LivingEars Limelight – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

The best new song I heard this week… look for it in the 3/18 edition of In This Week.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round


With such an odd and trippy lo-fi production style Ariel Pink, an alternative in the truest sense of the word, has traditionally been an artist with a small but loyal fan base. The emphasis seemed to be on taking pretty pop songs and burying them deep underneath all the haze and sound effects he could pile on. No longer…

“Round and Round” begins with a bit of an odd feel, a bit 70s AM radio, a bit psychedelic disco until, suddenly, the phone literally rings. It’s as if Pink finally got the call and realized he was writing great songs that people would love if only he would let the essence shine through a little bit more. Suddenly the whole song explodes into the most gorgeous sing-along of the year.

Apparently Pink has decided to shed a bit of the space oddity and is in fact making a more accessible record. “Round and Round” feels like the encapsulation of that initial idea and it being seen through to its conclusion. Already blogs are buzzing that this is a contender for song of the year and it just hit the internet March 11th.

Mixes well with >> Girls, Syd Barrett, David Bowie

      Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round

LivingEars Limelight: Titus Andronicus

This will run in the 3/11 edition of In This Week.

The best new song I heard this week is “A More Perfect Union” by Titus Andronicus.

“If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”

Titus Andronicus open their 2nd album, The Monitor, with a quote from Lincoln, however the true definition of the bands ethos is made clear at the end of the track in the form of a quote from abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison:

“I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”

Over the course of 7 minutes and 10 seconds the band does their best to channel a more angry and literary version of New Jersey’s greatest export; Bruce Springsteen. Rest assured… this is not your dad’s music. The band is loud and sloppy and pissed as hell. This is a fight song for the ages at once uplifting and inspiring.

Though the album has a loose Civil War themed narrative singer Patrick Stickles has explained The Monitor is more about an internal war for happiness. Happiness he believes you have to fight for and requires staying true to your own moral compass to achieve. As Stickles mentions over and over again throughout the album, “the enemy is everywhere,” and only you can create your own happiness by overcoming those who will try and keep you down.

Mixes well with » Desaparecidos, The Hold Steady, Bruce Springsteen

      Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union

Scott Curtis is a music blogger (livingears.com), a broadcaster (listen to LivingEars Radio every Saturday 9-10:30 p.m. on UtahFM.org) and a fan of the good things in life.

Buy The Monitor on CD or Vinyl from Amazon.

LivingEars Limelight: Joanna Newsom


The best new song I heard this week is “Does Not Suffice” by Joanna Newsom.

For me the worth of a poet can be measured in how well they perceive and can relate the details; be they mundane, minute or simply oft overlooked. After nearly two hours into Joanna Newsom’s new album Have One on Me we get the gorgeous and heartbreaking “Does Not Suffice,” a song wherein the ordinary details of a breakup become overwhelmingly poignant and incredibly affecting.

As the narrator packs her things, “I will pack all my pretty dresses/I will box up my high-heeled shoes/A sparkling ring for every finger/I’ll put away and hide from view,” she explains that while she rose to the occasion of this relationship her companion did not, opting instead to go through the motions as she continued to give more love than she received “It does not suffice for you to say I am a sweet girl/Or to say you hate to see me sad because of you/It does not suffice to merely lie beside each other/As those who love each other do.”

The final stanza brings into sharp focus a simple, and often unnoticed, outcome of a failed relationship, “The tap of hangers swaying in the closet/Unburdened hooks and empty drawers/And everywhere I tried to love you/Is yours again and only yours,” but before it ends, and closes the album, we get 1:20 of thrashing piano to communicate, sonically, the oncoming emotional pain.

Mixes well with » Kate Bush, Cat Power, Joni Mitchell

>>Listen here<< Buy from Amazon on either Vinyl or CD.

LivingEars Limelight: Four Tet

Four Tet - There is Love in You

Look for the latest Limelight in the 2/25 edition of In This Week.

The best new song I heard this week is “She Just Likes to Fight” by Four Tet.

“She Just Likes to Fight” is the 4 and a half minute instrumental closer to Four Tet’s new album There is Love in You. The song is a bright spot on an already gorgeous album. A simple, programmed kick drum begins before chimes and light percussion tinker about as a slightly reverberated guitar lifts the song (and likely your spirits) to its ultimate crescendo. These elements are sporadically supported by a minimal amount of electronics that add more to the atmosphere than to the direction of the song itself. Do not mistake restraint for simplicity; the song avoids joy and elation in favor of contentment and comfort and in doing so ends up with much greater depth and dimension. The sound is refreshing and natural in a way few electronic artists have been before.

A song like this allows the listener to paint their own picture and while I thought my view was unique, one YouTube commenter expressed an identical sentiment: “I like to think of it like this piece of music is a language I don’t speak, and yet, I understand it perfectly; without any trouble.” Whatever picture you paint, just sit back and enjoy listening to a true artist at work.

Mixes well with » Sunshine, Apparat, Aphex Twin

LivingEars Limelight: Keepaway

Keepaway

Keepaway

LivingEars Limelight is a new column I am writing for SLC’s weekly paper, In This Week. The idea is that I write about my single favorite song I heard this week.

This first one is a couple of weeks old now since it took a few weeks to get it printed but it will hit stands on the 18th.

“Yellow Wings” by Keepaway

“I think I finally know what I want/I want to be two places at once/I wanna stretch until I split; fall back graciously into the room.” The first great song from a relative unknown band this year comes straight outta Brooklyn via three piece Keepaway. “Yellow Wings” follows the well laid tradition of songs about wanting to improve your place in life. The difference here is that life is so good for ebullient singer Nick Nauman that he wants to be able to enjoy it from two different places. Lifting off from an African-like chant and pounding kick drum the track unfolds layer by layer into a gorgeous rhythm of well chosen percussion and sparse but deep guitar notes. The real beauty here comes from the refrain which carries the song –again and again– to exultant heights.

Mixes well with » Yeasayer, Modest Mouse, Animal Collective

      Keepaway - Yellow Wings