Once more, in lieu of providing a real topic, I will talk about a few of the best bands I’ve been into lately, getting into what they do well and what I like about them.
Mineral. In my article about Snowing, I said that they did a good job of keeping their songs unpredictable, and invoked a flurry of emotion in their music. Thankfully, they are by no means the only band in the genre to make music like this, and Mineral – a band come and gone over 10 years prior to Snowing’s formation – also fits the bill excellently. Their tracks are longer than those on the album I reviewed for Snowing, and this permits them to spend more time on the quiet buildup for their explosive sections. The two songs that hooked me were Slower, and Gloria. Both are absolutely stunning. Mineral is yet another one of those bands where every band member plays an important role in making the song work. I can hear the bassist, I can hear both guitars, I can hear the drummer, and of course, we have our fragile-yet-powerful vocals. I’m debating how much of this was intentional, but the seemingly low recording quality of the tracks left them very compressed, such that you can turn the volume very loud without certain frequencies being overbearing. That is how I recommend listening to them.
A random side thought: one of the first bands I really got into was Coheed and Cambria. I liked Claudio’s vocals, I really liked the intricate but melodious guitarwork, and I liked the overall tone of their songs. As I’ve increased my exposure to emo lately, I’ve realized that it sounds very similar to Coheed and Cambria. I figure C&C must have been influenced by the genre, and I just didn’t recognize it. They utilize a lot of the emo riffs I hear, the vocal style is somewhat emo, and even the periodic explosiveness that C&C exhibit is something they have in common with emo bands like Mineral and Snowing. I probably could’ve gotten into this genre a lot earlier than I did.
Das Racist. This is a very strange hip-hop group. It’s composed of Heems and Kool A.D., two strong rappers in their own right, as well as Dapwell, who seems to function as their version of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ dancing dude. To get a feel for the group, listen to Michael Jackson. From what I’ve heard so far, Kool A.D. (the second guy) is a bit more nonchalant than Heems – and the directions of each of their solo careers confirms that – but both of them flow really well when they want to. Their stylistic differences make for a compelling duo. All of their tracks have really good production (good beats, unique sounds), and they drop an unusual amount of references in their lyrics. In that respect, they’re kind of like the hip-hop version of Family Guy. Also, it has very little to do with the rest of their music, but the video for Girl is hilarious.
[The] Slowest Runner [in all the world]. I’ve started to suspect that post-rock bands are in a competition to come up with the most ridiculous band names and song titles that they can. For example, We, Burning Giraffes. Slowest Runner has a wide variety of tracks. I consider “We, Burning Giraffes” to be a well-executed “standard” post-rock song. By that I mean that we’ve got our string section, piano, electric guitars, and crescendo, like many post-rock songs do, but this one really caught my attention anyway. It has a compelling melody, and doesn’t linger on any one section for too long. Amongst their other tracks, they’ve got minimalist-sounding songs, like As the sea swells she bleats and moans like a goat in heat, as well as the requisite “epics” like She died in a fit of apoplexy. All in all, they’ve got a bunch of songs to check out, and I expect any fan of the genre would enjoy them.
Vi Hart. A couple of weeks ago, I watched a very interesting youtube video by self-described “mathemusician” Vi Hart. She provides a very approachable overview of a method of musical composition known as the twelve-tone technique. I had never intentionally listened to this style of classical music before, so after watching the video, I gave the Schoenberg last.fm radio station a try. It was not nearly as awkward and abrasive as I was afraid it might be, and in fact, twelve tone embodies a couple of the things I like about other genres of music: primarily that it keeps you on your toes. It is difficult to tell where a composer will go next with this style, because he has a myriad of nontraditional musical options available to him. Speaking again on Vi Hart, her personality is very goofy, but she knows a lot more about music and mathematics than she would have you think. Her supposedly arbitrary composition at the end of this video is very impressive.