12.09.2008

Acapulco Music

Posted by AJ Harbison at 2:41 am

Last week my friend and coworker Doug and I went out to eat at an Acapulco restaurant for lunch. It’s billed as a “Mexican Restaurant Y Cantina,” and as you might expect most of the background music they played had lyrics in Spanish. But I remarked to Doug that much of the music, apart from the language of the lyrics, had absolutely nothing in it to distinguish it from mainstream American pop music. The same drum beats, the same chord progressions, the same instrumentation. And the songs I listened to more closely certainly had nothing to distinguish them from American pop music in quality–just the same boring, hackneyed pop that is one of the reasons I despise radio. I love my country, and I’m all for music incorporating elements of other cultures; but I was disappointed to discover that some Mexican pop music has been all but assimilated into some of the lamest and most generic American pop.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
12.06.2008

Midnight Hour Recorded

Posted by AJ Harbison at 6:19 am

I forgot to include in my last post that Midnight Hour’s website, www.midnighthourmusic.com, which is actually a custom-domain-hosted Myspace page, has on it all three songs that are on the demo CD that I’ve been listening to and that I referenced in the post. The three songs are “This Is Where It Ends,” “Becoming Who We Are,” and “Can’t Get Away From You.”

However, I’ve been having some trouble loading the Myspace player on my computer. If this problem happens to you, fear not, because there are other ways you can hear their music (other than the ways I listed in the last post). They also have a Facebook music page, where you can become a fan of theirs and watch two videos of acoustic performances. The two videos are “Becoming Who We Are” and “Queen Annie,” which Brad actually performed solo at the end of the show on Monday and which I enjoyed very much.

And finally you can check them out at their page on PureVolume; there you can find the four songs (the three mentioned above plus “Running Away”) that are on the Myspace page.

So there are your options! Go listen and enjoy!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
12.04.2008

Midnight Hour Live

Posted by AJ Harbison at 1:43 am

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was in a band with a cool guy named Brad Lodge. He played guitar and sang lead vocals in the band, and I played keyboard and guitar.

Fast forward to the present time and the present land. Brad Lodge is still a cool guy, and now he’s the frontman for a very cool band called Midnight Hour. After being signed by Interscope Records, they’ve been in a long phase of writing for their first album; and on Monday night, they played one of their first shows in a year or two.

I went out to see them at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa on Monday night–they booked a gig playing there every Monday night in December, along with a band from San Diego called Dynamite Walls. Each of these shows are free, with no cover charge or drink minimum, so you may want to check them out if you like live music. (If you happen to visit the Detroit Bar’s website, though, don’t be fooled–it’s not nearly as nice as the site makes it out to be…)

The music started almost 40 minutes after the scheduled time, so I sat for a while by myself drinking my Jack and Coke and people-watching. I tried comprehensive listening–trying to listen to every sound around me–for a short while. It was an interesting exercise because the only two types of sounds were the DJ’s music playing over the speakers and the many conversations; but I noticed that different conversations would stick out at different times. As I wrote about in my first post on the topic, when I’m trying to listen comprehensively my ears “jump” around to different sounds, in a similar way that your eyes might jump around to follow different movements in an otherwise static scene. I noticed that with conversations as well: a sudden burst of laughter, an emphatic point being made, would draw my ears’ attention for a moment, before they would be drawn to something else.

The first opening band was called PawnShop kings (their capitalization). They were actually quite good–their lyrics were pretty repetitive and didn’t have a lot of substance, but they worked, and I liked the music quite a bit. I’m going to do some more listening and watching around at their Myspace site, and I’ll get back to you.

The second opening band was Dynamite Walls. They were more of a straight-up rock band, and because the bar was a pretty small space, it was way too loud. I enjoy loud music to a small extent, but since my ears are my most valuable asset I try not to enjoy it to any extent that worries me. This extent worried me, so instead of staying in that room I moved back behind the bar to lessen the decibel level. That turned out alright, because I wasn’t particularly impressed with the band anyway, and in the other room I ran into Brad and we got the chance to talk and catch up a bit, since we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. He was excited to see me there, and I was excited to see Midnight Hour perform.

They went on after Dynamite Walls. I’m sorry to say that they were also very loud; but of course I wanted to stay to hear them. Some pretty intense TTS occurred.

