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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Bit By The Music Bug

So in the past couple of weeks, there are several songs that have absolutely sunk their hooks into me and just not let go.

I thought I'd share them with you, let you listen to them, let you decide what you think about them. They will, at least, be an insight into the way my brain works at any given time.

So in no particular order.

Rag'n Bone Man - Good Grief (Bastille Cover)

His... Voice...

Just how can you not love that voice? It's beautiful. Absolutely heartbreaking. And as much as I like the Bastille original, this is so much better. It feels the way it is meant to feel. It feels like loss. Real loss. Bittersweet but total.

The album he put out - the most recent one, with Human on it - to me, that felt a lot like the kind of albums people put out when they first win talent shows. The albums usually produced and written by SyCo or whoever. They don't feel like the work of the artist, they feel too tailored for market, too polished, too impersonal.

This, and the song Wolves by the same, feel like the REAL him.

Bury Tomorrow - Black Flame

Introduced to me by Thew, aka ToyGrind - best UK Transformers youtube metal beard man, even if he is a little Skywarp-centric for my tastes - this song is just... brutal.

Again, the voice is absolutely phenomenal. Voices. Daniel Winter-Bates on the scream and Jason Cameron on the clean. It's technical and delicious, and tells a bleak, savage story of murder and betrayal. I hear this song in my gut and in my heart.

Yeah, I'm into the angry stuff a lot of the time.

(If you check Thew out tell him SteelAngelJohn sent you.)

Childish Gambino - Feels Like Summer

You ever listen to a song and it just feels like a sunny day? Like the tarmac is boiling and the sun is beating down on you like a hammer? Like Smokey Robinson's Cruisin, like Etta James' At Last?

Donald Glover's vocals here are pristine, drifting into the ear like a dream. The video itself is beautiful, but we're not here for that - we're here for what listening to this song does to us. And it takes us on this long walk through the neighbourhood on a baking hot afternoon, with people everywhere just enjoying the good weather.

Then we listen a little deeper. We listen to the concern of a world moving too fast, to the knowledge that things are not right and aren't necessarily getting better. There's no solutions, here. We're too busy staying upright to fix the fact that the world is tilted.

At least the sun is shining.

Coheed & Cambria - Here To Mars

Listen to those lyrics - yeah, those vocals again, what can I say, I am weak for a good vocalist - and tell me that this isn't true love.

Just so well written, so well played. Coheed are on point, as always. The lyricism, the story inherent in the song, just impacts me right in the gut. It rings in the soul like a bell. It is pure and undiluted and erupts from the throat like a promise. It feels real. So, so real.

Of course, when you realise that Coheed & Cambria do almost exclusively concept albums that form a continuous story and that this song is part of it...

And as a bonus, there is a gorgeous acoustic version played with the National Symphonic Orchestra. And it is likewise just as beautiful. Do yourself a favour.

Bugzy Malone - Run (ft Rag'n Bone Man)

I realise that grime is an acquired taste that not a lot of people I know have acquired. This track, though - like at least fifty per cent because of Rag'n Bone Man's sublime vocals on the chorus, and forty per cent because of the beautiful production of the strings in the instrumental - transcends the genre Bugzy Malone generally delivers to.

They say that when an artist talks about a thing they know, that is when they deliver a transcendent piece of music. James Taylor is great, sure - but the most soul-searingly real song he has ever sung (or wrote in my opinion, despite being an incredibly prolific songwriter) was Fire And Rain. Biographical. Tapping into a thing the artist truly knows, truly feels. Right here we have the same thing, this song is damn near biographical as I understand it.

What a voice, though. Yeah I had to say it.

Hozier - Nina Cried Power (ft Mavis Staples)

Voice, again. I know.

But look. Okay. This song is about protest. This song is about speaking truth to power and being uncompromising about that fact. It's about the spirit behind the songs you sing. It's not the song, it is the singing. It's not the wall, but what's behind it. It's not the waking, it's the rising.

It, like a lot of his songs, honestly feels like he closes his eyes and lets a divine power reach into him and write the songs for him. He's a fantastic songwriter, and he has exquisite skill and consummate capability in delivering those songs vocally. To the point that I believe the singers that he names in this song would be proud of the voice he uses to pay them tribute.

Say what you want about Take Me To Church, this song should be what defines the man.

Panic! At The Disco - Dancing's Not A Crime

Yeah, this one kinda took me by surprise too?

Two of my coworkers are chatting about a song, I casually enquire as to which song they are referring to, and are told - this one. So I decide to pop it on while I take care of some morning tasks.

And I get this huge, idiotic grin on my face, that just doesn't go away.

Yes, it's poppy, very poppy - lots of production going on here, though you can't hide Brendon Urie's vocal talents behind it all. It doesn't say anything deeply important or proffound. It doesn't solve any philosophical conundrums. Do you know what it does do? It makes me want to clap, and it makes me want to dance.

Just like Janelle Monae's Americans. Just like White Denim's Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah). Just like the Amy Winehouse version of Valerie. There is a talent, a real skill required to produce a song like that. A song with vocals clean as cut glass that slide through the scale like Fred Astaire on a dance floor, songs that make you smile because not smiling isn't really a fucking option right now, that make you vibrate with positivity. That takes work, and it's work that Stint - the producer and co-writer - put his heart and soul into.

In the past 48 hours I have listened to this song 30 times and I am not bored of it. I swear.

And his vocals are superb YES I SAID IT

So there's a rundown of what is in my current circulation. You never know, you might find something in there you didn't already know you liked. I hope, with the arrogance of a man with a beard and expensive headphones, that I have at least introduced you to a song that you appreciate.

Stay tuned, folks. The blogs might not always be about music, but I am, and I'm the one writing them.

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