reminiscent of bells ringing, the way the lead singer draws out certain words while keeping others short, and also for the way the lyrics “you called me darling when you broke my heart” are sung- simply, tenderly, and truthfully.

The simplest way I could explain this song to my friends in hopes they would add it to their Spotify queues went along the lines of, “Oh my god, it’s SO good. It goes through, like, three vibes during the song.” For lack of better phrasing, “Burn You Up” does go through multiple vibes. The song’s cyclical nature takes the listener through different technical and emotional sections of the song, only to return you exactly where you started. Listening to it feels somewhat like recounting a dream when you wake, sometimes the details are fuzzy, it might have been strange (but seemed totally normal), and you always end up back at the beginning.

Of all the tracks on the one album Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds have on Spotify, “Burn You Up” stands out, for me, as one of their most dynamic, and more emotional, songs. This song, though not too good at hyping anyone up for Winter Break, still serves as a good, chill listen as we near the end of fourth Block. Happy studying, procrastinating, and listening. Hopefully you enjoy the bittersweet “Burn You Up” as much I do!


You can listen to “Burn You Up” on Spotify with the link below:

SONG REVIEW: Roky Erickson’s Cryptic “I Think of Demons”

Roky Erickson is considered an undeniable pioneer of psychedelic rock. He’s mostly known for fronting The 13thFloor Elevators, a group out of Texas that many argue to be the first psychedelic band. More than ever, The Elevators’ sound can be heard in modern psychedelic garage rock like Oh Sees, The Black Angels, and Ty Segall. “I Think of Demons,” however, is less psychedelic sonically than it is psychedelic in its strange, surreal lyrics. Put out in 1980 under Roky’s solo project, the song is more similar to a stereotypical hard rock song; the melody itself isn’t that innovative and it’s more so a feel-good, familiar classic rock groove. The simple melody lets Roky’s lyrics shine.

I, I, I think of demons
They never kill
I, I, I think of demons
They never will

They don’t need to
They’ll scare it’s true
I think of demons for you

Roky describes a demon he “reads,” a demon with fangs in dazed moonlight and “blood that never touches [his] lips.” I always feel emotionally hit by this song, the idea of being able to “read” demons and thinking of demons for someone else. Maybe it’s because I know Roky’s difficult history with drugs and mental health that I read into “I think of demons for you” as a declaration of the forced martyrdom he endures psychically. His personal context aside,  this sentiment serves as a perverse love song and an acknowledgment of monstrosity and inferno. “I Think of Demons” is one of the less cartoonish songs in the context of The Evil One, an album rife with vampires, zombies, two-headed dogs, and other monsters. While this could very well just be a goofy rock song about demons with my own projections running wild, I think there’s something mystic about the lyrics of this song. It continues to be something I keep with me and turn over and over.

Here’s the song below, and here’s a link to the full lyrics:

SONG OF THE WEEK: Princess Nokia– “Your Eyes Are Bleeding”

Princess Nokia’s “A Girl Cried Red” was, to many, a surprise of a mixtape in its emo nostalgia. “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” seamlessly blends hip-hop elements with a teenage pop-punk aesthetic. While this mixtape is a very drastic shift from Nokia’s brujería feminist, rap heavy debut album 1992, Nokia has long been a cultivator and advocate for people of color’s involvement in punk, anime, video game and emo culture through her social media presence. The aesthetic of the video for “Your Eyes Are Bleeding” takes me back to my middle school days of fingerless gloves and knee-high converse. Despite emo culture being predominately thought of as a white subculture, most of the emo kids in my middle- and high-schools were people of color, queer or considered “other” to society in a larger context.

After watching Nokia’s “A Girl Cried Red” music video, I asked my best friend at the time, Kim Lopez, about her thoughts on the connection she had as a Latinx woman in a largely white public school system to the emo/hardcore scene she was a part of. I met Kim in the 6th grade, where we both bonded over our love of emo staples such as Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas and the anime Soul Eater. As brown tweens, she said both of us accessing this scene “was like us telling the world that we knew we were different and it was us willingly separating ourselves.” We both went to middle- and high-schools that were predominately dominated by white students from wealthy socioeconomic backgrounds. Without acknowledging these implications, we bonded as emo kids. However, after a couple years we left this scene and delved more into hip-hop. Kim decided to leave the scene because “in screamo/post-hardcore I didn’t see any representation and I didn’t see the lyrics talk about anything that I felt was specifically just for me, which is why I gravitated towards hip hop afterwards. I think we just got tired of trying to force ourselves into this space that is supposedly for people who are misunderstood.”