The main problem was that the drummer was playing at full force (or something very close), and the space was small enough that the cymbals basically covered everything else. The sound guy also didn’t mix the rest of the band very well, and Brad’s voice didn’t stand out as it should have. One of their Myspace friends named “booz” left a comment on their page saying “detroit…though an awesome place…is too small for you,” and that’s very true on two levels. First, it was just too loud for such a small performance space. And second, they played as a big band and put on a big show even in a small space. I feel like they would have been almost suited to open for Coldplay in the Honda Center by virtue of the way they played. I hear that this was one of U2‘s distinguishing features when they were a young band (i.e. before they became a big band that always played in big places).

I like Midnight Hour’s music a lot. The songwriting is a bit repetitive, but it’s well-written at the same time. It’s simple, but not simplistic, and I think that describes their music as well. The style of the band is definitely rock; Brad compared their sound to a British-type band, and mentioned Coldplay. Listening over the last few days to the free demo EP that they handed out, I am noticing a lot of similarities to Coldplay. Midnight Hour is guitar-based, and occasionally keyboard-based, rock; they’re very high energy; they often have similar beats and drum patterns; Brad sings in falsetto quite a bit and does it very well. The live show was really rocking, and (despite the volume) I enjoyed it very much.

Their most popular song is “Running Away,” which was actually featured on the CBS TV show “The Ghost Whisperer” about two years ago. (You can see the clip from the show featuring the song here; note that the lead singer of course is an actor from the show, and the bass player is secretly JC Chasez of ‘N Sync. Brad does make a sort of cameo, however: you can see him playing the green piano to the right of the lead singer. A video of Midnight Hour performing the song on the show’s set–probably the best performance of the videos linked in this paragraph–can be found here.) Subsequently it became a pretty big hit on the internet and (as far as I know) has remained their fans’ favorite song. It’s a great song–it also has simple words and simple music, but they combine to create a coherent whole and it’s pretty powerful. You can see a video of them performing the song live in the studio here, courtesy of UGO.com (which also has more Midnight Hour videos and fun stuff that you can find on their UGO page). I really like “Running Away,” and I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t on the demo CD; but upon further reflection I decided that this was okay. “Running Away” is the kind of song that I love to listen to so much that I end up listening to it too much and I get sick of it.

Listening to the demo CD, I think that Midnight Hour is a very good band, and they have the potential to become a great band. The difference, it seems to me, is details. The music was by far better than either of the other two bands at Detroit, but it still lacks detail. The guitars and the drums are fine at what they do but they don’t do quite enough. Listening to the CD is like listening to a recording that’s still waiting for a few more instrumental tracks: the foundation is there but it’s a general sound, with very few fine points. One instance of this can often be found in the gaps between vocal lines. Brad will sing a line, and then wait a measure or two before singing the next line. But instead of one of the guitars playing a little riff to fill the space, it’s left open and feels empty. Another example would be the drums: they definitely lay down a solid foundation, but some finer details (changing up the pattern slightly, throwing in some quick extra cymbal work) would do a lot to spice things up. Their mix often feels a bit bottom-heavy, as well–with two (or three) guitars and a bass providing all the musical material other than the voice, some high keyboard or guitar parts would be nice here and there. A little more nuance and subtlety in the lyrics would be appreciated t
oo; much of the time they tell explicitly rather than showing implicitly, when the latter is a key to good songwriting (in my opinion). And–although this is a personal preference rather than an objective critique–I’d like to hear one or two 80s-style shredding guitar solos, because I know the guitarists are capable of them and they would rock. But I would say that if they learn to add more fine details to their music and tweak their sound just a little, it would take their music to the next level.

But I’m still going to listen to them, go to their shows and cheer them on in the meantime–and I’ll recommend ‘em to you, my loyal readers, as well!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
11.28.2008

Coldplay LIVE!

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:55 am

On Tuesday evening, I picked up my lovely fiancée for a surprise date; she knew we were going out but didn’t know where we were going. I took her to the Honda Center, and with a hint she guessed beforehand what we were doing: seeing Coldplay perform live!

As my loyal TLB readers know, I love Coldplay; they’re one of my favorite bands of all time, right up there with U2. I was stoked out of my mind to get tickets to a show of theirs, and I came in with high expectations, looking for my world to be rocked.

Ticketmaster hadn’t said this, but there were two opening acts. The first was Sleepercar, a band allegedly from West Texas whose lead singer had an English accent. Their style was generic rock blended with country elements–a pedal steel guitar and harmonica joined in periodically. It was an interesting contrast to Coldplay’s style, and while I understand the thought behind not wanting too much of the same style of music in one night, I bet a lot of the people who were at the show were not very fond of Sleepercar’s music. I didn’t hate it, but it certainly wasn’t worthy of a second listen to my ears.

