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Old 01-04-2007, 06:24 AM   #1
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The Music Evangelism Thread

Okay, so I have this friend Greg, who is a music evangelist. Ever since we've been in high school, he's been plying me with music he thinks I need to hear. Back then it was mix tapes. . .now he burns me CDs.

He has fairly ecletic tastes and at least in the past would often hit on musical trends a year or two before mainstream culture "caught on." To be honest, much of what he'd give to me I would hate (and while he had an extensive collection of his own, he was always a bit close-minded about accepting any music I, or anyone else, introduced to him. If he didn't discover it himself, he generally wasn't interested. You could endrun this attitude sometimes to be passing him a CD but feigning lack of interest in it because the more enthusiastic you were about a musical discovery the less interested he would be.) For example, he has been trying for YEARS to convert me to PJ Harvey, to no avail. I CANNOT bear her.

But he is also responsible for introducing me to a lot of new music I probablly would never have heard otherwise including Tori Amos, Midnight Oil, and Live among others.

Well, I've got a stack of probably two dozen CDs that have been piling up over the past two years, and I've decided as a sort of New Years resolution to listen to them and see what gems I might find. I thought I'd post my reviews here as I go along so that others can comment, and perhaps enage in some music evangelism of their own. Feel free to applaud my reviews or exhort me to change the error of my ways.

I should add this important disclaimer before I begin. I have an unapologetically pop sensibility. I like melody, people. I like hooks. I like a good beat. I'll choose music that is catchy over music that "interesting" any day of the week. Sometimes I can't fathom the music that people insist is "great." I feel like some people choose to listen to unlistenable music because it makes them feel more advanced than all the philistines around them. So if you see me savaging some anti-melodic, obscure sacred cow of the music snobs, you'll know why. Of course, I will admitt that my somewhat "shallow" taste in music means that I often miss some truly great music at first when the melody isn't right out in front.

Just so you know where I'm coming from.

With that little rant out of the way, I hereby present the first album from Greg the Music Evangelist:

This is a mix CD entitled "Summer Music 2006 (Good!)" which despite it's title includes songs from several years ago as well. The track list:

We Call Them Pirates Out Here.....Mark Mothersbaugh/Life Aquatic
Neighborhood # 1 (Tunnels)............The Arcade Fire
Someone Only We Know..............Keane
Army. .........................................Ben Folds Five
Your Spirits Alive......................Dropkick Murphys
Okay I Believe You
But My Tommy Gun Don't..........Brand New
C'Mon, C'Mon............................The Von Bondies
Renegades of Funk...................Rage Against the Machine
I'm Shipping Up to Boston.........Dropkick Murphys
Broken Homes...........................Tricky w/ PJ Harvey
There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)....Radiohead
Run............................................Snow Patrol
In the Waiting Line.....................Zero 7
Let Go.........................................Frou Frou
Irish Blood, English Heart...........Morissey
Roseablity...................................Idlewild
Catch My Disease.......................Ben Lee
Hell Yes.......................................Beck
W.M.D.........................................Faithless
Ping Island/Lightning Strikes Rescue Op..........Mark Mothersbaugh/Life Aquatic

INITIAL IMPRESSION: Not bad.

HATED:
Both Mark Mothersbaugh instrumentals. I assume this is from the film "A Life Aquatic" a film which I found so boring, I actually fell asleep during it. The music is no more enjoyable.

DON'T CARE ABOUT:
Somewhere Only We Know, Army, Irish Blood, English Hearts, Hell Yes, WMD, and Broken Homes (that damn PJ Harvey again. There some interesting "gospel" flavored stuff going on in that song, but not that interesting).

MOST REPEAT LISTENS: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) by The Arcade Fire. Someone else on another thread was raving about how beautifulthis song was so I'm trying to like it and it seems to be working. It's beginning to grow on me. AF is getting a lot leeway with me because their song "Wake Up" opened the Vertigo tour. Ordinarily I would have tossed them out long ago. I hate the lead vocalists singing style and anyone that sounds like that. The gloomy guy standing hunched, stockstill over the mike moaning into the mike, and maybe bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet if things get really exciting during the song. No thanks.

THE ONLY SONG I'D HEARD BEFORE: Let Go. It sounds better when it's the soundtrack to some sort of video.

BEST FIRST IMPRESSION: Catch My Disease. Very catchy, and you know me and my affinity for the catchy song. After a couple of listens, it's no longer my favorite though.