Princess Nokia’s mixtape is a perfect marriage of our sentiments on the way in which we accessed emo culture as brown women, and the importance hip-hop held in our later teenage years.  It has the elements of the overt emotional rampage of “other-ness” that exists within emo culture, which sound even louder through Nokia’s position as someone from the afro-Latinx community. While 2008-era emo culture is relatively dead, Nokia’s nostalgic throwback dredges up a reclamation of a scene largely represented by white guys in skinny jeans.

Song of the Weekend: Crack Mountain – Natural Child

I JUST WANT TO SMOKE CRACK WITH MY FRIENDS! Ok… that’s definitely not what I want to do but that is one of the quality lyrics from Natural Child’s song, Crack Mountain. Crack Mountain is a crisp blend of garage rock with a southern twist. Like most Natural Child songs, it has refreshingly straightforward lyrics. Its upbeat tempo is nearly irresistible and as the weather gets warmer, Natural Child will make you feel like it is already mid-summer. You should definitely listen to Natural Child this weekend and you should certainly avoid their advice.

SONG OF THE WEEK: GHETTO DEFENDANT – THE CLASH

Starved in metropolis…
Hooked on necropolis…
Addict of metropolis…
Do the worm on the acropolis
Slamdance the cosmopolis
Enlighten the populace….

“Ghetto Defendant” is one of those songs that will never tire me. I’ve listened to it religiously for months, always finding something new in the lyrics and the way in which the different speakers’ words interact with one another. That pleasing, old poet voice rhythmically purring is none other than Allen Ginsberg reciting lyrics he wrote for the song, communicating “the voice of God.” Take a listen:

SONG OF THE WEEK(END): Loving- “Bowlly Goes Dancing Drunk Into the Future”

Loving is a mellow indie rock band from Victoria, British Columbia. Their song “Bowlly Going Dancing Drunk Into the Future” is off their 2016 self-titled LP, an album heavy with motifs of delicate nature, letting go, and wandering.  Listen to “Bowlly Going Dancing” while sharing a dessert with a friend this weekend.

maybe you could talk freely 
speak to me for once so truly 
for once so truly 
i could know 
just where you’re going 
just where i’m standing. 
that would really be something. 

in most ways on most days 
i am clearly disappearing 
i am clearly disappearing 
at the thought of our nearing 
an end. 

this morning i awoke 
and read the words 
that you wrote. 
they were different from what you spoke 
they were different from what you spoke 
and it was there you declared 
all love is unfair. 

Photo credit of Loving from their bandcamp, https://loving1.bandcamp.com/

Song of the Week: Robbie Basho- “Variations on Clair de Lune”

Breaking the silence 

Of an ancient pond,

A frog jumped into water-

A deep resonance.

-Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North 

Daniel R. Robinson was an acoustic guitarist who changed his name to Robbie Basho in honor of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Like Matsuo Basho’s poetry, Robbie Basho’s music captures a beauty and calmness deeply rooted in the natural world. In Robbie Basho’s rendition of Debussy’s piano solo “Clair de Lune,”  Basho’s guitar echoes the effects a piano’s sustaining pedal would produce in a typical performance of the song while adding a rugged folksiness and energy to the piece.  Take a listen:

SONG OF THE WEEKEND: Faust – Jennifer

Faust’s fourth and arguably best album, Faust IV is one of the best krautrock records ever recorded. Full of the usual frenetic, psychedelic, free-form jams Jennifer is a gorgeous psych ballad. The lush, repetitive guitar arpeggio and oscillating bass drones meld into a reverberating soundscape, only to be interrupted by a wonky riff that seamlessly flows back into the verse. Jennifer is Faust at their most meticulous and refined, without loosing their experimental nature. As the weather gets colder and winter sets in, I keep coming back to this song. Dig it.

Song of the Week: Daddy issues – “Dog Years”

 

Dog Years is a “heart-shaped box”-esque slowburner. Its lyrics steam with hate. Dog Years reveals the vitriolic aftermath of a relationship. In its soul-crushing relentlessness, the song captures how the subject of the song meticulously ruined life’s simple joys. Jenna Moynihan begins by singing, “If you could do anything / You would ruin the best things / You would spoil the ending / You’d dissolve cotton candy.” Later on she seems to find sadistic pleasure from imagining the death of whomever she is singing about. The pain and disgust are palpable.