The second opener was Jon Hopkins, an electronic musician slash DJ who contributed electronics to Viva La Vida, Coldplay’s latest album. He mixed along with a synced animation video by Vince Collins, who apparently has no personal website; Hopkins’ site indicates that the animation was from the 70s and 80s, and he got Collins’ permission to use it in his show. The animation was really trippy, very M.C. Escher-like (as Eleanor commented) in that the image would start as one thing and morph into another in a way that was very smooth yet discomfiting to the eye. Very interesting. I enjoyed his music, although the set went on a bit long for my tastes. Most likely a great deal of the crowd was more into electronic music than I was, because many fans of electronic music are also fans of Coldplay (like my roommate Mike) and vice versa, so that demographic of the audience probably loved it. Hopkins did lots of “whoosh” and electronic “swish” sorts of sound effects as he was mixing, and I thought they were a bit overdone. But I liked his choice of music, and I definitely enjoyed the transitions between songs. He often would bring in a new beat but keep elements of the previous song, and then build to a climax–and drop suddenly into nothing but the beat, and build back up into the fullness of the new song. It was a different type of musical experience for me, one I’m not very familiar with, but it was profitable.

And then Coldplay. I was very excited about this show, not least because I would get a chance to see one of my all-time favorite bands, but also because I’ve heard that this is the best tour they’ve ever done. Mike and I remarked to each other that it’s probably the best time in their career for a tour, because they’ll be playing a lot from my favorite CD X&Y but also a lot from Viva La Vida, which is similarly excellent. (I’ll include links to previous TLB posts about Coldplay at the end of this post.)

The show was incredible. I have to admit that I was just the slightest bit skeptical, because I’d heard a previous review of a friend who said they were disappointing in concert, and I’d seen them live on TV–perhaps on the Grammys–a few years ago, and they were terrible (Chris Martin, the lead singer, was probably drunk at the time). But this concert dispelled all my fears almost immediately. They started with “Life In Technicolor,” the song that opens Viva La Vida, beginning with the recorded electronics but then adding in all the band members, and then transitioned straight into “Violet Hill” (instead of transitioning straight into “Cemeteries Of London” as they do on the album). Chris Martin danced around the stage but never to the detriment of his singing, the whole band was full of energy, and the whole arena was rocking along.

Eleanor commented afterwards that it was one of the best performing arts shows she’s ever seen–and that says a lot coming from her, as she’s including classical performances, other concerts and her background and wide experience in musical theatre. I would have to agree. Everything about the show was excellent. Of course the music is good; the performances by each of the band members was terrific; Chris Martin’s interaction with the crowd was perfectly balanced, always adding to the show and excitement but never waxing too long; the lighting and stage design perfectly complemented the music; I could go on and on. But instead I’ll highlight a few things.

The lighting and stage design. Of course a show like this is going to have cool lighting effects: blinding lights for strong drum hits, lights sweeping over the audience during sing-along choruses, lasers. This show had all that. But the stage design was also very impressive. When they began, a digital curtain raised itself on the screen behind the stage, revealing the painting that serves as the cover art for the album; and at the end of the show, the curtain lowered back down over the word “VIVA.” There were also five spinning globes, suspended above the stage and out over the audience, that were used to display various images, patterns and views of the band. Very cool.

The musicians. I certainly didn’t doubt that the members of Coldplay were good musicians. But I didn’t know they were this good. Each of the four members of the band played at least three different instruments throughout the course of the night. There were multiple songs that featured Chris Martin playing piano, rather than just singing or playing guitar; a few of them required some stage rearranging after the song, and to cover for that he would play a minute or so of a classical piano piece. I think he even incorporated Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor into the outro of one of their songs. I was very impressed, again. The only mistake I heard was when he was playing the last few lines of one of the piano songs (I don’t remember which it was)–he came down on a clearly wrong chord, quickly said “Oh f—,” and kept going. The crowd went wild.

The crowd interaction. The whole show was very theatrical, as mentioned, and Chris Martin is a consummate showman. He danced around, he laid down on the stage, he rocked out on guitar, piano and harmonica. Several times during the night he substituted a lyric from a song with something about California, and the crowd loved that as well. His banter in between songs was very funny and added to rather than detracted from the show. And at one point, the whole band left the stage and walked over to a small enclave near the back of the arena, where they picked up two guitars, a mandolin and a harmonica, and proceeded to play an acoustic version of “The Scientist,” right in the middle of the audience. It was awesome and again the crowd went wild.

The music. Have I mentioned before how much I love Coldplay’s music? In addition to rocking everything they played, they played almost the entirety of Viva La Vida during the course of the night. The only songs they left out were “Yes” (although they did play the “Chinese Sleep Chant” by itself) and “Reign Of Love,” which I’m not very fond of anyway. The rest of the material was lots of X&Y and some of A Rush Of Blood To The Head; they only played one song from Parachutes, “Yellow,” which was the single encore. They began with “Life In Technicolor,” and they ended (before the encore) with “Death And All His Friends,” which
was the epic climax that it is on the album; after the encore, the recorded version of “The Escapist” played to finish out the night. It was basically a live performance of Viva La Vida, bookended with the recordings, with other songs thrown in the middle. Awesome.

The show was just incredible. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually there, seeing Coldplay live. I paid lots of money for the tickets, but it was worth every penny and then some. Now all I have to do is see U2….

Click on the links below to read previous TLB posts about Coldplay and Viva La Vida:

Viva La Vida, Coldplay: First Impressions (my original review of the album)

Viva La Vida, Coldplay: Revisited (my further thoughts, and the intro to the week of song posts)

“Lost!”, Viva La Vida, Coldplay

“Death And All His Friends,” Viva La Vida, Coldplay

“Viva La Vida,” Viva La Vida, Coldplay

“Violet Hill,” Viva La Vida, Coldplay

“Cemeteries Of London,” Viva La Vida, Coldplay

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
11.25.2008

Wedding Music, Part 1

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:49 am

First off I must apologize for my lack of posting this past week, and the general lack of substance in my posts of late. I’ve been quite busy, planning a wedding and all. I hope I haven’t lost any readers. But (I must say) I’ve been a bit disheartened by the lack of comments lately as well. I like to hear what you think, even if it’s not a particularly brilliant comment–I like to know you’re listening!

I never had any idea of how much planning goes into a wedding. My lovely fiancée and I have four months, almost to the day, between my proposal (and her acceptance) and our wedding day, and there is so much to do. In any case, one of the aspects of the wedding planning that I’ve taken on is the music. (I wonder why…?) Of course, there are two components to wedding music: music for the ceremony (which I’ll post about in a few days) and music for the reception.

Eleanor has really only one non-negotiable for the wedding, and that is that the reception must have a live band instead of a DJ. One of the things she loves most about weddings is their ability to bring together people from all different circles and stages of your life for one big party, and she wants that party to be done right, and that includes having a live band. (And much dancing, and much wine.)

I’ve found Gigmasters.com to be a very helpful site. It organizes bands by style and genre but also by type of event (they have different sections for weddings, corporate parties, etc.), and provides a wealth of information about each band including audio and video samples. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a band as a great place to start.

Since Eleanor grew up in New Orleans, she wants to have a wide variety of music played by our live band. She was pretty stoked when I found some zydeco bands, a style of music created by the Creoles of southern Louisiana; but upon further listening we decided that a full-on zydeco band would be too much of a good thing. So we’re looking for a band that can do zydeco, but also styles like jazz, blues, swing, salsa, Latin, Cuban, etc. We’re still doing research, but the best band that we’ve found so far (and that we might end up hiring) is Bonne Musique Zydeco–French for “good zydeco music.” They have a West Coast-influenced zydeco sound, incorporating electric guitar as well as the traditional accordion and rubboard and such, but we like their sound and it looks like they play a pretty wide variety of styles. I’ll keep you posted on further developments. And if any of you know any Orange County/Southern California bands that might fit our bill… let me know!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
11.16.2008

Mash up: Gershwin vs. Schoenberg

Posted by AJ Harbison at 9:38 pm

In a similar vein to this post, one of my fellow CFAMCers pointed us to this piece, a sort of art music mash-up. In typical mash-up music, components of one song–say, the chords and the rhythmic groove–are layered with a component of a completely different song–say, the vocals–to make up one piece. (Click here for a cool example of a mash up from the blog of my friend Jason Rasmussen.) In this piece, George Gershwin‘s instantly recognizable song “I Got Rhythm” is “mashed up” with a variety of pieces by Arnold Schoenberg of the Second Viennese School. The different photos that alternate in the video indicate whose music is being played at the time. Enjoy!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
11.11.2008

Two Flute Solos For Your Listening Pleasure

Posted by AJ Harbison at 12:47 am

In my car for the past two days I’ve been listening to the album The Ultimate Collection by Michael Card–a greatest hits CD by a Christian musician who’s been making music for a really long time. I remember listening to his music growing up, and based on my memories I’m not at all sure that the songs on this CD are really his greatest hits; I remember many better ones, and I even remember better versions of the songs that are on the CD. But I digress. What struck me this past time listening through the CD (it’s actually a 2 CD set) were a pair of flute solos on two different songs, and I wanted to share them with you, my loyal readers. Flutes are seldom utilized in popular music, and even seldomer (is that a word?) are they given solos; but these two solos are excellent ones, and it’s kind of refreshing to hear.

The first can be found (courtesy of Last.fm) here (click the black play button in the player on the right), in the song “Lift Up The Suffering Symbol.” Again, this is not Card’s best work, lyrically or musically; but it’s a decent song, at least, and the solo is cool. Since the player has a time counter, I’ll mention that the solo starts at 2:24; but you can’t fast forward, so you’ll have to listen to the whole song anyway. Also listen to the brass swells, in clusters of notes–eerily reminiscent of the score to The Matrix.

The second solo, which is even better than the first, can be found here on iLike–click on the first play button in the list. Listen especially for the clarity of the quick repeated notes; every note is clear, distinct from the others around it. Excellent playing. There’s no timer on iLike, so you’ll just have to listen for the solo yourself. I like in this song how the strings imitate the flute at the very end of the solo–a high trill and then a downward arpeggio by the flute, echoed just afterwards by the strings. Continue to listen to the flute through the rest of the song; it reuses some of the material from the solo to add color as an accompanying instrument.

I hope you find these flute solos as entertaining as I did. Enjoy!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
10.25.2008

BeachFire Audition

Posted by AJ Harbison at 5:06 pm

My very talented friend Seán Dunnahoe found a posting on Craigslist a week or two ago, calling for acoustic solo and group acts to audition for a live and possibly weekly gig at a bar’n'grill called the BeachFire in Ladera Ranch. So he suggested that he and I get together, work up some of my original songs and jam there. So we did.

Tuesday night was the audition, which we discovered was really more of an open mike event. The general manager was there and listening, so in that sense he was gauging the acts to see whom he might want to hire; but there were plenty of customers there listening as well, and it was just like playing a short set on stage.

Seán plays hand percussion (as well as drum set and a zillion other instruments), so he brought congas, bongos, a fish-skin tamborine and (as I mentioned before) Irish bones, which I called “clickety things” for the benefit of our listeners during the set. We were the first band to play, after a “house band” guitar player warmed up for us. We did five songs altogether: “Who I Am,” “Too Far,” “Remember,” a Dave Matthews Band song called “Grey Street,” and as an encore my all-time most popular song “Coastin’”. We rocked it–I did a good job playing and singing, and Seán was awesome as I knew he would be. We got lots of compliments afterwards; many people asked us how long we had been playing together, and were subsequently surprised when we told them this was our first gig. “He’s played stuff before, I’ve played stuff before, but this is the first time we’ve played together.”

The BeachFire’s general manager told us that he’s pretty much booked through January; but he said he would get back to us at that time and see what his schedule looked like, and I said we’d be more than happy to fill in if he had a last-minute cancellation. He seemed to like what we did, and I know that if we were to be hired to play it would be a paying gig; so we’ll see what happens in January!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
10.18.2008

A Music-Filled Weekend

Posted by AJ Harbison at 10:34 pm

One of the vendors I work with asked me yesterday if I had any big plans for the weekend, and as I explained to her what I’d be doing, I realized that I have been and am going to be playing guitar. A lot.

First of all, this past Wednesday was the 2nd Annual Art Show at my company, Rauxa Direct. It was a free show whose participants were employees and friends and family of employees (basically anyone who wanted to enter), and although there was technically a contest it was really just an exhibition. It was pretty cool and I recruited several of my artistic friends to submit art pieces; I myself played guitar as a representative of a non-visual art. I played a two-song “showcase,” and then later a longer set as “background music,” although by that point there were only a few people left (one of which was my lovely and loyal girlfriend). It was a lot of fun performing, even if it was not the most flattering of venues, because I hadn’t played for a while. Pictures will be forthcoming next week and will show up on my website. (If you’d like to check out my photo gallery before then, feel free to click here.)

On to the weekend! Last night (Friday) I had a rehearsal slash jam session with my composer/percussionist friend Seán Dunnahoe, whom I mentioned in this post. We’re going to be auditioning for a performing gig at a place in Ladera Ranch on Tuesday night, performing a few of my original songs and a Dave Matthews Band cover. I’ll be playing guitar and singing, of course, and Seán will be rocking out on congas, bongos, shakers and Irish bones. (Bones are, by the way, THE single coolest instrument I have ever seen played. And Seán ROCKS on them.)

On Saturday, I’ll be in Redlands playing guitar and singing with the Jeff Mercer Band at the Saturday night River of Worship service (I wrote a TLB post about the band here). It looks like we’ll probably be playing “Just As I Am” again, as well as some more of the Jeff Mercer Band original songs that are being worked on for the CD.

Then on Sunday morning, I’ll be back in the OC, playing guitar and singing for the first time with the worship band at the church that my lovely girlfriend and I attend. That should be exciting as well.

My fingers are going to be rather sore, come Sunday afternoon….

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare
10.12.2008

"Cemeteries In London," Viva La Vida, Coldplay

Posted by AJ Harbison at 12:30 am

It took me a little longer than the other ones, but the final song I fell in love with on Viva La Vida was “Cemeteries Of London,” which is track two. The other songs on the CD, the ones I haven’t written about this week–”Life In Technicolor,” “42,” “Lovers In Japan / Reign of Love,” “Yes,” and “Strawberry Swing”–are all good songs and of course contribute to making the CD great; but the five I’ve written about this week are the ones that really stood out to me.

“Cemeteries Of London” is the first vocal track on the CD, since there are no words to “Life In Technicolor,” and it’s a really interesting song. As I said, it took me longer to understand than the others did, but once I got the feeling for the song it jumped into the ranks of my favorites on the CD. And this is what I think: It’s Coldplay’s 21st century rock-band version of a ballad of the Wild West.

You know the type of song I’m talking about. Something like the song here, although I have to admit that the first thing I thought of was this video clip (from this movie). It’s a good example, although almost a parody, of the style I’m talking about; but if you do watch the video, skip to the 50 second mark to experience as little pain watching it as possible.

But this is the type of song that “Cemeteries Of London” is. The lyrics, first of all, point to it; they’re kind of eerie and very evocative, conjuring the same type of mood as a ballad, and the chorus sounds just like one of them: “Singing la la la la la la la lay / And the night over London lay….” The chord progression and melody are very suggestive of a Western ballad too–particularly in the first two chords of the progression, minor i to major III (e.g., in the key of E minor those two chords would be E minor and G major).

I like the instrumentation of the song. The soft swirling piano figures in the first verse do a good job of setting the scene, evoking perhaps the London fog, and the guitars that take over in the second verse hearken more traditionally back to the ballad style. You can also hear hand claps enter the picture halfway through the second chorus that continue through the guitar solo. The solo itself is very interesting; apart from the first note and the return to that note upon the repeat, each note that the solo pauses on is dissonant with the concurrent chord. It sounds really cool. The second half of the solo (a repeated four-note idea) is reminiscent of a U2 solo, to my mind. The soft piano comes back at the very end of the song, playing two phrases. I didn’t like this at first, because it didn’t make sense musically; it seemed out of place and just tacked on to the end. But I grew to really like the phrases themselves, so I really enjoy it now. Perhaps it’s another example of a cyclical song, bringing the song full circle, as I wrote concerning the whole album in my post about “Death And All His Friends”.

There’s one more point about this song that I wanted to mention, related to a point I brought up in my last post about setting up expectations and then either fulfilling or frustrating them. The chorus of this song is another good example of this principle. It’s only two lines, which is short for a chorus (it’s really more like a refrain, I guess), and you expect it to be repeated, either with the same lyrics or different ones. But each time it’s kept to just the two lines–except for the last time, when it is repeated and the lyrics to the second line are slightly changed, fulfilling the expectations you’ve had all along. Another good example of the excellent songwriting.

You can listen to the song here, courtesy of Last.fm: click on the black play button in the player on the right side of the page.

And that will conclude our week of Viva La Vida posts! I hope you enjoyed them. And, while we’re talking about the week–I want to hear from you, my loyal readers. Do you like these weeklong series on a single topic or album? Do you prefer the individual posts I do the rest of the time? Would you like to see more series? Fewer? Leave a comment and let me know what you want to see–and as always, thanks for listening!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare

« Previous PageNext Page »