MY FAVORITES:
"Your Spirits Alive"--after a lackluster start this is where the album takes off for me. I like both Topkick Murphy tunes. I've always been a sucker for anything Irish, the ulliean pipes and all that. They're the sort of hard-drinking songs you'd expect to hear in some tough-nails-bar populated by south Boston Irish guys. I love it.
"Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't"--Like the lyrics, and especially the chorus. The verses always make me chuckle, especially these lines: "I hope this song starts a craze/the kind of song that ignites the airwaves/ the kind of song that makes people glad to be where they are/with whomever their there with"
"Renegades of Funk"
"I'm Shipping Up to Boston"
"Run"
"In the Waiting Line"

FINAL VERDICT: I like enough of it. But perhaps not enough that I'll pick it up and listen to it much after this. I'll probably just import the best tunes into my ipod and the disc will gather dust after that.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:55 AM   #2
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What's your beef with Polly Jean?
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Old 01-04-2007, 02:48 PM   #3
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Ben Lee, you should check out Into The Dark...I think that is my favorite song of his.
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Old 01-04-2007, 03:47 PM   #4
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Dropping cds in someone's lap isn't the best way to gget them to listen to music they're unfamiliar with. I'll often like some of what I'm hearing, and can tolerate most... but given that we had a free juke-box in our school cafeteria and I had to put up with 'Hot In Herre'/'Hey Baby'/'Hero' 25 times a day for a year, I can put up with just about anything. I also stop listening to it after I'm no longer being pressed.

Dropkick Murphys, Rage, and Beck are the only things on that list that I'd ever listen to. Arcade Fire is okay, but ehh... I'm not sold. Arcade Fire is sortof ambient music, I think, and I prefer stronger rock, more powerful, not necessarily anthemic or epic, but more engaging in some way.
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by yertle-the-turtle
What's your beef with Polly Jean?
I decided to pull out one my the many PJ Harvey discs that Greg has showered me with over the years to remind myself again what my beef is with Polly Jean.

Well, first off, I discovered I actually CAN bear her. I was able to listen to a 11 tunes running from "C'Mon Billy" from 1994's To Bring You My Love to "Shame" from 2004's Uh Huh Her while doing some other stuff without once feeling the urge to shut off the CD player.

But that's still a long way from love:

I don't like her voice. It just grates on my nerves. It's unattractive. The whisper-sing, the agonized, angsty, waily stuff. I don't care for it at all.

I don't like the reptitiveness of her songs and that so many of her tunes lack a strong melody.

I don't care for the "shock-value" and studied obscurity in her lyrics.

I don't like all the musical quirkiness.

but I think it's mainly her voice.
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by ~unforgettableFOXfire~
Dropping cds in someone's lap isn't the best way to gget them to listen to music they're unfamiliar with.
True. I always feel bad when Greg asks me what I think of the new music and I have to admitt I haven't yet listened to it.


Quote:
Originally posted by ~unforgettableFOXfire~
. Arcade Fire is okay, but ehh... I'm not sold. Arcade Fire is sortof ambient music, I think, and I prefer stronger rock, more powerful, not necessarily anthemic or epic, but more engaging in some way.
Me too. I do like "Wake Up" though, but that's for sentimental reasons!
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Old 01-05-2007, 05:05 AM   #7
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judging by the cd your friend Greg needs a music evangelist to visit him!


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Old 01-05-2007, 06:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean

I don't like her voice. It just grates on my nerves. It's unattractive. The whisper-sing, the agonized, angsty, waily stuff. I don't care for it at all.
Yep. That's what gets me too. I think her voice is hideous. I just can't get past that, and since music is something I want to enjoy I don't listen to what I don't enjoy.


I'm enjoying this thread though. It (and a couple of others) have reemphasized something which is becoming more and more clear to me over the past several years -- what one person finds mindblowingly fantastic another person finds pretty damned dull. I have found some new music (for me) by checking out what others adore, but I've also realised that if I (or anyone else) don't like what "everyone" else does, it doesn't make me (or them) wrong.

...unless they like something really and truly sucky. Then, of course, they are wrong.
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Old 01-05-2007, 09:41 AM   #9
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you really should listen to more dkm, because those are nowhere near being their strongest tracks. "your spirit's alive" is good, but "i'm shipping up to boston?" is that the new "tessie?" good god, i hope not.
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Old 01-05-2007, 09:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by ~unforgettableFOXfire~
Dropping cds in someone's lap isn't the best way to gget them to listen to music they're unfamiliar with. I'll often like some of what I'm hearing, and can tolerate most... but given that we had a free juke-box in our school cafeteria and I had to put up with 'Hot In Herre'/'Hey Baby'/'Hero' 25 times a day for a year, I can put up with just about anything. I also stop listening to it after I'm no longer being pressed.

