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“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

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“Girl take a seat, rest your weary bones.  Your secret’s safe in my hands.  Tell me about the years and let me buy an hour.  Maybe help me to understand.  Ain’t nobody calling, ain’t nobody home.  What a lovely day to be lonely….”

-Broken Bells, Holding On For Life

Something old, something new….  that’s what you’re getting with this one.  I started listening to Broken Bells last summer.  They are the duo of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse).  They released their first self titled album in 2010.  And two whole years later I stumbled on to one of their songs and I was sucked in by the melody, the earthy yet psychedelic music.  It was it’s own genre and I immediately added most of their catalogue to my shuffle.

This first song is from their debut album.  I love Mercer’s voice in general, but I think this song shows it’s depth, it’s higher range and just a hint of a lilt that is intoxicating.  And a hand-clapping chorus gives the otherwise dark song an upbeat vibe.  And I love it.

The second song is off their new album, After The Disco, due out in January.  This song has an other-wordly feel but Mercer’s vocals keep it grounded.  I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album…

“Are you telling lies with you pretty eyes,

You’re in trouble yeah, you don’t get me twice”

-Sleigh Bells, You Don’t Get Me Twice

I love a good kiss-off song.  And this one may be responsible for damaging my eardrums this past week….  A danceable beat, fuzzy guitar reminiscent of Lenny Kravitz’s version of “American Woman”  and Alexis Krauss’s breathy vocals.  This one is best served with the volume turned all the way up…

“Cause there’s this tune I found that makes me think of you somehow.  And I play it on repeat. ‘Til I fall asleep.  Spilling drinks on my settee.”

-Arctic Monkeys, Do I Wanna Know?

There’s nothing more exciting to me than discovering new music.  Sometimes the music I “discover” isn’t even new, but it’s new and exciting to me.  I must confess I actually, once or twice, dated guys simply because they had great taste in music and exposed me to new bands…  Not sure what that says about me, but I was young and they were nice guys, so I guess it wasn’t all that bad…

I like all types of music.  Sometimes I like something just because it’s fun or has a good beat.   Clever lyrics always get me (see earlier post on Arctic Monkeys new album).  But what really sucks me in is passion.  If a song has grit or soul or fire, then I’m sold.  It comes in many forms- it can be joyous and exuberant or haunting and full of pain.  It can be anger, it can be love.  As long as there is some real feeling in the writing or the delivery. There’s not much in this life worth doing, hearing, feeling, or writing if it doesn’t have some passion.

I am a huge fan of music, it’s my favorite medium.  I have no musical talent, but I’m real good at listening and appreciating.   So, I want to share, on occasion, music that I’m really in to.  Listen, enjoy, play it on repeat….

This is the debut single from New York band Heavy English: