Music On

“You say you want it

but you can’t get in,

You’ve got yourself a bad habit”

-The Kooks, Bad Habit

It’s time to bring music back to tha blog! For unexplained and unexamined reasons, I haven’t posted about one of my favorite things on the planet in a while. Anyways, let’s get to it!

The Brits have been putting out some good stuff these days. Arctic Monkeys had the best album of 2014. Royal Blood is currently exploding with their new album. Alt-J just released their sophomore album. Good stuff happening across the pond.

When I heard The Kooks new song Bad Habit, I was instantly hooked. A hand-clapping opening, vocals that crack slightly, a little dapple of a falsetto. It’s danceable rock. It’s fun. It will have you wanting to move…

the_kooks_publicitates_foto_66375

I spent a little quality time with The Kooks on YouTube watching videos and live performances. And now I’m a fan. Luke Pritchard has a –dare I say- Mick Jagger type of presence when performing. If they come anywhere near the southeastern U.S. I will be seeing them live for sure. Until then, I’ll crank up the music and enjoy. Hope you like it too. If you do, head on over to tha ‘Tube and check out Forgive & Forget, Down and  Around Town.

As always, listen to it loud…

the_black_keys-23224d1c385198efbccf3a1d98028858ca1fc774-s40-c85

 “Every now and then I see your face from way back when and I explode,

Friends no longer egg me on, they bullshit serenade me like it’s gold, how then we’re told.

I’m praying for some laughter, maybe joy forever after ’til I die,

I’m hungry for a change, I got my fill of other’s pain, I realized,

Opened my eyes.”

-The Black Keys, In Our Prime

I titled this series “Playing On Repeat” because the music I profile here is literally playing over and over- on my phone, in my car, while I’m writing, while I’m cooking. That’s what I do when I get really excited about new music. It is the criteria for me writing about music under this banner. And that’s what I’ve been doing with the new album released by The Black Keys on Tuesday.

Dan and Pat have an impressive catalogue of music. They’ve put out great songs. Eight solid albums, each one stacked. Gritty blues songs with soulful growling vocals, hard hitting drums, and the guitar. Seriously, the guitar. Dan Auerbach is one of the best guitar players in music today. In my opinion, among the best in rock period. My favorite stuff by the band has always been their earlier stuff. The music made by just two guys. But Turn Blue may be their best album yet. And thank god, because El Camino didn’t exactly light my fire.

Turn Blue goes deeper. It is raw and charged with angst. It’s still the blues, just a slicker version of the blues. I’m a huge fan of Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) who co-produced and co-wrote this album, in addition to Attack and Release and El Camino and the single Tighten Up. And Burton’s knack, talent, genius for melding genres and styles is evident on this album. You can’t put it in one category, you can’t pinpoint one influence or sound. It’s a beautiful prism of sound.

The album starts off with Weight of Love. This song thrusts you almost immediately into a guitar solo. Seven minutes that’s more of a journey than a song. A haunting intro gives away to sweltering guitar. Then brief, poignant lyrics are  met with a torrid guitar solo. Two minutes of brilliance. The longest solo perhaps on a Keys album. This is what fans have been yearning for, needing to hear from Dan Auerbach. And he gives it to us on the opener.

The single Turn Blue, immediately brings to mind a ’70s California sunset. Just a touch of a Hotel California vibe. Dan’s vocals are some of the most versatile. At once smokey and bluesy (rappers who collaborated on BlakRoc were shocked to find out he was white) and the next an effortless falsetto. On this song it’s that falsetto that takes the reigns. The music is smooth and serves as a backdrop for the pain that emanates from the lyrics, from the vocals.

Fever is a jaunty radio friendly tryst. It’s fun. It’s sound belies the pain in the lyrics. I love the disparity. “Now if the cold pale light in your eyes reaches those horizon lines, You know not to leave her.”

It’s Up To You starts with a raucous drum, a big band sound. The song turns aggressive when the lyrics come in. The second half of the song is an insolent, dirty guitar. One of the heaviest I’ve heard on a Keys album. And it will be jaw-dropping live. My only complaint is the solo isn’t long enough. It gives you a taste but leaves you wanting more.

Strangely, my favorite song is the one that takes the focus off the guitar. Waiting On Words is about the chorus.  The layered vocals fluctuate between soft and tender to insistet and assertive . Punctuated with an off-key surf style guitar. The lilt in the chorus is stirring. It swells with emotion, the infusion of pain so vulnerable and accessible. “Goodbye, I heard you were leaving, Won’t try changing your mind, Goodbye, don’t know where you’re going. The only thing I really know, My love for you was real.”

In Our Prime is the soul. It is the gut wrenching heart-bleed of the album. The retro piano intro conjures images of a flickering old reel to reel home movie. The tape flutters off the reel as the song indicates a less than happy ending. “Pour me down the drain I disappear, like every honest thing I used to hear.” There’s no pretense, the lyrics go right to the source of the injury. The song exorcises it’s demons of being wronged before an organ fueled ramp-up. The song gives way to a guitar solo that echoes as if hearing it live. The sordid details play out via guitar strings as it eventually fades away in despair and exhaustion. It’s tragic and bewitching, the sum of it all. This is the guts on the paper, the truth and the purging. It’s real and you feel it.

(photo: Danny Clinch)

jackwhite.lazaretto-750x400

Well, thank you sir. Thank you for not disappointing. Thank you for changing things up, but still retaining that you-ness that is so… you.

High Ball Stepper starts off with a high pitched chorus, followed by a short piano interlude. Then comes the bass, signature Jack White staccato guitar and drum rhythm. I dare you to listen and not have some part of your body pulsing right along with the beat. Then comes the electric assault. Sweet relief of a full-on plugged-in raw and gritty guitar. Revel in this, all that is good and bad in a good way about rock. And just when you think it can’t get any dirtier, there’s an explosion of fuzzy guitar muddied with reverb and wailing. It’s a tumultuous ride, this High Ball Stepper.

I implore you, play it loud. Plug in some headphones, listen to it in your car, but turn it up until you feel it. As always, enjoy…

 

jw

“How you gonna stop yourself,

When your man stops ringing your bell

You’re right between heaven and hell

 And you’re gonna need the good Lord to help you.”

-The Raconteurs, Top Yourself

gen-ius (jeen– yuh s): noun, plural  Creating music that is original. That rocks. That pushes the boundaries of what came before. Ever-evolving: Musically, lyrically, stylistically. (see Hendrix, Lennon)

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a “Jack White Week” on this here blog. I’m really not up for committing to doing anything for a whole week. So I’m just going to occasionally post, in no certain order, some of my favorite Jack White tunes. I don’t have “a” favorite. That would be like asking me which of my children is my favorite. The answer is different depending on which day you ask me.

Multi-talented. Guitar player. Drummer (did you know that the drums are his favorite instrument to play? So when he is slaying with his guitar, that’s just his “other” instrument that he likes to play). Lyricist. Performer. Collaborator. Genius. I am a fan of any incarnation of Mr. White: The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, or just Jack White.

“Top Yourself” is from The Raconteurs second album, Consolers of the Lonely. A little bluegrass, a little rock, a little funk. The song toggles between ominous and threatening to a head-shaking lament. Then it works itself up into a frenzy when the piano starts banging out an angry climax at the end. Enjoy…

Broken Bells, The Tabernacle Atlanta, GA
Broken Bells, The Tabernacle Atlanta, GA

“She found herself in a world full of men
Watching them slowly destroy all her plans
‘Cause all the love she won’t allow
Herself to even dream about
Well both of us are older now, and it won’t be long
The early morning siren
Is growing louder now
‘Cause waking up is hard enough when there’s no one else around”

-Broken Bells, The Angel and the Fool

Have you ever had someone in your life who just made you feel good? And I don’t mean in that way. I mean, someone who brought a little bit of zen and peace into your world. Someone who seemed to float through life with a sense of contentment and serenity. Being around them made you feel relaxed, calm, happy. This is how I felt recently. At a concert.

Last week me and my man got to sneak away for a one night trip to Atlanta to see Broken Bells. I had been looking forward to this show for months. I knew it would be different from the concerts we’re used to seeing. I’ve said before that Broken Bells is their own genre of music. A little bit electronic. Yet warm and organic. A seamless blending of styles. Melancholy that soars. Sounds that swirl together to create something euphoric. And the lyrics. My god, the lyrics.

James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) have something special that happens when they come together to make music. A seemingly effortless melding of two Indie/Alternative music icons. This concert felt more like an experience. It wasn’t showmanship or effects. It was just music. But it was more than just music. It was a journey to someplace transcendent. It was beautiful. It was groovy, it was fun. It was my happy place. “The High Road”, off of their first album is one of my favorite songs ever. “Holding on For Life” is one of many gems off the new album, After the Disco. But after seeing the concert, “The Angel and the Fool” has been rippling through my mind and I can’t shake it. I don’t want to shake it. I hope you like it too…

https://gretchenkelly73.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/10-the-angel-and-the-fool.m4a

IMG_4961

IMG_4958

IMG_4960

IMG_4963

Pull back the curtains and took a look into your eyes, my tongue has now become a platform for your lies

-Cage the Elephant, Back Against the Wall

I am posting all the lyrics for this one. Because there is no singling out of the best line. It is all pretty genius. And if you have the chance to see Cage the Elephant live… well, you must. It’s a crazy blend of energy and mayhem and pure adrenaline. We saw them on a one night trip to Vegas. They were opening up for The Black Keys. My husband (Joe) and I rode up in the elevator of the hotel with the band before the show. Joe chatted it up with them while I sat there with a stoopid grin on my face. The called me “Ma’am”….  A’hem, anyways…  They put on an insane show. Matt (lead singer) crowd surfed out of the building. The lyrics to this song read like a poetry slam and it rocks. Enjoy.

Back Against The Wall

Tonight I’ll have a look
And try to find my face again
Buried beneath this house
My spirit screams and dies again
Out back a monster wears a cloak of Persian leather
Behind the TV screen I’ve fallen to my knees
 I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool
I’m stuck here in between the shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Blanket of silence makes me want to sink my teeth in deep
Burn all the evidence of fabricated disbelief  
Pull back the curtains, took a look into your eyes
My tongue has now become a platform for your lies  
I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool
I’m stuck here in between
The shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Now you know, Yeah you got my back against the wall
Oh god I ain’t got no other place to hide, Chained down
Like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall…
Deep in the jungle
Camouflaged by all the fallen leaves
A hand holds up the sky while shamefully I make my plea
The altar’s callin’ but my legs won’t seem to stand
Guess I’m a coward, scared to face the man I am
I said you got me where you want me again
And I can’t turn away
I’m hanging by a thread and I’m feeling like a fool
I’m stuck here in between the shadows of my yesterday
I want to get away, I need to get away
Now you know, Yeah you got my back against the wall
Oh god
I ain’t got no other place to hide
Chained down, like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall

Now, you know, yeah you got my back against the wall,
Oh God, I ain’t got no other place to hide,
Chained down, like a sitting duck just waiting for the fall,
You know, yeah you got my back against the wall.