Dropkick Murphys, Rage, and Beck are the only things on that list that I'd ever listen to. Arcade Fire is okay, but ehh... I'm not sold. Arcade Fire is sortof ambient music, I think, and I prefer stronger rock, more powerful, not necessarily anthemic or epic, but more engaging in some way.
WHAT...Arcade Fire's "Power Out" is heavier than anything Beck has ever attempted - Arcade Fire is anything but "ambient"...c'mon.
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:07 AM   #11
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Okay, poor phrasing then. I find Arcade Fire's music easy to put into the background and ignore; hence 'ambient'. I guess it was easy to infer that Beck was 'heavier' than Arcade Fire because Beck was in the list which preceded it. That list, however, was only commenting on the groups within the above selection that I enjoy listening to. I should have seperated them into two paragraphs, and didn't.

The reasons I like Beck are various and 'heaviness' may not be one of them, but I can say the same about my enjoyment of BB King or Queen; maybe not 'heavy', but there are things about them I enjoy nonetheless. I don't have a strict love of heavy music, else I wouldn't be a member of a U2 fanboard.

What I was saying, since you mention Power Out, is that the music for all of the Neighbourhood song sequence is too repetitive for my liking, as is Rebellion. I'm not saying Arcade Fire is bad, I'm just saying I don't like them because when I listen to them I can't pay attention to their softspoken (though shrill and treble) lyrics. The repetitive measures of music, from the 10 or 12 songs I've heard, only get struck apart from other variations within the song because they're played slightly louder than in the previous verses. The bridges, if they can be so called, don't really have much to make them stand out except that they occassionally don't have lyrics over them or they'll occassionally use silence. So how is this different from other bands, you might ask? It isn't. But it's being sold like it is.

I'd make the case that their music would be interesting to consider in terms of sound experiment if it were electronic music and the songs were of greater length than 4 minutes so that you could appreciate movements in the music... but there aren't really movements. The songs are too short to have movements. There's just louder and quieter. I'd even be able to concede that it was an interesting experiment if, like They Might Be Giants, they used vocals to set off the music in some way or to contribute to the melody... But there's just shrill singing, and then occassionally a section of 'ohh's or 'woah-oh's. If you're selling me anthemic rock, there's no need to jazz it up with faux-art posturing; but don't tell me you're breaking new ground when you're not just because you've added a violin and a few sampled noises.

Arcade Fire may indeed be 'heavier' than some of Becks work, but it also fails to be less lively and original.

I doubt that'll be taken well around here, but I also hated HTDAAB openly, so I might as well not conceal my dislike for Arcade Fire.
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by ~unforgettableFOXfire~
Dropping cds in someone's lap isn't the best way to gget them to listen to music they're unfamiliar with.
Actually, it is the best way.

If that person is actually interested in music.

Drop it in their lap, let them play it in the car for a few weeks.

See what sticks.

If they don't care about music, or your opinion, they won't listen. No skin lost.
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by ~unforgettableFOXfire~
Arcade Fire may indeed be 'heavier' than some of Becks work, but it also fails to be less lively and original.
Yes. I completely agree that the Arcade Fire fail to be less lively and original than Beck.

(lol @ double negatives)

Really, though. While they might take some repeated listening to get used to if you're not used to the "indie rock" sound, it's definitely worth it when it finally hits you. Amazing band.
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Old 01-06-2007, 04:15 PM   #14
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Careless editing wins the day, I suppose. :P That 'less' should have been 'as'. Ah well.

The first thing I usually ask myself when someone drops a cd in my lap, or alternatively (my preferred method) puts winamp on random, is 'what makes this sound more worth listening to than other sounds?' With indie rock, I've yet to really find an answer to that question.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't enjoy Belle & Sebastian had my Philosophy TA in first year not given me a list of things I should just have a quick listen to. I'm not out to reject all 'new' music (acknowledging that some of these bands have a decade or more of history but are only really making waves in the past 4 years). But that said, I've had a lot of people recommend a lot of music to me over the years, Arcade Fire included, and I don't come away with things I can really get into very often.
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Old 01-08-2007, 07:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by IWasBored
you really should listen to more dkm, because those are nowhere near being their strongest tracks. "your spirit's alive" is good, but "i'm shipping up to boston?" is that the new "tessie?" good god, i hope not.
Yeah, actually Greg burned me their entire disc "The Warriors Code" so I'll be reviewing that one down the road. We'll see how the other tunes stack up.
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